Great Lakes Red Leaf Smooth Red Lager | Great Lakes Brewery

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Great Lakes Red Leaf Smooth Red LagerGreat Lakes Red Leaf Smooth Red Lager

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Amber / Red Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Hints of caramel, nuts and toasted malt result in a fully flavoured yet deceptively smooth lager. A well balanced body makes it a perfect year-round beer. Red Leaf is an ideal match with burgers, stews, sandwiches and similar selections. 5% alcohol by volume.

Added by brewdlyhooked13 on 07-23-2004

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Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 59
Photo of DaveBar
3.79/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Purchased at the brewery for just around $2.25 or so for a 473ml can. Served at 4deg C in a draught glass

A- Opens well and pours a 1" high white head that is gone in a minute or so. Medium brown colour and filtered clear

S- Lots of malt. Touch metallic

T- Caramel and malt. Very nice overall though. Low on the hops but that's ok. Different style and has a body to it that is balanced and super refreshing. Like the malt base a lot.

M- Crisp but very mass produced north American style.

O- I like this one. Has a balance to it that keeps this brew a winner in my eye. Just enjoyable and will buy a few for the hell of it. Nice break and a decent price

Food Pairing

This nice little brew went well with..... Meat loaf. I like it with low filler and mucho ground beef. Recipe can be given if you message me.


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Photo of beersareonme
3.58/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap @ Sammy's in Brantford ON. It's a good pint, nothing too complex or new-aged. Just a decent red lager. I can definitely say that you can tell that it is "fresh". Makes a big difference! Cheers

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Photo of funkengruven
3.23/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Another can from my last LCBO trip, This one poured a dark brown/ruby with some slight white head which I suppose makes sense since it is a "Red" lager. Smell is very faintly of sweet malt, not a whole lot in the nose here. Taste is very light with a hint of sweetness in the finish but the hop profile is a little weak. Mouthfeel is nice and clean, this would go well with food s the flavor isn't overpowering, would also serve as a good "Lawnmower" beer on a hot day.

Overall it isn't bad. I'd get it again if it were on sale.

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Photo of SebD
3.3/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It has a nice clear amber color to it. It has a nice thick off-white head that dies down somewhat fast and leaves next to no lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of roasted and grainy malts, caramel and a light nuttiness.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a some sweet caramel, roasted and grainy malts, some nuts and a faint fruitiness.

Mouthfeel: It has a low carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with decent flavors and aromas.

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Photo of biegaman
2.95/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It'd be only too easy, given its name and branding, to describe Red Leaf Lager in a 'red and white' Canadiana theme. Alas that is not possible. For one, all traces of white head vanish. For two, it's not at all red but rather a smoky, brownish clay color that in places appears so dark as to be almost opaque (though in fact it is not).

The aroma smells of spent grain and has little other flavour. It's so grainy that it hardly smells 'malty'; the scent is dry as last year's hay and offers very little (if any) of the redeeming caramel qualities one should hope for. It's as if the beer were brewed from second runnings (grain that had already been used once to make separate beer).

The flavour profile, like the bouquet, is also characterized by a lot of spent grain but little other flavour. The ultimate impression is that of an unfinished beer: where there is any malty flavour it's that of wort (the sweet liquid extracted from the grains before it is fermented and bittered with hops). The resulting taste is like that of cheap honey.

Much as using the same tea bag two or more times will result in an increasingly weak, flavourless tea, at the risk of repeating myself, this beer's grainy, dry, thin, faintly sweet profile tastes as though it were made of second runnings. Hops as well as bubbles are completely absent, giving the beer neither bite nor texture and thus no refreshment.

Great Lakes Brewery has undergone a considerable revamping in recent years that has led to bolder, better and more confident offerings. This recipe, however, is still far more indicative of the old Great Lakes Brewery; it's too safe and, frankly, flawed to even be considered agreeable. They make a lot of great beers, but Red Leaf is nothing like them.

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Photo of Digimaika2
3.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Clear reddish-amber colour with a healthy depth of bubbly foam head. Satisfactory retention with spotty lacing.

