Gritty McDuff's Halloween Ale | Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company

very good
185 Reviews
Gritty McDuff's Halloween AleGritty McDuff's Halloween Ale

Brewed by:
Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
Maine, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

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!

Added by UncleJimbo on 08-29-2001

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Reviews: 185 | Ratings: 321
Photo of johnnnniee
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

Bottle from Harvest Market
Pours a deep amber/copper color with a good sized off white head that persists for quite a while. Aromas of rich caramel malt with a bit of a mineral/sulfur edge, light earthy hop aroma. The flavor is rich caramelized malt sugars with lots of toffee. Light fruit, earthy hop, light mineral flavor. Medium body moderate carbonation. Decent brew.

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Photo of illpass78
3.49/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a clear ruby with a one-inch off-white head. Heavy carbonation. Looks reasonably Halloweenish. I could see a vampire drinking this, as it's kind of blood-like.

Aroma: Mild nose with some tea and grass.

Taste: This is a fairly bitter ESB with a dark tea taste and some grassy and buttery notes. Some bitter bite on the finish. Hops are noticeable. Tiny hint of caramel, too.

Mouthfeel: It's slightly thin for an autumn beer.

Overall: Pretty average ESB. A nice change of pace amid all the browns and pumpkin ales that hit the market every fall. But, also a pretty passable offering.

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Photo of KarlosT
2.75/5  rDev -27.2%

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.

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Photo of Omnium
3.31/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

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

A - Clear dark orange amber with half a finger of white head, no lacing.
S - Some light candied pumpkin, touch of caramel malt.
T - Sweet and sugary at first, light on the pumpkin flavor, a lot of peppery spice at the end.
M - Light bitterness and a tad soapy which is weird.
O - Mediocre at best, lacks character and pumpkin flavor.

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Photo of chefhatt
3.28/5  rDev -13.2%
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.

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Photo of MikeG304
4.18/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

Nice amber color and creamy head with decent lacing.
Sweet, malty aroma with a hint of hops. Nice nose overall.

From the first time I had it(I get some every year when I go to Maine) I always described the flavor as kind of buttery, with caramel in there too, which hits you towards the end.

The mouthfeel is almost,to me, oily smooth, to go along with the buttery taste.

This is one of my favorite, non stout/porter beers.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

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Photo of scotorum
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from the colorful 12 oz. bottle into a Harpoon IPA glass

a: Clear dark red/brown amber, finger high offwhite head receded to thin surface foam and almost no lacing.

s: Caramel malt

t: Rich caramel malt forward with what they say is hops, but seems a bit different in that there is an unusual sharpness rather than mere bitterness involved.

m: Moderate, good body, hops(?) tingling on the tongue is not carbonation, which seems light.

o: Great caramel malt base is run down a bit by the sharpness of the hops. Still a fine dinner or holiday brew when you want something slightly different but still basically very English.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.42/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

not a pumpkin beer, but a fall spiced English bitter type. orange copper in color, looks the part, but again from grittys, where is the head? no foam at all, this beer looks entirely flat. it smells like an esb, with some brown ale type of malts and a touch of amber sweetness. gentle but definite clove and allspice notes, and perhaps vanilla or honey sweetness on the closing. not extremely complex or unique, but a plenty palatable heap of flavors thrown together here. like all of their beers at grittys, it needs a lot more carbonation and texture to it, this feels like a glass of water. with a better feel, this beer could do it for me, but for now there are so many other higher quality fall seasonals that I will not be revisiting this one for awhile. maybe a good brew for those new to spiced ales, as the flavors are quite relaxed on that front.

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Photo of Hibernator
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gritty's Halloween Ale
12 oz brown bottle
Best before September 2013 notched on the side label (?)
Served in a 20 oz tulip glass

Pours a light brown color with pumpkin orange highlights on the bottom of the glass. A decent head forms on top with surprisingly nice trails of sticky lacings on the side of the glassware.

Smells like freshly baked bread with melting butter.

