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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

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294 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 294
Reviews: 183
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 13.64%
Wants: 15
Gots: 17 | 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: 294 | Reviews: 183 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Kookiekwan
2.93/5  rDev -21.7%
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).

Kookiekwan, Nov 26, 2004
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.

SheepNutz, Nov 12, 2004
Photo of NEhophead
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

NEhophead, Oct 19, 2004
Photo of Fish113d
3.6/5  rDev -3.7%
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!

Fish113d, Sep 24, 2004
Photo of sulldaddy
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
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!

sulldaddy, Sep 24, 2004
Photo of nixhecks
4.05/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

nixhecks, Sep 18, 2004
Photo of Boto
4.22/5  rDev +12.8%
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.

Boto, Sep 03, 2004
Photo of far333
4.15/5  rDev +11%
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 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 ).

ybnorml, Apr 08, 2004
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...

ppoitras, Jan 22, 2004
Photo of ecoboy
4.05/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

ecoboy, Jan 19, 2004
Photo of Gusler
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer as it spills from the Bomber a transpicuous mahogany color, the head is smallish, frothy and a nice light tan color with the resultant lace a thin veil to hide the glass. Sweet malt is the major player in the nose, crisp, fresh and pleasing to the senses, I also detect a bit of vanilla, and a bit of Black Walnut, interesting to say the least, start is pleasingly sweet, decent malt profile with a touch of tartness, top is full in its feel to the palate,. Finish is amaroidal, hops definitive in their spiciness, dry, nay I say desert dry and the hops stick on your “Buds” to the very end, a nice drinking beer and a pleasure to sample, thank you bennybrew and “Gritty McDuff’s," your both a “Hoot”!

Gusler, Dec 20, 2003
Photo of cretemixer
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rusty colored brew, cream colored head that leaves a solid sheeting of lace.
Malt driven aroma. Sweet apples with a hint of vanilla.
Nice hop bitterness in the flavor profile. Caramel malts with slight buttery notes (hey, this is a Maine beer!)
Mildly carbonated with a mediumish body. Very nice and drinkable. Thanks to bennybrew for this taste of the east coast.

cretemixer, Dec 18, 2003
Photo of okra
4.3/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had this not-exactly on tap, but from a 5 liter mini keg... I later tasted a 12 ounce bottle and was surprised by the difference. A beautiful head, and nice amber ale, punctuated by a good amount of hops, enough to balance out the rich mouthfeel. The bottled version came off as somewhat thiner, thus the hops were more aggresive, a little harsher.

Beg anyone you know going through Maine to stop and get you some of this.... :)

okra, Nov 24, 2003
Photo of UncleJimbo
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap at the brewpub in Portland, ME.

This beer poured a clear, red chestnut color with creamy, white foam that settled. The smell was fruity and malty. The taste was also fruity and malty with a good mild hoppiness throughout. This mouthfeel was smooth. The body was medium with moderate carbonation. This sample from tap was much superior to the bottled version that I had tasted previously. A nicely drinkable ale.

UncleJimbo, Nov 07, 2003
Photo of greebz
4.03/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This poured a deep reddish copper color with a slight head and lacing. A sweet malty smell and taste with a nice balance of bitterness and floral hop character. To my tastes, this beer got better as it warmed as it helped smooth some of the upfront bite. Maybe that's why this is a Halloween brew - seems scary at first, but not so bad afterall and quite drinkable. So before I finished the first one, I grabbed another bottle from frig and cracked it open, it worked.

greebz, Nov 06, 2003
Photo of Bighuge
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice deep clear copper color. A thin and creamy beige head recedes to a thin coating in a minute. I love the smell of this. Predominantly buttery Ringwood characteristics with splashes of toffee and spice. The flavors follow suit. Big toffee character. Slick and buttery mouthfeel. Some very slight fruity tones like pears and apples. Spice tones are very light as well. Cinamon and nutmeg it seems like. Tasty bitter.

JohnnyP rules. Thanks my friend.

Bighuge, Nov 02, 2003
Photo of waughbrew
2.55/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

The reddist beer I have ever seen. red. red red. very clear. sticky head with medium retention. Smells like buttery diacetyl, earthy (english?) hops, toastiness. A lot of esters including a lot of strawberries. Smells like a high-alcohol brew.
Tastes like higher alcohols with piney and resinous qualities, ending with a cheezy hop taste. A little caramelly and a little chemical-like.
Good medium-bodied feel, could have been very good but the fusel alcohols and chemical notes ruin it for me.

waughbrew, Oct 30, 2003
Photo of xgrigorix
4.03/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Twelve ounce brown twist cap bottle. Best by month & year notched on label.

Medium auburn, clear, topped by 2 fingers of off white foam. Creamy looking head slowly recedes leaving behind a little bit of lace. Some slow streams of carbonation find their way to the top.

Caramel, loads of fruity aromatics, and even a hint of alcohol.

A good bit of caramel sweetness up front, an interesting blend of butterscotch, apples, & raisins. A healthy dose of bitterness moves in & leads to a finish that dries out nicely and leaves a touch of floral hops to linger. Medium bodied, gentle carbonation, quite drinkable.

xgrigorix, Oct 29, 2003
Photo of goz
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Pours a BOO-tiful deep red, with a large tan head that somewhat lasts, light amounts of lace cloak the glass on the way down. Body has a good bit of carbonation. Aroma is fruity, toasted grains, and some floral hoppiness. Flavor starts with some toasted grains, a hint of chocolate, some butteriness, and ends with a pleasant medium hoppiness. Medium body, frighteningly drinkable. A different but welcome take on a fall seasonal.

goz, Oct 29, 2003
Photo of Hobbz
3.53/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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...

Hobbz, Oct 25, 2003
Photo of ZAP
3.48/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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...

ZAP, Oct 24, 2003
Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +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 littlebibs
4.5/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

littlebibs, Oct 16, 2003
Photo of UnionMade
4.53/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

UnionMade, Oct 07, 2003
Gritty McDuff's Halloween Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 294 ratings.