Best Bitter
Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company

Best BitterBest Bitter
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Bitter - English
Ranked #143
Ranked #43,435
3.61 | pDev: 12.47%
Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
Maine, United States
Best BitterBest Bitter
Notes: Best Bitter was the first beer we ever brewed, way back in 1988 at our Portland Brew Pub. This true English classic has been the anchor of our draft selection ever since.

Best Bitter is a copper-hued and well-balanced ale with real old world integrity. We use fine Yakima Golding hop flowers in the brewing of this beer for a fine dry finish that compliments the malty palate. The taste captures the freshness of a hand-drawn ale that goes right from the conditioning tank to your glass!

25 IBU
Reviews: 115 | Ratings: 195 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of KarlosT
KarlosT from Massachusetts

2.75/5  rDev -23.8%

Wow. Can't believe the high scores.

Got a flight at the Gritty McDuff's in Portland ME:
Halloween Ale
Cask Best Bitter
Maine's Best IPA
Pub Style

All were exactly the same amber color, with the same head. The aroma was exactly the same, except for the Pub Style. I also had a pint of their Black Fly Stout, which fortunately did have a different color.

I iterated between their Halloween Ale, their IPA, and their Cask Bitter. All were exactly the same, except that the Cask Bitter was slightly warmer.

When I suggested to the waitress that the beers might have been mis-poured, she said that they were correct, that she was also a bartender, and that she could tell from the color of the pours.

Assuming what I drank was correct ...

I found the beer was watery, and it was as though they used poor quality water. All their beers had an off after-taste ... as though their was a Gritty McDuffs flavor they added to all their beers (including their stout)

Mouth feel was watery. And a little evervescent ... a slight bite from the c02. Interesting, even the cask best bitter had a slight CO2 bite to it.

Very sorry I went to this pub. Food was ok. But the beers were mediocre to poor.

Oct 18, 2014
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lou50rp from Maine

4.67/5  rDev +29.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Good copper color, off white head, with good lacing
Smell was good, but did not reveal the great taste to come
Fruity start with a bitter finish. The hops were not overwhelming and the blending of the fruitiness and bitter in the middle was nice
Mouthfeel was a good medium-not watery or syrupy.
I was surprised by how good this brew is. Will definitely have more.

Feb 23, 2014
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Omnium from Pennsylvania

3.1/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

From Notes on 10-17-13, On-Tap at the brewpub.

A - Clear gold with half a finger of fizzy white head no lacing.
S - Very little aroma, some light grainy scents, and sweet malt.
T - Extremely light, sweet, very little bitterness, a touch of caramel.
M - Thin, watery, bland.
O - Not and ESB at all, no bitterness, how could it be an ESB? Its style is more like an extra pale ale.

Feb 20, 2014
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.42/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

one of the better beers at grittys I though, which isn't saying a whole lot, but this classic bitter and amber style fusion worked out pretty well. pours a lighter amber color, flat though, like all beers I had here. smells like light English pale and crystal malts, with the same ale yeast as the others, and a pronounced English hop finish, which is this beers best feature. the taste is the same as the nose, lighter than it looks, sessionable more than any other beer they had. carbonation is severely lacking, as it has the texture of tap water. plenty of body for the style, maybe a nitro tap would liven this up, but it just sits there dead. still, one of grittys better beers, went well with the food, and didn't offend me like their ipa did, so that's a start.

Aug 18, 2013
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BeerKangaroo from Alaska

3.97/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Into a pint glass:

A: brown body and has a thick, lumpy white head that lasts for about forty seconds. Some carbonation is seen rising with minimal lacing around the glass.

S: malty with some earthy hops, some nuttiness comes out as the beer warms.

T: centered around the malts and it gives a pretty good sweet yet earthy and slightly bitter flavors. Everything is balanced pretty well. Some apple comes out once the beer warms.

M: medium, the right amount of carbonation is felt on the tongue

O: this is a pretty good beer that I would have again.

