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 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 waughbrew
2.61/5  rDev -31%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

The reddist beer I have ever seen. red. red red. very clear. sticky head with medium retention. Smells like buttery diacetyl, earthy (english?) hops, toastiness. A lot of esters including a lot of strawberries. Smells like a high-alcohol brew.
Tastes like higher alcohols with piney and resinous qualities, ending with a cheezy hop taste. A little caramelly and a little chemical-like.
Good medium-bodied feel, could have been very good but the fusel alcohols and chemical notes ruin it for me.

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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 aquatonex
2.93/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Was expecting something different from this brew, perhaps it is because it is bottled?

Pours a rich dark auburn with a slight head, slight lacing, good carbonation. Smell consists of hops and some light spice. Taste provides good hoppiness, some malts, light spices again (coriander, vanilla), but a severe metallic flavor encompasses my tongue soon after the sip that continues after I drink. Eh. It's really putting a negative effect on the entire beer. I wonder if it's this particular batch in the bottle.

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Photo of Kookiekwan
2.96/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours amber/red with a one finger head it has some good retention and nice lacing. The beer has a toasted grain aroma and its smooth and creamy. For an ESB it lacks alot of bitterness. The flavors of toasted grains and caramel stand out and it had a slightly metallic finish.

Reflection: I find it hard to believe that this is an ESB. The beer is to malty and it didn't have nearly enough hops to make it bitter. Fall brings out many different beers to try, I prefer drinking something with more spice on halloween( one plus is that it has a really cool label).

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Photo of jdhilt
3.06/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a three-finger cream head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Clear amber color. Hoppy spicy nose. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Flavor is indeed like an ESB earthy, hoppy but some sweetness with hoppy finish. Lingering bitter aftertaste. 12oz bottle $1.50 from Capitol Convenience Concord, NH.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.08/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Best by date of April 2005, Sampled December 2004
Pours a pretty red color that is brilliantly clear. It is topped by a fluffy light tan head. The aroma smells of thin grain, a hint of butterscotch, and caramel. The aroma is lightly sweet, yet light and crisp. There seems to be some subtle spicing going on here. Most notably I get some astringency towards the end and in the finish. Perhaps I get some notes of nutmeg. This beer is quite light on the palate. I am not quite sure what to think about this beer. It is quite light and does not have as much flavor as I was expecting. I think that the spices have died down quite a bit, and all that is left is a bit of spicy astringency in the finish.

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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 Kinsman
3.12/5  rDev -17.5%
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.

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Photo of kelticblood
3.16/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I was a bit mislead when buying this while on vacation in Maine.I was told it was like a Pumpkin/Spiced seasonal brew.It pours a nice creamy thick white head which slowly disappears.The color is a caramel dark amber.It offers a bitter hoppy smell with maybe a touch of vanilla.Right upon tasting I realize how strong and thick it is.Its definately bitter but thick and very malty with a wheat overtone upon swallowing.I find that after finishing one or maybe two of these they will leave you gasping with thirst.It is somewhat smooth and offers some bite of alcohol when swallowing.Not a bad brew.I probally wouldnt buy it again though.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.2/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Poured a clear, apple red with a 2 finger frothy, medium tan head that was mostly lasting. Visible carbonation was light.

S: The aroma was very light in nature with ripe apples, caramel, and nutmeg.

T: The initial flavor was sweet, malty caramel apple fruitiness with some spicings (nutmeg) as well some fresh pumpkin flavor.There was a fruity cider and light warm burbon alcohol presence detected on the fade. Overall lightly spiced with no real character standing out and coming off one dimensional flavor wise.

M: light-medium, smooth, creamy with a soft tingly carbonation factor. A gentle fade of spicy, dry alcohol fusels is experienced after the swallow.

D: A gentle burbon, boozy alcohol fade is pretty much the only redeeming quality this beer has to offer and not worthy of a recommend. Average at best drinkability and enjoyment and would of never have guessed this to be an ESB.

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Photo of TrevorGW
3.2/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

This was an interesting one because I had no idea what the style was. I was expecting either a spiced beer or a porter, and it was neither. Lighter chestnut color, not much in the aroma other than a plasticy malt.

Flavor is pretty nice. Toasty caramel and a little bit of raspberry fruitiness from the yeast. Enough hops, but they offer nothing to the taste. Finish is a tad coarse.

Mouthfeel is not its strong point. Overly carbonated and a surprisingly thin feel.

