Halloween Ale
Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company

Halloween AleHalloween Ale
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Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #82
Ranked #32,094
3.76 | pDev: 13.03%
Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
Maine, United States
Very Good
Halloween AleHalloween Ale
Notes: 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!
Reviews: 186 | Ratings: 324 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Daktyls:
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Daktyls from Massachusetts

3.75/5  rDev -0.3%

Nov 16, 2014
More User Reviews:
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u2carew from Massachusetts

4.33/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A bit late on this one but oh well...
12oz longneck.
A) Pours with a finger thick head with great retention - tight and creamy. Clear mahogany-ruby color. Head retention lasted until the end with sticky side lacing on the drink down.
S) Caramel malts. Subtle brown sugar and spices.
T) A pleasant sweet caramel and brown sugar. Hints of tree fruit - apple and plums. A subtle hop bite in the finish - mostly harmless.
M) Creamy. Medium light body. Dry in the finish.
O) A delicious brew. Could be renamed something else and kept on as a year long.

Dec 07, 2011
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KTCamm from New Jersey

4.12/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber purchased at the Freeport brewery on a roadtrip from CT to Maine. Pint glass.

Pours reddish amber color with light foam. Sticky lacing.

Smells of cinammon and nutmeg. Malty.

Spiced malt taste with subtle hop back. Pumpkin hints. Firm but well balanced carbonation. Some residual after taste.

Tastes like autumn. Quite drinkable.

Dec 12, 2010
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EgadBananas from Louisiana

4.14/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a tulip

Dark mahogany/red, light tan finger of head. No lacing.

Sweet candied sugar, with a rather floral bouquet of hops and bitterness. There is an almost sweettart aroma.

Taste is very dry, slightly bitter, and malty. There is a tad bit of citrus too. Candied granny smith apples on the finish.

A bit stingy with the carbonation, upper light, and creamy in body.

Interesting take on the style. I think this works very well overall, still slightly traditional, while at the same time, being nicely adventurous.

Nov 14, 2010
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kingcrowing from Vermont

3.34/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured in a pilsner glass.

Pours a dark ruby/amber, very little head or lacing. Smell is almost nonexistent but there is some maltiness to it.

Taste is good, not sure what the style is (Upon tasting, I now see it's an ESB, interesting for a fall beer). It's nice and warm and fairly complex. Reminds me of Long Trail Harvest.

Sep 12, 2009
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neophilus from Massachusetts

4.74/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pour is a deep amber color, nearly red with hints of orange. Quite appropriate for the season. Brilliantly clear, I can look through the glass and see the distinct yet lens-distorted image of the room around me as if looking through an amber colored funhouse window.

Smells of rich, earthy bread dough. Slightly spicy, fresh and clean. It tingles the nose while bringing images of flaky bread crust right out of the oven. The aroma is rather invigorating, the malty scent draws you in and begs for a first sip.

That sip brings smooth bitterness up front with a long and slow malt finish. Delicious flavor - earthy, savory without any hint of herbs. Full bodied, mildly spicy malt embraces the tongue while hints of hoppy bitterness dance on top, never overpowering but always stopping the brew from being cloying.

The body is full without feeling heavy. Creamy and smooth, but not sticky. It washes away cleanly leaving the pleasant memory of spicy malt behind - comforting and friendly as it disappears.

I love the idea of a Halloween Ale without spices. This beer conjures up scenes of fallen autumn leaves swirling in a cold breeze, freshly turned black soil destined for a hard winter freeze, spicy toast flavor like wood fired stoves mingling with a damp rain. Halloween in New England, indeed.

Oct 29, 2011
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jujigatame from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +6.4%

Nov 18, 2011
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mdale13 from Maine

3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this last night, the release day for the '09 batch! First tapping at Grittys Pub in Freeport.

A- Dark amber/brown. One finger white head that dafed somewhat quickly.

S- Somewhat sharp smell. Grassy Hops. Carmels, hint of chocolate.

T- Carmel on the front. Hops evident.

M- Carbonation at a good level. A little bitter, sharp on the tongue, but in a pleasing way.

D- Very drinkable. I threw two pints of this down with dinner, easy. I could have had more, had I not had to drive.

Aug 24, 2009
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Genuine from Connecticut

4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass

Poured a very nice dark amber in color with an off white head. Left some lacing, not much but enough.

Smell - I smelled lots of spice, sugar, a bit of malt.

Taste - This one was much different than what I've had before, I wasn't sure what to expect, since it was my first ESB. But, this one started out bitter, with a very nice sweet finish, but that doesn't appear till the very end. Reminded me of a sugar cookie, almost.

Mouthfeel - medium for body.

Drinkability - I cannot wait to have a few of these on halloween night. But will have some before and after that day.

Sep 25, 2009
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ShogoKawada from Pennsylvania

3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass.

A- A nice, copper kettle and rust orangey brown, with a nice active two finger head that quickly settles into a thin film. Mild lacing.

S- A lagerish bitterness. Nothing special, but still inviting.

T- A bitter thwomp on the tongue at first. Mild malt sweetness follows, with a hint of cinnamon at the end. As I sip, more of a pear/peach fruitiness comes out from underneath the bitter blast at the front. Interesting.

M- Crisp, bitter, but well-balanced.

D- Moderate. Good with some grillin', some BBQ, etc. I'd actually prefer this more on a hot summer day than a cool Oct. afternoon. But still a decent brew, if you're looking for an ESB, this is a pretty good representation of the style, with a bit of spin put in the aftertaste. This beer grows on you... at first I was a bit confused but I was solidly behind it by the end of the pint.