S: Lightly roasted elements, floral, bubblegum, white grape, balsamic vinegar, and toffee. I'm detecting some varied aromas, but it pulls together quite well and makes this inviting.

T: Lightly toasted grains, herbal hops, faintly roasted elements, toffee, nuts, and an incredibly faint sour vinegar background taste throughout. Quite simple and generally subdued overall, nonetheless, still refreshing and easy to drink.

M: Light bodied with moderate-high carbonation. Clean textured that leaves a crisp finish.

D: A decent amber lager but not one I would necessarily revisit, especially considering the other very good Great Lakes products out there.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

473ml Can

Appearance - Slightly hazy amber/light brown colour with a fizzy beige head. There doesn't appear to be much carbonation and there isn't much lacing. The head lasted for 3-4 minutes.

Smell - Corn syrup, grain, malts

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation and I can taste toffee, malts, and hint of hops. There is also a little bit of citrus and a breadiness. It ends with a light malty aftertaste.

Overall - Picked this up in can format while forgetting that I had tried it from a bottle. It's a step up from the Macro beers out there, but I have reason to pick this up again. Especially since Great Lakes has their Crazy Canuck beer sitting right beside it on the shelf calling my name.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.13/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Tallboy can picked up at the LCBO. Early on in my beer-drinking career ambers were one of my favourite styles, but it has been a seriously long time since I've tried a new one.

Pours an appropriately amber-copper colour, with a mostly translucent body, atop which is seated an ample two-finger puffy off-white head. It lasts a few minutes before decaying to a creamy, even cap and collar on the surface. Not much lacing. The aroma is pleasant but nothing unusually good for the style - malt-forward, with toffee, nuts and lots of caramel. No notable hop presence on the nose.

A few things going on in the flavour department, but none of them are that interesting. Lightly roasted grains, lager yeast, some slight sourness alongside the expected caramel malt sweetness and nutty notes. Much like the aroma, there isn't a lot of hop here to balance the malts, just a bit of floral bitterness. Pretty crisp finish, without much of an aftertaste. Carbonation is a bit high for my tastes, it's definitely approaching macro levels. Light-bodied, watery and fairly refreshing.

It's drinkable, but really nothing special. Kind of reminds me of a cleaner Keith's Red, without the adjunct - better than the macro equivalent but overall it's a little disappointing because these guys are capable of better. Not something I am likely to recommend, or get again.

[Updated April 3 2014]

Alright, I'm a liar: I picked up another can. Usually when I leave a beer alone for a few years and return to it, my opinions have shifted a little. That isn't really the case with Red Leaf Lager, as this brew is essentially just as 'meh-worthy' as I remember. Let me make myself clear - this is NOT a bad beer, it's just a forgettable, uninspired effort. It's clean-tasting enough that I could drink this (and would always take it over, say the macro ambers), but it's not hard to find a better malt-forward lager for the price.

Final Grade: 3.13, a C+.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.28/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a a light brown/dark gold colour. Bright. Good carbonation. One finger of white head. Minute lacing, a film of head retention.

S - Caramel, nuts, and grain. Not your typical lager, but not especially inviting.

T - Slightly nutty, bready, a fair amount of caramel maltinessl. Some harsh graininess that goes away as it warms.

M - Well carbonated, medium body, and a sweet finish.

O/D - More complex than your typical yellow lager, but not especially good either. Standard and lacking anything I would really look for again.

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Photo of bryehn
3.62/5  rDev +16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice copper-amber colour with a rather small white head that has good retention and a fair amount of visible carbonation.

Very malt laden aroma. Chestnut, caramel and a plum-like tone are accompanied by toasted note and a nutmeg-like spiciness.

Relatively sweet taste with characteristics like the aroma. Dark toffee malts with a plum or red grape-like fruit tone. Backing of a fatty, nutty flavour and a hint of chocolate.

Quite thin-bodied with a prickly pop of carbonation on the front of the tongue before a creamy sensation takes over. A bit of a syrupy resin-like feeling to the aftertaste, but clean tasting with a hint of fresh grains.

