As the seasons change, so does the beer. For me, the winter period gives the beer community some of the most flavorful and poignant beers you can find. Barrel-aged stouts, smoky porters and Christmas-time ales are all some of my favorites. And although you might not be able to chug these like you would a summer lager, these winter beers are worth sipping and savoring – none more so than the Christmas concoction Great Lakes Brewing Co. has perfected year after year.
The aptly named Christmas Ale produced by prominent Cleveland brewery Great Lakes Brewing Co. is a symphony of familiar winter flavors that many beer lovers have come to crave and obsess over. And rightfully so, the Christmas Ale is
a 6-Time World Beer Championship Medal Winner and also a media favorite. The release of this seasonal ale is a genuine party for Clevelanders and outsiders alike, as people come from all around to get the first sip of the new year’s unique version, and maybe even get a taste of their highly sought after barrel-aged version, which is aged in bourbon barrels for six months.
So when I saw my first glimpse of the Great Lakes Christmas Ale on shelves, I knew I had to try it out. Here’s my review:
Great Lakes Brewing Christmas Ale
Stats: Ale made with fresh honey, cinnamon and ginger. 7.5% ABC – sold in 6-packs.
Thoughts: If you’re looking to sip a beer by the fireside on a cold winter night, this beer is for you. It has a great amber color and light head that makes pouring it a pleasure to watch. When you bring the beer to your face you can definitely pick out the ginger and cinnamon, and that smell transfers into a really great taste that continues to deliver sip after sip. While the cinnamon and ginger flavors drive the drinking experience, it’s the crisp, full finish with honey undertones that is the real MVP. This beer is flavor packed and is definitely one to be enjoyed over a dinner or couch session, as the full flavor it delivers is something to be savored, not chugged.
Verdict: There’s a reason this beer has a strong following both with beer lovers and media, as is delivers in every aspect. It’s a well-thought out beer that does a great job of amplifying the familiar flavors of a Christmas Ale while not being too overwhelming to the average beer user. If you buy a six-pack, you’ll probably only take down one or two in a night, but that’s not a bad thing knowing that two of these beauties will probably be enough to induce a nice holiday snooze. Loved this beer as it fits the season its namesake represents perfectly. Now if only I had some Christmas cookies to pair with it – guess that’s for another day.
In conclusion, if you want a fitting beer for your Yuletide festivities, this Christmas Ale is the one for you. It has a great combination of flavors that are both well-balanced and memorable individually. And if you’re in Cleveland and have a chance to try the barrel-aged version, drop me a line, cause I’d love to hear how the flavor changes with the bourbon barrel dynamic. Cheers!
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