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Great Lakes Winter Ale | Great Lakes Brewery

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64 Reviews
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Great Lakes Winter AleGreat Lakes Winter Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewery
Ontario, Canada
greatlakesbeer.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
64
Ratings:
113
Avg:
3.54
pDev:
18.36%
 
 
Wants:
0
Gots:
15
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 64 | Ratings: 113
Photo of Sammy
3.55/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reddish amber colour with nice head and lace. A full mouthfeel bready malty concoction, spices and citrus are quite the secondary. Fresh, I was the first on Ralph's tap and nice fruity drinking, fruity aftertaste refreshing.

Bottle at RPM Club seasonal party, near the brewery. Decent spiciness, mouthfeel bulked by caramel. A hlf pint is about right.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.78/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at C'est What.

This beer appears a slightly cloudy medium reddish brown hue, with one finger of off-white soapy head, which leaves no lace. It smells of caramel malt, nutmeg, and light cloves. The taste is spicy nutmeg, ginger, and sweet bready malt. The carbonation is moderate, the body medium weight, fruity, and smooth, and it finishes soft, with some extra caramel and Christmas spice.

A decent holiday spiced ale, just as the cold air has returned.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a deep orangey color ale with a nice foamy head with OK retention but no lacing. Aroma of caramel malt with light spice mix is weaker then anticipated. Taste is a mix between some nice caramel malt with some notes of cloves and ginger. Body is thinner then expected with some medium carbonation. I was expecting a bit more character from this one but enjoyable nonetheless.

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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.

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Photo of liamt07
3.55/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the LCBO, 650ml bomber into a couple pint glasses. Split with the girlfriend.

Appears a golden brown in the glass, some hints to darker reds and oranges throughout. Chunky and creamy head, a few fingers worth were yielded. Good retention, moderate lace. Loads of honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and big malt sweetness in the nose. Appetizing and warming in a sense, 'Christmas-y.' Spicy bouquet. Taste is comparably tame, still lots of sweet malt, with the spices, cinnamon among others. Body is disappointing, would've liked a thicker, fuller mouth and a longer finish. Easily drinkable however.

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Photo of biegaman
3.73/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Newly burnished redwood that sits atop a bed of amber amulets. The beer has a glossy sheen that is in full display when held to the light. There is a light mist that prevents the beer from really being brilliant, but otherwise it looks rather good. An off white sheet of foam is plastered to the top and has hung a splotchy banner around the rim of my glass.

The aroma is congenial and pleasing which is really all it needs to be for a beer this style. The soft scent of crispy toasted caramel is coated with brown spice and especially notes of ginger and cinnamon. This seemingly generous spicing imparts a strong resemblance to rooibos tea. The orange peel is playing no part in this melange of ginger bread cookies and spiced eggnog.

The brewer has chosen an interesting mix of ingredients for flavouring. I'm curious to know if anyone else has been ambitious enough to blend honey, cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel. The ingredients seem to present themselves chronologically in exactly that order, which also just so happens to loosely coincide with the strength of contribution to flavour.

The honey plays an enormous part in what I'm tasting. At the very instance of contact, the entire palate - lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat - are suffused with the sweet and sticky nectar of honey. It comes across with a lightly floral character and a taste infused with lemon. For a winter ale, this tastes an awfully lot like a nice summer glass of iced tea.

I had assumed the combination of citrus and spice would make for a well rounded flavour and it looks like I was correct. The cinnamon and ginger contribute a strong but general note of 'brown spice', I could easily confuse these with clove, nutmeg or even mace. It might become a little too potpourri for my liking if not for the saving grace of citrus on the finish. Each taste concludes with a clipping splash of citrus juice.

For something brewed in inspiration of the "long, cold, and seemingly endless Canadian winter" I had something a lot heartier in mind. I'll make no complaints with flavour, where the utmost attention must have been paid to manage that delicate balance of spice, but a little more malt (and maybe a little more alcohol too) could have been spared in my opinion.

I had had this beer a number of times (majority of which came on draught) before finally sitting down to really examine it. After some scrutiny, I think Great Lakes has surprised me a little with how well they've done in brewing a beer of this nature. Their inclusion of spices and adjuncts were nothing but complementary. I'll be looking forward to this one again next year.

 2,634 characters

Photo of Derek
3.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Chestnut-brown with a light tan head; very little retention or lacing. {Nice gift set with a corked bottle & two glasses}

S: Cinnamon & spice, orange zest, dark caramel, bread.

T: It seems to be their orange-peel ale with ginger and a bit of cinnamon. Light breadyness (there's some quality malt here), balanced bitterness and only a hint of alcohol warmth.

M: Moderate body is well-attenuated with only a touch of residual sweetness.

