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

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very good
1,026 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: 1,026 | Ratings: 3,180
Photo of plaid75
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a medium copper hue with a one finger pillowy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a very aromatic oily citrus hop. There was a nice peppery element as well.

The taste was upfront oily hop with excellent grapefruit, orange and white pepper elements. There was a solid biscuity grain bill as well.

The mouthfeel was full with a dry finish.

Overall a very good APA experience. This beer has more kick than your average APA. Highlt recommended

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Photo of biegaman
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Burning River isn't all that fiery. In fact, it's actually a fairly dull and commonplace shade of gold. That's not to say it isn't kindled with just a smudge of amber but don't let the name or label put any pictures in your head. Its complexion is glossy, its clarity immaculate and its head bubbly and adhesive - this doesn't need any glitzy highlighting to look good.

This is supposedly an English pale ale but it's brimming with pungent, piny American North-West hops (Cascades, to be specific). And it gives you a little sample of everything the cones are capable of being: sprucey and piny, fresh and minty, herbal and earthy, zestful and spicy, candied and citrusy. One beer - a dozen different smells.

What ends up making the cut is the mintyness, the citrus and the herbal character. It tastes like a fresh, ripely picked hop cone that was drowned in pineapple and bitter grapefruit juice before being crushed together with fresh mint leaves. If Great Lakes Brewing ever decides to make a salad dressing flavoured like this I'll be sure to buy it.

The malts are tasted but even more so sensed. They are toasty and sweet with a sugary honeycomb flavour and trace nuttiness. The hops are felt too, even for a considerable period after the swallow, as they release their resoundingly bitter resins. Neither hops nor malt seem to dominate; having the presence of both in the same beer is appreciated.

If anyone is looking for a tasty, easily quaffed and highly rewarding pale ale then I might just point them in the direction of Cleveland, Ohio. There are pale ales out there just as good (even better) but there aren't many breweries who turn up as high a number of quality beers as Great Lakes. They either make good beer or they make great beer.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic.

A: Crisp, clear amber with a finger of dense white, head that is fairly retentive, leaving a thin white film and thin webs of sticky lacing.
S: Biscuity, caramel maltiness backed up by a floral, hoppy smell. This time its not quite as hoppy as I remember from previous samples.
T: Lighter body with very strong carbonation and hop bitterness results in a creamy, full mouthfeel. Finish is dry and hoppy. Body is well balanced between strong malty, biscuit like flavor, but most surprising for this APA is this very strong citrus hop bite. This is my favorite glbc beer and also one the biggest, most flavorful apa's I've had.

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

Sampled through the efforts of Murrayswine and UTBIF.

Pours a clear deep amber to almost copper colored ale with a tall tan head.

Smell is quite malt and spicy in the first sniff. Lots of malt scent and bready grain smells. Very spicy from the hops chosen for this beer. Individual aromas of caramel and nuts with a little bread dough and vanilla.

Taste is quite malty at the beginning with a trace of smoke and starts out a lot like a Scottish ale. Quickly the hops kick in and add a nice complex bitterness to this brew. Faint lemons in the hops but mostly I taste smoke, malt and drying bitterness. A very tasty APA that isn't just a SNPA clone. Spicy after taste that is cleaned up by a woody bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is very good and surprisingly full.

Drinkability is among the best. A damn tasty beer that isn't extreme in any respect. What makes this beer is a lot of great qualities extremely well executed. A malty spicy and smoky pale ale that doesn't get tiresome at all in your mouth. A superior APA in all respects.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up in West Virginia while I was on vacation there. A great session beer that I wish I could find locally, It pours dark golden with a thin head that sticks around and creates some decent lacing. The smellis lovely, with beautifully balanced earthy hops and a light malt background. Some cherry fruitiness at the finish. The taste is a beautiful example of a pale ale. Relativeley lightbodied, but with a nice fruity and bitter flavor throughout. Cherries and orange zest and earthy hops make this a delightful quaffer. Nicely balanced and crisp but full mouthfeel make this one great to have in the fridge often.

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: medium golden hue with a light haze and a lazy effervescence. Head is two fingers of frothy ivory foam. Not bad at all!

Smell: malty aroma with a strong biscuity/bready quality; in truth, not my favorite character. Moderately sweet and otherwise pretty nice, though.

Taste: sweetish malt aroma with more of that bready/biscuity quality. Hops are earthy in character with a balanced bitterness at the end. Not bad, but it just isn't my favorite flavor combination.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a good level of carbonation and creaminess. Good.

Overall: I want to like this beer. I feel like it is well-crafted and could be delicious to the right palate, but mine is not that palate.

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Photo of Derek
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At 6% and 45 IBU's, I'd call this an IPA.

A: Gold with a white head; very little retention, no lace.

S: Pine & citrus with a little toffee and bread.

T: Pine, citrus, biscuity malt. Good bitterness (not at all harsh).

M: Moderate body is smooth & creamy with a slight acidity.

D: Very good.

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Photo of dar482
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer comes in a dark reddish clear amber color with a fluffy white head.