Jun 25, 2012
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GarthDanielson from Virginia

2.78/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Served on cask and poured in a true pint, the beer is a clear, pale chestnut coloring with a light, foamy, frothy off-white head of about a half an inch. Aromas of rich toffee and caramel, with a slight roasting characteristic overall. Flavors are smooth, with toffee and butter sweetness, and a kiss of chocolate. Hops presence is extremely minimal, with only a hint of bitter at the tail end. The hops presence does build as you drink, but still a minority player on the palate. The body is very light, and there is a smooth and creamy texture that completely owes itself to the cask serving. The aftertaste is a slight linger of the toffee sweetness, with a slightly drying finish. Flavors and overall experience of the beer aren't bad, but there just seems to be an overall lackluster feel to it all. Palate seems watered down throughout, and nothing really jumps out at you.

Feb 16, 2012
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greybeardloon from Rhode Island

4.13/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

No date.

A: A thick, clumpy head that lasts until the end, leaving chunks of lace.

S: Bright and earthy hops that are much more pronounced than I expected with some nuttiness.

T: The malt is surprisingly rich and sweet for the style, but the earthy and bitter hops balance it nicely and keep the beer from leaving a sweet impression. Fruitiness and nuttiness comes through mid-taste. Unexpectedly, I get faint hints of chocolate.

M: A bit full for the style, but that's fine by me.

O: There are a lot of interesting things going on in this beer, and it all comes together nicely. I would gladly drink several of these. If this beer was available to me in dated sixpacks, it would be in my fridge pretty regularly.

Jan 29, 2012
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jsanford from Georgia

3.08/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle poured into a Pint Glass.

Pours a slightly hazy copper with a creamy white head. Aromas of sweet malt and earthy, floral hops. Flavors of lightly toasted caramel malt and more earthy, floral hops. Nicely balanced and drinkable, with a decent bitter finish. Mouthfeel is smooth and crisp, with a medium-thin body and good carbonation. Overall a nice, drinkable Bitter, but nothing to get excited over.

Jan 17, 2012
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rfgetz from New Jersey

3.45/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a relatively clear copper with disappointing head for a hand pumped beer. Scent is lightly caramel and nutty, earthy and grassy hops with a presence from the yeast. Taste follows suit, quite light and in fact bitter, light caramel and nutty malts, earthy hops and a woodiness throughout. Thinner side of medium bodied, slightly over carbonated. Good bitter, meant to be light in flavor but lacks something in its construction.

Oct 10, 2011
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glid02 from Georgia

3.78/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Bukowski’s in Cambridge.

Pours a slightly hazy dark amber color with a slightly off-white head that leaves decent lacing.

Smells of grainy caramel malts with good amounts of earthy and slightly leafy hops.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Mildly dry caramel malts up front are joined quickly by leafy and light citrus hops that carry through to a moderately bitter ending. Mouthfeel is good, with smooth carbonation.

Overall there wasn’t a whole lot going on with this beer but that’s fair for the style. Worth a shot.

Aug 14, 2011
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BeerdedEric from New Jersey

3.76/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Off white frothy head that slowly disapates. Orange gold on the center with a orangy red center with a decent amount of bubbles.

Not much in the way of aroma. Faint grain and citrus hops with a yeasty smell. That's it.

I get a fruitiness with a little tang, also a flowery taste peeks through. Some bread in the background. Not a bad taste at all, it sure beats the smell. As it finishes, a little sour and slightly bitter.

Light body, light to medium carbonation. Although the dry taste, it doesn't really leave the mouth dry at all. Kind of refreshing while going down.

This is a pretty tasty brew. Some interesting flavors show what the aroma did not. I bet this would be mighty tasty on cask!

Jul 28, 2011
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jlindros from Massachusetts

3.68/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cask at brew pub

Light creamy head, sticky lacing, clear pale amber color.

Nose nice better earthy hops, light toasty sweet malts, copper malts, light herbal hops.

