Total Score: 93.0
I have to admit that my third beer of Christmas, Great Lakes’ Christmas Ale, holds a special place in my heart. I’ve so drank many of these (often too many) that I can imagine its taste almost as vividly as if I’m actually drinking it (for about Great Lakes Brewing Company see my review of Dortmunder Gold). To say that people go crazy for this beer would be akin to saying that I like beer. Obviously, it goes deeper than that. For example, my local Kroger puts a few cases out every Tuesday morning, and by the time I stopped by this week, there were only two sixers left… AT 8 IN THE MORNING. The beer is unquestionably good though, having won four gold medals at the World Beer Championships (2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009). Brewed with honey and spiced with cinnamon and ginger, this beer should not be taken lightly, as I’ve frequently found the 7.5% ABV sneaking up on me faster than you can imagine.
Before drinking, please enjoy my favorite Christmas carol ever, which graces every bottle of Christmas Ale:
Oh Christmas beer, Oh Christmas beer, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, honey and yuletide cheer.
Crystal clear glowing amber. Modest sized off-white head that melts quickly but still leaves a nice glaze over the beer. Plentiful carbonation, yet minimal lacing. Smell is dominated by a delicious fresh cinnamon and ginger combo with a complementary sweetness from the malts and honey. This smells like Christmas. Ginger-bread cookie also springs to mind. Just a hint of grainy alcohol in the smell. Taste matches the smell perfectly. Spices are potent, to the point of making Fireside Chat seem like it was spiced with dirt, but masterfully complemented by equally prominent malty sweetness. Honey and hops add the slightest fruity sweetness behind the malts. Body is silky, creamy, and as full as the chimney when Santa’s sliding down. Finish is only slightly bitter, with sugary sweetness more prominent. My only complaint is that the combination of sweetness and spices make this a definite sipper, and I can’t drink too much without getting sick to the stomach. But really, that’s not such a bad thing on a cold lazy night. That being said, this particular glass emptied itself shockingly fast.
I’ve always looked forward to this beer at Christmas, and it always lives up to the expectations. Everything about it screams Christmas, and it truly wouldn’t be Christmas without it. A classic.
Look: 8.5/10 Smell: 9.5/10 Taste: 9.5/10 All-Around: 9/10