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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

184 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 184
Reviews: 124
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 12.37%
Wants: 2
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company visit their website
Maine, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  6.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bierman9 on 01-11-2002

If it looks like Ed just got merrier, you're right. Every November heralds the return of our holiday seasonal, Christmas Ale – available on draft and in six-packs. Our Christmas Ale is a robust E.S.B. (Extra Special Bitter) full of holiday cheer. Christmas Ale has a lovely, dark red/amber color and a rich, full-bodied, malty taste with a slightly roasted undertone. We brew our Christmas Ale to an original gravity of 1064 (about 6.2% alcohol by volume) using only the finest English Pale and Crystal Malts, with a touch of Roasted Barley as well. A blend of Clusters, Styrian Goldings, Saaz and Yakima Goldings leaf hops round out this hearty brew. Gritty's Christmas Ale has no additives, fruits or spices. It's just a good honest ale, perfect for the season. And to top it all off, it's already gift-wrapped! Happy Holidays!

28.5 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 184 | Reviews: 124
Reviews by DrinkingDrake:
Photo of DrinkingDrake
3.82/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours out a nice woody red with a good amount of bubbly foam for the head. Foam dissipates pretty quickly to some scattered lacing.

Smells of sweet malts and a nice spice combination. Cinnamon, nutmeg and there is a little twist I can't quite pick out.

The taste has a toasty malts and some biscuit along with a smooth vanilla, buttery flavor. It finishes with a smooth bitterness. Some good hop balance with a robust base.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great to see Gritty McDuff brews now available in wny,poured a deep rich bronze with a hefty tight 1 one finger slight off white head.Fruity yeasty aromas along with some caramel and biscuity malt a tad of butter,flavors seem to be malt tilted somewhat buttery and caramelly with some orange-like fruitiness a lighter leafy hop hits in the finish.A sustaining malty brew quite flavorful a few years ago this would have been it for me that is until I found the blessed hop,as is I still really enjoyed this brew.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ya gotta love these combo packs. You get to try three or four beers in one 12 pack. This winter seasonal has a nice red color with a small head. It has a predominately spicy aroma. The taste is a sweet malty flavor, with a little hops thrown in. Nice mouthfeel, only a little carbonation. I liked this beer, but I drank it after Gritty's Scottish ale, and it suffers in comparison.

Photo of Doomcifer
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a bright reddish/amber color with a decent, off-white head that fades away into a thin film within a minute.

Smells of sweet malty goodness. Sort of fruity, and a pinch of earthy/spicey tones.

Taste is of sweet malts, with some champagne-like fruit flavors going on...hard to describe. Finishes off with some hop spiciness and bitterness but nothing overwhelming.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good carbonation.

This beer is pretty drinkable. Good session beer.

Photo of Jason
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 22oz brown bomber with no freshness date.

Appearance: Slightly chill hazed reddish brown with a varied sized bubbly lace that sticks everywhere.

Smell: Buttery diacetyl, neighboring butterscotch in aroma. Candied fruit with a light malt sweetness and a touch of earthy hop.

Taste: Medium bodied with a crisp malty mouth feel, bordering dry though a pinch of residual sweetness is noticeable. Carbonation helps with the crisp malt and mild hop bitterness, chocolaty character is a bit dominant soon followed by an earthy / minty hop flavour with a musty buttery diacetyl flavour from the yeast. Alcohol is present with its light warming feature. Fruity middle to end with hints of melon and pear.

Notes: Sizeable and hearty ESB … full to capacity of malt, yeast and hop flavours. One of the best Gritty brews I have had to date and a great brew to end of the night with.

Photo of Cavanaghty
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Dark brown with a thin white head, no lacing on the glass.

Smell: Citrus, spices, malts, and alcohol.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste of toasted malts, spices, and mild citrus. Some faint pine notes and bitters hops as well.

Overall: Ok beer, not my first choice for a holiday brew, but it is bold and will keep you warm on a cold winter night.

