1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

308 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 308
Reviews: 186
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 13.37%
Wants: 12
Gots: 20 | 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:
Beer added by: UncleJimbo on 08-29-2001

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: Ratings & Reviews
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 308 | Reviews: 186
Photo of lordofthewiens
3.82/5  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.

Photo of Damian
3.51/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank from a 12 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Julio's Liquors, Westboro, MA

Poured a dark, copper-brown with a large, tan, fizzy head that lasted.

Smell was quite metallic at first. Later, mild notes of caramel malts and brown sugar were noticeable.

Taste was initially rich and malty. A mix of both caramel and toasted malts were noticeable before some fruitiness and later some citrusy hops kicked in. Nice balance between malts and hops. Pleasant, mildly hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel was beautiful - lush and creamy with perfect carbonation.

Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.13/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Translucent dark copper body with finger-thick light tan head. Smells very malty with strong caramel and yeast notes. Tastes malty and spicy, with hints of burnt malts. An excellent beer and an old favorite for me. While it's very good, I would love to try this on tap.

Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.05/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - dark coppery ruddy red in color, with orange hints and a full finger of light tan head, and lots of carbonation

S - malty predominance with hoppy undertones, thereare very faint hints of a pumpkin or pumpkin pie quality, a pleasant aroma

T - wow, a more complex taste than i had imagined. first is the malty sweetness with definite pumpkin undertones, then the hoppiness balances it out with a rich, alomst stouty finish, very nice

M&D - balanced and a quality smoothness, very drinkable, and very October, a great Gritty brew, they continue to impress

Photo of LordHarris
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into pint glass, medium head that lingers for a bit.

appearance: a dark red in color, very nice looking in my glass.

Smell: a nice smell of malt, with hints of spice and hops.

Taste: a malt taste with other spices, hard to tell, and a nice smooth hop finish.

Mouthfeel: nice and smooth, perfect amount of carbonation with a nice finish that lingers just long enough.

Drinkabilty: very good, the pint glass is empty as i right this, i'm glad i live within walking distance of a Gritty's brew pub, because i'm going to spend some time there this fall.

Photo of HopHeadKen
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Charlesw for this trade.

Pours deep orange copper with a tall ivory head of large bubbles which quickly fades to a thin lace and edge ring. Served at cellar temp (66 deg F) into a pint glass, this beer has an interesting spicy hoppy smell.

Taste is smooth and sweet; malt with subtle spicy well balanced hops

Mouthfeel is medium, not thin or harsh - nice

Drinkable, I wish I had a sixer of these.

Photo of MuddyFeet
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is an ESB? Huh? Odd. It is still a good beer but not quite an ESB. Where's the bitters?

Poured a mahogany brown in color. When I look through it everything has a nice brown tinge to it. No floaties. Thick head that recedes to a hit and miss filmy head. Lots of cake layered lacing.

Nose is caramel and slightly toasted malts.

The flavor is all about the malts. Caramel and toasted nuts. Biscuits and pretzels. Doughy and sugar. Hops are present but very subdued. Hardly bitter at all. Got some of the yeast coming through as well. More of an altered take on an Oktoberfest-ale.

A rather dry finish. Leaves me thirsty. Medium body. Even kind of crisp. Or is that the dry finish?

This beer kind of confuses me. I like it but am unsure what style it really falls into as a beer.

Photo of aquatonex
2.93/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Was expecting something different from this brew, perhaps it is because it is bottled?

Pours a rich dark auburn with a slight head, slight lacing, good carbonation. Smell consists of hops and some light spice. Taste provides good hoppiness, some malts, light spices again (coriander, vanilla), but a severe metallic flavor encompasses my tongue soon after the sip that continues after I drink. Eh. It's really putting a negative effect on the entire beer. I wonder if it's this particular batch in the bottle.

Photo of charlesw
4.28/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Go cask! Yeah cask!


Deep amber. Poured from the engine and brought to the table foaming - beautiful tiny bubbles... Head doesn't last long (a few minutes at best) while leaving a ring that won't quit. It's defnitely the service that rates the appearance so high - you've got to be in the pub on a slowish day and very near to the bar. But oh so beautiful!

Smells like caramel malts, man...

