Great Lakes Winter Ale | Great Lakes Brewery

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Great Lakes Winter AleGreat Lakes Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Inspired by the long, cold and seemingly endless Canadian winter, our 6.2% alcohol Winter Ale is a true winter warmer. Handcrafted with specialty hops and malts, combined with generous amounts of cinnamon, honey, ginger and orange peel, this unique beer is brimming with flavour.

Added by pootz on 12-10-2006

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 117 |  Reviews: 64
Photo of cfalovo97
1/5  rDev -71.8%

Photo of kinguy
2/5  rDev -43.5%

Photo of nmann08
2/5  rDev -43.5%

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
2.46/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a deep red color with a tiny ring of foam on top. Webs of lace circumvent the glass. The aroma is of gingerbread cookies, cloves and toffee. Not much else but spices and sweetness in the nose. The first sip reminded me of ginger ale, lots of ginger flavor in this. Malt sweetness, cloves, nutmeg and a slightly soapy flavor show up after a bit of warmth. Hops provide only a stabilizing bitterness, but nothing else. The mouthfeel is cloying and slick. The finish is a sickly mish mash of spices and sweetness.

This beer was overspiced and lacked in beer flavors. It's insipid and hard to finish too sweet, and like eating powdered nutmeg. Pass.

 652 characters

Photo of ThatWineGuy
2.55/5  rDev -28%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The large corked, bottle came in a gift pack at the LCBO with two tasting glasses included. The look was an effervescent, spritzy dark cherry hue, it reminded me of prune juice, then maybe a cherry cola gone flat. No head, murky appearance, it smelled feintly like a pink grapefruit, the taste is a bit of sour and bitter, not very appealing. Gassy mouthfeel. The taste has this kind of "clunk" to it that I eventually traced to the large ginger presence, that's a taste in food and drink that I can take only in small doses. It's my personal bias but I found the ginger over bearing and a bit too pronounced. Not being a ginger fan, the beer was less palateable to me personally. For the style of beer, it's not out of the ordinary and the orange peel and the cinammon ensure it's true to it's winter warmer roots, but my bias here doesn't allow me to mark it much higher, with apologies to a brewery that produces some fine stuff of late.

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Photo of Cramshawbar
2.75/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Great Lakes (who produces some great beer) decided that Winter is about ginger and cinnamon. Sure, there are claims for other added surprises but those two kill them all.
Many here voiced their opinion on Winter Warmers and I tend to agree. Haven't had a great one yet.

 270 characters

Photo of Foddz
2.76/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a slightly earthier tone than reddish-copper, with two fingers worth of mixed-size beige bubbles capping it nicely. Head persists for a little while before forming a soapy film on top, leaving some lacing around the glass. More carbonation can be seen rising to the top from within.

S: Sweet ginger, honey, caramel. Maybe a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg as well. There's some bready malt present as well. I want to say there's a faint hint of orange peel in the mix as well. It comes across as a bit of a jumble.

T: The taste is a bit more on target. Biscuity malts are a little more forward, with the ginger and cinnamon spice taking a back seat as compared to the nose. Caramel rounds out the middle. A little more balanced with the citrus/orange zest a bit more at play towards the back end. Overall quite sweet and not much hops to balance things out. Aftertaste is a lingering ginger/nutmeg/orange peel combination. Still a bit of a jumble but better than the nose.

M: A little thin with a sharp prickling of carbonation. A little bit of stickiness from the sweetness. Not terrible but doesn't seem well suited to the rest of the beer.

O: I want to like this beer. It has a lot of interesting elements that just don't come together in a really cohesive fashion. Some entropy is at play as the whole doesn't quite add up to the sum of its parts, at least in my mind.

 1,379 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
2.78/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Dark brown with one finger of cream coloured head.

S - Heavily spiced. A lot of cinnamon and nutmeg. Not much else comes through as the spices really overpower the nose.

