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

very good
1,030 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: 1,030 | Ratings: 3,207
Photo of silks636
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle. Freshness date clearly stamped. Served in a Great Lakes pint glass, of course.

Slightly hazy amber with a frothy white head. Moderate retention and thick sticky lacing. Nose of caramel malt and heavy floral hops. Flavors of sweet bready malt to begin quickly followed by a serious citric hop bite. Very heavy handed in the hops department for a pale ale, but it is so damn well balanced. The malt thins toward the finish and leaves you with a dry piney aftertaste. Mouthfeel has a pleasant sting.

What an extrordinary brew. Wish this was available here in NJ as it would have a permanent spot in my fridge.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Some of us are old enough (barely) to remember that fateful summer day in '69 when the Cuyahoga River caught fire. Cleveland has really come a long way since then. It's a great town!

Not quite clear orange-amber with fine carbonation and a firm, French vanilla colored lid that has good staying power and leaves abundant lace. The aroma is bright and hoppy, smelling primarily of lemon and grapefruit zest. The flavor is well-hopped with a lovely bitterness. Again, grapefruit peel (Cascade?) is dominant.

Burning River isn't overly complex, but it's a more than solid, straightforward, high-quality pale ale. The finish is austere, with more than a hint of dryness. The mouthfeel is medium for the style. I could drink this beer all day and all night.

A couple of thoughts. GLBC seems to be incapable of brewing anything but outstanding beer across a wide range of styles. After sampling three of their offerings, I'm convinced that they have absolutely nailed down head/lace and carbonation/mouthfeel. Lastly, this bottle had a 'best by' date of Sept. 18, '03, a full 3 months before I purchased it and 3+ months before this review. I detected no problems whatsoever.

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Photo of masterbruewer
3.42/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a golden amber with thin off-white head.

The smell was citrusy and malty.

The taste was citrusy and malty with a bitter hops flavor in the background. An interesting blend of flavors. Maybe too much of a bitter aftertaste, almost an off-flavor, in this bottle.

The mouthfeel was light with not too much carbonation.

I want to like this beer, the flavor was great, but the bitter aftertaste is a strike against drinkability.

This bottle has an expiration date of Jan. 20, just 18 days away, maybe that accounts for some of the off-flavor notes.

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Photo of Shiloh
4.28/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I wish I had access to more of this fine brew, alas, I only have a single. Truly a hop heads delight, which I am one.
Mid amber in colour and just a tad murky. Crown was 2 fingers moving to a full lace.
Carbonation was medium.
Citrus aroma that wont quit.
Taste initially has a taste of grapefruit then moves on to a lighter orange peel.
My compliments to Great Lakes.

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Photo of goz
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours light amber, with a large creamy off-white head that slowly diminishes, leaves great lacing. Aroma is of pale/bready malts, with a strong amount of cascade pine hoppiness. Flavor starts with some pale malts, a bit of woodiness, and finishes with a strong cascade hop presence. Medium-full body, dry, fairly bitter, very enjoyable.

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Photo of marc77
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Copper hue with a slight haze. Lofty, pitted, persistent ivory white head leaves frothy, sparse lace. Balmy citrus dominated hop nose comprised of pink grapefruit and sweet lemon, with floral, nectar like tones secondary. Understated light lovibond caramel malt presence. Well rounded and appetizing aromawise. A transient, well baked biscuit note upfront in flavor fades quickly, yielding to a combination of mild toffee and candied lemon zest. Hop bitterness of a gentle nature leaps in mid palate, quickly drying the flavor profile. Leafy, lemon tea like hop flavors surface late, adding subtle earthy hints. Moderate in body, with the well calculated dextrin content lending a soft, lightly viscous mouthfeel. Finishes slightly sweet, with fleeting hints of sweet marmalade and grainy cracker. A tasty, fairly complex pale that remains light on the palate. Not as assertive in hop character as I remember, but very enjoyable and drinkable, regardless. Thanks to AKSmokedPorter for reuniting me with this upper midwest staple.

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Photo of Sammy
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

overwhelmingly citrusy, lots of carbonation bubbles, under a small head. Understated bitter finish to the citrus, and citrus in aroma. bit overcarbonated and lighter mouthfeel.A great summer beer.I have never had a bad brew from this brewery. This is the rerating after not having for 2.5 years.

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Photo of Onceeven
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a slightly hazy golden/copper hue. Good 1 inch head that dissipated slowly after a few minutes, and left thick lacing down the side of the glass. Smells of caramel maltiness with floral bouquet. Mouthfeel is more on the creamy side and coats the tongue nicely.
Initial taste of carbonation with hop surge. Subtle malt presence, but hops dominates the palate. Crisp finish to a extremely drinkable brew. One is simply not enough!

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Photo of xgrigorix
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Twelve ounce brown bottle. Best by date printed on label.

