Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

very good
1,028 Reviews
Great Lakes Burning River Pale AleGreat Lakes Burning River Pale Ale

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

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-06-2001

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,028 | Ratings: 3,201
Photo of mayor55
3/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark amber color with thick head . Poured in to a pint glass. Head over 1" thick. Leaves good rings on glass. very average, one dimensional flavor. burnt malty nose, weak on the hops. My first sampling of Great Lakes. Very average beer. Harsh bitter aftertaste.

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Photo of humuloner22
3/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Okay, that is about all I can say about this one. I guess I am just not that impressed with this brewery. I have had some damn good beers lately and this one fell way short for me. Its an APA according to the label so one would imagine that it had a hop forward presence but like the lager it had a massive amount of malt, now I agree that malt helps to balance some beers but this one had too much, much like the lager it got better as I drank it, but I am still not a huge fan of this brewery, which based on what I have heard from friends and reviews is confounding.

Appearance: Reddish gold, typical for an APA. Not a huge amount of head and the best by date had not been reached, but I wonder if these have been killed somewhere along the way. I bought a mixed sixpack at a grocery store while on a trip, and I have kept them cold, but none of them have been all that wonderful. Although once again they are pretty beers.

Smell: Faint hops, some cloying malt component there.

Taste: Not cloying, but a lot of malt, which I don't care for. I want hops and this one is weak on that. Its just worthy of the high praise, but this is my opinion. And once again, I may have gotten a bad batch. But after drinking a lot of APA's and IPA's this one is just okay.

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Photo of ZenAgnostic
3.07/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a wine glass. Back label stamped 05/27/11.

Appearance - Big white head with great retention. slightly hazy pale copper body.

Smell - Musky hop. Urine.

Taste - Moderate hop. Honey sweet malt. No off flavors.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied.

Overall Drinkability - Decent if completely forgettable middle-of-the-road pale ale.

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Photo of Grugalug
3.1/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass.

A- Pours a pale golden and slightly copper color. A nice and fluffy two finger head that dissipates somewhat quickly. Lots of lacing and bubbles are visibly rising to the surface. Looks really appetizing.

S- Citrus is most present, and is largely grapefruit. Some floral notes are evident as well. Somewhat surprisingly, there is actually a noticeable malt presence as well. Just a very slight pine and resin smell. Good but not as aromatic as I was expecting.

T- Not much citrus here as the the more piney characteristics take over. The malt is also still present but is very subtle. A nice amount of strong hop presence, but certainly not overtly bitter. Again it's decent but I'm underwhelmed.

M- Incredibly drinkable. I found the body to be rather thin, but it was largely because of the surprising lack of carbonation. It was definitely carbonated, but almost seemed flat. This might be an opinion-based thing but not my cup of tea (or beer I suppose).

O- I had high expectations going in. Also, it seems to be a really beloved beer, and I seriously doubt that this many people are wrong. I just chalk it up to a difference in opinion. Personally, just not my thing. I recommend this based solely on how much love it gets from most people. However, I probably won't be picking this up again.

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Photo of alleykatking
3.15/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had on tap the other night. Review from phone notes.

A- Poured a nice clear deep copper/amber color. Nice one finger white head comes and falls down to just wisps in my glass. Some spotting lacing is on the sides of the glass the entire beer.

S- Pale malts bring out most of the aroma right off the bat. There is also a light bitter and citrus hops in the back end of the nose. Light hints of sweet caramel come and go with this beer.

T- Taste is a little off for me with the APA. The citrus and pale malts crash together right on the front end of this beer. It is balanced for the most part. Sweet caramel malts come in the middle leaving a nice pine like bitter hop bite in the ending. Also light alcohol is in the tail end of this beer.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the style. Bitter hops and light malts stay on the palate long after the sip has been made. Alcohol and bitter hops stay in the aftertaste for a while as well. Kind of drying in the mouth.

D- This is a drinkable APA for sure. My only problem is I don't think it is as good as everyone makes it out to be. There are many other APA's that I would rather drink. I would recommend this though to someone who wants to try to step into the world of hops.