Photo of caddybuyer
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Ruddy bright amber pour with a nice creamy tan head. Filtered clarity. Nice looking brew.

S-Biscuit malts predominate. Slightly nutty, sweet and earthy. A bit underwhelming, it reminds me of a well done brown.

T-Nose carries over to the palate but the taste is spot on and refreshing. The bready malts yield a bit midway to a bit of fresh and slighly sour fruit and a buttery backdrop that closes out with a crisp dry slighly hopped finish.

M-Medium feel and carbonation.

D-This is an exceptionaly drinkable beer, and while not the most complex thing on the shelf, is charming in its quality and its drinkability. This reminds me a bit of their Halloween Ale, although I think this may be a tad bit smoother.

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Gritty McDuff's- Christmas Ale

A- Beautiful ruby red with a huge frothy head.
S- Molasses and caramel malt with a touch of brown sugar. Slight spiciness; nutmeg and cinnamon.
T- Brown sugar, caramel, and toffee malt with a touch of vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and butter.
M- Bitter up front with a sweet buttery body. Flavors really kick in near the back end.

Overall- The 2007 batch just hit the stores. Not bad. I'll be drinking this on tap from the brewpub when I go up to Portland.

Photo of jmz62565
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear deep dark mahogony red with a large tan foamy head. The head leaves just alittle lacing,but otherwise this is a good looking beer. The smell is a little on the slight side with pine, cinnamon,butter,hops, and other Christmas spices. The taste is a mixture of hop pine and bitterness with holiday spices. A very good mixture makes this a nice drinkable beer. A real Holiday treat.

Photo of Sammy
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a darkbrown wth a bit of fizziness, looks better aged than its half year storage. Neutral in the aroma. More or less medium mouthfeel. Taste is good, and drinkability good, based on malt, a bit of roasted malt, touch of nuttiness, background but significant bitterness in mid-sip, some chocolate, scotch-like something.
Bee-aye #2800

Photo of Kegatron
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a clear dark amber with a initial huge tan head. It eventually shrinks down into a smallish creamy covering that left good lacing. Aroma is sweet caramel maltiness, cherries, spice, and some fairly light hops.

Taste is caramel sweetness with hints of roast and spice, a prominent splash of tart cherry and a slight taste of butter. The sweetness is well balanced by a light hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied but not overly carbonated, giving it a full feeling over the tongue.

Not the most full flavored ESB but it seems to be well balanced with a nice assortment of hearty festive flavors for the holidays, plus it drinks pretty well.

Photo of bum732
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper red, decent creamy head that dissipates slightly. Smells of caramel and toffee sweetness, some dark fruits, earthy hops, touch of butterscotch. Tastes of sweet caramel malt, some dark fruits on the backbone. Hints of pear and touch of biscuit. A nice earthy and almost grassy bitterness balances the sweetness nicely. Finishes fairly sweet with more caramel and earthiness. Nice medium to full body, carbonation appropriate.

A really nice beer. Heavy on the caramel for an ESB, but the hops provide a nice balance. Not sure if i love the dark fruits, presumably from high lovibond crystal, but overall a solid beer.

Photo of edchicma
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper with a nice initial head that dissipates quickly.Smell is butterscotch, grass and a touch of malt. Flavor is initially maltyt, then exapnds in a lightly bitter quality, with a slight butter quality..very nice. Mouthfeel is medium with a dryness on the finish that is very good. Smooth enough to rate higher than average on teh drinkability scale.

Photo of jtierney89
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brown color with good clarity. 1 finger of off white head. Very faint nose, not a lot going, a bit of spice and pale malt.

Pretty robust beer. I forgot this was an ESB. A really big ESB at that. Prickly carbonation. Nice pale and caramel malts, big nice caramel malts, toffee, sugared biscuit balanced by big earthy hop presence. A really great brew.