Medium gold, clear. I was surprised by the clarity, because it looked like there were floaties in the pour. A dense off white head sits proudly on top.

A boat lad of citric hop aromas, along with some fruit.

Some nice sweet caramel up front, followed by big orangey hop flavours. Straight forward & well done. Soft on the palate, with a somewhat creamy texture.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.26/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a very bubbly amber into a pint glass. Just barely missed bubbling over the side of the glass. Recedes to a thick covering. Leaves a crystal blanket of lace down the glass that is pretty cool.

Smells very citrusy, primarily hops. Secondarily, well...nothing! This beer is shaping up like hop-head pick so far.

The first taste confirms the aroma. A hop blast, full bitterness all the way - bitter finish, grapefruit aftertaste, the whole bit. Once you get accustomed to that, the good fullness of malt can be tasted, nearly felt! I think this plays a Pale Ale on TV and is an IPA in reality. Regardless, it's tasty!

Mouthfeel - good carbonation, solid body, oily lasting residue, no complaints.

Great Lakes puts out some great beers and this is no exception. I can't believe I've had this treasure in my mini-fridge for so long and just now got around to sampling it. I'll have to see how it tastes after 3 or 4...

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

Strong floral hop presence dominated by Cascades but I am sure their are other hop varieties present. Wonderful biscuit malt background highlights this excellently constructed beer. Great for a session. Truly the premier example of the style of the American Pale Ale.

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Photo of sabrills70
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Color is a copper orange with a medium frothy head, nice lace. Ever so slight haze. Smell is citrus hop with a good malt presence. Very good taste. Hoppy as a pale ale should be. This one has some citrus - cascade perhaps. Nice malt and hop finish. Good mouthfeel - not to thick. Clean and crisp. Drinkability is better than average, not one that can be glugged on a hot day, but one to drink while playing cards or watching football on the tube. A very good beer for the style.

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Photo of granger10
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one poured a nice copper color with a frothy head that lasted a long time. The flavor shows a lot of strong hoppiness to this beer. It's upfront flavor is a citrusy hoppiness that has a bite to it. But it soon gets a little restrained by the biscuity malt base that keeps this one from being an IPA and also gives it that added dimension that makes this such a good beer. The hops show throughout the body and finish of the beer. Finish also has some yeasty spicyness that combines well with the hops. A very good beer.

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Photo of DrunkMcDermott
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Has a big grapefruity smell and taste, almost like a wheat beer. The hoppy taste sublty changes as my cup warms up, to a more bitter aspect like an IPA. Excellent appearance and head for this style. I sampled this at a homebrew party among a sea of Oktoberfest beers, so this is a refreshing and welcome change of pace.

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

Before launching into a series of west coast beer I thought I'd set my palate on "hoppy." This helped.
Aromas of tanned, scorched biscuits and piney resins compete at the outset. The hop aromatics are bright, dandelion-floral with a trace of ruby grapefruit stitched into the baked red clay, wood and roasted starch bunting. Very clean.
On the palate it is tightly twisted with hard images of Nepalese tea, licorice, sour coffee, cardamon, grapefruit, parsley and root beer. Quite creamy in texture, the admirable mousse dukes it out with the tannins to a very long, potent, liberating finish. Baba Oreilly would be a good tune to play with this beer.
1. What's up with these SHORT "expiration" dates?? This is supposedly not to be consumed after exactly 6 weeks from now! And I just got it from the wholesaler!
2. I SWEAR this used to be labeled "IPA," and not simply "Pale Ale." Did this change about the time Commodore Perry IPA was introduced? Just wondering. I wonder if that peculiarly American phenomenon of "hop infaltion" is at work.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color was golden, with good head. The smell was very hoppy. The taste was very hoppy for a pale ale, with some hints of citrus. Mouthfeel was very smooth. As for drinkability, this is one I could definitely session on.

The Burning River is as good a pale ale as I've had, and every bit as good as Sierra Nevada. It pains a Pittsburgher to say this, but the Pale Ale is simply classic.

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Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a dull copper color with a active, crackling & fizzy head that settles down to a respectable level. Good lacing of the glass. The aromas come back again, reminding me of how much I enjoyed this beer when I first had it this past April. Hops all the way. Citrus and spice stand up and demand to be counted. The malty sweetness sits in a corner and pouts. Flavor is excellent. Distinctly sweet character up front until the hops arrive to steal the show, sitting upon you palate and abusing it like the schoolyard bully. Finishes with zing, too. Hops in the aftertaste. Good pucker factor. Another excellent beer from another excellent brewery.

