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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

183 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 183
Reviews: 124
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 12.37%
Wants: 2
Gots: 5 | 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: 183 | Reviews: 124 | Display Reviews Only:
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 beckje01
3.96/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Nice ruby color with a thin head.

S- Some spice in there with a nice malty backbone.

T- Good balance with very nice malts, the spice I smelled isn't really here in the taste but thats good as this is a great example of what an ESB should taste like.

M- Slightly to thin but good activity.

D- Can't ask for any better from an ESB for drinkability. Overall a good example of the style.

Photo of kkosmoski
3.08/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Longneck into Duvel tulip:

A - Dark red with cream colored head. About an inch and a half of head to start, dies down to a covering after a few minutes. Some stick on the sides.
S - All malt. Candy-like sweetness, dried fruit, raisins, caramel.
T - All malt again. Caramel and candy sweetness to start, sturdy malt throughout, and finishing with a touch of toast. Slight bitterness in the finish and a bit warming.
M - Medium to medium-full with ample carbonation. There is a slight astringent feel that lingers in the aftertaste.
D - This is not one of my favorite styles, so I would probably not have more than one. The alcohol warming is obvious and the lingering bitter/astringent finish of this beer doesn't really do it for me.

Note - This beer seems more belgian dubbel in style to me than ESB. Mabye they change the recipe from year to year - I will have to do some investigating. Not a bad beer if you are into this style, but it doesn't really do it for me tonight. I would probably pass if I came across it again.

Photo of Manosbeeroffate
3.91/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Leftover christmas beer from Jess's Market here in town. Pours quite dark brown. Smells a bit nutty but not very strong. Tastes like sweet malt, a bit of nutty flavor and finishes a little bitter but all very well balanced. A pretty decent beer. If I can find more (which I probably can) I'll get more.

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

A: Into a pint glass it poured brown with ruby undertones and a small white head that disappeared quickly, leaving a little lacing.

S: Mild all around and deriving from the malt -- caramel and nutty were the scents that came to mind.

T: Very much like a Brown Ale -- sweet, nutty caramel malt flavors dominate up front, with more buttery toffee and butterscotch following and a slight bitterness at the back of the tongue rounding it off. Good balance, though I expected a tad bit more hop bitterness and/or spice.

M: Light to moderate in body and well carbonated.

D: Pretty good. A tad bit sweet for my quaffing pleasure, but it's light yet flavorful and thus can be consumed pretty easily.

Notes: If you like ESBs or English Brown Ales, you can't go wrong with this beer. It's not extreme in any way or terribly unique, but it's a decently balanced, malty beer that is pretty drinkable. It seemed to go very well with smoked cheddar cheese.

Photo of williamherbert
2.88/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Deep red color with very little head. No lace. Hazy look.

Sweet, malty smell. Has a bit of berry/cherry. Sweet fruitiness.

Sweet and spicy malt taste, but with a puckery, berry kick. Too sweet for me. No bitter balance. Definite cherry flavor.

Thick and syrupy. Feels like a liqueur or non-beer. Too sweet to have too many of these.

Photo of orfeu
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixpack of this yesterday, and decided I'd try it on tap at Cole's to see what it's like "fresh" and "as intended" before opening a bottle. The pint arrived dark -- darker than expected for a purported ESB, at least -- a ruddy bronze witha yellowed-parchment, creamy-dense foam cap. Aromas of candied orange peel and buttermints, some caramel maltiness, and a whiff of bergamot-infused tea leaves. Sturdy flavor, with mild citric and leafy-spice hops, candied citrus fruit rinds, and just a dash of butterscotch/caramel. This seems pretty typically "English," except there's just a bit too much spicy bite to the hops. Also, the mouthfeel is far too heavy to be mistaken for anything other than an American craft beer. It's big, imposing, and slick -- almost syrupy. Much bigger mouthfeel than most ESBs I've tried. This is not actually a bad thing for a winter seasonal, but it would be a bit thick for any other time of year (I noticed the bottles I bought are supposed to hold up through September 2007). But since the timing is right, I call this one suitably and seasonably drinkable right now.

Photo of mountdew1
3.3/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. Looked like a root beer in color, slightly browner than a cola. Poured a nice 1 finger head that lasted about 1/2 the beer with lacing during the rest of the beer. Had a slight cream aroma to the smell. Nothing really stood out about the taste, either bad or good. Slight undertones of something in the flavor I couldn't place. Felt fine in the mouth, and fairly easy to drink. Not my first choice for a flavorful beer, but no complaints at all.

Photo of kennyo
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

had this beer in a bar and it is always tough to get real readings out of a beer

POured a crystal clear brown color with little to no head, could be because it is in a bar glass. Aroma is deep malt with some spices on the nose. Taste is malt, molasses taste on the toungue with a very dry finish. It has nice carbonation although there is a littl carbonation bite on the toungue.

A very nice, drinkable christmas beer that doesn't go over the top with spices and the like.

Photo of Freshie
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber color with slight head. Varying size bubbles dissipate to the sides somewhat quickly.

Sweet malt smell. Somewhat like candy, maybe honey. Also, maybe a little nut.

The taste is a smokey/sweet malt. Spiced hops comes afterwards with a very active carbonation. Adds bite the hop middle-taste. Medium-bodied.

Very malty but the hops adds spice, in combination with that biting carbonation.

I would suggest some pizza with this holiday brew.


Photo of MrHurmateeowish
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark copper body with ruby-red highlights and a little over an inch of offwhite head. Smells roasty with some diacetyl. Scent is not that strong. Tastes roasty, malty, yeasty with hints of spice and diacetyl. Medium in body. Tasty little brew. I like it, though not as much as I like the Halloween ale.