D: I'm not loving it, but it's quite drinkable for its strength.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.45/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

650ml Bottle

Appearance - The beer pours a amber colour with an average size fizzy off-white coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation and there is some fair lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Caramel, oranges, all spice, hops

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, hops, and all spice. There is also fair amount of citrus juice and zest flavour. It ends with a malty slightly sweet aftertaste with a touch of spiciness.

Overall – Another decent beer from great lakes but I'm afraid this one wasn't quite worth the 7$ price tag. It's just a little to thin and weak tasting, I was expecting something bolder.

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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.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.53/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer has a dark toffee colour and a moderately sized off-white head.

Tonnes of spices in the nose. Clove foremost, followed by cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Bready malt is behind the spice.

Like the nose, the taste is full of spice. Cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg. Very pronounced. Orange peel is notable in the background, along with the bready malt flavours. It is a "warmer" all right, with all of the spices.

Moderate carbonation, medium bodied. The spice gives the beer a bit of a tingle. Pretty smooth.

Overall, not bad, but not totally my thing. The serving size is far too big. No reason to stick this in a 750ml bottle. Regular size would be more than fine. This beer is pretty good, but there is no way I will finish it.

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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.

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Photo of canucklehead
3.55/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer starts as a whole lot of spice and orange in your nose and your palate but slowly the beer warms up and the malt/ hop backbone anchor the beer. It is a citrus based spiced Xmas ale and is decent for that specific style. The drinkability is reasonable is you liked spiced beer

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Photo of tpd975
4.17/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Andrew who brought this one over for the Super Bowl.

A: Pours a nice nutty brown hue with a creamy tan head. Okay retention exhibited, but no lace resulted.

S: Light sweet malt up front with notes of caramel, cinnamon, and ginger.

T: Wonderful flavors abound. Great sweet malt gives this beer a wonderful backbone. Nice holiday spices come out with perfect amounts of cinnamon and ginger. Nothing too overpowering though. Light lemon hops in the finish make this a very tasty treat.

M: Medium in body smooth with nice carbonation.

D: Damn drinkable. My problem with most spiced beers is they go overthetop. Great Lakes did not do this the balance of malt, and spice was wonderful and actually complemented one another. A touch of hops help to pull it off in the finish.

A real tasty winter treat.

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Photo of peensteen
3.78/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper/red colour, ring of tan head, good retention and lacing left behind. Smell is full of cinnamon and malt, bready with citrus notes, most notably orange, faint nutty scents come off of this as well. Taste is fairly malty, bready with cinnamon, lots of spice, light herbal flavours, fairly hoppy, moderate bitterness throughout. Medium carbonation, medium body, good feel. This is a pretty good brew however putting this in a 750ml bottle is completley unnecessary, a smaller serving would be more than adequate.

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Photo of bobsy
3.6/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 - Bottle from the brewery. Deep red/brown pour, with a thin film of a head. Aroma of mulled wine and grated ginger. Initial taste of subtle citric sharpness gives way to traditional mulling spices. A tingle of ginger on the tongue pleasantly finishes off the sip. Strong malt backbone, and very little bitterness. I would recommend starting this one chilled and drinking slowly, as different sides to the beer develop as it warms. Another solid brew from Great Lakes.

2009 - Cask at Volo. A little middle of the road and lacklustre compared to other times I've had it. It feels like there's less ginger and cinnamon in the brew, though that may just be the cask messing with me. It would be neat if it bulked up with some bready malts, and went for the gingerbread / spice cake angle. They body seems a bit lighter too. I've downgraded the taste, mouthfeel and drinkability to reflect this.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.67/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This year's edition, from a 750 mL quart-sized bottle.

Pours a translucent deep-toned amber-bronze colour, topped with a little more than two fingers' worth of rich, silky light beige-coloured head. Good retention; it sticks around for a good while and leaves behind lots of sticky lacing streaks on the glass. Honestly, the first thing I thought of when I sniffed this stuff was potpourri; it's a very floral, fruity, spicy aroma. Gingerbread is very prominent, with hints of clove and cinnamon as well. The fruity notes lean toward mild orange citrus, with some underlying caramel or butterscotch malty sweetness. Enjoyable aroma for sure.

Mostly bready malts - gingerbready, to be specific - and more spice on the palate; lots of ginger and cinnamon but also notes of allspice and nutmeg. Floral, herbal hops interact nicely with the orange peel, and provide enough bitterness to balance the caramel malt sweetness. Fairly robust aftertaste that includes light malt sweetness, allspice and some dryness; the dryness lasts longest. Not obnoxiously spicy, but more than enough to remind you that this is an American-style warmer rather than a UK one. Medium-bodied but still pretty satisfying, with moderate carbonation levels. Very smooth, and easy to drink at a touch over 6%.

This can be summed up with four words: reasonably enjoyable, but overpriced. Not overspiced, which is a plus in my books, but pretty straightforward and uninteresting, which is definitely not a plus for the style in my eyes. Put it in a regular-sized bomber and charge a few bucks less and I might get this again, but otherwise this is a one and done for me. A good effort like most beers from this brewery, but kind of forgettable.

