Friday, December 23, 2011

Great Lakes Christmas Ale


I've been hearing great things about this beer since 2008, but to this day Great Lakes STILL isn't distributed to Albany (at least not yet). Fortunately, I did a trade with Max Spang of http://youtube.com/SnobbyBeer just a few days ago and now have the opportunity to try it. Can it possibly live up to the hype? We'll see....

4.1
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (597) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 23, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pretty shade of dark amber/orange/light red. Mostly clear with plenty of visible carbonation. Forms a large, white, frothy head which laces and retains well.

Smell: Mostly ginger, some cinnamon: a graham cracker-like overall aroma.

Taste: The palate begins with immediate sensation of spice: ginger being the most prominent, followed by a fiery cinnamon bite and a sweet, rich honey taste to round it all out. Vanilla and the taste of shortbread seems to be lurking somewhere in the palate, too. Thus it does live up to its reputation of being a liquid Christmas cookie. The actual beer components of hops and malts seem to take a backseat to the spices and flavorings, though. There’s a biscuity maltiness holding up this palate and only minor hop presence since the cinnamon and ginger account for the bitterness here.

I’m not usually a fan of ginger, but its presence here was justified by it being paired and balanced out by the cinnamon and honey. Not too sweet, not too spicy, not too "beery". Nothing that blows my mind, though. Just a tasty, enjoyable brew.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied flavor throughout with noticeable energy, but still comfortable with a soft texture.

Drinkability: This is one of those rare beers that’s overtly spicy that doesn’t tear you up. It’s easy to drink considering its palate that just about anyone can enjoy and has a smooth finish with only a slightly doughy aftertaste. Weighing in at 7.5% ABV, Great Lakes Christmas Ale drinks like something much lower than the numbers would indicate. There’s no alcohol presence in the nose or palate, but you definitely feel the potency afterwards. A great beer to have with pumpkin, pecan, or mincemeat pie or with homemade Christmas cookies.
Grade: 9/10