And it tastes very nice. Cask is the only way to go for this one... It's like it's like it's like... It's like an Old Thumper, you know? I mean, if you're not having it on cask, well, you're not having it. So, yeah, an ESB. You bet. A bitter... A nice one... As it warms the caramel malt comes out a bit more - the end of the glass has a tiny caramel bite to it! Always a teeny touch of bitterness just there... Very pleasant to drink... No lingering flavors (especially NOT off ones) to speak of.

Drinkability? Well, it's not my fault that I've had 7 pints of it in the past 2 days! I was forced! But, hey, I've got to enjoy it while I can - it is, after all, only seasonal!

Photo of gotbeer
4.43/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is a beer that I have had many, many times over the years. It has always been a favorite, especially on tap. Last year I was afraid that it or my palate had changed, but this year's version has found the right magic again.

It pours a dark copper color with a quickly fading head that leaves only the slightest lacing on the glass. It smells like buttered bread.

The taste is impressive. Malty bread and some nice bitter hop balance. There is some diacetyl, but this is not a negative as it compliments the overall flavors and is an exceptional example of Ringwood yeast. There is some pear and apple flavors in the background.

The mouthfeel is smooth and soft, and the drinkablity is exceptional. This is a great alternative to all the Octoberfest brews that show up this time of the year. Definitely reccomended. A seasonal fall favorite for sure.

Photo of jmz62565
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

Photo of mschofield
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear reddish brown, topped with a one finger creamy tan head, leaves webs of lacing.
Fruity, leafy aroma, biscuit and caramel notes.
Nice bitter flavor, citrus zest, leafy, orange, bread and wood.
Medium body, good drinkability and a good session beer.

Photo of maybrick
3.47/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

At our Monday tasting session of 1/3/05 we had a bottle amongst us. It was poured from a 22 ounce crown cork topped bottle. There was no date on the bottle but I beleive this was from the 2004 production year. The bottle indicates this to be an aged ESB. The color was off from a traditional ESB as it was more coppery colored than the run of the mill ESB's.

After allowing it to rest, the nose revealed some nice malt, and a bit of spice. head retention was good the whole way. The taste was quite interesting, well balanced and spicey. In my opinion there were notes of corriander and orange zest.

No ABV was noted.

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.08/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Best by date of April 2005, Sampled December 2004
Pours a pretty red color that is brilliantly clear. It is topped by a fluffy light tan head. The aroma smells of thin grain, a hint of butterscotch, and caramel. The aroma is lightly sweet, yet light and crisp. There seems to be some subtle spicing going on here. Most notably I get some astringency towards the end and in the finish. Perhaps I get some notes of nutmeg. This beer is quite light on the palate. I am not quite sure what to think about this beer. It is quite light and does not have as much flavor as I was expecting. I think that the spices have died down quite a bit, and all that is left is a bit of spicy astringency in the finish.

Photo of Kookiekwan
2.96/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours amber/red with a one finger head it has some good retention and nice lacing. The beer has a toasted grain aroma and its smooth and creamy. For an ESB it lacks alot of bitterness. The flavors of toasted grains and caramel stand out and it had a slightly metallic finish.

Reflection: I find it hard to believe that this is an ESB. The beer is to malty and it didn't have nearly enough hops to make it bitter. Fall brings out many different beers to try, I prefer drinking something with more spice on halloween( one plus is that it has a really cool label).

Photo of SheepNutz
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep reddish-brown color with two fingers of head. There is a good deal of lacing. The smell is fairly sweet and malty. Some caramel flavors, a slight nuttiness, and a touch of sweet cherry. A little bit of hops to boot. The taste is malty up front. Some caramel flavors and biscuit malt. Sweet and toasty. Lots of hop bitterness on the finish. The mouthfeel is fairly thick and smooth. The drinkability is great. A nice seasonal brew.

Photo of NEhophead
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle.

Creamy 1" off white head with very good retention. Some thin and spotty lacing with decent strength throughout the glass. A clean reddish-amber in color.

A caramel, butterscotch, malty sweetness. Also a bit of a musty odor with some floral hop aromas.

A mildly sweet maltiness with some hints of oak that leads to a moderate hop filled bitterness. The bitterness is not overhelming but is present. Floral hops in the aftertaste with caramel and the same astringency found in the aroma.

