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: 3,211
Photo of woodychandler
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I sometimes wonder what takes me so long in reviewing a beer. By ticking this one, I will have reviewed 10 of the 12 most-reviewed APAs and it is not like this one is some obscure offering that I had to trade for. Hell, in college at Pitt, I would often use this beer as a Saturday (ahem!) morning warm-up prior to tailgating and home games. Speaking of Pittsburgh: Number of rivers in Pittsburgh = 3. Number of rivers in Pittsburgh that have caught fire = 0.

From the bottle: "What do you do when your river catches fire from excessive pollution? Clean it up and throw a hoppin' party! Our annual Burning River Fest is the premier environmental education and music festival celebrating clean water and other eco-initiatives across the Great Lakes region."; "World Champion Gold Medal Winner World Beer Championships"; "Named after the 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River, our American Pale Ale combines a citrusy Cascade hops flavor with a fruity assertiveness."; "In keeping with the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, this beer is traditionally brewed from all natural ingredients: barley, hops, yeast and water. No chemicals or preservatives are used."

Man and boy, I would just love to take some potshots at Kleveland (backwards "K") in this review, but I frankly love GLBC and their beers! In August 2008, I hit it just right to attend their Brewer's Dinner and their Brewery Tour on consecutive nights. Their brewers know me, their reps know me, I wear a couple of their wristbands, so how can I diss them now? OK, not now, but I reserve the right to hate on Kleveland at will.

I got a lovely two fingers of eggshell-white head with good retention off of my pour. Color was a classic shade of deep-amber with NE-quality clarity and should be the standard for Lovibond in the style. Nose reminded me of just how fresh this was, courtesy of Sunday's visit to The Fridge. The grapefruit scent cut right through my burgeoning sinus headache and made my eyes pop. Mouthfeel was medium and the taste was about as perfectly balanced between hops and malt as I have experienced for a while. You listening, Lazy Magnolia, with your overly hopped Deep South P.A.? Finish was semi-dry as compared to AIPAs which are my go-to, but perhaps dry when compared to others in the style. I am not a style maven, but I know what I like. I like this beer. My name is Woody Chandler and I approve this message.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Another great offering from a great brewery that just came to the Twin Cities Market. This pale is toasty and rich, slightly honey-sweet. The hops appropriate and harmonious with the big hit of hops at the tail end of this treat. Clean copper color, Nice white head. Great Lakes really has a handle on every style I have tried from them. Thanks for remembering that we are on the Great Lakes, Great Lakes Brewing Company!

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Photo of callmeclemens
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on Tap at Twelve Steps Down in philly.

Pours a nive Golden color, smells of bready citrusy malts, hops, and a another strong hit of hops.

Tastes is imeadiatley thick of hop with a touch of bready malt and a nice citrus finish. Laced ncley down the glass as I went along

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Photo of psyphin
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Bright copper orange with a fluffy white head with nice lacing.

S - Toasty malt breadiness and oodles of citric american hops.

T - Chewy malt middle mixes very well with the hop combination in this beer. One of the best balanced examples of a true APA and not an ipa light.

M - Perfect carbonation with a medium body.

D - Superbly sessionable pale ale that I come back to time after time.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Nice clean and clear soft copper color with a gargantuan soft yet crusty whitish top that sits a good while before fading down to a haze and coated the glass decorously with thin whispy curtains.

Aroma is soft as well, everything is soft in this beer, but in a good way, a very good way! Pleasant toasty malts that are breadish in tone and the hops are slightly floral and dry with some favorable dulled citrus and wood. Very nice nose...I believe this has some Hood hops abounding.

Taste is soft and well rounded, yet solid in body and feel to keep that charge of character going strong. And this is characterized in a gratifying presence of both a super nice toasty warm malt profile and pleasantly soft and milding hop balance that brings in refined and subtle layers of wood and dulled floral citrus; quite yummy...scratch that, very yummy! Feel is dead on for a pale, clean, soft, full, well rounded, yielding toasty malt warmth, smooth bite of bitterness and quaffable to the fullest. One hell of a pale!

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Photo of malty
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Long neck bottle with drink before date stamped on back of label.

Almost glowing orange-copper color which was brilliant and clear with a fluffy off-white head that stuck around quite a while. Beautiful lacework.

Fresh herbally hop nose with a nice fruit aroma also.

Clean, clean, clean. Gentle but prickly hop notes that remain fresh and dry. An undercurrent of bready, nutty malt keeps a nice balance to this somewhat light-medium bodied beauty.

Mouthfeel is soft with the tiniest of bubbles that keep it interestingly airy and playful. Beautiful dry, somewhat long finish.

Drinkability is quite high as I thoroughly enjoyed this ale. The dryness of the hops begs for another, and another quaff.

This beer is superb. It's elegant and graceful enough to be paired with the fanciest foods, or a trusty sidekick while playing cards with pretzels and peanuts. One of the top 5 Pale Ale's brewed in the US, period. Had the pleasure last October to enjoy this and several other Great Lakes offerings - splendid craft brews. These guys really know what theyr'e doing.