The aroma has a brown toasted breadiness, some nuttiness, and a bit of orange peel citrus.

The flavor follows with that toasted bread and with tons nuttiness. The finish is pretty dry, some hops showing through of grass and earthiness. A clean lager finish.

A well made beer with that beautiful toasty malt.

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Photo of corby112
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly hazy dark golden orange color with a two finger frothy white head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. The glass is left coated with large chunks of soapy lacing.

Floral hp aroma with hints of earthy pine and a prominent citrus fruit presence. Hints of grapefruit and orange peel with pale, biscuit like malt underneath.

Medium bodied and very hop forward with a dry, bitter character up front that lingers over the sweet malt into a spicy, dry finish. Slightly resinous with an earthy pine presence that is balanced by sweet citrus fruit. Hints of grapefruit and orange peel balanced by a sweet caramel malt backbone that gives off notes of toast and biscuit.

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

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 9/6/11
*From notes

A: A good pour yields a 2.25 finger head and some pretty healthy lacing. Clean amber hue.

S: Bready, with a touch of bitter hops.

T: A bit hop forward, then it gives way to a hearty breadiness. A good amount of earth and grain arrive on the mid, and the finish is slightly green. Exactly what I look for in an APA.

M: Thicker then many in the style. Good depth here, and the carbonation is on point.

O: Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale is a damn fine APA. Easy drinking, flavorful and something even some of my BMC friends would enjoy. I'd prefer it at a lower ABV (say 5%), but as it stands, this beer kicks some serious ass.

Yet another winner from the great folks at Great Lakes.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.65/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A bright orange color sits in the glass revealing a medium strong effervesce that was quickly paced. On top sits a dirty bone colored head, foamy in nature, with some patchy spots with an overall slight statue and average retention. The lacing was weak on the hold, leaving quickly sliding bubbly patches that soon vanished within the drink leaving little to hold interest or impress.

S: Dried toffee and caramel along with some sugary pine hints first opens things up aromatic wise. The strength is light with some fresh soft citrus. With a name like burning river I expected perhaps a bit more feistiness and strength from the nose.

T: Nice sharp delivery and definition of citrus hops come to light with a flavor of sweet caramel malting. Proof you cant judge a beer by its cover, err smell. Sweet start turns to a warm toasted affair of caramel malts on succeeding sips with a warming citrus and alcohol presence. There is a bit of dried ale like fruitiness that comes to light briefly before the close along with some pine oils and a flowery dryness closing with a dose of toasted grains.

M: The mouthful was medium in body, warm citrus oils are detected on the inner cheeks while a good bitterins sense could be determined on the tongue. The carbonation is a bit tame at the start hurting the crispness factor but the swallow makes up for it with a dry flowery bitterness lingering behind.

D: Good drinkability, nice balance of toasted malts and hops that is neither over the top in execution nor under appreciated, seems they got it just right for the drinking factor. You can easily down a few of these with general conversation.

End Beer Musings: though my rating may say differently I did enjoy the flavor aspect of this drink, the most important. When not scrutinizing such factors such as appearance and aroma, you will find this to be a good pale with a moderate strong hopping per style and worthy of a try and to put down in repeats.

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

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer pours a bright light orange hue with a crystal clear body and a small off-white heat that is very creamy. A nice slow carbonation of small bubbles.

S- A nice aroma of green hops and citrus notes with some pale malt notes.

T- Nice grapefruit hops very bold at the begining of the taste. A slight orange hint is mixed with the pale malt flavor and a nice hoppy bitter finish.

M- Medium-full mouthfeel with no astringency or alcohol warmth.

D- This is a very smooth drink with a great juicy hop flavor. A well-built, easy-drinking beer.

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Photo of akorsak
3.68/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 oz bottle obtained in a trade with jdoolin.

A: The ale is a coppery red color with auburn orange highlight. There is a small ring of white head in the glass.

S: The aroma is a strong biscuit maltiness with a slight hint of hops.

T: The beer has a big malty base, grainy with a cereal finish. The carbonation adds an astrigent sharpness. The hops add a nice finishing flourish without detracting from the malts.

M: The malty graininess is the real winner here, providing thick tasty body of beer.

D: The ale has a nice malty grain flavor that makes it easy to drink.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this in a trade with joe1510. Thanks Joe!

It pours an orange amber with a huge head of foam and some nice lacing. Great head retention!

The smell is of earthy malt, some caramel, some fruit, and a light nose of citrus but it also has a bitter smell in there.

The taste starts off bitter with some grass and just a tad of citrus. Another sip in and I notice the malt which has both caramel and earthy flavours and...oh there's some biscuit as well. The mouthfeel is medium and very nice, the carbonation medium, and it finishes with a nice bitterness that lasts through to a shortish aftertaste. Very refreshing and easy to drink.

My second brew from Great Lakes and yet another tasty and interesting brew. My hat's off to them, for sure, for making an APA that kept my interest from first pour to last swallow. I really do like well made APAs. :^)

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

12oz Bottle

Appearance - The beer pours an amber colour with a large off white soapy head. There is an low amount of carbonation showing and there is some fantastic lacing draping down the sides of the glass. The head on the beer lasted for over 5 minutes before it dissipated.