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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.

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Photo of SebD
3.65/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It has a nice merky amber color to it. It has a nice thick light beige head that dies down slowly and leaves nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of bready malts, honey, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and oranges.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some sweet honey, some caramel, bready malts, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and some light oranges.

Mouthfeel: It has a low/medium 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 TerryW
3.73/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best beer by far I've had from Great Lakes and worth a try.

Amber red with a generous head on pouring, but really spritzy and full of snap like a can of sode pop. That was a bit worrisome, but the head settled down nice and firm and beer's carbonation was good.

Malty, fruity nose. Initial taste was interesting, but a bit metallic. Malt, citrus, spice, hops. Interesting, but thin to start. The serving tip provided earlier is critical. This beer has to work its way towards room temperature for the flavours to really come out.

Wonderful mix of malt, fruit and spice, noticeably but not overpoweringly orange. Well done.

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Photo of pootz
3.8/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Brewery and bottled in 750 ML stenciled corked bottles for cellaring:

You get a rich copper colored ale in your glass with a substantial puffy cap which lasts...Aromas of the honey, spices and malts give an impression of an Xmas pudding with oranage sauce.

Decent malt spine, smooth palate, spicey-bready character.

Up front the cookie dough malts are there to chew on then the balance comes from the spices which seem to blend nicely with the hops chosen for this brew. Mid palate you get the fruitiness and citrus peel tastes developing...finished clean, slightly sweet and warming with a tang from the spice and hops.

A very well done winter warmer ale.

***imbibing tip: serve this ale at about 50 deg.F and let it warm as you drink it to get all the spice and citrus flavours.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.8/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle served cold into a standard pint glass. Purchased for approximately $6 CDN from the local LCBO. It's snowing outside so this seems appropriate today.

Appearance - the beer pours a semi transparent brown beer with Amber hues. A small half finger of head is poured, which disspates quickly leaving behind only a small wisp of foam. Visible carbonation is hard to tell due to the murkiness.

Smell - butterscotch, toffee and a few other Christmas like spices, maybe a pinch of cinnamon. Some dark fruit like plums in the undertones. Nothing overwhelming but certainly a nice bouquet that I expect will be a malt bomb. Slightly reminiscent of a malty english pale ale with some spices.

Taste - starts mild with a bit of butterscotch but sweetness is really reigned in. Then comes a sort of dry spice, again sort of all spice and cinnamon mixture that tastes dry.

Mouthfeel - well carbonated, moderately thin body for the style and a dry finish. The spicy mixture with the dryness leaves a zippy feeling on the tongue.

Overall - pretty good stuff, and one of the most drinkable winter warmers I've had. I find this style doesn't lend itself to drinking any more than a bottle, but this one from Great Lakes, if it came in a smaller package, I could see myself drinking a couple in a sitting.

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Photo of mick303
3.58/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber bottle into stemmed glass. Colour is a medium chestnut brown with fairly good lacing and retention.

S- has some cinnamon spice to it, dry caramel malt, dry orange citrus, ginger has a light influence, but altogether it makes an appetizing warming holiday spice over a fairly neutral malt base.

T- starts with a mainly malty flavour then eventually. Some of the spice kicks in on the palate with ginger dominating. A hint of cinnamon but at the start it is very caramel heavy then as some of the earth hops come the ginger really is the single note.

M- moderate body, light carbonation and a bit of a watery feel initially before the finish, which is a bit drawn out and dominated by the spices. Some of the honey gives a cidery feel.

A lot of promise on this but altogether it fails to deliver a complete package, good melange of spice notes on the aroma then the flavour while tasty is muddled and the mouthfeel doesn't compensate to make an outstanding winter ale. I would seek other examples of the style, but if the recipe was tweeted I would try this again.

 1,090 characters

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.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3.53/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Clear ruby red. Very solid off-white, creamy head.

S - Nose is spicy - mostly cinnamon and some ginger - with a heavy malt and a touch of sharp, honeyed malt.

T - Lots of cinnamon. Not getting a lot of honey or orange peel though. Quite malty and minimal hops for balance. Some anise-like qualities. Alcohol is well hidden. A little bit of toastedness.

M - Not too heavy - medium body with a lowish carbonation,

D - Not quite my cup of tea, but good if you like spiced brews I think.

 491 characters

Photo of leaddog
4/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a deep copper with two fingers of foamy beige head.

Smell - Cinnamon, ginger, honey, orange peel, malts, slight leafy hops.

Taste - Warm winter spices (cinnamon, ginger, clove) with a touch of honey sweetness. Good malt and hop balance.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Overall - A cohesive blend of classic winter spices and flavours. Well balanced and a tasty treat.

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Great Lakes Winter Ale from Great Lakes Brewery
3.54 out of 5 based on 113 ratings.
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