Not a bad beer at all. It's very smooth-drinking and accessible. Would make a good choice for Sunday afternoon football parties and paired quite well with pepperoni pizza. Could use a touch more body.

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Photo of liamt07
3.6/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Can from the LCBO, 473ml into a pint glass. Canned on code is H1611, translates to August 16, 2011.

Pours a filtered copper with some amber-red highlights, white head which falls to a thick film and retains fairly well. Translucent body with visible and active carbonation. Nose has some caramel, grains, and some toastiness. Taste has more caramel, darker breads and some moderate sweetness to it. Graininess isn't as apparent as the nose, and makes this quite pleasant. Some hop notes and a touch of bitterness, but more malt sweetness than anything. Good medium-light body, with a relatively high carbonation. Fairly drinkable and this surprised me; I've always passed this up at the LCBO and at the brewery store, but this proves to be an easy drinking amber lager. Nothing off here, and this could pair well with a variety of foods I'd imagine.

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Photo of TheHammer
3.24/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A decent finger of head that barely laced and retained. The body is a decently clear red with a couple signs of carbonation.

Smell: Some light caramel malt, to a slight metallic background and that's about it. It's a bit too weak and warming doesn't help it out. All in all, could use some work here.

Taste: Starts with a mild straw and malt taste that permeates through the entire beer. A bit of light fruity molasses and a floral hop touch rounds it out. It seems to be like a blend of a traditional lager and a sweeter ale.

Mouthfeel: Nice carbonation, although a metallic note hamstrings the light caramel aftertaste. A little bit of a bumpy ride but comes off as crisp.

Drinkability: Very light bodied for an amber beer, refreshing and fairly easy to drink. This is a beer for getting drunk, it doesn't quite pack the punch you'd want in a meal beer.

Final Thoughts: It's not bad, you could do better but you certainly could do worse. Maybe you can use it to convert some Macro drinking friends, and I'd buy it at a bar as a local choice, but to seek it out, I wouldn't bother. Very run of the mill.

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Photo of Swedes21
2.58/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

341 ml served in a chilled glass..

Appearance - The beer pours an auburn colour with NOT a lot of head despite an aggressive pour. The head is a light brown and disappeared quickly. Minimal carbonation is present.

Smell - I can smell hints of caramel and hops. There is a touch of citrus, but not much. Not a tremendous smelling beer.

Taste - Not much offered in the taste. There is a slight bitterness at the start but not much after that. The caramel does not come through at all.

Mouthfeel - There is an added touch with the mouthfeel as the beer has some gained value via the carbonation. The beer citrus taste comes fwd as well as an aftertaste that lingers a little longer.

Drinkability - Not a beer i would stock or hunt down. The beer is pretty "blah" if you ask me and does not bring much game to the tasting table.

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Photo of karait95
3.51/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A pretty reddish color with some glances of amber when against light, complete head that leaves traces behind with a light beige color.

S: A faint toasted malty aroma, some sweet behind but not too intense.

T: Good flavor, toasted malt, barley with some hops that adds some bitterness but with a sweet touch.

M: Very refreshing tasting with very little bitter inside, a little combination of bittersweet can be felt but not too long final,

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Photo of MeisterBurger
2.81/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

For what it's worth, the label has been completely redesigned (for the better) from what is pictured here.

Pours a nice, deep mahogany with a bright, white, fluffy head. Laces all right.

The aroma is reminiscent of rye bread or sourdough bread. Very sour and doughy.

The taste is a soft, fluffy malt balanced by a restrained leafy hop bitterness with a hint of tartness and a clean finish. Has a sort of Munich or Vienna malt to it that I dig, even if it's not exactly put to its best use here. Pretty wishy-washy stuff overall, but I could see how this might appeal to some.

Light mouthfeel, somewhat creamy.

Overall it's drinkable and inoffensive but in no way is this a great beer.

I think there's a reason most of these reviews are short. There's not much to this beer, so there's not much to say about it. It's basically yet another example of an Ontario brewer trying to create a slightly better version of a macro. Thankfully Great Lake's focus seems to involve more ballsy beers of late, because the last thing we need in Ontario is more boring beers like this.