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Photo of terrabyte
3.15/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

IThis poured a clear, pale brown color with a whitish, foamy head.

A citrus smell with a strong grapefruit presence.

Tasted like carbonated grapefruit juice. Plenty of pine hops, giving it that pleasant bitter aftertaste. I wish there was more in this beer to balance it out. Carbonated grapefruit juice.

Overall, this seemed a bit one dimensional.
Also, whenever I have this much grapefruit and pine in a beer, it's usually labeled an IPA.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.15/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

definitely more of an english style pale ale, with the dusty like malts and just light fruity cascade hops in the taste. pours a tiny bit amber in color, with a receding white head and inch tall. smells like a bass ale, and tastes similar, just a bit bigger hop flavor. mouthfeel brings it way down for me, weakly carbonated fading to nearly flat as it warms, not a quick finish at all, even a little brassy at the end. definitely not my favorite pale ale and definitely not my favorite great lakes brew, but a decent amalgamation of the english and american syles...

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Photo of dpnelson1978
3.16/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into glass pint.

$9.99 / 6-pk.

A: Bright amber body topped with a big tight head of great retention that leaves behind moderate lacing and a thick creamy cover.

S: Subdued floral hop character and light caramel notes. Solid, but nothing special.

T: Bready malt backbone with a noticeable hop bitterness throughout. Resinous on the back end with a building bitter aftertaste.

M: Medium body and moderate carbonation. Not particularly crisp.

D: Light, highly sessionable brew, but pretty typical for the style. Nice neutral beer for any occasion.

O: This one will please the masses, but doesn't really stick out in my mind.

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Photo of Mikus
3.16/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Medium amber, little bit of white head, good carbonation in pint glass (12oz bottle). Mild nose, hint of pine and light floral notes. Slight taste of piney hops, bit muddled tasting overall, light on hops (enjoy by still has 5-6 weeks...), not too wild about the flavors (even a bit of wet cardboard in there). Maybe fresher, or on a summer day? Clean mouthfeel in general, gently lingering flavors (unfortunately some bit off), easy drinking. Overall ok, but FL can do a lot better! I'll have to try a fresher one sometime, maybe in a mixed 12 pack...

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Photo of claytri
3.16/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The beer poured golden with an off white head. The aroma was light malt with some fruitiness, and hops. The taste is a little bit of malt up front, a small rush of fruit, and then a big hit of hops leaving a bitter aftertaste. The feel is light and dry. A bit over hopped for my taste, I could do with more of the malt and fruit. A pretty typical hoppy pale ale.

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Photo of ffejherb
3.16/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle into pint glass. Best by date: 9/12/07 (a little late).

A - Clear amber body with two-finger head that quickly shrunk to a thin, whispy rim that held on to the end. Very modest carbonation.

S - Hops are predominantly citrus with grapefruit being at the forefront. There is also some sweet caramel and bready malts present, but the nose is primarily citrus.

T - Sweet initial flavor with a lightly bitter finish that lingers for quite a while for a pale ale. Nothing spectacular. Mostly sweet malts and grapefruit.

M - Light body with modest carbonation and a creamy, though a tad watery, texture. Finish is a bit metallic and bitter.

D - Decent pale ale with a pretty long-lasting bitterness for the style. Just a bit watery on the palate, possibly due to the date being two months past its prime. Not overly complex - mostly caramel and bready malts with citrus hops. Still, it's tasty and drinkable.

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Photo of bort11
3.17/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to DuqTroops for this one.

12 oz bottle poured into an Imperial pint glass. Not a whole lot of head here, only about a half inch at the most. Quickly recedes to a thin film. Color is a clear copper.
Smell is faintly sweet with a hint of bitterness in the back. Taste is predominantly malty and sweet up front, and the hops finishes out to give it some balance.
Mouthfeel is on the lighter side, which really adds to the drinkability. Goes down very smooth, I could session this easily

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Photo of LAp
3.18/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours an almost amber color, with a half-finger head that quickly recedes, leaving only a trace amount of lacing. Nose is relatively nondescript, almost floral or light fruits, with a sweet, malty undertone. On the palate, a base level of malt continues all the way through, from the slight hop outset to the mildly fruity finish. The beer has a malt aftertaste almost reminiscent of a cheap lager. It's been a year or so since the last time I had this beer, and not only is the label changed, but the beer tastes less hoppy than I recall. What I remember was a good but not great pale ale. What I taste now is thoroughly meh. Drinkable. Inoffensive. But nothing I'd buy again.

