Great Lakes Christmas Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

very good
876 Reviews
Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Christmas Ale

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by OldFrothingSlosh on 11-16-2002

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Reviews: 876 | Ratings: 3,056
Photo of rfgetz
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber color, nice cap of white head. Scent is of honey, ginger, floral lavendar, and cinnamon. taste brings pale malts to the front with honey sweetness and taste, the backround is very floral with ginger, lavendar and cinammon the dominant scents. Medium bodied, good carbonation, slightly sweet. Quite the interesting flavor profile, very enjoyable.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a nice medium amber. Small bubbles and very faint lacing. A head thats only a finger and a half in width. But maintains all through my drinking experience. For some reason, a Christmas beer has to be more cloudy to be festive. The aroma is very festive indeed. Plenty of X-mas spices like some nutmeg and cinnaon and anise all mixed together very well with a toasty malt profile. The taste is a little more clear on whats really driving the beer's flavors. Lots of nutmeg adn a few hints of chammomile. Don't forget the cinnamon. All of these spices are blanaced with a light Pacific hop presence and a medium toasty alt stance. Great Holiday beer, certainly has the best drinkablility of all the winter warmers. Doesn't bog you down with Holiday spices and aromas.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy scarlet red in color. Thin creamy, yet bubbly, tan head. This beer smells like Christmas: Cinamon, spice and everything nice. The beer tastes like Christmas joy as well. The cinamon is the main player of the spices, but the orange contributions are notable and enjoyable as well. Nice little biscuity malt backbone and some alcohol notes to give a little umph to this beer. Carbonated nicely. Medium body. One of the more enjoyable spiced winter offerings I have come across. Thank you PhantomVoodoo for the sample.

I have now sampled 6 Great Lakes beverages. I can't comment on their consistency as I don't have consistent access to them, but the quality of the brews I've had is extremely high. One of the best in the US in my opinion. I've doled out 4.5s to the Elliot Ness, Burning River and Dortmuder Gold. I've rated the Edmund Fitzgerald a 4.6, the X-mas ale a 4.4 and the Loctender Lager a 4.25. My new top 3 would include K-ZOO, Stone and Great Lakes.

I'd love to see what they could do with a Barleywine, Imperial Stout or IPA.

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Photo of Viggo
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a standard bottle, its a nice light reddish colour with generous whitish head. It smells of malt and spice. The taste is richly malty as well, with some spicy notes. The mouthfeel is nice and smooth, just slides down your throat. I give this beer a high drinkability score, easily a beer you could sit down with when its cold and play poker. Excellent beer, very recommended.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Cuzco for the extra. 12oz. bottle served in a standard pint. Enjoy by 1/17/11 indicated on the label. Pours a translucent copper with a loose, off-white head that quickly dissipates into a soapy slick and a thin band around the edges. No lacing whatsoever on this one. Nose expresses nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. Taste consistent with nose - a very spicy Winter Warmer indeed. Honey makes it's presence known towards the finish; however, there's also and herbal, perhaps spruce-like quality in the middle. Mouthfeel is light-medium (but closer to light) with a lively, almost effervescent carbonation. Interesting for the style, but a little too over the top. Personally, it was difficult to get through one.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One of the best midwest holiday ales. Looks dark brown/red/copper. Aroma is very much like Christmas: some beer, pine, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, ham, cranberry, cinammon mesh.

Taste, you pick up some of those things, who knows, maybe a little pumpkin and coriander. A few of the things in Anchor Christmas probably, but more pronounced in this offering.

Drinkability suffers a little, too sweet and just too much like food in a blender to keep chugging these along. Heavy.

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Photo of maximum12
1.9/5  rDev -51.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

I guess I am going to have to give up.

I just don't like Christmas Ales. But this is the spiciest, & least drinkable, of the bunch.

This is the third one I've tried to put down, & I'm not going to be able to finish it. For me spices like this belong in a pie, cake, or salad, not in my liquid libations.

Nothing personal. I just can't handle it.

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Photo of jrallen34
2.61/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

I drank this from a 12 oz bottle into my Rochefort glass.

The beer pours a very bright yet dark clear amber with about 2 fingers of heading falling quickly. However, it leaves a nice soapy top on the beer and a lots of solid white lacing on the glass.

Can you say nutmeg? That's all you get at first sniff in this ale with a little mixture of spice. I'm trying to pick something else out but all you get is christmas but its a tad to much.

The taste is a huge let down in flavor from the aroma because you would expect huge flavors. But all you get right away is very light watery mouthfeel which is extremely off putting. As far as taste I almost just only taste water with a little nutmeg.