This is a really smooth beer with a strong malt and bready backbone. The finish provides a hint of that classic Maine craft beer flavor of butter. I'm never quite sure if that is diacetyl yeast I'm detecting. I have a tendency to get that taste from Maine brews like Gritty's and Geary's. Other flavors of sweet caramel and brown sugar contribute to this beer's flavor. A nice mini hop snap on the finish helps round everything out.

A drinkable Fall offering and at $7.99 a 12 pack from Supreme Liquors, I'm really glad I decided to try this out.

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Photo of mountdew1
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a dark orangey amber. Thin off white head with a bit of side cling. A few sad streams of carbonation rose from the bottom. Aroma was primarily malts, a small bit of smokey sweetness. Also able to pick up a bit of sour, something like a lime. Flavor was a slightly bitter tangey malt. Nicely developed to want one to keep drinking. Felt good in the mouth, well coated and nicely carbonated. Overall it was a nice beer, but really had nothing to tie it to Halloween.

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Photo of Cavanaghty
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Reddish amber color with a beige head of about one finger. Mild lacing on the glass.

Smell: Carmel, malts, hops, maybe some grass and nutty notes to it as well. The smell is not overpowering.

Mouthfeel/Taste: A little rough, but not bad, typical of Gritty's. Medium Bodied. Taste of roasted malts, carmel, and a bit of a nutty aftertaste.

Overall: Great brew. I usually find my self having a few of these around September and October, goes great wiht some fresh game meat, or poultry.

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Photo of MacCherry
2.53/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into pint glass.

A- Beautiful brown/copper with a creamy, off-white head @2in thick. Laced all the way down. This is what beer should look like; before, during, and after.

S- Metallic. Some grain, a little caramel, and some yeastiness. But it's just swimming in this metallic twang. At first I thought it was the glass, then maybe just this bottle, but subsequent bottles were the same. Not sure what the deal is here.

T- A little more of that caramel breadiness. Dry, dry, dry and long-lived hop bitterness.

M- Tight carbonation hides some of the malt sweetness. A little on the sticky side.

O- I can't see why they would market an ESB far inferior to the Gritty's Bitter. I suppose you've got to do some market pandering, but I expected more from this beer than a Halloween label and a "it's not a pumpkin-beer" presentation.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap at Barcade in Jersey City, NJ

A: Pours a clear very dark amber in color. The beer has a quarter finger tall creamy light beige head that slowly reduces to a thick film covering the entire surface of the beer with a medium sized thicker patch and a thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of bready malts with some light hints of toffee sweetness and grassy hops. Light notes of spices - cinnamon and nutmeg.

T: Very similar to the smell, there are flavors of bready malts with some toffee sweetness. After that, there are light notes of bitterness from the grassy hops and some light flavors of nutmeg.

M: Slightly heavier than light bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: Enjoyable and definitely a unique take on a Halloween beer - the lack of pumpkin and the style are quite unusual choices. Sessionable, easy to drink, and enjoyable. I would have another of these. Perfect for fall.

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Photo of metter98
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Barcade, Jersey City, NJ

A: The beer is clear and very dark amber in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a thin off white that gradually faded away, leaving a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of grassy malts, toffee and spices in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of malts and grassy hops along with some notes of spices towards the finish.
M: It feels on the lighter side of being medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is a nice change of pace fall beer if you are looking for something seasonal but don't want a pumpkin ale or a märzen. It is also rather easy to drink.

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Photo of BeerKangaroo
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At Antonia's, Freeport, ME:

A: burnt brown colored body and gave a small off white/brown head. Some haunting lacing slowly slid down the glass as the beer went down.

S: slight caramel and apples with a bit of a woody yeast and earthy hops to it too.

T: sweet through caramel, light ginger, and apples, mainly an cooked apple aftertaste, hops once the beer warms a bit

M: medium, sessionable, yeasty finish with some light hops in that

O: full-flavored beer that I always come back every season it comes out since I've lived in Maine.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear copper with an unexpectedly impressive stalwart head. Leaves a lacey mess all over my glass. While the new tie dye Halloween label art is great I like the old headless bartender better.

Caramel and molasses cookie aroma.

