Beer Review: Great Lakes Christmas Ale

As Deron said in his most recent post, ’tis the season for Winter Warmer styles. This past weekend I enjoyed my first Great Lakes Christmas Ale at Staples (the bar, not the office supply).

Great Lakes Christmas AleUnlike some Christmas ales I’ve had, this one was not over-spiced. For example, although tasty in its own right, the Anchor Special Ale for 2009 has more pine essence than that of beer. It was enjoyable, and most definitely reminded me of the holiday season, but it’s not one I could drink a ton of.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale, on the other hand, had a very heavy and spice-laiden nose (which I’ll admit, made me skeptical) but its taste was far from overwhelming. It poured a ruby brown, with a head that dissipated extremely quickly, as you can see from my photo (please disregard the mini pilsner glass here – I don’t know what the bartender was thinking).

The ginger and nutmeg that I smelled before sipping was most definitely present in the taste, but again, not overwhelming at all. Also swirling around was honey and a light touch of cinnamon. Although there’s a kick of hops, the brew is moreso malty, as a Winter Warmer should be, giving it a nice balance. Its medium mouthfeel made it easy to drink without feeling too heavy, even at 7.5% ABV. I would definitely enjoy GL’s Christmas Ale again.



  • Tom McM December 15, 2009 @ 1:40pm

    This beer has a cult-like following in Cleveland:

    “Bars fight to sell it. Groceries sometimes ration it. And Clevelanders gulp it down, knowing the ginger-spiced nectar will likely be gone long before Santa’s sleigh touches down.”

  • Hannah December 15, 2009 @ 1:42pm

    Tom – I can understand why! It was delicious and I’m super glad my favorite bar has it 🙂

  • Deron December 15, 2009 @ 4:17pm
  • Dana January 2, 2010 @ 11:25am

    Most Cleveland retailers and bars have run out of Christmas Ale for the year, but the 1890 Lounge at the Hyatt Regency/Arcade still has plenty of Christmas Ale on tap for $3 a pint!

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