Great Lakes Brewing Company holding release party of its popular seasonal Christmas Ale brew

CLEVELAND - Christmas comes early for many northeast Ohio revelers, who now get to enjoy the popular Christmas Ale.

The Great Lakes Brewing Company is holding an event: First Pour 2012: Christmas Ale Release Party. It starts at 11 Thursday morning at the GLBC off West 25th Street in Cleveland's Ohio City.

It will be first come, first pour for customers, except the first pint will be served to the person who won a contest to write a poem about Christmas Ale. The ale will also be served draft only, no bottles available yet. The occasion will also feature an appearance from "Santa Claus," who will tap the beer. Everyone who shows up Thursday is encouraged to wear a Christmas sweater.

"I think it's become part of the culture here in Cleveland and northeast Ohio and just part of the holiday tradition almost," said Luke Purcell, who's been with GLBC for seventeen years. "Like having turkey on Thanksgiving, Christmas Ale is part of the holiday season."

GLBC makes the popular, seasonal ale available for two months. It is spiced with cinnamon, ginger and honey.

"It outsells all of our other brands. Actually, during its season, it outsells all other beers in Northeast Ohio," Purcell said.

The first barrel of Christmas Ale was made in the early 1990's. Purcell believes GLBC was one of the first breweries to make a spiced beer, which has now become a common practice.

The GLBC makes more than 25,000 barrels of Christmas Ale every season.

The brewery tries to brew enough ale to keep up with demand, which had steadily increased over the years, so revelers can enjoy the ale through Christmas.

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