Caramel and rum offset by a medical bitter. I found the hops contradictory rather than balancing. More bitter than I remember from a few years ago but I

Sweet and caramel-ly like Halloween candy.

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Photo of SickGnar
3.11/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Deep copper with a distinctly russet / dark orange hue. Bright and clear with a few streams of bubbles rising to join the light khaki head of fair to large size. Fair retention and lacing is alright.

S: Holy FN diacetyl. Now, a hint would be okay – but this is silly. Butter & toffee dominate every other aroma. Next I get some herbal and sort of tea-like hops. Diacetyl and hops clash. Way in the background are some malt notes and a touch of malty sweetness.

T: This amount of diacetyl might work in something dark & rich & roasty. But in something this hoppy it just does not work. Big difference from the nose is a firm bit of fruity esters. Other than that it follows the nose (most unfortunately). Opens with buttery toffee fighting it out with the herbal/grassy/earthy hops. Fruity esters quickly join the fray. The malt base never really pushes through the discordant mess. End sees a quick flash of roast and then the finish is earthy & woody hops & lingering butter. Yum! (<- sarcasm).

M: Medium plus body with CO2 average or a touch under. Quite soapy mouthfeel –slick and a tad thick. A bit of drying from the hops, but stays largely sweet.

D: I can sort of see the woodsy caramel apple thing a few folks mention. Maybe with a less bitter beer I might get that too. Or tone down the butter and keep it an ESB. As is – I find it a discordant & muddled mess. Usually I like a touch of diacetyl in certain styles, but this one was hard to finish.

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Photo of jsanford
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a Pint Glass.

A - Poured a dark copper with a creamy off-white head that settles to a thick haze, leaving lots of spotty lacing clinging to the glass.
S - Pleasant aromas of sweet caramel malt, toasted grain, brown sugar, and a touch of spice.
T - Similar to the nose, moderately sweet malt profile with a bit of spice and a nice, fairly long-lasting bitterness.
M - Smooth and creamy, with a medium body and good carbonation. Very drinkable.
O - A nicely sessionable ESB, not sure what makes it "Halloween" but it's good nonetheless.

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Photo of u2carew
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

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Photo of THECPJ
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes: Had on draft at Arena's.

appearance: copper orange with a 1 finger off white head

smell: caramel, malt, hops, bread, spice

taste: spice, caramel, malts,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, medium body,

overall: not exactly the halloween beer I was expecting but I won't say its bad. glad I ordered it actually.


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Photo of beyah
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Deep copper brown, slightly cloudy slight off white head with decent lacing.

Smell - Smell that Ringwood yeast, spicy with a very slight hops sell.

Taste - Sweet and a slight bit fruity, Ringwood yeast is there as well.

Mouthfeel - Very smooth, perfect carbonation for the style, let it warm up a few degrees before enjoying.

Overall - One of the best beers of this season. I will get again next year.

Had it again in 2012, still very nice, we had it with Pot Roast tonight and I can tell you this is the perfect beer to have with a New England Pot Roast.

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Photo of Cadebro
3.42/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours copper.

S - Smells of earth and molasses.

T - Molasses and a slight spice up front, finishes bitter.

M - Medium body and carbonation.

D - One of my favorite autumn ales and a solid Bitter Ale. Not over flavored and spiced like many Halloween ales.

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Photo of brentk56
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear burnt sienna, with a massive ecru head that leaves a spooky pattern of lace

Smell: Caramel and apples with a woodsy yeast and earthy hop edge

Taste: Caramel and apple dunkin', at the outset, with a phenolic edge that develops by mid-palate that relates to both the Ringwood and the English hop bill; apple flavors come through strong into the finish, though there is also the caramel as well as the persistent yeast and hop elements

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: A full-flavored beer, though I wouldn't call it an ESB; Halloween Ale describes it perfectly as it had the caramel apple and the woodsy Autumn flavors nailed; interesting, though not something I would likely seek out again

Thanks, Bendurgin, for the opportunity

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Photo of neophilus
4.74/5  rDev +25.4%
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.

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Gritty McDuff's Halloween Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
3.78 out of 5 based on 321 ratings.
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