Medium bodied; crisp and clean on the palate. Again the bitterness is slightly subdued.

A highly drinkable ESB even though it tips the scales at 6% abv; pretty hefty for the style. A great change of pace for a Fall seasonal IMO. Worth a try.

Photo of Fish113d
3.63/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This suprising ale pours a nice amber/reddish color w/ a nice head that hangs on and on and on! Upon smelling, I can smell the floral hops, a bit of vanilla, maybe some fruit in there, w/ a hint of spice; maybe a little like pumpkin pie (a little). I'm real excited to try this one since sulldaddy, my best buddy sent this prize to me a few weeks ago.
The first sip is slightly bitter w/ bits of vanilla coming through and some spices, nutmeg maybe. It is pretty carbonated, but the hoppy flavor I thought I would get, is not really all that heavy. I can taste the spice sitting at the back of my tongue as I let it sit longer and longer. Mouthfeel is a light bodied ale that tends to drop off...very little flavor at the end or aftertaste. Overall, I'd say give it a try for somethin' new and since it is that time of year, ya gotta try the fun fall seasonals, but overall, I was kinda hopin for more. Better luck brewin next time!

Photo of sulldaddy
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am drinking a chilled sample in a pint glass.
The brew pours a nice mahogany color with a soft marshmallowy off white, orange tint head foaming up 2 cm easily. The head retention is solid with a nice surface layer sticking around throughout sampling.
Aroma is very appealing with a light caramel scent getting dominated by grassy and piney hops.
First sip reveals an average body, fine and very prickly carbonation. Really alerts my tongue to its presence.
Flavor is very nice, with a brief sweetness up front mostly a caramel flavor. There is a smooth middle with an easy transition to a slightly bitter piney hop finish. The hops really linger on my palate and give a bit of a drying effect.
The beer is very smooth and incredibly drinkable. A very nice score. Definitely worth the purchase!

Photo of nixhecks
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a clear amber-red color with a medium sized head that had medium retention. Aroma was pretty hoppy with sweet fruity smells, almost like raspberry or cherry. The taste is what makes this beer (and, I suppose, EVERY other beer out there). The flavor is surprisingly complex - very fruity and light off the line, then featuring a dark chocolate malt sensation, and finishing very dry. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation. Despite the fact that ESBs are probably my least sampled style, I have tried them, and am usually not too impressed. However (and as far as I am concerned), this was very unique and offered a relatively high hop characteristic as well as a rich maltiness, making it rather appealing and special. I was definetely satisfied and would have to recommend this to absolutely anyone.

Photo of Boto
4.18/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a deep, rich copper/mahogany color. It was fairly clear. There wasn't too much head, but there was still some lacing. Some sweetness, including fruit and caramel to the nose. Hops are fairly subdued, but are balancing the sweetness well. Slightly dry finish. This went down far too easy. Can't seem to find any real difference with the draught version.

Photo of far333
4.17/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

Photo of ybnorml
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber/orange body with a tan head that evaporates quickly. Not much in the aroma but a slight hint of malt sweetness. Some maltyness covers the tongue at the start followed by some hoppy bitterness and a mild malt finish. I had this earlier on tap at one of my favorite places and it seemed the flavors were more intense (no I did not take notes that night ).

Photo of ppoitras
4.05/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

20ozer from an October trip up to the Freeport brewery, fridged since then. Excellent label art, as usual, with the great eye-catching decapitated Gritty's bartender.

Poured into a pint mug, a dense head was quickly formed on top of the swirling orange-y colored contents of this bottle. The head was not terribly long-lived, but did leave it's mark in the presence of extensive lace all the way up the glass sides. The taste resembles many of Gritty's bitters, a nice crisp hops flavor coupled with enough malt to smooth the ride. Another great one from the guys in Maine...

Photo of ecoboy
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Fat off-white head and a deep amber hue. Malty brown-bread aroma is light and the only aspect that falls short of big-beer status.

Some sweet syrup in the attack with dried fruit and nuttiness in the middle. Deep, rich maltiness, akin to a "double brown" quality atop which the other subtle flavors rest. Approaches "heavy" in mouthfeel, fully tongue-coating.

Not easy to drink a lot of in one sitting, but fine for a lingering, warming experience.

to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Gritty McDuff's Halloween Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 308 ratings.