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CLEVELAND -- With a keg flung on his back,Santa Claus turned The Great Lakes Brewing Company into an early holiday.

"It's like Christmas morning in your mouth, it's so good," said one customer.

It's a tradition these visitors have been waiting for all year. Some drove hours just to taste the first Christmas Ale of the season.

"Down in our area, we don't get as much shipped down there , they're always out of it at the drive thru, so it's a big deal," said Connie Campbell.

To make Christmas Ale, it takes 4,600 pounds of malt, 8,000 pounds each of cinnamon and ginger, and 200,000 pounds of honey.

After it has been filtered in vats and conditioned,it's bottled. Great Lakes is filling six million bottles this year.

"Christmas Ale makes up over 20 percent in only eight weeks, so we are really lucky to have this beer be the success that it is," said Mary LaVenia, from The Great Lakes Brewing Company.

It's so successful that Great Lakes ships to 13 states and14 local retailers, like Dave's Supermarket. Dave's sells 4,000 cases in just a few weeks, not to mention all the other items stocked nearby.

"Sometimes we try to hide it so we could have a little left afterward but usually you can't. It's usually gone in a short period of time," said Bert Saltzman, from Dave's Supermarket.

With only 60-some days left until Christmas,these folks are getting a head start.

"It's always a good beer to drink and I look forward to it every year," said Nick Ultrata, who visits every year. Christmas Ale will be on draft until Halloween. It will arrive in stores Nov. 1.

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