Taste bitter earthy hops, toasty semi sweet malts, reddish copper malts, fairly bitter rustic light herbal hops, bit gritty tasting. Finishes with a light fruity hop, gritty bitter flavors, dry, mostly clean finish.

Mouth is med bodied, gritty and abrasive, lower but decent for cask carb.

Overall pretty decent, nothing special but a nice bitter on cask, thankfully low on herbal hops.

May 02, 2011
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SirSketch from Massachusetts

3.35/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - An inch or two of solid, off-white head forms atop an orange brew. Fairly cloudy, but that may be because of the cold temperature.

S - Nutty, maple syrup, caramel malt aroma and signature English ale fruitiness. Nice, though I would prefer a bigger hop presence.

T - Huge malt flavor, much like the nose. Also, a bread dough and sweet wort flavor. Bitterness cuts through the sweetness nicely.

M/D - The mouthfeel is a little too thick, but otherwise nice. Not bad but not great, either.

Jan 30, 2011
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KTCamm from New Jersey

3.77/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Beer purchased at Gritty's Freeport

Pours medium copper colour with a few inches of white foam. Sticky and laces. Soapy smell (?) little hop, malt. Soft clean light taste with a fading hop - better than the smell led me to believe. Light residual bitter finish. Caramel toffee notes.

Tasty, good drinker, sessionable.

Jan 29, 2011
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morebeergood from Massachusetts

3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Second beer of the night at the Portland location, served on cask for $4, which I thought was a good price. Served in a standard pint glass. Light brown in color, with minimal head. Very faint smell of malt. Taste was of very mellow hops. Mouthfeel from the cask made this beer extremely smooth and easy to drink. The temp, mouthfeel, and flavor all made this beer a great session beer. This is the kind of beer you can gulp. A great beer to end the night with as we watched the game.

May 24, 2010
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Mistofminn from Minnesota

3.18/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to rrheisler for sending this extra. Thanks Ryan.

Pours a brown tinted orange color coming out of the bomber. A nice, two finger light tan head is produced and fueled by a decent amount of carbonation. Retention and lacing are pretty good.

The nose is very malty, with lightly toasted malts and some sweet malts in the background. A significant spicey hop character comes out as it warms.

Tastes sweeter than the nose. Caramel malt dominates with the lightly toasted malt taking a back seat. Spicey hops again come out in the finish.

Medium in body, with a moderate carbonation. Smooth and creamy, goes down easy. Drinkability is pretty good, but nothing special.

Overall, I didn't have high hopes for this going in, but it was actually a pretty decent beer. Definitely average, but not a bad session Bitter.

Jan 31, 2010
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berley31 from Canada (NB)

3.43/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured on cask at the brewpub in Portland. Came with virtually no head at all... maybe just a thin film on top of the beer. However, there was still fair lacing left behind while drinking. Body is a dark amber color, and clear.

S: I don't really detect much here, to be honest. A slight bitterness, but that's all.

T: Decent flavor of moderate bitterness, with a dry finish. Nothing that's going to knock your socks off, however.

M: Medium-bodied and creamy, with soft carbonation.

D: It's fine, really... but, nothing that really makes you want to come racing back for another.

Nov 24, 2009
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tigg924 from Massachusetts

3.78/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: orange/brown in color, 1 inch head, moderate carbonation, clear

Smell: toasted malt and spices

Taste: honey, caramel, toasted malt, and hops throughout that are really present on the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: super smooth, sweet start with a moderately bitter finish, high carbonation, medium bodied

Drinkability: There is a nice malt and hop mix here. I could have three but not six. A nice above average bitter.

Nov 03, 2009
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chinabeergeek from Massachusetts

4.1/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

day 3 at NERAX 2009

classic, clear amber color. sudsy, off-white head, reduces to creamy wisps. dots of "lace" here and there.

grassy hop and hay aroma with metallic whiff. toasted caramel malt underneath, with touch of apple fruitiness.

taste: light apple and caramel upfront, with grentle grassy hop bitterness coming after for balance. apple esters underneath, with bready yeast note, all lingering together in the finish, with mineral hint.

light and smooth, touch of texture near the finish. gentle to moderate carbonation for lift and refreshment.

cask is definitely the way to have this beer. usually the bottles are just on the shelf for too long.