Photo of kelticblood
4.09/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great roasted malt with a bitter grainy aroma. Hints of sweet bread-like and slight raisin smell. Has a nice dark clear copper color. Head started off great but fizzled out to almost nothing with half a minute. No real lacing present. Has the typical Gritty's signature of a fizzy carbonation. The taste isn't really bitter but the after-taste has a lingering bitterness in the throat. This is somewhat drinkable, although I probally wouldnt buy it again. It is very average and just about straight 4's. A bit watery on the mouthfeel and looks thicker than it is. Has a very light fizzy texture in the mouth and goes down smooth. The 6.20ABV is well-hidden and might sneek up on you. Overall it is average, but worth a try. I expected something stronger from a winter Christmas Ale.

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 riversider76
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep rich copper. Thin tan head, with some retention, and just a bit of lacing. Smell is malty,and spicey. Body is medium with some carbionation. Taste is sweet,spicy,and fruity up front.With a decent warming finish,with a bit of hopps. Merry Christmas!

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 WanderingFool
3.91/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gritty's Christmas Ale pours a beautiful, clear dark copper color with a frothy light tan head on top. The foam fades slowly to a thick ring around the surface leaving a few spots of lace on the glass as it goes down. A mild aroma of pine, dry malt and a touch of spice.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is smooth on the palate with a nice carbonated fizz on the tip of the tongue. The flavor is mainly sweet malt with some fruity notes and a hint of spice mixed in. I can detect cherry and bubblegum up front. Towards the back some crisp hoppy spice notes help balance out all the malt. Once gone some of the sweet malt flavor lingers on the palate.

This is a very easy to drink beer that doesn't over power you with spices like other Christmas beers.

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 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 ppoitras
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle purchased as a single from Julio's, Marlboro, MA, I think. Notched best by Nov06.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" tan head over the clear dark amber/copper brew, which has some leafy floaties in it, not sure what's up there. Dense head lasts nicely, with heavy foamy lacing. Aroma is ample grains, with a bit of butteriness, it would seem. Taste is malty, with some dark fruitiness, medium bitterness, and a bit of a weird aftertaste. Hearty grains, a shot of dark fruits, with a dry finish and lingering warming. Mouthfeel and drinkability fine, just that aftertaste kind of quashes things a bit. Not bad, but frankly on-site is the place to drink Gritty's brews, esp on cask.

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 meathookjones
3.41/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled from a 22oz bottle. Dark red colored body with a tall off white fluffy head that gives the glass a decent coating of lace. Aroma is very mild with spice and caramel malts. Light fruit notes as well as some bitterness. The taste was similar with sweet malts and fruits being complemented by a light spiciness. Some chocolate notes were noticeable at times. Finished off caramel fruit with a light spice. Solid body and pretty smooth. Easy enough drinking though the mildness of it could make it a boring drink early in a session. Overall though a decent brew.

Photo of bjohnson
3.12/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Gotta love a label with Santa on it. If the fat man gives his approval, I'll try it.

A: Pours a dark amber almost reddish brown with a tiny head that dissipates pretty quickly. Also a bit of fruit too, towards the end.

S: Smells of tons of malts with a little spiciness thrown in thereas well.

T: Taste starts off with a malt beginning the a lot of spices, caramel, and ending with a little bitterness.

M & D: The mouthfeel is pretty good although its not as bitter as I thought it was going to be, being an ESB. I was hoping for more of a heavier beer with a load more taste. Not a bad one though, probably would have a few of these.

Photo of ybnorml
3.67/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A clean dark amber beer. Has a big dark beige head. Big malty aroma with strong caramel overtones. The malty sweetness starts at the tip of your tongue the the caramel background hugs the sides of your tongue. The finish is anice smooth and easy bitterness down the back of your throat.

Photo of PatandDavid
3.03/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On cask at the GLB this past weekend...I wonder if the serving style left out out all the holiday spirit? Medium dark amber when served, it came topped with a white frothy head. Aroma was mostly all caramel, with some diacetyl getting through. Tastewise: no spice. Bready malt. Low hops in finish. Lacks pizazz. Is this all I'm going to get from Santa? I must have been real bad this year.

Photo of UnionMade
4.42/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark mahogany brown, topped with a half inch of almond head. The head dies out to a thick film after sitting for a couple minutes. Excellent clarity, shining red through light. The head thins to a thick ring around the glass, with a couple sparse blobs of lace.
The aroma is richly malty, with toasty, biscuity malt. Some caramel, with some chocolate malt and estery apple, plum and a hint of pear. Mild british hops bolster and balance the malt, providing an earthy herbal tone. Some light butterscotch. Very pleasant.
Solid malt starts out the flavor, with a bicuity, toasty malt right up front, traveling into a toffee sweetness with a hint of grainy chocolate malt. Some estery pear and plum come through the middle, coupling with some roasted malt bitterness and a mild herbal hopping. Light diacetyl butterscotch is apparent in the finish, with some biscuity malt and herbal hops lingering in the aftertaste. Very smooth and rich, with a full bodied feel on the tongue. Lightly carbonationed, very much in the british style all the way around. Sweetish and robust, with excellent balance. Just the barest wisp of alcohol is evident in the swallow.
A very hearty, warming ESB. This is fantastic. I love beer in this style, and this is a great example. Plenty of fruitiness, with a lovely malt character and terrific hop balance. My only complaint is that I only have two bottles. I'm very happy with this beer.

Gritty McDuff's Christmas Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 183 ratings.