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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.
very good

274 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 274
Reviews: 182
rAvg: 3.76
pDev: 13.3%
Wants: 12
Gots: 6 | 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
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Ratings: 274 | Reviews: 182 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Hobbz

Rhode Island

3.53/5  rDev -6.1%

A pretty good ESB-styled "seasonal."
Copper-hued color, faily clear with initial foam subsiding quickly. Aroma was sweet and a bit fruity. Taste was ESB-typical with sweet and hoppy tastes combined, but I picked up on a bit of harshness that even its ale-induced, butterscotch-like flavors could not mask (from using their stock of Ringworm yeast that a Maine-enthusiast had lectured me about?). Still, not enough faults to preclude another bottle or more...

10-25-2003 06:22:38 | More by Hobbz
Photo of ZAP


3.48/5  rDev -7.4%

Pretty clean looking for an ale...nice rich amber color...very slight off-white head...nose is fruity...like sweet berries and melons covered in sugar....almost perfumey...first taste impression is butterscotch (hello ringwood yeast)...body seems a little thin....finishes dry...flavor is actaully pretty complex....the butterscotch note is evident at first....then a little breadiness...a flare of fruitiness....none of the flavors are dominat and kind of mingle in and out on the buds...hops are evident on the finish and lend a nice tight, but unobstrusive bitterness.

Overall, this is definitely a beer worth trying...biggest drawback is the relatively thin body...decent flavors but I could take it or leave it....Personally I'd take a lot of East Coast beers over this one but it certainly is not a bad beer and has some definite redeeming qualities.

Thanks to Johnny P for the Halloween treat...

10-24-2003 04:21:55 | More by ZAP
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

4/5  rDev +6.4%

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?

10-18-2003 23:23:34 | More by oberon
Photo of littlebibs

New Hampshire

4.5/5  rDev +19.7%

Couldn't help but notice this one(the picture on the label, yellows and purples with a man holding his head in his hands and behind him black bats on a fence that looks like jack daniels botttels with candles glowing. Very cool bottle! On my trip to Harringtons, Chelmsford,Ma. I ran into this one but I checked this BeerAdvocate site out first and it seems to be well liked. I bought a six pack and like Magic Hat's seasonal Jinx just can't get enough of this tastey brew. Its got so much going for it. Like Jinx I find it tastes best when I let it get some air for 10 mins or so then
the tastes just seem to drift out like ghosts from the past, haunting
me to drink more and more. Very unusal taste but well worth finding this. I find this beer perfect for this time of year.
This is a really nice seasonal beer with a great
creamy head down to the lacing, all the way through. Had some complexity to it, some hops
some caramel malts nice mix, some kind of spice hidden in there, It packs and scares for an ale
but its also somewhat heavy, not in the gee I'm full after a beer but
it has some balls and it tastes great. This is
very drinkable with some added spices for the fall season thrown in for good measure but it adds to this beer nothing about this is overbearing, I would say it does have
an Okotoberfest feel to it, but its a bit stronger (ESB) I Would recommend this beer no problem, full of character.

10-16-2003 21:09:02 | More by littlebibs
Photo of UnionMade


4.53/5  rDev +20.5%

The beer is a cinnamon mahogany color, great clarity, topped with a frothy ivory head. Great retention, maintaining a quarter inch of foam all the way through the glass. Terrific lace, forming thick clumps of whitish foam all over the inside of the glass.
Aroma is dominated by a toasty caramel malt. Very sweet and estery, with hints of pear, apple, some melon, and a suggestion of starfruit, or something exotic like that. Some mild doughy breadiness, and moderate citric and herbal hopping. A touch of diacetyl butterscotch. Well balanced.
The flavor starts with a rich maltiness. Pale malt sweetness with lots of caramel and a bit of toastiness. Perhaps a little crytal malt. A pleasant estery fruitiness comes through almost immediately, with some cidery sweet apple, and hints of pear and melon. Caramel maltiness continues through, with a touch of breadiness. Moderate citric and herbal hopping, with a definite english feel, come through in the finish, blending seamlessly with the hops. Some buttery diacetyl carries through in the end, lingering in the finish with a sweet maltiness and a touch of yeast. Vague citric hop flavor lingers on your tongue for quite a while, well after the beer is finished.
A very hearty, well balanced ESB. A bit on the heavier side, full bodied, and more robust. Definitely a great beer.