T - Follows the nose. Lots of cinnamon and nutmeg - they completely dominate the palate. Nothing else comes thorough at all. Very one dimensional.

M - Medium body, lightly carbonated.

D - Way too spiced. Difficult to drink.

 404 characters

Photo of Roby923
2.92/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Was looking forward to a winter warmer in this brew from Great Lakes. The brewery has some really great outputs and put the confidence behind this one. Loved the pour and color, but that's about it. The smell was of soapy chemicals, the taste built on the soap. Couldn't finish the 750ml bottle from the LCBO. Not a big fan.

Please bring back the Thrust Ale and modify into a winter ale powerhouse.

 403 characters

Photo of oldp0rt
3/5  rDev -15.3%

Photo of Pmicdee
3/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of bigox420
3/5  rDev -15.3%

Photo of decimator
3/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Poured a clear copper-brown colour with a 1" head. The head was gone in a few minutes and not much lacing.

S - Some sweetness and some spiciness but it's a bit mild overall.

T - Mostly caramel & honey sweetness upfront. I can pick up the spices in the background. A bit of a bitter fruit in the finish but it's a bit overshadowed by the alcohol bite.

M - Good carbonation with some stickiness.

D - It's OK. This one was a slow sipper. I found the aftertaste was just a bit off putting.

Overall this isn't a bad beer but it didn't stand out for me either.

 603 characters

Photo of kwjd
3.01/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

On tap at C'est What. I wasn't a huge fan of this last year because I thought the spices overpowered the beer, but I've since had several winter warmers that I've enjoyed so I thought maybe my palate has changed. Poured a reddish-brown colour with thin off-white head. Head sticks around, leaving little lacing. Smell is of cinnamon and nutmeg and I can't smell anything else since the spices overpower anything else in the beer. Flavour is a bit sweet, but I keep smelling the spices. I don't know if I would notice much of a difference between this and taking a bland lager and adding a ton of cinnamon to it.

 611 characters

Photo of trevorwideman
3.06/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml bottle poured into a snifter.

Opens with barely a sound...where's the carbonation? Pours a deep red-orange colour....ahh, there's the carbonation. About a finger of head off of a gentle pour, then lots of nice lacing. Intense cinnamon/nutmeg aroma overpowers pretty much everything else going on here, but there's a hint of apple blossom/honey sweetness in the background...but whoa, the spice is intense! A bit one dimensional.

The taste is really nothing much to write home about. The cinnamon and nutmeg is in evidence, and lends a spicy dryness to the whole thing, a light burn on the way down. There's a light honey, malty sweetness, but no bitterness to speak of. Wow, it tastes almost exactly how it smells. If it weren't for the spices, there would be nothing here. Mouthfeel is watery and thin, so obviously it slides down very easily. Chuggable I guess, just rather bland.

 890 characters

Photo of Viggo
3.11/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Corked, capped and foiled 750 ml bottle, from the gift pack. Had on tap a few times last year but never reviewed.

Pours a clear red/brown, decently thick off white head, some lace spots, okay retention. Smell is sweet, some caramel, gingerbread, oranges, some spice, bit sickly sweet, pine tree, okay. Taste is similar, sweet caramel maltiness, pine tree, oranges, weird citrus and spicy bitterness, dirty finish, a bit tart, kind of weak flavour but what sticks out isn't all pleasant. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low to medium carbonation. These guys always seem to have some potential but never follow through.

 618 characters

Photo of grub
3.13/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle, corked and caged with a white champagne wrapper on top. purchased in november 2007 as part of a gift pack with two glasses.

pours a nice red colour with just a wisp of dense white head. no lace.

aroma is nice. lots of christmas spice - cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, maybe a hint of clove. slightly floral and a bit perfume-like - one of the traits that i'm not especially fond of in pumpkin/christmas brews. hint of alcohol. multi-grain bread.

taste is ok. medium-low bitterness. lots of spice. floral. slightly soapy and perfumey. bit of alcohol. bit of multi-grain bread hidden behind the wash of spices. not quite my thing.

mouthfeel is ok. medium carbonation level. medium body. lingering and slightly clingy mouthfeel from the spice that isn't entirely pleasant.

drinkability is ok. this one has far to much spice for me, but seems ok otherwise. if you like these sorts of strongly spicy christmas and/or pumpkin type brews, feel free to ignore my rating.

