Summer is a distant memory. Turkey Day has passed. The cold embrace of winter is coming. But so is the holiday season! This year, I’d implore you to skip those long Black Friday lines and get your holiday beer from the local grocer. Grab a six pack (or three) of Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale—you absolutely won’t regret it.
Cracking into one of Christmas Ale’s festive bottles reveals a rich, amber-hued beer. Despite a fairly aggressive pour, barely any head forms and then far too quickly fades away. Tiny rising bubbles are the only thing clouding an otherwise totally transparent body, but there isn’t much to see here. Even still, considering that a bright red Christmas-y appearance typically portends a syrupy drinking experience, I don’t mind it all that much.
The aroma is where Christmas Ale really starts to distinguish itself among a crowded field of Christmas spiced winter warmers. A good waft fills the nose with spicy ginger and cinnamon accompanied by floral honey sweetness and bright citrus. This smells like leaning over a bowl of some seriously well-spiced (and well-spiked) holiday punch.
The beauty of Great Lakes’ Christmas Ale is that it conjures unique holiday memories and flavors for each drinker.”
Each sip unleashes a bouquet of Christmas flavors like gingersnap and snickerdoodle cookies, spicy and fruity mulled wine, caramel hard candy, bitter pine, roasted nuts and almost burned bread. The flavors layer on top of one another in the same way the foods on a piled high plate of Christmas dinner mingle to make something greater than the sum of its parts. Christmas Ale tastes like Great Lakes distilled the flavors and aromas of holiday cooking into each glass.
The beauty of Great Lakes’ Christmas Ale is that it conjures unique holiday memories and flavors for each drinker. I taste my mom’s candied pecans and the caramel candies my grandmother kept in a bowl on the table, but I’d bet you’ll get something entirely different and specific to your holiday experiences. With the nostalgic power to call to mind the best of Christmas past, and a 7.5% ABV to help you endure the worst of Christmas present, Great Lakes Christmas Ale is nearly the perfect holiday beer.