Thursday, November 16, 2006

All I want for Christmas is Great Lakes Christmas Ale!

Alright, it is just a hair too early for Christmas beers (just one week until Thanksgiving). But, so what!

I was down at the local beer "distributor" this past Sunday (yes, they sell beer at distibutors in Pennsylvania on Sundays now) and had to pick up a case from their "New Arrivals" Christmas Beers skid (yes, literally a skid).

There were several selections of varying interest, but the one that caught my eye most was one from Great Lakes Brewing, their annual "Christmas Ale" offering. I'd seen this around the area a few times last season and passed on the chance to sample it. By the time I'd changed my mind, it was gone! I didn't want to miss out this time around because I'd heard some really good things about this microbrew and, plus, the label on this one is pretty cool (model train car full of shiny red christmas ornaments).

Other than the fact that this case cost me a fairly steep $39.99, and the fact I pumped a little financial support to our lifetime rival Cleveland economy, I am ultimately glad I made the investment.

I'm currently sipping on my second 12 ounce serving and wondering how I'm going to stretch the remaining 22 bottles out over the next month and a half or come up with the moolah pretty quick to go back and purchase the one remaining case on the "skid".

Anyway, this one is going to be a favorite for me for many holiday seasons to come (I hope!). This microbrew pours a clear orangish amber with just a slight twinge of dark copper. The head was surprisingly nice and billowy in my 16 ounce pint glass coming in at just under two fingers which lasted well over 5 minutes even after the first few quaffs. Very poofy and cumulus cloud-like.

The aroma is very sweet, almost sugary but in a good way. Something in this brew calls to mind mental pictures of sugar cookies to me. The overall flavor includes very little in the way of hoppy bitterness, but then again this is a "Christmas Ale". If you are very much into microbrews but really like the hoppy IPA styles, this one just may not be your cup of tea so maybe just buy a single bottle if you can to try it if you want before plunking down a couple 20's on a case. In addition to the sugar cookie impression this microbrew gives off in flavor, I noted some mild hints of honey and even fainter, but still present, cherry notes.

The bottom line for me on the Great Lakes "Christmas Ale" is that I would highly recommend it to anyone who is open to trying something seasonal. This is not a beer I would sit and drink many of at one time, nor do I see myself on the back porch on a 90 degree summer evening downing a Christmas Ale after mowing the lawn. But I do see this beer as being perfect for me for the upcoming holiday season, to enjoy responsibly while celebrating with family and friends at a Christmas party, family gathering, or just in front of the fireplace on a cold night with the wife. There's a window of time to enjoy microbrews like this and for Great Lakes "Christmas Ale" the short time is now. If you have the chance where you live, pick up a few to enjoy during the upcoming holidays.

I'll rate this an 8.25 out of 10.00 for the style (seasonal/spiced/winter warmer)

You can check out more reviews of new microbrews and fun microbrew and craft beer related info at Microbrew Review or My Squidoo Lens. Check out Summer Microbrew too!

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