Photo of Minotaur
3.66/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Both on cask at Winter Beer Fest in Philadelphia and a bottle in the pint glass.

Pours with the carbonation and head of a light colored birch beer. The head is at first billowing but then settles to just some spots of white-gray atop the deep rust colored beer.

The aroma is very malty with some raisin notes.

The taste is a good balance of malt and hops. Both are present and strong but even each other out. The lasting finish is a bitter hop taste. There is a bit of prune/raisin flavor along with a bit of spice. But it is not overly seasoned unlike some seasonal ales. There may also be a hint of cedar or spruce in there: adding to the bite.
The mouthfeel is a bit dense despite the fizz, which adds a nice contrast in sensation.

It is very drinkable and smooth for the amount of bitterness. I have had more unique winter ales, but this one has a strong sense of completion and flavor character which is memorable.

Photo of puboflyons
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle marked November 2010. Sampled on December 10, 2009. The pour is an attractive ruby red with excellent clarity and ab out a quarter inch light tan head that fizzles after a couple moments. The aroma is moderately hopped with a variety of bitter scents along with caramel malts. A mouthfeel that can be characterized as medium to heavy and maybe a tad creamy. The taste is more like a stong ale and less like a spicy Christmas ale but it is likeable. Gritty McDuff's makes a decent bitter ale and this is a slightly more pungent variation on their most recognized recipe.

Photo of beerthulhu
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a clear, dark, cherry-apple color with a micro-fizzy flat tan head that barely covered the surface and quickly dissipated without leaving any lacing. Visible carbonation was light. Overall a very nice deep coloring saved this from just an average appearance.

S: The nose however didn't fair as good. A light cookie sweetness and caramel apples are present but was pretty mundane overall.

T: a dry munich malting upon first tasting with some dry caramel apple fruitiness. A woodsy flavor type hopping and sweet caramel and cola highlights are also present. A light toasted breadiness with fresh raisins and fruitcake flavor rounds things out here. Better then average flavor wise, dry, warm, and not overly spicy were its strong points.

M: a light fizziness with a slick texture and a warming cola and caramel lacing.

D: Good for a try at best as with most xmas beers but not one you want to continually drink. A fair and good drink overall with its warm and toned down nature lets you enjoy this without being assaulted by a barrage of spices that distracts from the flavor.

Photo of philbe311
4.06/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - A finger and a half of fluffy white head off of a relatively hard pour... Reddish amber color... Very slow, very small carbonation bubbles along the sides of the glass... Clings to glass... Solid lacing...

S - Subtle but complex... Intriguing... Earthy floral notes are first and foremost... Muted hard candies... Malt... Ginger... Piney hops are detectable as well...

T - A near perfect blend of spicieness, maltiness, and a slight hoppy backbone... Biscuit... Apple... Roasted malt... Caramel... Minor hints of dark fruit...

M - Medium bodied... A tad on the dry side... Lush carbonation... Slightly puckering... Smooth... Warming... Crisp... Very good...

D - This is a great winter beer... Above average in all categories and slightly unique in terms of typical winter beers... Highly drinkable and still sessionable at 6.2% ABV... I had never heard of this beer or brewery prior to receiving this as part of a recent SEPA case split, but am highly impressed with my introduction to Gritty McDuff...

Photo of TLove
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle to Palm snifter.

A great beer for drinking just about any time of the year, as I've come to think of this as more of an IPA with winter spices than a Winter Warmer or ESB.

Pours light brown with some hints of red and a thin head. The nose has a bit of maltiness and some grainy winter spices, with a nice, buttery touch and piercing alcohol in the hops.

A little round in the mouth, balanced by a wheat-like taste and some crispness in the carbonation. Finishes pretty well. Again, like an IPA with winter spices. Hard to argue with a few of these.

