1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Gritty McDuff's Halloween Ale - Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Gritty McDuff's Halloween AleGritty McDuff's Halloween Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

293 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 293
Reviews: 183
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 13.33%
Wants: 15
Gots: 16 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company visit their website
Maine, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
Every fall marks the return of our legendary Extra Special Bitter for the season, Halloween Ale – the beer so good, it's scary! From its humble beginnings in 1990 as a small-batch seasonal in our Portland Brew Pub, Halloween Ale has grown to be one of the year's most anticipated beer releases. This robust brew has a deep amber color, a bold, malty palate and a well-rounded hop finish. The perfect beer for a crisp autumn day!

(Beer added by: UncleJimbo on 08-29-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 293 | Reviews: 183 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by BuckSpin:
Photo of BuckSpin
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Presentation: 22oz bottle in a Shaker pint

BAside: FYI - The 22oz Halloween Ales are actually brewed by Gritty's at their Freeport brewpub. The 12oz are contract brewed by Shipyard. So be warned....

Poured slow, thick, silent & viscous. Deep, almost lush nose, rich & sweet. Brown sugar, dried stone fruits (cherry), caramel/corn syrup, really high quality leather. It feels like you could fall into it, strong with atmosphere, like an old house. With a little bloom some faint butterscotch emerges, finally becoming overall lighter with a dried fruit quality. Head was a thin blanket of very loose latte hued foam that faded almost immediately into a transparent sheen of a floater with an delicate edge ring. Color is striking, a radiant, crystal clear cherry mahogany, warm & rich, like an antique sideboard that's been cared for & passed down for generations. Some isolated bubbles rise zombie-like, slowly, no hurry, thru the abyss. Too bad there is no head on this beauty....perhaps that is how they got the idea for the "Headless Bartender" label?

Ahhhh...after a few sips create some room an aggressive, vertical re-pour creates a solid 2 finger's of tight, sticky, lightly snapping foam that has some descent retention and laces like torn drapery in the windows of that abandoned house at the edge of the neighborhood that the kids won't go near. This is much, much prettier to look at!

A nice, creamy balance initially, it starts off lightly sweet, full & wet, but then shifts into a more bittersweet, semi-dry feel. The taste is eventually more bitter than sweet (although some distant brown sugar & dried cherry add an echo of sweetness), but its a tough call as it walks that line very well. The caramelized malts are burnt & add to the bitter nature & dry mouth-feel. Hops are round with a slightly citric (orange) quality to them. They add both that citrus sweetness initially and then bitterness as it warms. Typically any balance is immediately noticeable, but this almost teeter-totter balance from tongue to palate is, to me, atypical yet rather enjoyable.

There is not much transition from this bittersweet aspect/feel as it hits the palate, finishing sweeter with burnt caramel, a little drier, leaving more bitter than sweet with a woolen, slightly chewy, tannic aftertaste that films over my tongue and is slightly unpleasant, to be honest.

A nice beer that has 2 gears. I liked the shift from initial taste to palate, but didn't particularly care for what transpired after that. It wasn't bad at all, just not particularly good. Simple pub fare like burgers, deli sandwiches, etc, are the rule here, or maybe some nice Cheddar. I'd certainly drink it again, but wouldn't stock up on it. Just like the holiday its named after, its definitely fun once a year. Check out the 22oz bottles before, like a ghost, they disappear....

BuckSpin, Oct 25, 2007
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Straight 4's on this offering,had this first at a restaurant in Kennebunkport and found it very appetizing.Pours a burnt orange color with light rocky head,aroma is caramelly and fruity,the flavor of this beer is alot like a marzen it made me wonder about the style.A sweet malty brew with strong hints of caramel and lightly bready with very little bittering.A real good beer but is it an ESB?

oberon, Oct 19, 2003
Photo of ExtraStout
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear, deep mahogony with nicely structured thick tan head. Aromatic nutty toastiness, overlays of sweet caramel/butterscoth. Rich spicy, toasty malt start, followed by a slick butterness/diacetyl, finishes with a nice bitterness towards the back of the throat. Nice little alcohol warmth afterwards. Overall a fine complex brew from Maine.