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Photo of mintjellie
2.8/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Pours a red shade of copper with two fingers of fluffy off-white head. The head immediately fizzles out to a thin cap over the beer, leaving no lace behind. Anemic caramel malt and floral hop aroma. Mild sweet caramel with a hint of nut. A little bit of floral hops in the finish. Low bitterness. Light-bodied with fine carbonation. A little on the watery side. Easy to drink, but bland and boring. Mediocre.

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Photo of mrmanning
2.53/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle- Pours a dark amber colour with just a hint of rouge in it. Not as red as I would have thought. head is frothy, and off white. Aroma is sour, minimal hops. Taste is slightly sour, earthy, with some malt hints. Watery on the finish. Decent enough to drink again.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper. Off-white head has some middling stiffness. Nose is some kind of marshmallow/caramel with a hint of tea. Mild nutty caramel and husky grain backing. Fairly dry and a bit astringent to boot. Light non-descript hops in the back end with a quickly fading aftertaste. Overall a bit of a toasty flavour but clean finishing and very accessible. Nothing off that I could detect.

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Photo of Sammy
3.38/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I think they have strengthened the formula from previous years. At the time of having this at the LCBO Summrhill Fest in 2007, this brewery was concentrating on sweet things and is brewing cake with beer, ice cream with beer. That's its target niche. This brew is carmelized malt. There's good carbonization here.

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Photo of EatsTacos
3.13/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Well this is a pretty typical beer not a whole lot to talk about

Pours a deep amber red colour against the light with very small head that doesnt stick around

Smells of sweet caramel very faintly. The taste starts and ends with bitter hops and the malt is in the middle of these two. Pretty boring and generic flavour Im sorry to say.

I was expecting more, they make good seasonal beers but this is too bland

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Photo of cyrenaica
1.83/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

341ml bottle
5.0% ABV

I tried this beer on February 14, 2008 at "Smokeless Joe's" in Toronto. The beer poured a beautiful translucent dark red colour with a very thin white head. The aroma was very weak with a slight malt smell. The mouthfeel was light, dry, with low carbonation. The flavour was slightly malty, and slightly sour. Not an enjoyable beer, and very similar to Alexander Keith's Red.

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Photo of GodOfBeer
3.1/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A decent dark red beer, not much head at all. Smells sweet, notes of hops.

An average red lager somewhat watery, not too much taste, mainly floral hops, some maltiness...meh I'd rather drink Rickards Red.

Obviously very drinkable, I could pound these back in no time, its macro quality.

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Photo of Derek
3.11/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Reddish-brown, pours with a nice off-white head, light retention.

S: Floral hops and sweet caramel.

T: Sweet caramel, floral hops (macro-like flavour), modest bitterness.

M: Some residual sugar, smooth, moderate carbonation.

D: It's alright, but I'm not fond of that floral, macro-like hop flavour.

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Photo of TerryW
2.35/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Colour of dark strong tea, not quite as dark as a cola. No head, no lace, just the thinnest of rings. Nose is malt and molasses, some sourness, a hint of alcohol. Not a big aroma.

Very spritzy up front with a distinct bite to start.Overall mouthfeel is thin and watery. Similar character in the beer's taste profile - thin, some brittle molasses and toffee, some grain. Not that impressive or memorable.

These guys do a far better job on their seasonals.

This beer is also available locally in ice cream.

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Photo of drinkininthewood
2.6/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served from a 341ml twist off bottle

A- Dark, amber/copper, nice head disappears in the blink of an eye leaving a little lace. (kindof looks like Pepsi)

S- malts, floral hops, a little sour smelling

T- floral hops, malt sweetness, a little grainy, hints of citrus/caramel

M- medium bodied, aggressively carbonated

D- good

Overall i find this brew just a little bland, dont get me wrong it a good beer, i dont think that i would go out of my way to get it. If offered to you, enjoy. Good for sitting around watching the hockey game.

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Great Lakes Red Leaf Smooth Red Lager from Great Lakes Brewery
3.12 out of 5 based on 59 ratings.
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