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Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby Erie Warrior » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:40 pm

Last's year's batch was real good. Best in a few seasons. Excited about getting my hands on this year's batch.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby swerb » Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:10 pm

Gal I work with, her brother is Luke Purcell, the head brewer for Great Lakes. He says that have changed absolutely nothing at all with the Christmas Ale formula, and that all the GLBC guys crack up when people talk about differences from year to year or conspiracy theories about ABV or the type of honey they use.

Suprised me - I thought I tasted differences from year to year.

I think what it is ... the Conway Bros who own Great Lakes are raging hippies that use no preservatives in their beer. GLBC - fresh beer tastes tastes a lot better than beer that's even just a month or two old.

Regarding Christmas Ale's, I've drank a lot of them. To me, there is not one I've yet tasted that can come close to holding a candle to GLBC Xmas Ale. It's outstanding beer. No mistake why it is raging in popularity.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby motherscratcher » Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:19 pm

swerb wrote:
Regarding Christmas Ale's, I've drank a lot of them. To me, there is not one I've yet tasted that can come close to holding a candle to GLBC Xmas Ale. It's outstanding beer. No mistake why it is raging in popularity.


Fuckin' A :thumb up:
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby Erie Warrior » Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:51 pm

swerb wrote:I think what it is ... the Conway Bros who own Great Lakes are raging hippies that use no preservatives in their beer.


Which is why I think there are very distinct batches. Using natural ingredients and no preservatives lends itself to variations in flavor.

Like the milk from a cow that eats onions.

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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby RickNashEquilibrium » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:53 pm

swerb wrote:Gal I work with, her brother is Luke Purcell, the head brewer for Great Lakes. He says that have changed absolutely nothing at all with the Christmas Ale formula, and that all the GLBC guys crack up when people talk about differences from year to year or conspiracy theories about ABV or the type of honey they use.


I get its "coming from the horse's mouth" but think about any good food or drink you've ever ate. You know what to expect when its prepared and beer/wine/etc is no different. The fact that people far and wide have basically said the same thing lends credence that each year it has been inconsistent. Luke very might be telling the truth, so EW could be on to something in regards to the lack of preservatives. One other thing I was thinking of was the upkeep certain bars maintain with their keg lines. If they are not properly cleaned and bacteria/yeast sentiment, etc etc builds up even a little, it can drastically alter/spoil the flavor. Paninis (at least the ones in Concord and Willoughby) are really bad at this.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby Govbarney » Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:27 am

Erie Warrior wrote:
swerb wrote:I think what it is ... the Conway Bros who own Great Lakes are raging hippies that use no preservatives in their beer.


Which is why I think there are very distinct batches. Using natural ingredients and no preservatives lends itself to variations in flavor.

Like the milk from a cow that eats onions.

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I don't want to drink anything that's been made by bee's with AIDS. Just not Kosher.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby jfiling » Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:16 pm

So what's the best way to store my two sixers? Right now I just have them on the counter, since I bought them at room temp, and really just want to chill a few down before I enjoy them. Should they be in the fridge the who time, or is it safe to keep them at room temp for a month or two?
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby motherscratcher » Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:56 pm

jfiling wrote:So what's the best way to store my two sixers?


In your belly.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby Cerebral_DownTime » Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:57 pm

I put most of my beer in the fridge..... but I blow through it fast. i'd assume you can store at room temp, provided it's not in direct sunlight. A dark place like a pantry should work.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby paulcousineau » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:28 pm

motherscratcher wrote:That being said, I've made it my mission this year to locate some 'Donk.

Saw 'Donk X-Mas Ale at the Heinen's in River tonight.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby Erie Warrior » Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:59 pm

motherscratcher wrote:That being said, I've made it my mission this year to locate some 'Donk.


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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby motherscratcher » Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:02 pm

I'm looking for the Corsen variety. Not the B'donka variety.

And I'm planning on taking a trip to heinens today. Thanks Paulie.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby peeker643 » Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:12 pm

motherscratcher wrote:I'm looking for the Corsen variety. Not the B'donka variety.

And I'm planning on taking a trip to heinens today. Thanks Paulie.


That particular store will let you sample the beer. Take one out of the pack, open and consume. If you like it, get it. If not, try another. Bring your own opener.

Better yet, just borrow one from their housewares section.