ExtraStout, Sep 11, 2010
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #33 (Oct 2009):

Inviting dark amber clarity with an ample lacing. Fruity, taffy-like, perhaps a little peppery and malty in the nose. Solid malt base lets the smoothness of the carbonation roll right through it. Malt is king of the hill here, though it struggles to stay on top with complexi- ties coming from all directions. Hops dial in with a low-key bitterness but bigger herbal and woody flavors. Taffy? Ripe fruit jumps up with a quick flash of estery alcohol and the yeast throws down a musty flavor to show its uniqueness from other yeasts. Everything seems to work together though, leading to balance in the finish.

A masterpiece that we'll miss soon enough--all good seasonals seems to be that way ... every day can't be Halloween either. Hands down one of our most favorite ESBs ever.

BeerAdvocate, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of Marc33
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%

Marc33, Dec 27, 2011
Photo of lordofthewiens
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Have had this on draft and in a bottle. The draft is much better. It's a dark brown with a medium white head. It has a caramel, spicy aroma. Taste was cloves and hops, not at all sweet. I thought it was a little thin in mouthfeel, but still quite enjoyable. Probably a cut above this genre.

lordofthewiens, Sep 20, 2006
Photo of Todd
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 1 pint 6 oz brown bomber. No freshness date, but a kick-ass spooky wood-cut-style label. Yikes!

Appearance: Deep, dark copper with amber hues, crowned with a slightly off-white foam lace with plenty of retention and clinging action.

Smell: Loads of distinct, coarse Ringwood floral action going on in the nose. Soft apple skin, hint of all-spice and some starchy aromas too.

Taste: Smooth and malty upfront, going coarse with a leafy, apple skin texture on the palate. A delicate apricot and a juicy fruity flavour blends nicely with an even malt sweetness, touch of candy-like sweetness and thin caramel. Subtle spiciness. Big wood notes define this beer, while a background thin semi-citrus bitterness helps to balance the heavy handed fruit/malt flavours. The wood flavours ride you into the finish, which becomes pretty damn clean. Pumpkin starch flavours and body? Maybe?

Notes: Once you get over the sameness of, and get to like, the Ringwood (aka Shipyard) yeast strain in many of the New England beers, you'll find the most interesting and unique flavours. This is no exception. A wonderful ESB, and a masterful seasonal. Drink up! Happy Halloween!

Todd, Sep 30, 2002
Photo of sponberg
4.43/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big ol' bomber bottle (still too small), with one of the all-time great labels. I hope that Mr. Stebbins didn't remove his own head for the woodcarver. Deep reddish amber with a thin vanilla head that lasts.

Nose of Ringwood, fruit (apples? pears?), and toasty malt. Very appetizing. A full, round maltiness, with toast, toffee, butterscotch, fruit, and some mellowed hop spiciness - just so drinkable. Some alcohol and woody notes are there in the background, as well as a very firm bitterness. It finishes with a lingering (slightly bitter) toffee/fruity/Ringwood flavor. A good amount of body to this one - pumpkin used? Hmm... A fine, fine brew, and a new autumn favorite.

Many thanks to bennybrew for bringing these to the gathering, and for handing me a bottle.

sponberg, Oct 14, 2002
Photo of bishopdc0
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is deep mahogany in color with a thick white head and good lacing. Sweet maltyness to start and finishes with a easy bitterness and a nuttyness. There is another taste I couldn't place (my girlfriend described it as all spice and gum). This is a great beer but not Gritty's best.

bishopdc0, Feb 03, 2010
Photo of Doomcifer
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a bright copper color with a decent head that fizzled down.

Smelled sweet, caramel, some hop spiciness.

Tastes of caramel/toffee, malty sweetness, faint hops wo balance everything out. Pretty crisp and tasty. Extremely smooth and drinkable.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with decent carbonation.