As far as drinkability you could crush a lot of these because its like, but I'm not sure why you'd want to.

Overall, from the hype I've heard this beer was a big let down in every sense. I would not encourage anyone to drink this.

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Photo of drpimento
3.35/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

hmmm. The bottle I'm having seems to be way different than the descrptions that most others describe. Mine has: some head and lace; dark, very hazy brown color; aroma of lots of malt, a bit of hops, bare hints of spices. Flavor is very dry malt, not much fruityiness, hardly any spice, dark fruits. Ok beer, nothing special. A bit rich for a session beer. ok finish.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Clear yellow-orange, not much carbonation, one finger head.

S-Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, some caramel.

T-Balance of spices cinnamon, some nutmeg, tad bit of caramel and malt. Great balance.

M-Light to medium bodied, not much carbonation.

O-What a spicy Christmas Ale should be. Had with OSA '12 and 2XMAS and this was the clear winner.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a pint glass

Appearance – Served a orange-amber colored brew with a one finger white head. The head had a decent level of retention, slowly fading to give a medium level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma was a mix of honey and spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander. Behind the sweet and spicy smells was a light biscuit aroma as well.

Taste – The taste begins a little on the malty side with a light cinnamon and coriander spice upfront. As the taste moves on the spices get stronger and are joined by a lighter honey and caramel sweetness. More towards the end a light nutty and alcohol taste join the flavor with an increasing in the sweeter flavors of the brew and in the end combined with the rest to leave a warming spiced flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer was a little on the medium side with a carbonation level that was just above average. The medium body was rather nice for the honey and malt flavors with the carbonation complementing the spice well.

Overall - A tasty Christmas style ale that was very drinkable. A nice spice, sweet and malt blend. Quite tasty.

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Photo of ZAP
4.67/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Now this is what Christmas Ae should taste like....beautifull work with the spicing....cinamin and ginger on the nose along with almost a pumkin pie like smell.....copper in color...super clean and clear looking (and this is an ale?)...Is medium bodied...a tich of sweetness, but not first it felt like a "bock" in the mouth and I guess it still does...some sweet maltiness, and that great spice flavor..that pumkin pie subtle flavor is there on the taste buds too...I've had spice beers that went too far...this is about perfect...what a treat...I love this Brewery...One of my top 2 along with Stone.

*.I rate the drinkability high for a seasonal sipping beer....not for as if you'd want to drink 12 of these in a sitting...rather if you gave me my choice of several holiday beers I'd rather drink this one than most..

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty ruby color with a small light cream colored head. Arima is subdued cinnamon spice with malt characteristics in the background. Flavor is full of fruit, with a touch of cinnamon. The honey sweetness is definitely present. I like that the spice does not overpower this. Too many of these turn into spice bombs. A great beer to have in front of the fire if you aren't in a big beer mood. Light to medium bodied with good carbonation. One of the best spiced beers I have tried.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, 6 pack, sadhanna's

appearance: pours a beautiful and vivid clear copper, tinted ruby...slight foamy beige head, not a whole lot of lacing

smell: similar to the Lakefront Winter aromas...lots of cinnamon spice - smells like red hots, touch of nutmeg and other spices...loaded with honey, mild maltiness

taste: cinnamon red hots, thick and sweet honey, nutmeg and other festive spices, a fair amount of pine, fair amount of alcohol present, ginger, slight cherry, caramel, biscuit-esque

mouthfeel: medium bodied, cinnamon spice, touch of hop bitterness

drinkability: pretty drinkable

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.38/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into a Great Lakes Imperial Pint.
7.5% ABV, 30 IBUs, Best By 02/06/16

A - Clear with a deep amber color, this Christmas ale pours with a lasting cap of off-white foam that dots the pint in delicate lacing.

S - Honey sweetness coats warming spices notes of cinnamon and ginger while the beers overarching and complex bready malt base that's reminiscent of a Vienna lager; rich breadiness but clean.

T - Honey sweetness and flavor develops a faint and welcome floral attribute to the flavor that comingles with the light cinnamon and bite of ginger spiciness very well. As the aromatics suggest, the beer has a very bready but very clean malt profile thats reminicent of something like an Oktoberfest or Vienna lager; an excellent base for the honey and spices to develop around!

M - A medium-full bodied Christmas Ale, Great Lakes' ornament-toating train beer maintains its almost lager-like cleanliness through the whole beer into the feel where it begins with mild sticky sweetness and lingering spice and finishes clean; easy drinking.