Oct 11, 2009
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adamb02155 from Massachusetts

3.91/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Nice dark amber color, poured with a decent head which quickly diffused.

S - Just ok. I have a bit of a cold, but couldn't really pick up more than a "beer smell".

T - Very smooth. A slight bite at first, but finishes off with a nice malt flavor,

M - I found it medium to heavy bodied, with just enough carbonation.

D - The beer is a nice balance of flavors. A couple will treat you right.

Nov 07, 2009
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Yoonisaykul from Canada

3.55/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brought from Maine by girlfriend. Interesting bottle. First taste of Gritty's. 12oz bottle into tulip.

A- A tiny bit cloudy. A weird brown. Looks a bit like iced tea. Hold it up to the light and red-amber comes out. Finger of beige head lasts a good while but dies down to a ring thinning out towards the center into a large patch.

S- Smell seems layered. Sweet strawberry and grape jelly under crushed barley and alcohol.

T- Never had a Halloween brew but this seems like a good one. The sweet grape reminds me of candy and the type of bitterness and hop taste reminds me of the smell of dried leaf piles. Reminds me of Au Maitre Brasseur (AMB)'s Mad River but with less peanut. Not incredibly bitter but it is a bitterness that sticks around for a while.

M- Good body. Pretty dry and astringent finish. Medium to high carbonation.

D- Good. Especially if it's Halloween. It tastes good enough, is consistent enough so you feel like you're drinking beer but light enough to drink many.

I'd drink a 6-pack of this on Halloween. I guess half the reason would be because of the label though.

Sep 19, 2010
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Grebdioz from Texas

4/5  rDev +6.4%

Dec 27, 2011
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abrodsky from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +6.4%

Sep 04, 2012
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Kinsman from California

3.12/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours a deep amber/copper with a thin off-white head

S: Nothing special here, some flowery notes but not much else going on.

T: A decent malt profile with fruity apple-like flavors. Not a spiced ale, but some spicey flavors are noticeable but feel appropriate for this season. Hops round out the taste well with a nice bitter finish.

M: Good carbonation in this medium-body ale

D: Very easy to sit down on a cool Autumn evening and enjoy this beer.

Oct 11, 2009
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Nezzy from Pennsylvania

4.17/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: A medium tan/brown color with slight red in it.

Smell: Very sweet, malty and as hints of chocolate coming through with a bit of bitterness.

Taste: At first it tastes a bit carbonated but then finished very smoothly similar to a stout.

Mouthfeel: Very little carbonation and you can really feel the malt in the beer.

Drinkability: Minus the slight carbonation it's a fantastic beer that I could drink steadily. It begins to border a stout but yet has slightly more flavor then I expected. Worth the try.

Sep 27, 2009
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bob727 from Florida

4/5  rDev +6.4%

Nov 21, 2011
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djrn2 from New Jersey

2.75/5  rDev -26.9%

Aug 31, 2013
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chefhatt from Pennsylvania

3.28/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

I poured this beer into a glass and it has a reddish color body with a very small head to it. The smell has a malty, carmel taste. The taste is kinda sweet and malty, a little velvety, on the back of the tongue i get a little bitterness. The mouthfeel is oily smooth and overall is a ok beer.

Dec 23, 2013
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steve8robin from Massachusetts

3.5/5  rDev -6.9%

Sep 02, 2012
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Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From a personal perspective I wasn't able to pick up on much of the autumn flavors like I expected in this beer. The seemed to be just like any other ESB to me. With that being said the beer pours with a nice healthy amber color with an off white head. The smells I was hoping for would be spices and just got malts. The taste goes along for the same ride as the aroma. The beer itself wasn't bad at all, I just feel that for an Autumn brew it should have some additional spices thrown into the mix and what not. As a regular EBS this beer is fine, this just wasn't what I had hoped for.

Revised review: I'm not sure what happened the last time but I found the flavor to be much better this time around. It's got a spicy caramel flavor to it with a creamy medium body. Overall I think this beer is pretty good the second time around.

Oct 13, 2011
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VelvetExtract from Massachusetts

3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A-Pours a clear reddish copper color. Thin, off white head. Lots of droopy lacing

S-Really nice nose that is stylistically accurate. Tea-like hops and a big caramel covered apple aroma. Mostly sweet. Decadent.

T-Apples and overly steeped tea. Caramel and hard toffee candies. A bit of spicy hoppiness.

M-A bit sticky and the carbonation is a little soft. It still drinks easy enough,

O/D-Really gotta respect their Fall seasonal is an ESB. I think more brewers should experiment with this style. Enjoyable beer and it's been around for quite a whole too. Surprised it's taken me this long to try.

Nov 10, 2013
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bakeith from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +6.4%

Dec 22, 2011
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bishopdc0 from Maine

3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is deep mahogany in color with a thick white head and good lacing. Sweet maltyness to start and finishes with a easy bitterness and a nuttyness. There is another taste I couldn't place (my girlfriend described it as all spice and gum). This is a great beer but not Gritty's best.

Feb 03, 2010
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Bendurgin from Maine

3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. This pours amber with about an inch of biege head that retains nicely leaving some sticky lace.

Toffee and caramel in the aroma with a bit of toast and some ripe fruit in the background. Lots of malt on the pallet with a smokey caramel flavor. A little bit of soft floral hops in the background.

The body is medium and the carbonation is soft. Gives off a lingering sweetness on the back of the tongue. Overall not to bad. I tend to grab a sixer of this at some point in the season.

Sep 21, 2011
Halloween Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 324 ratings