Photo of CheckMate
5/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz brown bottle obtained at McKinnon's in Salem, NH. pours a ruby red with a half inch of off white head that slowly dissipated. nutty, fruity and chocolatey scents with a touch of diacetyl and hops. tastes of chocolate, fruity and nuttiness, a touch of earthiness from the hops, and a slight alcohol bite. clean finish, moderate carbonation. great beer a bit of a sipper but the first sip invites another.


Photo of smakawhat
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap into a shaker pint at Buck Naked's BBQ Windham.

A very creamy and very cask like looking head, one finger presented with an off tan color. Body is a great red copper dark amber and clear with some noticeable rising carbonation. Lots of great sticky rings of lacing around. Great looking beer.

Nose is a slightly spicy malt, but mostly kind of "stinky" a little. Some ripping grain slightly husky, a mild cherry fruit sense. Kind of a strong nose, but one to enjoy.

Taste is sort of weird but good. Chewy malt body with a nice mild hop pine finish. Stinky malt is almost taffy like tasting in texture with some powder. Cherry fruit on the finish as well. Creamy head makes for a nice body.

Overall, pretty good. Marketed as a winter warmer but definitely feels ESB like mentioned here on BA. It all makes sense now and feels alright.

Photo of jim102864
2.36/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured this into my Schlafly nonic glass, and really more due to my aggressive pouring than the beer being vivacious and ballsy, the head was big, bubbly, and three fingers. It settled down of course. Chestnut brown color.

Nose was metallic of coins and aluminum. I'm not sure what to make of this beer at this point as there is no evidence of spice or pine nuts, etc as one would expect from a Christmas ale. Very poor in the aroma dept and I've graded it accordingly.

Taste was thin at best. Only the vaguest hint of piney hopes and little maltiness.

The mouthfeel was as transparent and lifeless as the taste. What a disaster. Either something happened in shipping or Gritty made a bad batch but shipped it anyway. Watery and listless.

Drinkability - obviously this was a loser but for the head. A total yawn fest. If I'm offered one gratis I'll review this one again, but c'mon Gritty, you can do much better than this.

Photo of SixpointJMH
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The appearance is a nice crisp deep ruby colour with a mid-sized to thinnish head that quickly makes it's way down to a tight lace in the glass and leaves no residue on said glass.

Aroma is malty, with a caramel sweetness, some rough earth notes, a bit of a nut vibe and perhaps a bit of spice.

Flavour has a bit of a spice bite to it toward the finish (cinnamon?), but has a primarily toasted flavour throughout, cut through nicely by caramel sweetness. There's a nice overall blend of flavour and a fair amount of bitterness here. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with just a touch of heartiness to it.

Not bad overall. This is an ESB with a bit of a kick to it, but is still fairly tame and simple overall. Well worth a try.

Photo of Gusler
4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours from the 22 oz. bomber a limpid deep ruby color with the head mountainous in size and semi-creamy in texture, the color a beautiful light tan with the lace a thick and glutinous sheet to meld with the glass. Sweet malt dominates the nose, citrus like crispness with hints of green apples, light floral hop aroma present, start is thickly malt and sweet, top is moderate to full in feel. Finish is quite hop spicy and the carbonation brisk, very dry and the hops stay with you till the very end, quite a quaffable tis’ true, another great brew from a favorite brewery, I thank the grand old man of Maine bennybrew for this bottle.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.66/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at location in Freeport.

Pours a dark amber color with a huge fluffy head, fades slowly, leaves some patchy lacing.

Smell is mostly malt, this isn't a winter warmer or anything of the such that usually populate winter selections, so don't expect any holiday spice (I knew this going in though).

Taste is mostly malt (gee, sounds familiar) with a bit of a hop bite that lends some citrus elements (not too much though), definitely leaves a bitter aftertaste that is easy on the tongue. A refreshing change of pace from the "norm" of winter.

I think I prefer the Halloween Ale a bit more even though they are quite similar, so if you enjoyed that beer from Gritty's then you'll definitely enjoy this one as well.

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Gritty McDuff's Christmas Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 184 ratings.