O - While Great Lakes Brewing's take on the winter warmer style of beer with its Christmas Ale leans to the stronger side; coming in at 7.5% ABV, the addition of honey to the brew carries through aroma, flavor, and body, signaling that its sugars aren't completely fermented out. This is one of the better attributes of the beer, which gives it both depth and complexity, developing around a wonderful malt base. While it seemed a bit spicier on tap and harder to kick back more than one pint, the bottle is a bit dangerous, especially when decorating!

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.07/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pouring a semi-murky copper color, this has two fingers worth of off-white colored head. Retention isn't fantastic, and there isn't much lacing left on the glass.

Did someone say cinnamon? This beer's aroma doesn't dick around with it, that's for sure. Ginger also makes an appearance, as does a touch of hoppiness. In addition, some caramel malts also pop up - not much honey though. I'm not sure how this really stands out from the legions of cinnamon-spice bombs out there...

Taste-wise, I get more honey here than the nose suggested [I'd just like to add that I think honey is an awesome adjunct for beer, in moderation], especially to finish it off. Also, the initial flavor hit of cinnamon and ginger is subdued next to the aroma. Some fruity traces appear near the mid-taste. Actually, it seems a little boozy for 7.5% - just a little. Nothing really pops here.

Quite nimble on the palate for a semi-big winter warmer, thanks to the subtle astringent sensation brought by the honey. Still, it offers a full, sticky mouthfeel otherwise. Carbonation is just right.'s okay. No more, no less. The honey notes are my favorite part of this, helping to break up the cinnamon meets caramel monotony this offers otherwise. Yeah...monotonous is a good word to describe this beer. I would not buy this one again.

3.07/5: Not the finest work from this (very good) brewery

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Photo of jera1350
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Coppery in color with a fizzy tan head that immediately reduces to a thin ring around the glass. Not much in the way of lace.

Has a gummi worm scent to it. Lightly sour with notes of holiday spices, nutmeg, brown sugar and the like. The faint smell of spruce as well.

Getting the same spices as in the nose. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom. Plenty of gingerbread flavor as well. Getting some cedar/pine notes on the end. Really a nice blend of flavors that comes out somewhere between gingerbread and spiced sugar cookie. Quite enjoyable as it continues to warm.

Mostly soft carbonation and smooth. About medium bodied.

I think this makes a really nice winter warmer and an even better beer to bring to a holiday party. Two of these would be more than enough for me as the alcohol is a bit warm and the flavor keeps drinkability down a hair. Really enjoying this one and may be my favorite one of the style.

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Photo of n2185
3.87/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear honey-orange with three fingers of light tan head that recedes into a thin ring with little lacing.

S: Cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg up front followed by some sweet cocoa aromas. Vanilla and nutty aromas are mixed in there as well, with a sweet, candy-like finish.

T: Spices again up front followed by nutty flavors similar to those in a brown ale. Sweet bready flavors along with vanilla, sweet cocoa, and some caramel bring up the finish with a slight alcohol burn.

M: Medium body with lowish carbonation, this beer is a bit watery feeling and could benefit from a thicker body or more carbonation.

O: A good winter warmer that combines unique aromas and flavors successfully. It suffers most from a watery body, but is still tasty and smells quite nice.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at hawthornes in philly

Pours a deep copper color with some brighter reddish hues. A nice beige head rests on top, retaining for a while and leaving some patchy lacing on the glass.

Rich and malty in the nose with toffee and caramel. Some bready notes with cocoa and and sweetness. Light alcohol warmth.

Malty and rich up front with toffee. Some dark fruit notes with a touch of burnt sugar. Some pine and spruce-like spice. Burly backbone with bready and caramel tones. Decent amount of sweetness, but not overwhelming. Finishes a bit warm and chewy.

Fuller medium body, well carbonated, a little chewy and sticky on the tongue. A pretty tasty beer for the season, something I'd definitely have again.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.63/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Growler on 11/7/10 from Fatheads Pittsburgh

A-clear pale golden amber with a medium thick tan head.

S-the nose is rather spicey, sweet caramel malts and lots of cinnomon play up front with a touch of nutmeg. Sugary and stick malts are dominant as some raspberry flavors lie behind with a touch of spciy herbal hops in the back.

T-follows the nose to a t, tons of christmas spices, sticky malts, sugar, light fruity sweetness of raspberries, touch of herbal hops in the finish with almost no bitterness.

M-lighter in body, sticky syrup feel to it, medium to light carbonation and a wet juicy finish.

D-well balanced and big christmas spice to it, very easy drinking but a little sticky and syrupy in the feel as more carb would have helped to balance.

Had on draft at the brewpub in Cleveland.