10-07-2003 06:37:01 | More by UnionMade
Photo of 86MonteSS


4.4/5  rDev +17%

I absolutely love Gritty's so you can either see this as biased or simply an affirmation of my faith. From the dark, ruby-mahogany body to the fine, silky head, it's just plain beautiful. The nutty-molases taste characteristic of most of Gritty's beers is there as expected, this time with it's bitter yet welcomed guest, Señor Aftertaste. This is a fine addition to the McDuff household and a beer that I'll put on my list of seasonal must-haves.

10-07-2003 00:39:50 | More by 86MonteSS
Photo of UncleFrank


3.7/5  rDev -1.6%

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.

10-03-2003 01:54:07 | More by UncleFrank
Photo of pbrian


4.03/5  rDev +7.2%

12oz bottle, best by Sept. '04.
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. Really.

09-24-2003 13:17:27 | More by pbrian
Photo of yankeeheel


3.73/5  rDev -0.8%

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.

09-13-2003 00:38:33 | More by yankeeheel
Photo of ViveLaChouffe


3.95/5  rDev +5.1%

From a 12oz bottle, Best Enjoyed Before August 2004

Pours a nice cherry-brown with an off-white head, little lacing. the smell is sweet and hoppy. I kid you not, I smell candy-corn!

Taste is light, sweet malt. Hoppy finish. Caramel taste with hints of cider. Body is medium with the hoppy aftertaste. Very drinkable, very good!

The bottle has great artwork with the Gritty's bartender handing his own head across the bar with bats and Halloween colors. Fancy labels tend to make me suspect the beer isn't that good and this is how they have to market it to sell any. I am wrong in this case. Very good brew. Right up there with the Black Fly Stout as the best Gritty's products.

09-11-2003 23:40:39 | More by ViveLaChouffe
Photo of jeffboo


3.78/5  rDev +0.5%

This beer comes with a great Halloween theme label with headless man and lots of bats! It pours Halloween orange with a nice tan foam. Earthy hops, a little sugary malt, and a touch of fruit (? cherry) in the aroma. The flavor is malty and grainy with a toasted malt finish at the first half glass with the mellow bitterness coming out much later as the glass empties. The texture is medium/light and the ESB flavors are there but the hops are a bit muted in this bottle. It definitely grew on me over the whole bottle. Thanks to Bierman9 for some tastes of the Upper Northeast!!!

03-25-2003 15:11:15 | More by jeffboo
Photo of Hhawk06


3.75/5  rDev -0.3%

Intrigued by the name, I had to purchase this beer. It poured a ruby brown color with a faint hoppy smell. The taste consists of a pale dry bitterness spiked with portions of spiced pumpkin. Fortunately, Gritty's does not go overboard on the pumpkin flavor, as it stays low key throughout the session. Hoppiness is prevalent and I would say that this brew is fairly comparable to an octoberfest. Overall, this was a pleasurable experience.

03-17-2003 15:16:22 | More by Hhawk06
Photo of purplehops


3.88/5  rDev +3.2%

Halloween Ale pours deep orange-brown with an off white head that clings to the glass. The aroma is subtle blends of carmel malt and alcohol with a hint of herbs. The taste has a dry biscuit malt flavor up front with carbonation tingle on the tip of the tongue. The finish is slightly sweeter with notes of carmel and plenty of hop bitterness blending with alcohol. The aftertaste is hops and alcohol with a dryness lingering on the palate. The mouthfeel is dry and hoppy.
Overall a nice ale. I personally would like a little more complexity but it is still very drinkable.

12-19-2002 15:41:12 | More by purplehops
Photo of kelticblood


3.18/5  rDev -15.4%

I was a bit mislead when buying this while on vacation in Maine.I was told it was like a Pumpkin/Spiced seasonal brew.It pours a nice creamy thick white head which slowly disappears.The color is a caramel dark amber.It offers a bitter hoppy smell with maybe a touch of vanilla.Right upon tasting I realize how strong and thick it is.Its definately bitter but thick and very malty with a wheat overtone upon swallowing.I find that after finishing one or maybe two of these they will leave you gasping with thirst.It is somewhat smooth and offers some bite of alcohol when swallowing.Not a bad brew.I probally wouldnt buy it again though.

