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

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Reviews: 1,028 | Ratings: 3,201
Photo of JJKBeerLvr
3.72/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Bright amber, with nice thick and light colored head. The head lasted a very long time, and left a nice coating on the inside of the glass.

Smell: Pleasant, with a nice hops bitterness in the aroma. There is some sweet and citrus aromas, but the hops dominate.

Taste: A nice mix of hops and citrus flavors, that make for an interesting and complex Pale Ale. There is a nice after-taste, that lasts for a while but not too long.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and crisp, with a medium body.

Overall: This is an interesting and complex Pale Ale.

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Photo of DeFaz
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer has been around a long time, but it's reputation has changed a bit as folks have expected more and more hoppiness in their beers and as folks are drinking more IPAs. The beer hasn't changed, but it may not across as hoppy as it once did. For me though, I appreciate the biscuit flavor from the malt and how the malt and hops are both bold. This is an incredibly balanced APA.

The beer has a great color--very nice clarity--and the lacing and head retention are above average. The beer finishes fairly dry, but the thickness is spot on and the carbonation is just right. The beer is easily drinkable.

I'd put this one right next to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale as the two classic APAs that still shine but that unfortunately seem to be forgotten more and more.

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Photo of MNishCT77
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle purchased at Whole Foods on P St., NW D.C., unknown bottling date best buy date of 2/1/14l, poured into a DFH quasi-chalice, drank several on 12/4/13 over a few hours while homebrewing.

A: 3/3 - ambe-brown coloration, impressive clarity (likely filtered but can both see and read through), initial soapy white head dissipates into 1/2 finger glass lacing, moderate alcohol legs --> close to perfect appearing APA, methinks

S: 8/12 - muted citrus and grapefruit notes from Cascade shine through; as the beer warms, the malt character really comes across for me (C60-ish) with some warm biscuit qualities (Marris Otter as base malt?)

T: 14/20 - on the anterior tongue, there is a mild bitterness that quickly gives way, in the middle of the mouth, to some grassy and earthy qualities start to emerge; as the flavors develop in the mouth, the malt character shines through and is accentuated - toasted barley and muted figs; little-to-no alcohol presence; aftertaste is a pleasant maltiness that sits on the tongue for only a few seconds

M: 3/5 - moderate body with little-to-no hop resins, the alcohol is present; don't taste much alcohol; adequate carbonation --> overall high drinkability

O: 8/10 - have historically not been a fan of Cascade due to its bleachy and excessively grassy qualities when used in excess, especially as a component of dry hopping; this beer, however, uses Cascade for balancing, but, for me, it's the malt balance that really shines through; a very good APA but, to be honest, has been pushed aside by some of the aromatic pale ales with novel hops being made by lots of other American breweries

TOTAL = 38/50

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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 granger
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Burning River is a pale ale that has a one finger head with average carbonation following the pour. It has a bronze color, slightly deeper than the Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold. This beer has a strong citrus and hoppy smell that is consistent with the taste. As you taste, the crisp bitterness of the hops will stick around. Recommended to anyone who enjoys pale ales.

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Photo of Givemebeer
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a snifter... Realized the best by date was Oct 8... Oops

A: Amber and clear nice head and lacing

S: citrus tropical scent with some sweet malt aroma

T: follows the nose, deliciously tropical very well balanced by the malt

M: light-medium bodied

O: definitely my favorite APA. A must try for the style

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Photo of MacQ32
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - pours a light golden color with about a finger of offshore head. On retention, solid lacing.

S - Tons of great light fruity hips, apple, mango, grapefruit, orange. Mild bitterness and a wee bit of caramel sweetness.

T - Those light citrus flavors come through initially followed by a very mild hop bitterness. Finish and aftertaste is all sweet fruits. Great refreshing flavor

M - lighter bodied with prefect carbonation, ideal for the style.

O - good light citrus flavor, very drinkable. Nothing over the top but certainly enjoyable

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Photo of Slatetank
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I picked this up at Wegmans, enjoyed chilled from a pint glass.