A-nice copper brown color that let a nice amount of light through. it poured one finger of an off white head with almost no bubbles and left a decent lace

S-the aroma was faint and what i was able to get included a light smell of christmas spice, cinnamon and nutmeg

T-i wasn't sure how much taste would hit with the muted smell, but huge christmas spice flavors, lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, and some nice notes of vanilla in there

M-lightly carbonated with a medium body, it has a sharp texture that creates a very crisp finish

D-pretty tassty and crisp towards the finish, i could enjoy this several times over

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Photo of warnerry
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

best by 1/26/11 consumed 1/15/11

A - Pours a beautiful translucent copper with slow rising carbonation and 1.5 fingers of head that dissipates pretty quickly.

S - Mostly caramel malts and cinnamon, with some ginger and cloves coming through.

T - Very nice caramel malts, with a good amount of spicing (cinnamon, some ginger). Spicing doesn't dominate but instead fills out the taste. Also some subtle hops to balance the malts.

M - Fantastic mouthfeel, medium, slightly sticky, really coats the palate.

D - Highly drinkable; one of my favorite winter warmers.

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Photo of gtermi
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer has a very nice dark goden orang color with a very thin white head.

S: Man this beer has the best nose of any winter warmer I have ever smelled in my life. There is so much spice, some clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.

T: Man this taste is amazing. I am getting a lot of cinnamon and some other spices. This is just a very great taste.

M: The beer is pretty crisp and even can feel the tingling on you r tongue.

O: This is a very good beer. One of the best winter warmers I have ever had. Its an all around great beer and there isnt a part of it that lacks.

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Photo of tectactoe
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours an orange and amber hybrid color with a ton of red hues and a pretty exceptional amount of clarity all around. Small white head fades quick and doesn't leave much lacing at all.

The nose.... what to say about the nose. Full of a basket of toasted malts and spices - most prominent being cinnamon, but also included are nutmeg and maybe some ginger. There's really so much going on and it's executed with a careful hand; there's really something to be admired in the aroma profile.

The taste hits with an incredibly unique and well-executed balance of sweet and spicy malt - sweetness in the form of caramel, toffee, and butter, and spicy in the form of cinnamon and nutmeg. Very nutty, and with the spices, it resembles a warm pecan pie.

Yeast is noticeable in the background, provides a nice bready and buttery aftertaste (think Christmas sugar cookie). Honey is hard to detect, but is noticeable at the tail end as the beer starts to warm up a little bit. Medium body, not too sticky on the mouth, low to medium carbonation.

This beer tastes like Christmas in a bottle. The fact that it's a holiday release makes it all the more alluring and I feel like a little kid on Christmas when I finally get my hands on some.

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Photo of Brenden
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Notes seem pretty old, but they're plenty legible...

The color is a golden amber. The head pours nicely and retains well, leaving some spotty lacing.
This one's got what I expect in a winter warmer: a nice, firm malt backing with gentle caramel and toffee notes and light, subtle spices underneath.
Cinnamon comes out a little more strongly than it does on the nose, and the result is positive. Otherwise, that caramel / toffee malt backbone. Fairly standard stuff.
The body is medium, and carbonation is moderate.
This is a strong, tasty winter warmer and a good example of the style.

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Photo of Daniellobo
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice fruity Christmas ale with a surprising sweet balance.

Presentation: 12 oz capped brown bottle. Black design with white lettering and an image of toy train wagon carrying Christmas tree ornaments. Side narrative notes commitment to excellence, main characteristics, inspiration, and main ingredients. Neck label notes repeats funny festive sense. Notes freshness date (02/18/11), and Alc. by Vol. (7.5%) Served in a tulip glass.

A - Clear medium amber with a somewhat tamed bubbly head, moderate to low retention, some surface memory, minimal lacing.

S - Fruity and lightly medicinal nose. Honey, and ginger with a very shy cinnamon touch. Rather nice.

T - Flavor expands with dexterity the nose, nothing overwhelming but the range is rich. Same fruity sense, with the ginger and honey melding with the dash of spice. Touch of caramel malt and hint of resinous hops.

M - Medium body and medium-low carbonation, but actually the body matches the rhythm of the brew rather well. It works.

D - Great seasonal, if one digs the spicy ginger-honey and somewhat medicinal edge this is a very pleasing ale.

Notes: Hmm, maybe not worthy of the "under the shelve" limited quantities sense that I´ve seen in some places. But short of the hype this is a truly worthy Christmas ale with a great balance and sense of stimulation.

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Great Lakes Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 3,056 ratings.
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