May 04, 2009
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Yeastcakes from Colorado

3.93/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving notes: Augustiner glass, cellar temp.
Aroma: Honey-like malt sweetness, no hops that I could detect.
Appearance: Two-fingers of head upon pour, quickly dissipating to a half-inch. Clear, light amber in color.
Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, medium carbonation.
Taste: Very light toasted notes, nice smooth balance of hops and malt. Very well balanced with no one flavor dominating.
Drinkability: Very drinkable session beer. I could easily drink a couple of these in a sitting.

Feb 22, 2009
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thekevlarkid from Maryland

3.6/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Off their tap this beer was a hazy amber color. The head was khaki-colored, the retention decent, the lacing scattered. The aroma was subtle (yet again), a blend of crystal malt and some hoppy bitterness. The flavors were good, but unremarkable. Some malt sweetness at first, then pale malt and the bitterness towards the end. But for a "Best Bitter" it was awfully malty. Still the hoppy, crisp finish was on-point and it did strike me as rather well balanced. The mouthfeel was decent, the body medium and the carbonation pleasant enough helping it be sessionable. Not bad, but a little off-style.

Feb 01, 2009
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puboflyons from New Hampshire

4.29/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled in Jan. '09. Pours from a 12 fl. oz. bottle with an expiration date of May '09. The pour is a copper color with little ot no head and not a lot of lacing. However the aroma is a pleaasing mixture of malts and maybe something a little citrus like. I think its body is average to above average. The taste is kind if bitter or sour and it ends dry. This is one that I enjoy and drink it often.

Jan 17, 2009
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dfillius from Iowa

3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: 1/4 finger of just off-white head with good retention. Dark amber/copper colored liquid. Pretty and bright.

S: I kept catching tasty fruity whiffs as i was writing the appearance down. Sour banana? A bit of a caramelly and biscuity malt aroma. Faint sweet potato with butter aroma as well.

T: Buttery bread with a tang of hops. Metallic ghost comes in but doesn't overwhelm.

M: Decent, but off slightly. Metallic twinge in back.

D: Good, but off flavors distract.

Dec 18, 2008
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yesyouam from New York

3.16/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Gritty's Best Bitter is a very sparkling and clear, shimmering amber ale with a big, dense, foamy off-white head that leaves some Coptic script on the glass. There are oily bubbles. It is a very grainy and sweet aroma: muscovado sugar and sunflower seed bread are in the nose. It is soft and medium bodied. The finish is a bit sharp and metallic. It tastes very fresh and a bit like... well... a diluted ESB. The flavor is smooth and a touch top-heavy. The aftertaste is quick, faint and a little green. It's hopped very appropriately. There is a diacetyl quality to it. It's a pretty non-descript session ale-- smooth and light.
(rated Jan 8, 2008)

Dec 14, 2008
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PonyBar from New York

4.2/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer was poured into a 16oz mixing glass from a 22oz bomber bottle, using two pours to complete. A: Hazy, with an unfiltered light copper appearance. Solid head retention with a nice brewer's lace along the glass during drinking. S: No overpowering nose or aroma of mention. T: Excellent, in my opinion. My impression of a session beer. Not sure on the ABV, but highly drinkable. Slightly hoppy, with a lingering citrus and piney taste. A great gateway beer to bolder or bigger brews. M: Mouthful was full, but not overly. Easy to swallow. D: This is a drinkable beer in every sense of the word. Labeled a "Bitter", maybe closer to a lighter pale ale. All around an enjoyable beer. Twenty two ounces was a perfect amount for this review!!

Dec 05, 2008
Best Bitter from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 195 ratings