The color is dark copper with off white head which leaves confetti lace and has great clarity with visible carbonation. Retention is good and bead is very fine. The smell is very fragrant of hops with a mild pine accent and very gentle fruity yeast scent. The feel is good with moderate bitterness and carbonation level with mild sweetness and light alcohol tinge with a mostly dry finish.

The flavor is a very good mix of malts with more of a German toasted perhaps vienna flavor with mild herbal and pine hop flavors following with some mild orange rind accents. The flavor of malt is pretty well balanced with the hops with a generally clean yeast taste very nice dry finish with no alcohol in the taste to speak of. Overall this is a different take on the pale style, with more german type munich toastiness and more herbal/noble type flavor than straight citrus, but it is very drinkable and well worth repeat tastes

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Photo of EBeckett3
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - coppery, medium head, decent laces
S- slight citrus, grass
T- balanced, floral, hoppy with medium bitterness, crisp
M- medium body, slight malt soothed the bitter but retained the crisp end
O- very, very good - wasn't long till I opened another one

Served in a 16 oz pint glass

Serving type: bottle poured into glass

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.93/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

We crack the top, pouring a deep golden straw colored brew into our Great Lakes pints. It holds a one and a half finger head of creamy, variable khaki colored bubbles, showing nice retention. This leaves wet, sheeted lacing dripping down our glasses. There is a chill, fading haze, but no sediment is noted. Carbonation appears to be active and diffuse. The aroma gives bright and bittering plastic phenols, rubber cement, wet cement, caramel and pale malt base, citric and grassy hops, green gourd skins, herbal leafiness, eucalyptus plantiness, yeasty metallics, sweet yellow corn, and fruitiness of pear, nectarine, and lemon flesh. Our first impression is that the flavoring is perversely ridden with plastics, but does allow enough room for bitterly grassy hops and sweet caramel malt base to shine through. As we sip, the taste opens with candy corn sweetness, pale, dried barley, straw, fructose syrups, wheat table crackers, bench lacquer, plastic phenols, bitter grassy hoppiness, and cloying cinnamon roll icing sweetness. The middle peaks with birdseed, alcohol, continued grassy and herbal hop simplicity, crispy pale malts, sea salt, clove and black pepper, gastric acidity, and sweet, sugary cereal graininess. The end is where most of the hops come through, with bitterly grassy and sweetly nectary varietals sitting atop a simple base of honey, pale and muddied wheat, sweet raw barley and corn, brewer’s yeast, frank metallics, and white breadiness. The aftertaste breathes of booze, plastics, vinyl, popcorn, nutty graininess, yeasty grit, continued pale malts, unsalted peanuts, vinegar acidity, straw and dried lawn, earth, mineral, and lightly resiny hops. The body is medium, and the carbonation is medium to high. Finishing pop stands out for the mouthfeel, as it is crisp, thorough, and robust. Slurp, smack, cream, and froth are all decidedly weak in comparison, but don’t detract from the experience. The mouth is left puckered and cloyed, with satiating salivation and light chalky astringency. The abv is fitting, and drinkability is high.

Overall, what we found to be most enjoyable about this brew was its simplicity through the taste and aroma, and its ease of drinkability. While we’ve had this beer many times in the past, and enjoyed it, today it seems to be striking our palates at a funny angle. The aroma and taste both seem to be wrought with a curious plastic component. This actually faded quite a bit with warmth, but it did simultaneously reveal a heavy malt base, which tended to overwhelm the hop components. These were also a bit more bittering and puckering than we remember, as well, but in the end it didn’t stop of from enjoying this drink and leaving it with fond thoughts yet again.

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Photo of JohnF
4.69/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

My wife asked me to buy some of this Great Lakes beer. I did not realize it won some medals and now I see why. A great lower alcohol beer; very smooth and everything a pale ale should be. I usually like heavier beers, but this one is very good for summer drinking and lower percentage.

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Photo of Knuckles_Nuclear
3.67/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a nonic.

A- Half-inch head quickly dissipated into a thin cap. very little lacing clung to the glass. The color was a pretty, clear amber-golden hue with plenty of lively carbonation.