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Photo of cameraman
3.2/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A lite copper color, with an off white head that disappates very quickly. A slight scent of roasted barley, with a string citrus hop aroma at the end. The taste starts with the sweetness of the malt and then the hop flavor begins to dominate the taste. In the mouth it feels watery with a slight tingle from the carbonation. Even with the lite look and faint scents, the flavor was fairly good. The mouthfeel was surprisingly disappointing, but overal this is at best an average beer.

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Photo of HeavyMetalBrew
3.2/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear, some head. Golden color.

S: Grains/hay. Some hops.

T: Very grainy. Toasted notes. Citrus hops. Bitter finish.

M: Carbonated. Wet. Easy to drink.

Overall: This is an average beer with nothing special about it. Reminds me more of a pilsner than a pale ale. A decent beer.

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Photo of Ricochet
3.2/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a red/amber red that looks more like an amber ale than a APA, little head and fizzes like soda. Smells standard. Hoppy grapefruit in a malt base. Mouth was average also, it has a little bitterness and a clean wash. Taste, this is a good APA, a little better than average but nothing special. Hops and malt are pronounced, fruity flavor is far back there. A strange "processed" aftertaste in the background, like the malt was milled too much?? Best way to describe it.

All in all, an average beverage from GL, prefer the Holy Moses or the darker beers.

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Photo of aracauna
3.21/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The body is a metallic amber with a nice yellowish-white head that builds easily and lingers for a bit. The aroma is moderately hoppy and the flavor has a nice bit of caramel to supposed the bitterness. There’s just something about it that strikes me wrong. It’s not bad, but I’ve had APAs that I much prefer to this one. One of the few beers by Great Lakes that I don’t like for the style.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.21/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with fun label art and branded silver pry-off pressure cap acquired at Zipp's Liquor in Minneapolis, MN for $1.79 and served into a weissbier glass. Expectations are high given the brewery. Reviewed live. "A handcrafted pale ale." 6.0% ABV confirmed. Enjoy by: 11/13/13. Reviewed as a pale

Served cold - straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a four finger wide head of white colour and nice even consistency. Decent thickness, creaminess and frothiness. Retention is good - about 5-6 minutes. Even lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a clear translucent copper of average vibrance. No yeast particles are visible.

Overall, it's an appealing appearance and I'm eager to try it, but it's not unique or special. No egregious flaws.

Sm: Clean. Floral hops. Pale malts. Vague fruity hop character.

No yeast character or alcohol is detectable. A pleasant aroma of average strength.

T: Pale malt backbone is joined by a floral hop profile with hints of fruity hops.

Cohesive and enjoyable, but not gestalt, complex, subtle, or intricate.
Clean, without any real yeast character. No alcohol comes through.

Average depth, intensity, and duration of flavour.

Mf: Smooth, wet, well-carbonated, nicely thick, and medium-bodied. Suits the flavour profile well. Nice unobtrusive presence on the palate.

Not oily, astringent, harsh, gushed, hot, or boozy.

Dr: Drinkable, but I hoped for better from Great Lakes. It's a quaffable pale ale but offers nothing memorable. Will get lost amist the plethora of superior beers in the style. I might get it again if I'm in the mood for a pale ale, but I wouldn't recommend it to friends. Certainly not world-class, but well above average.

High C+

02/11/17: 2nd impressions from a bottle bought in Chicago:

Heavy on the caramalt/toasted malt for a pale ale, bringing it closer almost to an amber in terms of perceived malt sweetness. Hop profile brings hints of grapefruit alongside the dominant generic floral hop character.