Seriously. It's cool.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby Love child of shawn kemp » Fri Nov 04, 2011 5:02 pm

I grabbed a case of XMas Ale at the local Kroger last night. I was horrified to see that an earlier customer had grabbed a case of XMas ale by one handle which subsequently ripped causing the case to fall to the floor. Of course, it was just left sitting there, oozing a river of goodness out onto the floor. No, I did not fall to my knees and lick it.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby justmebd » Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:28 pm

jfiling wrote:So what's the best way to store my two sixers? Right now I just have them on the counter, since I bought them at room temp, and really just want to chill a few down before I enjoy them. Should they be in the fridge the who time, or is it safe to keep them at room temp for a month or two?


I stored two sixers in my basement last year for a "X-mas in July" party. The basement is a constant 50-55 degrees (even in the summer) and the room I kept it in gets no sunlight. The two sixers tasted AWESOME when we cracked them for the Fourth of July.

Just bought two cases and stuck them in the same room. I won't even think about touching them until Thanksgiving at the earliest, otherwise they will be gone.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby justmebd » Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:34 pm

Regarding Christmas Ale's, I've drank a lot of them. To me, there is not one I've yet tasted that can come close to holding a candle to GLBC Xmas Ale. It's outstanding beer. No mistake why it is raging in popularity.


Couldn't agree more.

The Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of X-mas is good, but it's just not GL Good. Didn't care for the Breckinridge. Those are the only other two I've had this year.

Slightly off topic, but if you were sampling Pumpkin Ales, Southern Tier is the GL of Pumpkin Ales. Shipyard had the best this year offered in sixers, with Buffalo Bills and Stegmeier close seconds.

The Ichabod still was good, but it wasn't as good as last year.

Tried Thirsty Dog's Pumpkin Ale last week, and it wasn't bad, but it is overpriced. I'm assuming their particular recipe is expensive to produce, because at 5% alcohol, $2.99/bottle is ridiculous.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby motherscratcher » Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:08 pm

peeker643 wrote:
motherscratcher wrote:I'm looking for the Corsen variety. Not the B'donka variety.

And I'm planning on taking a trip to heinens today. Thanks Paulie.


That particular store will let you sample the beer. Take one out of the pack, open and consume. If you like it, get it. If not, try another. Bring your own opener.

Better yet, just borrow one from their housewares section.

Seriously. It's cool.


Youre not going to believe what happened.

So I'm at Heinens. Im perusing the beer and I grab one that I think looks good and pop it open just like you said. delirium Tremons actually. It was fantastic. Well, I felt like a bit of a neanderthal drinking out of the bottle so I ask one of the kids works there to get me a glass, a goblet if they have one. He just gives me this funny look and mumbles something about going to find a manager.

Can you imagine? Kid needs a manager to get me a glass.

Anyway, while he's looking for a goblet for me I finish the Delerium and grab one of the 'Donk XMas Ales that brought me there to begin with (thanks Paulie). This dude wanders over and asks me what I think I'm doing.

" I'm drinking this beer out of the bottle like a jerk because you assholes can't find your goblets."

He starts talking about how I can't just open beer and drink it there and he's going to have to call to police or whatever if I don't leave.

I'm like, "it's OK, McPeek told me about the policy". The fuckin dope acted like he didn't even know you Brian.

Must be new. Im thinking about writing a strongly worded letter, but I hate to get the guy in trouble.

Anyway...I just thought you should know what happened in case you need to go down and straighten some shit out.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby peeker643 » Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:18 pm

motherscratcher wrote:
peeker643 wrote:
motherscratcher wrote:I'm looking for the Corsen variety. Not the B'donka variety.

And I'm planning on taking a trip to heinens today. Thanks Paulie.


That particular store will let you sample the beer. Take one out of the pack, open and consume. If you like it, get it. If not, try another. Bring your own opener.

Better yet, just borrow one from their housewares section.

Seriously. It's cool.


Youre not going to believe what happened.

So I'm at Heinens. Im perusing the beer and I grab one that I think looks good and pop it open just like you said. delirium Tremons actually. It was fantastic. Well, I felt like a bit of a neanderthal drinking out of the bottle so I ask one of the kids works there to get me a glass, a goblet if they have one. He just gives me this funny look and mumbles something about going to find a manager.

Can you imagine? Kid needs a manager to get me a glass.

Anyway, while he's looking for a goblet for me I finish the Delerium and grab one of the 'Donk XMas Ales that brought me there to begin with (thanks Paulie). This dude wanders over and asks me what I think I'm doing.