S- At the nose, I whiffed faint notes of yeasty bread, citrus, bits of piney hops.

T- Caramel, toasted toffee, sweet malt, cut by a noticeable hoppy presence. Maybe some orange peel. Well-balanced and not overly bitter, but enough to cut the malty sweetness.

M- Bubbly, medium body, nothing fancy. Finishes clean.

O- A solid, well-balanced, drinkable APA. A tad hoppy for my personal taste, but keeping with the style. Not spectacular, but quite good.

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Photo of Act25
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow! As an APA fan (dales pale ale). This beer rocked me. Wish it came in cans.

Poured bottle into .5 l cylinder named Spaten.

A: Beautiful, clear, copper amber with large, dense 3 finger lasting head, and sticky lacing all the way down. Close appearance to Dales which is just a shade more copper.

S: Biscuit, bread, with leafy hops rising, but subtle. Stronger as the beer swirls and warms. More sea foam, beach, outdoors kind of head, sea side forest when you give a big swirl.

T: First, biscuity malt which trends to some citrus pith as plenty of hops engage ; the finish is fruity and bitter. Lots of hops tingle leaves you happy. A kissing beer. An original woody, fresh cut heart wood taste is included that give this beer an edge of originality, not unlike the strong pine of Dales.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a strong level of carbonation; crisp feel, great with food, in this case Salmon with garden tomatoes, peppers, basil, onion on toast w ny cream cheese, lemon olive oil and balsamic and pepper.

Drinkability: This is a top APA that everyone must try, and up there with my fave Dales Pale Ale.

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Photo of larryarms847
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a golden yellow with an ambery hue.

Light citrus, toasted malt, bready, slight sweetness.

Slightly sweet toast and bready malts, with a faint citrusy character and a light earthy dankness.

Light-bodied, medium carbonation, dry, bitter finish.

Overall, a balanced and decent brew.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.43/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at Santora's Pizza in Amherst.

Pours a rich gold, off-white head. Foamy, nice retention. Lace is nice. Pleasant-looking pale.

Smells grassy, citric, tangy and slightly savoury. Bit of bread dough. OK.

Tastes quite doughy upfront. Gets a bit of resinous hop midway with citric notes, pine needle, some paprika and dry wood. A bit on the savoury side, could use more tang.

Fizz on there, but the body is OK for the style.

Not quite as refreshing as I'd like, but some nice notes, and some interesting ones as well.

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Photo of WunderLlama
3.74/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into beer stein

Deep honey amber with no visible carbonation. Thick white four finger foam cap slowly subsides with decent lacings on the glass.

Aroma of citrus, lemon or orange peel, and pine.

Immediate taste of hOps but not too bitter. Citrus notes. Clean with no sharp after taste.light to light medium mouthfeel. Very good and worthy of a repeat sampling.

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Photo of utopiajane
3.44/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a deep gold with an orange hue. Mostly clear and effervescing. Good retention and sticky white lace. Nose is not what I expected. Weed like with lots of bread and nutty malt character. Caramel. Citrus is there but faint, a little floral and herbal, a hint of tropical fruit but doesn’t quite stretch out. Taste is grassy, very nutty , herbal, with lots of malt rolling sweetly over the hay like palate. Cracker, biscuit, and a little bit of sweet orange. Finishes crisp and dry with just enough bitter hop oil and sweet honey on a cracker. This is a very big malt Pale Ale that drinks lovely and smooth.

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Photo of JMScowcroft
3.75/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Great Lakes Brewing Company - Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale

Look - Pours a mostly clear deep copper with amber hues. Full foamy head that breaks down and leaves huge chunks of lacing. Good retention.

Smell - Deep almost red rich malts with some slight pine and tangy mango hops. Light on the hops.

Taste - Carbonated bready malt and a citrus hop punch, dry and bitter.

Mouthfeel - Light to medium bodied. Dry, chewy, and quite drinkable. Booziness is low at 6%.