Smell - hops, fruit/apples, caramel

Taste & Mouth - The is an average amount of carbonation and the beer has an amazing mouth feel. A nice balanced flavour and the beer feel very creamy and velvety. The most noticeable flavours are hops mixed with a fruity sweetness. There is also a light woodiness and mild caramel. The beer finishes with a pleasing fruit and hop aftertaste.

Drink - Just a fantastic pale ale, I'd rank this one up there with Sierra Nevada. It is extremely sessionable and it is a must try for pale ale fans.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Brilliant gold to amber under a 1” clingy white foam cap.
S: Grassy, grain, light malt, not a lot of hops, smells like the inside of a malt house as the steep tanks empty into the kiln.
T: No caramel but a light malt sweetness, fresh grain, light fruit, citrus.
F: Very creamy medium light to medium body, medium carbonation, smooth, dry finish
O: A well made and easy to drink American pale ale.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.68/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle obtained via SS08 from kirok1999. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1" beige head above the slightly cloudy orangey amber brew. Head lasts and lasts, with goodly amounts of chunky lacing. Aroma is balanced, leaning slightly towards piney hops. Taste is slight vegetal upfront, citrus hops in the middle, and then combination through the close. Mouthfeel is pretty smooth, and drinkability is about the same. Things just don't come together quite as well as I would hope.

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Photo of barczar
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a brilliant deep copper, with a frothy cream head that slowly dissipates, leaving sticky lacing.

Aroma is sweet, bready, with toasted caramel malt fading to light resin, pine, and muted citrus.

Citrus underpinnings of grapefruit and lime counter toasted, sweet, bready malt, somewhat caramelly, finishing moderately bitter and resiny. The sweetness provides respite from the hop bitterness. More well-balanced than expected.

Body and carbonation are moderate, with light alcohol warmth at the finish. There's a touch of astringency.

Somewhat balanced in extremes, with good hop flavoring character, albeit perhaps a bit one-note. Great malt presence, which was somewhat unexpected. Fairly rich. Not as bitter as some, but just a little more bitterness than I prefer. The balance is tipped slightly to the hoppy side.

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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 scruffwhor
3.59/5  rDev -10%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a middle of the road amber with good clarity. Not much in the head or froth department. OK bubbling though. The aroma has a strong hop with some orange spice and a little white pepper. The taste is about 70% hops and 40% malt. Mild toast flaked grain, but plenty of juicey orange peel hops. Starts sicey, and finishes lemon/lime juicy. Palate is a light juice to thick water, if that makes sense. This beer is great on tap. And very drinkable.

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

Short, dense, off-white head with plenty of clumpy lacing. Clear golden amber colour. Citrus hop aroma, slight floral character with sweet, biscuity malt. Good balance between hop bitterness and malt sweetness to start, citrusy flavour with a bit of floral hop and pine resin fill out the middle. Bitterness grows and lingers in the finish, but never overwhelms the rest of the flavour. Medium/light body, moderate carbonation. This is a solid pale ale.

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Photo of rfgetz
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dulled gold color with moderate cap of white head, minimal lacing. Scent is a balanced mix of bready, lightly roasted malts and grassy and citrus (grapefruit) hops. Taste brings the same balance, but quite bitter notes coming from the grain and hops, somewhat earthy and grassy. Medium bodied, moderate carbonation, lingers on tongue. A good pale ale, definitely more balanced than many west coast style APAs that are more common.

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Photo of tigg924
2.9/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: 3/4 inch head, gold-orange in color, clear, medium carbonation

Smell: pale malt, citrus hops, and grass

Taste: caramel start, a strange bitter middle with citrus hops at the end

Mouthfeel: moderate carbonation, medium-bodied, sweet start with a big bitter middle spike that gets less bitter towards the end

Overall: An OK APA that I was a bit disappointed with. The bitter spike in the middle muted a lot of the other flavors. I like Great Lakes beers, but this one did not sit as well with me as others have.

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

Hazy dark gold with a decent beige head and slow decent carbonation. Hoppy-bitter aroma and flavor with an almost English style malt-hop balance. Medium bodied and light creaminess.

Fairly average for style (leans English malty) but cool name and label (Named after the infamous 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River).

Per GL website:
- An assertively hopped American Pale Ale with citrusy and piney cascades.
- 45 IBUs.
- 1993 GABF - Silver

Enjoy By: 05/16/04
Tasted: 03/29/05

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Photo of sweemzander
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. 07/04/10 best by date.

(A)- Pours a clear orange color that produced a good fluffy off-white head with decent retention.

(S)- A light dry pine with lemon and pineapple.

(T)- Very similar to the smell. A good piney lemon and pineapple citrus with a nice light caramel-like sweetness.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. A good hop presence despite its age. Smooth going down with light bitterness.

(D)- A solid to great pale ale. A good refresher with a solid balance and taste.

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Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.99 out of 5 based on 3,180 ratings.
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