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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 cokes
4.63/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A rich looking amber glass that spawns a tight, greasy off-white head. Great retention, sufficent lacing.
Nose of fresh grapefruit juice and perhaps a hints of honey sweetness. Some grain here too, but buried.
Great Lakes pulls an incredible balancing act here. Lots of grapefruit is perfectly evened out by a slightly toasted sweet malt. A pleasant graininess remains on the finish, with lingering, assertive, but not obnoxious hops. Phantom apparitions of vanilla throughout.
Solid mouthfeel. Silky smooth and creamy. Medium-full bodied. Thins out towards the finish. The only chink in the armour.
A beer that can be appreciated and quaffed. But is is hard not to drink this fast. And keep 'em coming.
A favorite among APAs. I love this one.

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Photo of dhannes
4.63/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottled into a standard pint glass.

A=Medium yellow, with prominent 3 finger head. Slight cloudiness. and lemon.

T=Nice mix of sweet and bitter...reminds me a bit of a Vienna Lager--bitter presence, yet sweet...strong flavor.

M=Perfect body and light carbonation...very drinkable.

O=Another great beer from Great Lakes. I continue to believe that they have the best offering of micros in the U.S.

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Photo of marcobrau
4.62/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Possibly the best American pale ale in the universe.

Pours pretty, light amber and clear with a white head of foam. This is a golden ale with a wonderful, cedar-pine aroma....but the taste...oh, my....crisp toasted malts mix wonderfully with cedar hops that pave the way to a dry, bitter finish. So simple, but so good. The mouthfeel trends towards light from medium and the carbonation is ample enough. I think this is my new favorite pale ale. A little strong for the style, but oh well...I'll just try not to drink too many.

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Photo of ckollias
4.62/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this 12oz bottle out of a large snifter glass.

A: This brew pours a solid amber color with a frothy, white, 2-finger head that quickly dissipates into a wispy lace.

S: Strong citrus hoppy cascade aroma fills the nose with every sniff. Hints of caramel in the background.

T: Surprisingly super aggressive hoppy for a pale ale – tastes more like an IPA. Lots of citrus and fruit in every sip. Hop flavor dominates this bitter brew with a decent amount of malt to back it up.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation

O: Since I love IPAs, and this is what it takes like, this American pale ale was right up my alley. I’ve tasted some IPAs that weren’t this hoppy! Well done.

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Photo of JoshuaJ
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What a damn solid beer, this one.

Darkish copper with a decent head and some good lacing.

Smells hoppy. Really hoppy. A little grassy, and a little citrusy. Sweet malts.

Taste starts with a hop bite, fades into a biscuity malt and finshes with crisp, dry hops again. Not overly complex, but just about perfect for a pale ale, or IPA. And speaking of which, I'd say it's more of the latter.

Mouthfeel is really nice. Crisp, not very heavy. Carbonation is good. Very dry.

Drinkibility is good. This is one that'll please hopheads, and one that I could drink all day.

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Photo of Amalak
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Another homerun for Great Lakes. I had out of a bottle. It was redish-brown. Very bubbly with a greatly bubbly head. Clear beer.

It has a beautiful floral, bitter taste. Very hoppy. Crisp. There's a vegetable taste to it. This is about as perfect a Pale Ale as I've had. Love it.

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Photo of erosier
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big Thanks to CMitchell for this one!

L: Pours a great amber color with a medium sized and medium bodied off white colored head that laces the glass nicely on the way down.
S: Smells of sweet malts, a nice floral and citrusy hop aroma at the end of the nose.
T: Extremely well balanced taste between the sweet malts and the floral and citrus hop flavors that really round the flavor out well.
M: Very crisp, fresh, refreshing, perfect amount of carbonation.
D: Very drinkable, this is what a pale ale should taste like, I absolutely loved it.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A beer like this really makes me want to invest in the variety case.

A - Pours a solid golden amber with at least an inch of the fluffy stuff.

S - Wow very hoppy indeed. Slight citrus and grapefruit hops in the nose with little grain.

T - Ow man this beer drinks good! As most Pale ales make me avoid the style this one comes off as a sweet IPA. Almost as hoppy as Dale's Pale ale but not quite with a solid malt base making it smooth.

M - Light to medium. Enjoyed every drop.

D - I have been impressed by every Great Lakes beer I ever had and this one is no exception. Full of hoppy goodness, solid malt base sweetening the deal, and affordable cost (cases starting at a mere 28 bucks) its pretty much a go to beer. A world class Pale ale!

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Photo of wyllder
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

First off: Huge thanks go out to Matcrill for the chance to sample this.

Pours a cloudy golden amber with a small white head. Leaves a good bit of sticky lacing on the side of the glass as you go.

Nose is a nice mix of caramel offset by citrus bitterness and a sawgrass smell.

Taste is, well, damn good. Palate is perfectly balanced, with the caramel from the malt arriving at the same moment as the slight citrus bittering and some grassy notes behind that. Aftertaste is mildly bitter and IPA-like.

Mouthfeel is very good as well.

I could drink this all night, if only it were local.


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Photo of ypsifly
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

120z best before May '05 poured into a pint. So I'm a month late, I'm sure she's still fine.