Overall - Meh, this one didn't thrill me, there are far better. That is not to say that it was bad, because it wasn't at all, it just wasn't amazing.

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Photo of Dope
3.94/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

06/02/13 best by date.

A: Pours a clear ruby red. Big fluffy offwhite head. Head fades slowly, leaving moderate splotchy lacing behind. Nice retention.

S: Mild grapefruit and pine with a little biscuity malt.

T: A little pungent grapefruit up front. Backed up with just a hint of pine, primarily in the finish really. Dry biscuits for the malt in the middle. A little bitter and dry in the finish.

M: Medium bodied and standard.

O: Not a bad APA. This one's a little old so I gave it a little leeway on the scores. Nice and tasty and easy drinking though.

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Photo of TeamMathis
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Yellowish orange. Clear.
Smell: Flowery honey biscuits.
Taste: Flowery honey biscuits and Cascade hoppiness/bitterness.

I really like this Pale Ale. It's such a good balance of sweetness and hops. The smell is very distinctly flowery and biscuity with a touch of honey. The taste reflects this but adds that excellent bitterness. This is what I want out of an APA. I would definitely get this again.

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Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.46/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into becker pint glass. Golden orange, the color of honey, crystal clear with a medium-thick white head that dissipates pretty quickly leaving some delicate lacing. Smells of clean malts with slight bitter hops in the background. Taste follows nose; clean and smooth malts with a crisp bitter hop finish that rounds off a great-tasting beer. A great drinkable beer, I could easily put away a 6-pack of these.

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Photo of BeerYoss
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A- Amber/orange, some lazy carbonation, quite clear. the off-white head fairly quickly retreats to the surface and stays there. not much lacing on the way down

S- Strong citrus and pine hop smell.

T- Strong pine hop taste. I am not a fan of super hopped piney pale ales but this one presents the hops in a very clear and strong way without blowing away the rest of the beer. quite enjoyable. something in there reminds me of apples.

M- Clean and refreshing. pretty high on the carbonation. light body, doesn't coat the mouth too much

O- Very approachable. one of my favorite pale ales. it's not trying to be anything too unique. it is just good.

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Photo of thedoubler55
3.65/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a copperish orange in color, a nice one finger off white head at the top, and leaves a little lacing around the glass as you sip away.

S: A little bit of floral notes up front and some grassy notes as well, a slight hint of bread as well.

T: A nice mild pale ale, up front some sweetness with some bitterness on the tail end, grassy notes as well as some floral hint as well.

M: Medium bodied and a good amount of carbonation.

O: A very good pale ale, this brewery keeps on surprising me, glad my liquor store stocked up on this stuff, a good session beer.

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.52/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a deep orange to gold color. Fairly clear with only a hint of haze. Smaller, one finger head that retains well and laces pretty good. Head is off-white to cream in color.

S- Pretty big doses of floral and piney hop flavors for an APA that's best by date is in just a few days. Hops are dominant through the entire smell of the beer, with an occasional, very faint waft of sweeter malts.

T- Pretty much like the scent. This flavor profile reminds me a lot of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Hops start it off and persist throughout, prominent, but not quite dominant. Very consistent hops that won't overpower you, but also doesn't leave you wanting more. Ends with a crisp hop bite.

M- Crisp, clean, and pretty smooth going down. High carbonation and medium weight from the hops are the only inhibitors to swilling this faster.

Overall, a very solid APA. Like I said, this reminds me a lot of a SNPA. I would say this is the more eastern, or maybe midwestern version of a very standard, very solid pale ale like a SNPA.

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Photo of fitrock2112
4.48/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured the Burning River into a pint glass.

A - Nice amber colored beer has a finger and half of golden head. Looks like a pale ale should.

S - Nice hop bitterness, some malt sweetness comes through as well.

T - Very tasty creamy pale ale. Again some hoppiness initially, but the sweet malts come through mid palate. This brew has some body to it. Really nice.

M - I have to admit this is nice and creamy, medium carbonation.

O - Great Lakes does a fine job here, the best Pale Ale I've had to date.
Highly Recommended ! Cheers!

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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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