Great session beer as these go down so smooth and easy.

Doomcifer, Nov 06, 2006
Photo of Jason
4.05/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber with no freshness date. Freaky looking label. Reddish amber colour with a fine clarity and a thick off white lace that sticks quite well.

Buttery caramel, faint alcoholic esters, rustic hop leaf and a toasted grain in the aroma. Very fresh and aromatic with that Ringwood yeast flair.

Smooth and creamy with a medium to full body, big malty flavours of toasted and caramel. Fruity with ripe pear and faint apple juice. Buttery diacetyl is a touch musty, hops round the corner with a more than ample bitterness that is lightly pungent. Hops linger with an earthy woody flavour. Toasted malt flavours survive as well as some diacetyl and faded hop. Finishes a bit sweet also.

A masterful brew that is not only a great rendition of the ESB style but a perfect change up from the onslaught of Oktoberfest beers during the fall.

Jason, Oct 04, 2002
Photo of tigg924
3.2/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had on tap at Wachusett Apple Fest

Appearance: amber in color, 1/2 inch head, high carbonation, clear

Smell: wood and grain

Taste: wood, grain, and a slightly soapy/hoppy aftertaste

Mouthfeel: high carbonation, light bodied, sweet start with a bitter end

Drinkability: I could have a couple of these, not more. Refreshing and different, the bitterness at the end that comes from the hops doesn't do it for me. That being said, this is a nice alternative to other seasonal beers at this time of year.

tigg924, Oct 18, 2010
Photo of Cavanaghty
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Reddish amber color with a beige head of about one finger. Mild lacing on the glass.

Smell: Carmel, malts, hops, maybe some grass and nutty notes to it as well. The smell is not overpowering.

Mouthfeel/Taste: A little rough, but not bad, typical of Gritty's. Medium Bodied. Taste of roasted malts, carmel, and a bit of a nutty aftertaste.

Overall: Great brew. I usually find my self having a few of these around September and October, goes great wiht some fresh game meat, or poultry.

Cavanaghty, Oct 27, 2012
Photo of kingcrowing
3.38/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured in a pilsner glass.

Pours a dark ruby/amber, very little head or lacing. Smell is almost nonexistent but there is some maltiness to it.

Taste is good, not sure what the style is (Upon tasting, I now see it's an ESB, interesting for a fall beer). It's nice and warm and fairly complex. Reminds me of Long Trail Harvest.

kingcrowing, Sep 12, 2009
Photo of PressFastF0rward
1.5/5  rDev -60%

PressFastF0rward, Jun 27, 2014
Photo of far333
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Copper colored with a beige foamy head that rises only to a quarter inch, but haaaangs in there atop the glass leaving a fine coating of bubbles. Aroma is very inviting, and smells of light roasted malts, some caramel and toffee, perhaps a bit of cinammon. Flavor is initially malty, not much hops, followed directly by orange peel and an alcohol tingle in the finish. A bit of pine, and some spice. Excellent smooth and round mouthfeel, with a bit of carbonation dancing on the tongue. Damn good beer, but could use just a little more depth.

far333, Sep 01, 2004
Photo of yankeeheel
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep brown/reddish hue with a nice big off white head. The smell is superb. Caramel malts, biscuit, and a bit of plum or black cherry come to mind. Very nice.

The taste has very big malt and hop profile with a bit of that fruit coming through midway. Finishes very dry. Mouthfeel is quite well bodied without being overbearing. Carbonation is moderate.

Overall a very nice tank conditioned brew that is well worth your time.

yankeeheel, Sep 13, 2003
Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%

acurtis, Nov 01, 2013
Photo of caddybuyer
4.4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Clear garnet amber with a light tan head which holds for a bit, then quick dissipates. This is a very attractive brew.

S- Bready malts, with a touch of hops and a bit of spice.