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Photo of thagr81us
3.23/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served from tap into a sampler tumbler. Poured golden yellow with a half finger white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet/skunky malt and wheat. The flavor was of skunky malt, wheat, and sweet malt. It had a light feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this wasn't a bad brew, but it also wasn't that great either. The skunky aspect on this one hurt this brew overall. I would have loved for it to have a little hop character to help overcome some of the skunkiness going on here. Get rid of the skunk aspect and I would be willing to try again. Until then, not so much...

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Photo of gordavidson
3.23/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- A clear orange liquid with a few streams of carbonation making their way to the surface. The head is thin and splotchy and has decent retention. Looks about right for the style.

S- Caramel, flowers, and cut grass. A little on the mild side.

T- Sweet caramel, grass, light fruit, and a touch of steamed vegetables. Tastes a little homebrewed.

M- A nice carbonation bite accompanies the bitterness. Some of the flavors persist.

D- A decent beer that is drinkable, but just a bit forgettable. There is nothing wrong with this by any means, it will just get lost in the shuffle.

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Photo of Infamous7100
3.24/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This review comes from someone who is not a huge fan of pale ales, so take that for what's its worth.

A: A light amber color with about a finger and a half head. Lacing was minimal.
S: Some citrus and pine on first whiff. A little alcohol peeks through as well.
T: The citrus and grapefruit are apparent but not overwhelming. Bitterness is a factor, but not the defining factor.
M: Very crisp and clean, lager like. Bitterness fades rather quickly. Moderately carbonated.
D: For a pale ale, I would say this is highly partakable. Enjoy this as an introduction to the style and beyond.

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Photo of djmichaelk
3.24/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a lowball glass (hey, it's all I had in the hotel room). Best by date area was blank -- looks like the bottler or printer missed it on this bottle.

A - Poured a slightly hazy amber-straw color, with a big, fluffy, two-finger head. Took several minutes to dry down to a thick cap, which left nice rings of lacing down the glass. Very pretty.

S - For a pale ale, it's okay. Very little in the way of hops, more maltiness than anything else. A bit of earthiness that doesn't necessarily benefit it.

T - More malt, with a fairly bitter backbone but missing the usual highlights from the hops. It has elements of toasted oats and cereal in the finish. Fairly dry, and as expected no detectable alcohol.

M - Fairly thick, coating the inside my my mouth and heavy on the tongue. Kind of creamy feel due to somewhat low carbonation. Sticky.

D - At 6%, it's not definitively sessionable, but seems light enough that I could go through a 6-pack if I liked the taste more.

O - It's not bad by any means, it just doesn't seem remarkable in any way to me for the most part. It's possible that I got an old bottle, since there was no date.

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Photo of chinabeergeek
3.24/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i believe this bottle was from vwcraig. someone correct me if i'm wrong.

12oz bottle with best by date of 5/10/09. tasted in mid-april 2009

clear, pale golden amber. 2+ finger, off-white head, puffy and bubbly, fades to thin layer. some thin rings of lace, esp up top.

aroma: floral hopping with only hint of grass, and even less of pine and citrus. gives way to malty caramel and toffee, but does finish with more hints of piney resins.

taste: resinous and piney hop is moderate, but a bit one-noted in flavor, with moderate bitterness (again, resinous). light caramel malt, just a bit watered down though. metallic notes in the resinous finish.

not too thin, some resins into the finish, but getting astringent. lightly prickly carbonation.

still ok, but seems to be way past its prime, even though it was technically consumed before the "best by" date.

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Photo of ybnorml
3.26/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A clean copper colored beer. Has a big foamy beige head with some lace. There is a sweet malty cereal aroma with a creamed corn note in the background. A start of malty sweetness on the tongue followed a a light dry peppery hop finish. Easy drinking but I was put of by the corn note in the aroma.

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Photo of yesyouam
3.26/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at the Flour City Brewers' Fest 2008. Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale is a clear, slightly carbonated golden ale. The head is thick, foamy and off-white. It has great retention and leaves nice lacing on the glass. The aroma is a little muted by the head, but it's mostly fresh citrus, probably Cascade. It is medium bodied, a little starchy in the mouth and the finish is dry. It has pretty good balance, OK bitterness. There is a slight phenolic flavor. Not bad!
(rated Aug 17, 2008)

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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.99 out of 5 based on 3,201 ratings.
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