Decent because it does not taste too strong ... a well-balanced offering, but not memorable.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.21/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

AP: Totally clear with a brilliant amber brown color with deep reddish hues. Displayed a 2" slightly off-white head with some orange tinge.

Nose: Sweet and roasty malt.

Taste: A smoked then mildly sweet malt flavor, nutty with only a minor earthy hop.

Mf: Medium body, Good activity makes for a decent bite so it's refreshing; but it is also slick and mildly smooth.

DA: three went down fairly easy!

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Photo of tigg924
3.23/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had on tap at Wachusett Apple Fest

Appearance: amber in color, 1/2 inch head, high carbonation, clear

Smell: wood and grain

Taste: wood, grain, and a slightly soapy/hoppy aftertaste

Mouthfeel: high carbonation, light bodied, sweet start with a bitter end

Drinkability: I could have a couple of these, not more. Refreshing and different, the bitterness at the end that comes from the hops doesn't do it for me. That being said, this is a nice alternative to other seasonal beers at this time of year.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.23/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Single, twelve fluid ounce bottle just purchased from Super Saver Liquors in Somerville...
Cool bottle sticker... Figured this might be a pumpkin ale, not an ESB judging by the advertising...
Pours a ruby-red, dark brown hue with a decent-sized foamy head...
Smell: Bitter aroma, replete with hints of malts, caramel, and vanilla...
Taste: Bitter flavor, with hints of amber and grains... Likewise, a bitter finish existed... Certainly not the best ESB I've sampled, yet a robust depiction nonetheless...
Overall, this sample was not what I was expecting... I know they call the style an "Extra Special Bitter" yet the finish had too much bitterness and lacked an enticing flavor... Nothing special in my opinion...

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Photo of ToasterChef
3.28/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a chilled bottle into my Gritty's Halloween pint glass. The beer is colored brows, with some copper highlights when the light hits it. The head is small, tan, and made of small bubbles. The liquid is clear, and I can see plenty of carbonation rising to the top. I've had warmer bottles, and I recall the head's being more impressive, so perhaps the low serving temperature has a negative effect on the appearance. I'll let another bottle warm a bit before pouring and adjust my review as needed.

The nose has some good malts; mainly sweet caramel. I can also detect some toasted grains.

Again, the flavor is made up of good malts. Despite the name, nothing scary here. I can taste a bit of the alcohol and a little diacetyl in the finish. The bitterness is low--well-balanced with the malt profile. It tastes like an enjoyable autumn beer.

The beer has a medium body. Despite all the carbonation I could see, it doesn't feel too strongly carbonated. There is a noticeable coat that leaves some flavor to linger. Each sip goes down well enough. I find the effects of the Ringwood yeast to be lesser than in other beers that use this yeast. I would drink a few of these in a night, but probably only if it was all that's available in my fridge. Otherwise, I think I would mix it up with some of Gritty's other beers if I were at one of their pubs (Halloween, stout, bitter, Halloween, etc.). I do think it would be quite good on cask. All in all, worth trying if you are not a drinker who immediately writes off all Ringwood beers.

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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 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 thryn
3.33/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very clear deep reddish brown with a finger or so of cream-colored and creamy-looking head.

Smells malteriffic. Sweet, bready, slightly raisiny? Toast.

Taste is deep toasted malt. Slight caramel. A little bitter at the back of the palate, but any real hop presence is hard to find.

Mouthfeel is good. Low carbonation, not too heavy.

Overall it's drinkable, but nothing special. A little more hop would help it.

Gotta love the label, though.

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Photo of kingcrowing
3.34/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

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Photo of bbothen
3.35/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light caramel color with 1 finger deep off white colored head.

Smells malty sweet, faint caramel & toffee, faint fruitiness.

Sweet caramel maltiness, earthy characteristics, spicy, fruity, slight bitter hoppy towards finish, but finishes sweet.

Medium bodies, moderate carbonation, dry, somewhat thin.

Not overwhelmingly flavorful or interesting. But still a fine experience. Would have again.

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Photo of Gavage
3.41/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: clear amber in color sporting a one finger head that falls to a thin surface foam that lasts quite a while.

Smell: very mild caramel aroma is all I can pick up by the nose.

Taste: this beer has an earthy and slighty grainy quality I didn't expect. Caramel, soft spicy notes, mild bitterness, and a soft buttery flavor creeps up near the finish.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp throughout. Medium bodied beer. Very short aftertaste as the flavors disappear from the tongue quickly.

Drinkability: this beer just didn't do it for me. Worth a try, but I remember this being better on tap at the brewpub than in the bottle.

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