" I'm drinking this beer out of the bottle like a jerk because you assholes can't find your goblets."

He starts talking about how I can't just open beer and drink it there and he's going to have to call to police or whatever if I don't leave.

I'm like, "it's OK, McPeek told me about the policy". The fuckin dope acted like he didn't even know you Brian.

Must be new. Im thinking about writing a strongly worded letter, but I hate to get the guy in trouble.

Anyway...I just thought you should know what happened in case you need to go down and straighten some shit out.


At the Mayfield Heights Heinens? Sonofabitch.

You were at the Mayfield Heights Heinens and got treated like that?

Or maybe the Concord Heinen's is the one with the liberal tasting policy.

Pretty sure it ain't the one in Willoughby but I can't 100% rule it out.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby motherscratcher » Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:19 pm

No dude, the Avon Heinens.

Do you think...you think that's it?
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby peeker643 » Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:21 pm

motherscratcher wrote:No dude, the Avon Heinens.

Do you think...you think that's it?


The Avon Heinen's? Those fucks are beer-tasting nazis. You fucked up.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby motherscratcher » Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:46 pm

peeker643 wrote:
motherscratcher wrote:No dude, the Avon Heinens.

Do you think...you think that's it?


The Avon Heinen's? Those fucks are beer-tasting nazis. You fucked up.


Apparently.

I'll tell you one thing, if they thnk I'm going to come up and peruse their so called "free samples" again any time soon they're sorely mistaken.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby pup » Sun Nov 06, 2011 12:00 pm

motherscratcher wrote:
peeker643 wrote:
motherscratcher wrote:No dude, the Avon Heinens.

Do you think...you think that's it?


The Avon Heinen's? Those fucks are beer-tasting nazis. You fucked up.


Apparently.

I'll tell you one thing, if they thnk I'm going to come up and peruse their so called "free samples" again any time soon they're sorely mistaken.


No, no. The Avon Heinen's is great for free tastes. As long as you don't roll up in your pink caddy. Cuz then they think you are one of those Mary Kay people and there to ruin them.

Plus, you need the secret handshake. I am guess the secret handshake could not throw Mo off, so obviously he is cruising around in that pink caddy again.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby RickNashEquilibrium » Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:23 pm

Ok yall, got a few more for you to try. Anderson Valley Winter Solstice is excellent if you like malt bombs. It has less spice than a typical Winter Warmer, but the caramel/toffee notes are impressive

Image

Scaldis Noel knocked me on my ass. At $4.99 for a 11.2 oz bottle its damn expensive, but if you like the Belgian Style X-mas Ales/Strong Dark Ales, this one is for you. A bit dry, but lots of funky dark fruit/Belgian yeast notes. If you want to splurge, get some. Be warned, THIS IS A NIGHTCAP BEER. It clocks in at 12% ABV and drinks every bit of that if not more. I absolutely need to find this stuff on draught because it has to be ridiculous.

Image

And mother, Delerium Tremens is the flagship Belgian Pale Ale. Between the giant pink elephant mascot and amazing flavor that a lot of people can enjoy, Tremens/Nocturnum are responsible for the boom in interest in Belgian style beers in the US.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby FUDU » Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:48 pm

motherscratcher wrote:
peeker643 wrote:
motherscratcher wrote:I'm looking for the Corsen variety. Not the B'donka variety.

And I'm planning on taking a trip to heinens today. Thanks Paulie.


That particular store will let you sample the beer. Take one out of the pack, open and consume. If you like it, get it. If not, try another. Bring your own opener.

Better yet, just borrow one from their housewares section.

Seriously. It's cool.


Youre not going to believe what happened.

So I'm at Heinens. Im perusing the beer and I grab one that I think looks good and pop it open just like you said. delirium Tremons actually. It was fantastic. Well, I felt like a bit of a neanderthal drinking out of the bottle so I ask one of the kids works there to get me a glass, a goblet if they have one. He just gives me this funny look and mumbles something about going to find a manager.

Can you imagine? Kid needs a manager to get me a glass.

Anyway, while he's looking for a goblet for me I finish the Delerium and grab one of the 'Donk XMas Ales that brought me there to begin with (thanks Paulie). This dude wanders over and asks me what I think I'm doing.

" I'm drinking this beer out of the bottle like a jerk because you assholes can't find your goblets."