Copper/amber with a two finger head of white that clings to the glass and shows good retention.

The nose is a nice balance of caramel malts and fruity/piney hops, lots of both. Am I sniffing an IPA?

The taste starts off with slightly sweet malt and then juicy hops jump in and ride all the way through to a clean, dry finish. This puppy has depth and character.

The mouthfeel is a bit heavier than most PAs, but this is a good thing. Full enough so that your whole mouth feels it, without any chewiness or residual oil. I gave this one a 5 for drinkability 'cuz its (kinda) low in alcohol and just tastes so damn good.

I can't believe something so tasty is named in honor of a river that was so polluted it caught on fire!

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Photo of mickstepp
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I get into Cleveland on business frequently and I always stop in at Great Lakes. Their brews are consistently exceptional and the Burning River is among their best offerings. Nicely hopped but with enough toasty malt to keep it well balanced. Citrus aromas. Pretty copper color. Nice head. Nice lace. This beer ranks right up there with my other favorite Pale Ales (Hopdevil, Stone, Bell's, Hop Ottin, Barrel House, Three Floyds, Sierra Nevada). The convivial atmosphere of the brewpub doesn't hurt. One of the top five beer spots in America.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Golden amber with a nice head of white foam that lasts. Nice lacing too. A lovely aroma of fresh citric hops, and nice bready/biscuity malts. I smell a hint of caramel in the mix as well. The taste is very hoppy and fresh up front, and bready and sweet in the middle with a lovely/fresh finish. The mouthfeel is amazingly creamy, and this beer slides down your throat like no other. Wow, I am really becoming a huge fan of GLBC aftter this and the dotrmunder gold (not to mention their porter and marzen)

A superior pale ale!

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Photo of deejaydan
4.59/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a beautiful copper color with a floating head, this beer leaves rings in your glass.
Aroma is muted, but mostly fruity esters is what I pick up.
Taste is increadibly and beautifully balanced. Hops up front, malt in the back taste.
Mouthfeel is good, slightly thick, just enough carbonation to keep this light in the mouth.
Drinkablity?? Yes, I'd love another, and another, and another.

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Photo of u2carew
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(A) Rust color. Pours with a nice, controlled head.
(S) Before I even read the bottle I knew there had to be Cascade Hops in the mix. Fantastic fruity / citrus aroma with hints of peach.
(T) Smooth hop bitterness combined with malty sweetness. Slight oak and Very mild, close to barely noticeable, bitter aftertaste.
(M) Good mouthfeel. Not too light and not too heavy bodied. Good carbonation balance.
(D) A GREAT pale ale. Would be even more fantastic on a summer / warmer day instead of the middle of winter.

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Photo of karst
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ten days after its clearly printed "please by date" I poured the beer named after Cleveland's burning Cuyohoga River into a fine Corsendonk tulip shaped stemware glass (rinsed with unfinished Dirt Cheap pilsner from yesterdays AM tasting) I knew that the Great Lakes Brewing Co. was going to be a treat. The hops and aromas will magnify in this kind of glass. The beer rinse would insure my best chance to see the head capabilities. Absolute clear copper and head for a cover shot with a nose of sweet citrus hops, herbs, toasted malts and baked bread (not overly biscuit yeast aroma or taste). A Pale Ale taste that rises above the crowd and is as unique as the Sierra. One of the reasons why Europeans are flying to N. America for beer tasting vacations. I would love this cask conditioned and brewery fresh.

I keep reaching for the empty glass wanting more, alas it was sold out my last trip to Granite City Corral Liquors ( where this unpasteurized beer is kept in a chiller ) and I had to settle for a GL Dortmunder Gold which was more yeasty but still pleasing.

I am a body freek and like this medium full body. This beer taste is great (from 45° F to Room temp) in inspite of being old. Worth the trip across Missouri to locate this Champ APA this being said after trying about half of the Other APA rated 4.0+ overall. Burning River is most worthy of being in these good brew's company

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The beer pours an ambered golden color with a 2 finger head that falls to a quarter inch of foam over top. Very pretty color. The nose is very clean. Good crisp citrusy hop and a well blended caramel. One of the better APA's I've smelled in a while. The flavor is good as well. A slight bitter on the start, moving to a spicey and peppery hop. The caramel malt dances lightly in the background. The hop carries through as a light bitter in the background. Very nice flavor as well. The feel is moderate to thick with a moderate carbonation. Very drinkable beer. The flavor and nose work very well together. Definately a session beer. I give it an A+.

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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 klewis
4.56/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a clear dark golden with a massive head that subsides and sustains as a one-finger foamy layer. Tons of lacing.

S: Floral hops and tropical fruits

T: Taste is primarily of pine and a bit of citrus with plenty of hop flavor and bitterness all the way through. Chock full of flavor.

M: The carbonation stays out of the way in this brew, giving it a smooth, almost creamy texture. Nice and chewy with a medium body.

D: This beer is near pefection for an APA. I can't believe it took me this long to try it. I'm stupid.

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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.99 out of 5 based on 3,211 ratings.
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