T- Starts with a hoppy bitterness that yields to a sweet malty caramel and fruity citrus-like finish. There is a bit of spice in the background that I cant quite place, but very nice taste overall.

M- Balanced with a tad bit more carbonation and a medium body

D- Extremely drinkable sweetheart of a brew...would love to try this on tap. A great seasonal beer.

Very cool Halloween label as well.

caddybuyer, Oct 26, 2008
Photo of IntriqKen
4.58/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow...
This is a remarkable ESB.
Pours a beautiful golden amber with a nice half finger head.

Aroma is a mix of softly sweet malts and ringwood yeast giving it some green apple and apricot...

Taste is again soft sweet amber malt...very light...with some fruit like touches to the yeast..mostly aplle and apricot...and then some very soft citrus hops making this ESB seem incredibly balanced.

Love the beer...somehow I also get a hint of pumpkin or pumpkin spice in it but don't know if that is really coming from the power of suggestion since it is a Halloween Ale or if it is something actually coming off of the ringwood yeast. Either way, it makes for a very drinkable beer.

IntriqKen, Sep 29, 2007
Photo of NJpadreFan
4.13/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gritty's- Halloween Ale

Appearance- Big deep amber with a thick frothy head.
Smell- Pungent caramel malt with hints of dry earthy hops.
Taste- Sweet molasses malt with a bitter dry earthy hop flavor. Mostly dominated by the malt.
Mouthfeel- Sweet and chewy up front followed by a quick dry bitterness.

Overall- A definite session beer. Very flavorful, this goes down very easily.

NJpadreFan, Sep 14, 2007
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.2/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

AP: Totally clear with a brilliant amber brown color with deep reddish hues. Displayed a 2" slightly off-white head with some orange tinge.

Nose: Sweet and roasty malt.

Taste: A smoked then mildly sweet malt flavor, nutty with only a minor earthy hop.

Mf: Medium body, Good activity makes for a decent bite so it's refreshing; but it is also slick and mildly smooth.

DA: three went down fairly easy!

GratefulBeerGuy, Oct 14, 2006
Photo of jmz62565
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A great looking ale.not too many this dark.A small lacey head with a hint of spices.it reminds me off some sam adams brews, but with less sugar.once you taste this you realize this beer has much taste!I think this would go well with seasonal foods,turkey or roast pork.I'm not sure you could have more than 2 or 3.these kind of beers tend to leave me more thirsty,like that's a bad thing! A fine beer that makes me long for halloween.

jmz62565, Sep 12, 2005
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear mahogany body topped by a frothy ivory head that holds quite well and leaves some very nice lace. The aroma is of a lightly roasty and caramel tinged malt with some herbal and mildly spicy character that does not appear to be from hops (but might be). The body is medium with a fine and moderate carbonation that's crisp in the mouth. The flavor is surprisingly complex with a sweet apple-like fruitiness (that later combines with the spiciness to really tie this beer together and make it interesting), a rich honeyish, lightly buttery and softly caramel-tinged maltiness, what appears to be nutmeg, and a spicy bitterness that allows the flavors to come through before appearing more solidly in the long lasting finish. Very nicely done. Exceptionally well balanced. Really full of flavor and character for a beer with such a light body and (I'm guessing) median alcohol content. Definitely worth trying.

NeroFiddled, Nov 13, 2002
Photo of UncleFrank
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rusty brown color fills the glass with a nice head. The aroma is sweet and slightly nutty. A nice malt complex makes up the taste with crystal and toasted flavors giving way to hop dryness. A slight alcohol presence is noticed, then goes away. Bittering without the hop flavor. The finish is slightly dry with a touch of fruit notes, possibly from the yeast.

A nice session beer that I could have a lot of. Dont be fooloed by the Halloween" name of Pumpkin colors on the bottle. This is not a pumpkin ale. A blend of Amber, Pale, and a touch of scotch ale.

UncleFrank, Oct 03, 2003
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Gritty McDuff's Halloween Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 293 ratings.