He starts talking about how I can't just open beer and drink it there and he's going to have to call to police or whatever if I don't leave.

I'm like, "it's OK, McPeek told me about the policy". The fuckin dope acted like he didn't even know you Brian.

Must be new. Im thinking about writing a strongly worded letter, but I hate to get the guy in trouble.

Anyway...I just thought you should know what happened in case you need to go down and straighten some shit out.

Frankly mo I would have called security if I saw you (a grown man) drinking from the bottle inside a grocery store. Just for the sake of principle damnit. But the idea is intriguing and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby Kingpin74 » Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:40 am

The Rocky River Heinen's was loaded with GLBC Christmas Ale yesterday if anyone is having trouble finding it. Also picked up Bell's Christmas Ale, which I hadn't seen before this year. Lighter than other one's I've tasted and not quite at the level of Great Lakes, but still pretty good.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby exiledbuckeye » Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:59 pm

Kingpin74 wrote:The Rocky River Heinen's was loaded with GLBC Christmas Ale yesterday if anyone is having trouble finding it. Also picked up Bell's Christmas Ale, which I hadn't seen before this year. Lighter than other one's I've tasted and not quite at the level of Great Lakes, but still pretty good.


Not the same type of beer, but you might like Bell's Winter White Ale also. If any of you are Bell's Oberon fans, this one is sometimes referred to as Wintoberon.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby swerb » Fri Nov 11, 2011 1:18 pm

exiledbuckeye wrote:
Kingpin74 wrote:The Rocky River Heinen's was loaded with GLBC Christmas Ale yesterday if anyone is having trouble finding it. Also picked up Bell's Christmas Ale, which I hadn't seen before this year. Lighter than other one's I've tasted and not quite at the level of Great Lakes, but still pretty good.


Not the same type of beer, but you might like Bell's Winter White Ale also. If any of you are Bell's Oberon fans, this one is sometimes referred to as Wintoberon.

Thanks for the heads up. Never had it. And I love Oberon.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby GreatGoo » Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:06 pm

Rick - I'm drinking the Corsendonk Xmas right now. Great beer, but i'm not getting the flavor of xmas. Maybe my pallet/mind are too engraved with GLBC xmas ale as the standard of a xmas ale?

Cheers! :cheers:

UPDATE: scratch that. The beer might have been a little too cold when I first drank it. Hitting flavor town now. Ho Ho Ho! :santa:
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby RickNashEquilibrium » Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:32 pm

GreatGoo wrote:Rick - I'm drinking the Corsendonk Xmas right now. Great beer, but i'm not getting the flavor of xmas. Maybe my pallet/mind are too engraved with GLBC xmas ale as the standard of a xmas ale?

Cheers! :cheers:

UPDATE: scratch that. The beer might have been a little too cold when I first drank it. Hitting flavor town now. Ho Ho Ho! :santa:



Yessir. If you refridgerated it, Donk is best slightly below room temperature. I would say best right around 50-55 degrees, maybe slightly above that. I think of that stuff as a maltier GLBC with Belgian yeast funk mixed in.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby MOSER » Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:53 am

Bought a case last week. Yummmmmmm
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby Erie Warrior » Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:01 pm

Had a few sixers over Turkey Day.

Unimpressed this season. Tasted flat. It was better after poured into a glass, but not a good batch IMO.

Chased it with some Early Times. Probably a mistake.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby peeker643 » Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:32 pm

Erie Warrior wrote:Had a few sixers over Turkey Day.

Unimpressed this season. Tasted flat. It was better after poured into a glass, but not a good batch IMO.



Agreed on all counts. It was.... ok.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby paulcousineau » Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:55 pm

Had some GLBC at the basement brewpub the night before T-Day. Completely different taste than the bottled ones I've had. Awesome when fresh and on tap. If I'm picking bottled X-Mas Ales, I'm going Bell's right now, even if I know it's a different type of brew.
The Bell's in the bottle is great, but the GLBC on tap at GLBC is still unmatched.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby swerb » Sun Nov 27, 2011 12:03 am

It's weird - to me, GLBC XMas Ale tastes way different drunk out of a bottle as compared to the way it tastes poured into a frosted pint glass. And it tastes even better on draught.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby Erie Warrior » Sun Nov 27, 2011 10:30 am

swerb wrote:It's weird - to me, GLBC XMas Ale tastes way different drunk out of a bottle as compared to the way it tastes poured into a frosted pint glass. And it tastes even better on draught.