 975 characters

Photo of MeisterBurger
3.16/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Pours a nice, reddish golden amber topped by a billowy, moussey head. Retains and laces well enough.

The aroma is caramel, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.

The taste is orangey underneath with a hint of mulling spices--cinnamon, vanilla, what have you--with some definite caramelly sweetness cutting through it all. There's almost a cola or a ginger ale aspect to this, and just a mild tinge of iron like bitterness in the dry finish.

This seems fairly light bodied, a bit watery, and despite there appearing to be a lot of carbonation, there's not a lot in the mouthfeel. It tastes a bit flat.

The marketing speak on the label calls this "a true winter warmer."

False. This is a drinkable and pleasant enough beer, but honestly it refreshes far more that it warms. This reminds me more of a pop than a beer. There's not enough malt or body or alcohol and if it warms at all it's only because it comes in a 750ml bottle. Hell, 750ml of Labatt Ice drank quickly enough might warm me up a little, but that hardly makes it a winter warmer.

Like most of Great Lakes seasonals, is a pretty mediocre effort. It's a crowd pleaser, sure. Providing the crowd doesn't want anything particularly challenging or interesting from their beer.

 1,232 characters

Photo of al_al1357
3.17/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Served from bottle; appears cloudy with no head. On the nose there are strong notes of cinnamon, ginger and honey. A strong gingerbread flavour on the palate with spices that follow. Light to medium body finish. Overall, an interesting beer by Great Lakes Brewery and a nice pairing with Christmas/cinnamon/gingerbread cookies.

 327 characters

Photo of TheHammer
3.17/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: A finger and a half of head that retained quite well, but lacked in lace. The body is a cloudy brown with a couple red notes and quite a lot of fine sediment.

Smell: Cinnamon and orange peel are the dominant scents with a touch of sweet malt in the background. Warming helped quite a bit, but there's just not enough bang.

Taste: Starts with a mixed cinnamon and sugary malt taste that reminds me of cinnamon snap cookies. Then it tends to lose some of the sweetness a has a little musty yeast note that is accented by some citrus and ginger and ending with a slight spice note.

Mouthfeel: It has some musty notes that don't quite sit right with me, but the cinnamon gingerbread after taste is quite nice. The carbonation also seems to handle the somewhat jumbled flavour shifting.

Drinkability: It's designed to be a single one of winter drinker, and that's exactly what it does. Medium bodied and a little dry, but could serve as a desert beer.

Final Thoughts: I've yet to encounter a Winter Warmer that has really wowed me. Certainly this is a nice seasonal one off, but there's nothing here that would make me seek it out again. Worth one shot if anything.

 1,177 characters

Photo of hipHOPSanonymous
3.2/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of crwills
3.2/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I usually like Great Lakes' specialty beers, but this one just didn't do it for me. Poured a nice reddish brown with a big bubbly head into (haha) a Labatt Blue glass. You takes what you gets.

Spicy, fruitcake-like aroma with lots of bready notes. Not bad -- I started thinking maybe this wouldn't be excessively spiced, but I was wrong. Way too much artificial-seeming nutmeg, cinnamon, and (maybe) ginger for me. The spices overwhelmed the beer, which otherwise might have been a nice brown ale. Too much carbonation as well. Aftertaste is bitter and lemony or orangey.

I'll stick with the 666.

 599 characters

Photo of Simon212
3.32/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Coronaeus
3.32/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of StormAles
3.34/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

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Great Lakes Winter Ale from Great Lakes Brewery
3.54 out of 5 based on 117 ratings.
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