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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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Reviews: 64 | Ratings: 113
Photo of ecoastman
3.53/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drinkability - A very decent local Ontario beer for a cold December night after putting up our Christmas tree. I'll have another glass to finish the big bottle but I don't think I'd have another bottle in the same night. The beer grows on me as it warms up and I work to the end of the first 500 mL. Good for a 6.2 ABV since the alcohol is not harsh.

Appearance - a clear beer that's a warm dark reddish-brown. Carbonation is medium with a big head to start and good retention. Some lacing remains as I finish the pint. The etched bottle is very nice.

Smell - Hops give good piney, orange, herbal, perfumy and spicy tones. Spices include ginger cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Not too overpowering. In the background the malt gives some sweet, roasted, nut and caramel nose.

Taste - similar to what you smell. The pine, ginger, orange and nut-brown ale tones are the most distinct...maybe some cardamom or peppermint in there too?... Mild bitterness and a dry finish. Although there are lots of different flavours in the mix, the beer doesn't have the complexity to the taste-to-nose that I anticipated.

Mouthfeel - Medium body goes down smooth with light carbonation (later in to the pint) with a slightly coarse finish.

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Photo of ludachris
3.72/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep orangey brown with a cream coloured head that has minimal retention. Smell of spices and a little bit of cinnamon. Nice malty taste with hints of cinnamon and ginger. I think the orange peel adds a little bit of fruitiness to it. I was expecting a beer a little more complex in flavour after reading the label on the back, but I still really enjoyed this. Very smooth and easy to drink.

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Photo of CanuckRover
3.9/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally got around to popping this baby open. Attractive Christmas tree etching. Pours a dark orange red, clear. Not surprisingly, not much head, lacings are spotty.

Sweet, malty nose. Caramel, maple and a hint of cinnamon. Nice, but not that strong really.

Not at all what I was expecting. With all the ingredients listed I was expecting something much more flavourful with a bit of an edge. Instead i get a pretty quaffable, malty, smooth ale with a hint of spice. Nice ginger on first contact. Orange peel gives a sort of juiciness to the beer. Cinnimon is quite subdued. Star of the show is some really tasty, chewy malt, yummmm. What little bitterness there is has a fight on its hands with the mix of spices, hard to tell what comes out.

Very drinkable for the alcohol, no harshness at all. I really enjoy the malt character of these Great Lakes brews. I really enjoyed this one.

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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.

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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 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 irishkyle21
3.65/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Starts with a thick head, good retention and lacing. Has a clear dark red color. The eyes are happy.

The first thing I smell are spices, then fruits, doughy malt and a good dosage of hops.

Tastes of dried fruits, spices, good malt and hop balance. All in all I enjoyed this offering from Great Lakes and will wait to see how my other two bottles do. Now I just have to figure out what the hell am I going to do with six of these crappy glasses.

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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 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 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 MMansfield
3.46/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Purchased bottle at NSLC in the Christmas giftpack selection. 750mL bottle, white foil, corked.

Appearance: Pours a really nice deep red colour, clear. Off white head is creamy and sticks around.

Aroma: Sweet and fruity, fair amount of cinnamon and candied orange.

Taste: Has a malty character behind the spices and orange flavour. I don't understand why brewers put so much spice in their christmas ales.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, fair amount of carbonation.

Final Statement: Definately not a bad beer but also not a great beer IMO. I personally like less spices and a higher alcohol content in a winter warmer.

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