12-18-2002 11:23:56 | More by kelticblood
Photo of NeroFiddled


4.33/5  rDev +15.2%

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.

11-13-2002 20:10:14 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of beernut7


4.22/5  rDev +12.2%

One of the tastier seasonal brews this year. The deep color is topped with a foamy head that sticks around. The lightly malty taste is well supported by a good body and a hint of autumn spice. Very tasty.

11-04-2002 10:35:25 | More by beernut7
Photo of BillyBrew


4.55/5  rDev +21%

I enjoyed this cask brew with lunch at Freeport Gritty's.

Half-inch head the whole way down. Super creamy. Tremendous cask smoothness. Earthier flavors.

Great got better!

11-03-2002 11:11:46 | More by BillyBrew
Photo of StevieW


4.72/5  rDev +25.5%

22 oz. bomber bottle. Great label of a bartender holding up his own severed head instead of a pint. Cool. Murky amber to light brown color, with a full thick bubbly beige head. Head laced down the glass nicely. Aromas full of spices and slightly fruity. Definite nutmeg and cinnamon noticable. Tastes were sublte but very present. Murky earthy combination of nutmeg, spiced apples, and noticable hop presence. A rich, full bodied ESB, with an extra special blend of autumnal spices. I wish I had the courage to lug more than one of these beauties home from my summer trip to Maine. A beer I wouldn't get tired of easily. Please give it a try.

11-01-2002 15:33:19 | More by StevieW
Photo of MaineBeerMan


4.88/5  rDev +29.8%

Beautiful dark red-brown color with a big head of sticky, light beige foam that left a whole curtain of lace down the non-sipping side of the glass.
Nice aroma with some floral, slightly spicy hops (nutmeg or something, not really sure) and hints of caramel.
Very smooth mouthfeel, plenty of malty sweetness some fruity pear notes and a hint of that same strange spice in the aroma. Just enough hop bitterness to take the edge off the sweetness without truly balancing it out, the sweet flavors prevail in the end.
This is another local seasonal that I really wish I could get year round, very drinkable, you will always want more. This beer and Shipyard's Old Thumper are the reason ESB is the favorite in my profile, I might have given some other beers higher overall scores, but for everyday all-around drinkability, look no further.

10-19-2002 21:29:01 | More by MaineBeerMan
Photo of sponberg

New York

4.43/5  rDev +17.8%

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.

10-14-2002 19:00:36 | More by sponberg
Photo of bewareOFpenguin


4.55/5  rDev +21%

Amber colored, with a light head, I really enjoyed this beer. It had a full body, but not overwhelming. I did not leave you with a "full" feeling. The spices seemed to blend in harmony, like a good pumpkin pie. A delight.

10-07-2002 06:48:49 | More by bewareOFpenguin
Photo of Jason


4.05/5  rDev +7.7%

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.

10-04-2002 17:14:38 | More by Jason
Photo of Todd


4/5  rDev +6.4%

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!

09-30-2002 17:31:45 | More by Todd
Photo of Bierman9

New Hampshire

4.35/5  rDev +15.7%

Thanks to the irrepressible JohnnyP for the 2002 sample. I hope this wasn't one Mrs JohnnyP was supposed to have!! Love the label!! Had a very attractive dark-copper color, with some orange (pumpkin?) hues. Poured with a creamy, tan head..didn't last long....but with ok lacing. Nose was a good, toasty malt start, with some hops lurking about, too. Mouthfeel quite nice from start to finish. There was malt to start the flavor profile, but not for long. A bit of nuttiness is also lurking in the shadows! The maltiness, though, got scared away by the nice hop lineup here...reminded me a lot of an English style Bitter... the hops are pleasant but not real bitter, and kick around in the back of the tongue and throat for a bit. A hint of spiciness hit me, too! Verry pleasant bier! Much thanks to JohnnyP!!

overall: 4.35
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4.5


09-14-2002 17:05:54 | More by Bierman9
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Gritty McDuff's Halloween Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 274 ratings.