Huge thanks to AKSmokedPorter for hauling this from Ohio to me.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.64/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Orangey-gold copper body, topped by frothy just-off-white head. Good lacing. The first burst of pine hit me when I popped the cap and poured at full arm's lenght. A closer sniff indicates a grove of grapefruit cleared in that pine forest. Heck of a nose for a pale ale. Imagining an IPA from these folks and my nose is burning like the river. A few healthy swigs reveal a resounding hop character, but not out of balance to leave the pale ale neighborhood. There is indeed a nice malt background the hops are being painted on. Nice hoppy aftertaste. Smooth and full thru the mouth and across the tongue. Oh, no, it's going too fast. Can't make it stop...

A great session beer for hopheads.

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Photo of moulefrite
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I know this is a good beer, yet for me another overhopped, pine resin smelling beer, (very redolent of the sticky "bud" I've seen at local police anti-drug demonstrations) that wows then becomes boring. I don't find this sticky,cloying, almost sweet yet bitter, style of pale ale too overly amazing. To me this is more of an IPA tasting beer, and when I'm in the mood for a Pale Ale I don't want a darned IPA. Sorry Hop Heads-I don't mean to come off so bitter. Nice, yet not my favorite in the drinkability category.

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Photo of GeoffRizzo
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Orange hue, thin, soapy head, decent lacing. Citrus and floral hops on the nose, some maltiness also. A definitive hops dominated body, crisp, fresh fruit flavoring, mainly grapefruit and orange peel, some malty backbone. Medium bodied, clean, tasty, world class as to be expected from the Great Lakes team.

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

Pours clear copper in color with a foamy white head. Aroma consists of grapefruit/citrusy hops. Medium to full-bodied. Mouthfeel has a nice creaminess to it that sharpens on the edges of the tongue. Burning River seems to reveal its flavor in two stages. The first has a nice malty and light fruitiness to it on the front. Then the beer takes an interesting twist. As indicative of the nose, the Cascade hops take over in the finish. Caramel and a piney bitterness conclude things. Flavor pushes the style of pale ale more towards that of an IPA. Intriguing beer for those who are fond of hops.

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Photo of Shiredave
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Expiration date: Aug-29-03
Medium , golden color, tall, pocked, white head but no carbonation rising in the glass.
Citrusy, Cascade hop aroma with some clean, bready malt notes.
Light+ body up front, mild, biscuity flavors quickly give way to stronger, piney hop and rich grain flavors that slam into the back of my throat like a bug into a Zapper.
Lack of malt body and carbonation makes for a lack luster mouthfeel, at least for me.
Finish is a unique blend of light, fruity malt and tingling hop bitterness leaving a pleasent, not overpowering aftertaste.
A solid, hearty Pale Ale that I bet is even better on tap.

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

Appearance: Pours a brilliantly clear copper with a light tan head that starts out huge and slowly shrinks to a thin cap. Good lacing on the side of the glass.

Smell: The aroma has a good dose of Cascade hops, with a floral character and a bit of grapefruit and pine needles. Underneath the hops, crackery and faintly caramelly malt provides a solid foundation.

Taste: Perfect balance between the malt and hops. Citrusy, floral hops sit atop a base of crackery, toasted malt. A touch of caramel is present too. The finish is a bit dry, but still retains a bit of sweetness. Fantastic!

Mouthfeel: Medium in body, with a smooth dryness on the finish.

Drinkability: Extremely good. This is a superbly balanced pale ale that could easily become a beer fridge staple if I had regular access. To be perfectly honest, I usually prefer my pale ales and IPA's to be over-the-top with the hops, but the balance here is just right.

Many thanks to 'Realale' for lugging this brew back from Michigan for me!

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Photo of Realale
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Edited 01/23/06: I have sadly had to edit my previous review to reflect what seems to be a permanent change in this beer. My original review remains below, but both aroma and taste are now marked by out-of-balance grapefruit aromas and flavors. What was once incredibly well-balanced, has become yet another over C-hopped APA. I hope the malt returns one day, and the hops again begin complex and well-integrated.

Clear pure copper in color. Huge, very fine slightly off-white head settles slowly to a solid 1/4" cap, and leaves nice lacing.

Nose is slightly sweet crackery malt below very floral hops. There is a touch of spiciness as well. Simply an awesome, perfectly-balanced nose.

Medium weight in the mouth with a firm base of malt. Perfectly integrated hop flavor leads to a long, lingering well-balanced finish. Could be carbonated at a slightly lower rate to give an even silkier mouthfeel, but this is darn near perfect. Easily one of the best balanced, yet complex, beers I've had the pleasure of drinking. Outstanding.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.53/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

re-rate 30 Aug 2003: The finish on this bottle was much better than the one I previously drank. It was far more malty. The beer was better balanced and I enjoyed it more.

up front hops w/ a slightly sour finish. a nice American Pale Ale, but nothing spectacular

Originally sampled 10 November 2002. I am writing this review from my notes. Burning River is a nice example of an American Pale Ale. The upfront flavors are hoppy. This brew finishes with a slightly flavor. The color of the beer is golden/amber. This is a good session beer.

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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.99 out of 5 based on 3,207 ratings.
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