There is some truth to letting it breathe. Particularly if your looking for the subtle flavors like the cinnamon and ginger. Even the hops "pop" more if you pour it down the middle and let a nice head form.

Sounds gay.

Might be.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby motherscratcher » Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:29 am

I don't think it's a bad batch at all. I do prefer it out of the tap, though.

I was at BW3 in Centerville on Friday night and I got in a sparring match with Christmas Ale. I have to say, I got my ass handed to me. Thoroughly. It wasn't even close. I didn't feel like I was drinking too much at the time, but 3 22oz tall glasses and 1 16oz pint rendered me useless until this morning. Even more useless than I am on a normal day, which is hard to fathom.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby swerb » Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:20 pm

motherscratcher wrote:I don't think it's a bad batch at all. I do prefer it out of the tap, though.

I was at BW3 in Centerville on Friday night and I got in a sparring match with Christmas Ale. I have to say, I got my ass handed to me. Thoroughly. It wasn't even close. I didn't feel like I was drinking too much at the time, but 3 22oz tall glasses and 1 16oz pint rendered me useless until this morning. Even more useless than I am on a normal day, which is hard to fathom.

That's like drinking six bottles. That produces a restaurant quality buzz.

I usually crap out at 3 or 4. If I go past that though, I consume the six pack on principle. Pulled it off Fri night and Sat morning my son was beating me with a foam lightsaber for like 5 minutes before it woke me up.

Then I ate four bowls of Cocoa Puffs three of those mini powdered donuts before I was able to speak.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby MOSER » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:10 am

Christmas Ale, rimmed w/ cinnamon and sugar = Taste bud ecstasy! :clap:
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby JCoz » Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:47 pm

swerb wrote:It's weird - to me, GLBC XMas Ale tastes way different drunk out of a bottle as compared to the way it tastes poured into a frosted pint glass. And it tastes even better on draught.


Probably all different temperatures.

Went home last weekend my brother picked me up a case of Xmas ale for the michigan game, dropped it off Wed night @11pm, friday morning i was texting him that I was out.
Had a couple 6's of 12 dogs too, that was decent. Still both of them taste vastly dif at 40 than at 55.

Between that and the 3 four packs of breakfast stout everything was a blur leading up to Sunday morning.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby Govbarney » Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:29 pm

swerb wrote: I usually crap out at 3 or 4. If I go past that though, I consume the six pack on principle. Pulled it off Fri night and Sat morning my son was beating me with a foam lightsaber for like 5 minutes before it woke me up.


Now I have to add 'interruption to my hangover recovery, "sleeping it off" cycle' to the ever growing list of why I shouldn't have children.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby hebner20 » Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:04 pm

Just bought a 6pack of Abita Christmas Ale down here in Georgia, it sucks but I thought GL's sucked too. I am giving up on this concoction. When is the GL available?
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby peeker643 » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:08 am

hebner20 wrote:Just bought a 6pack of Abita Christmas Ale down here in Georgia, it sucks but I thought GL's sucked too. I am giving up on this concoction. When is the GL available?


It was available Friday. Haven't tried it yet. Anyone wanna compare it to last year's?
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby kennesawmountainwahoo » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:00 pm

hebner20 wrote:Just bought a 6pack of Abita Christmas Ale down here in Georgia, it sucks but I thought GL's sucked too. I am giving up on this concoction. When is the GL available?


Closest place around here (that I have found) that carries Great Lakes is Total Wine in Charlotte. Do you know of anyone closer?
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby hebner20 » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:36 pm

I think I saw it at total wine on Barrett parkway, but maybe it was not Christmas ale, but dortmunder.
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Re: Great Lakes Xmas Ale - Release Date?

Unread postby RickNashEquilibrium » Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:07 pm

If you can find it, try Winter Mischief by Lager Heads in Medina. Its almost on the level of Hoppin Frog Frosted Frog in terms of flavor town. Its really good, a bit extra anise/belgian dark ale dark fruit notes but still very good. Definitely not a chugger.

Also, while not typical xmas ales like GLBC, you guys should try Unibroue Trois Pistoles, Delerium Noel or Scaldis Noel. A lot of Belgian Strong Dark Ales have that dark fruit, spicy flavor that is prevelent in good Xmas Ales/Winter Warmers. Check this list and if you can find some, give 'em a shot.

http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/56
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