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

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Gritty McDuff's Halloween AleGritty McDuff's Halloween Ale
322 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 322 |  Reviews: 185
Photo of jdhilt
3.06/5  rDev -18%
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 ericj551
3.61/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Gritty's Halloween Ale pours a red orange with a nice thick head that lasts. I don't really like the fact that this beer is a called Halloween Ale but its released in late August, and a better description of the style wouldn't hurt, but I'm not going to hold that against it. The aroma is buttery diacetyl and caramel malts. Flavor is more diacetyl with a twinge of bitterness from the hops.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.03/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bronzed pumpkin with an eerie reddish glow. Well, it isn't really eerie, I just wanted to get in the mood. How about a bonfire glow? Great label by the way; one of the best that I've seen for a halloween beer. The pale ecru cap tells me that this is a quality ale. It's heavily creamy with a moonscape surface and is leaving scads of lace on the glass. This is a great, autumnal looking ESB.

Although the nose is more malt-focused than I would like, and more malt-focused than is probably appropriate for the style, I like it. Caramel leads the way, accompanied by a wonderfully earthy English hoppiness (Whitbread Goldings and East Kent Goldings). I hope the sour fruitiness that underlies the other aromas isn't quite as prominent on the palate.

I'll be better off if I don't think of Halloween Ale as an ESB at all, simply because it isn't bitter enough. It is good beer though, and I'll be damned if it doesn't taste like autumn. At least I don't think I'm being influenced by the bats and the guy holding his head at arm's length on the label. I'll say one thing, this is an interesting, original beer.

A moderately toasted, caramel malty sweetness glides along beneath what is an increasingly flavorful (with warming), earthy hoppiness. Those Goldings might be a bit short on bitter, but they aren't at all short on flavor. Interestingly, Halloween Ale is more than a little phenolic. Any more and I wouldn't like it. As is, it adds personality.

I probably shouldn't be too hard on the mouthfeel of a 6% ESB. I wouldn't expect it to be full, and probably wouldn't want it to be. Given all that, it matches up well with the rest of the beer's attributes. It's wonderfully smooth and is perfectly carbonated. I can't ask for much more than that.

Halloween Ale is my first Gritty McDuff's beer. I've been aware of it for several years, but have never had the opportunity to try a bottle until now. Thanks jrdegriselles. It's something of an offbeat ESB that isn't really an ESB at all. It's more of a Scottish ale, thanks to the spicy phenols that remind me of Islay Scotch whisky. Whatever one decides to call it, call it good beer.

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Photo of Doomcifer
3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a bright copper color with a decent head that fizzled down.

Smelled sweet, caramel, some hop spiciness.

Tastes of caramel/toffee, malty sweetness, faint hops wo balance everything out. Pretty crisp and tasty. Extremely smooth and drinkable.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with decent carbonation.

Great session beer as these go down so smooth and easy.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.68/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It’s Halloween, so I almost feel obligated to review a Halloween beer. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright reddish amber color, with a decent-sized foamy off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malt, roasted nuts & spice.

T: The taste is malty & bready with flavors of nuts, honey, caramel and spices. There’s a little bit of a hops background, but the background is exactly where the hops stay. There’s some sweetness in there as well, which you wouldn’t expect from a beer in this style. The after-taste falls back to the heavy malt base.

M: Very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, clean & dry finish.

D: This one was a little bit tastier than others I’ve had in this style. I found it slightly filling, but easy-to-drink. I imagine this beer would be a good pounder at a Halloween party and going well with food. One of the better ESB’s that I’ve had.

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Photo of TrickKnee
3.7/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very interesting to say the least. Poured a rosey amber color with not much ehad. HAd a very sweet taste to it, almost a little to sweet which took away from some other characteristics. Was pretty good overall but could nto see sitting down and drinking a lot of them. WOrth a shot though. Would think of this more as just a bitter and not a fall beer though. Didnt get to much spice out of it and was expecting some.

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Photo of drotski
3.82/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured with a small head, that quickly faded. Reddish color. Moderate lacing.

Nice, spicy aroma. Slightly roasty.

Taste was quite good. I was expecting a strong pumpkin pie flavor, but there was none. Thats why its not called Pumpkin Ale, so thats not a bad thing. Nice, smooth bitterness.

Felt good in the mouth, but on the thinner side (or maybe I've had too much DFH lately). Good carbonation.

Overall very drinkable. Goes great with food.

One odd thing I noticed. One bottle in the 6 pack was a pop-top, the other 5 were screw tops. As a homebrewer, I appreciated the extra bottle.

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Photo of medic25
3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First off, great label. Mahogany-reddish color, with a white, thin head that quickly fades. Hoppy aroma, with a touch of ringwood. Taste is nicely blended; hops, little malt, and a buttery diacetyl flavor. Pleasant enough to drink; I'm not a huge Ringwood fan, but the brewer did a nice job of not letting it overpower this beer. Relatively drinkable.

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

A nice light colored copper body was topped by a thick cream colored one inch head, which stayed a few minutes. Higher then average amount of medium sized carbonation bubbles. Small clumps of lacing.

A nice bready malt body. A woody hint of oregano was poking at the edges. A second whiff also had a very nice sweet hint of butterscotch. No real note of hops bitterness in the aroma.

The first sip had a earthen woody yeast taste. A very light bitter hops finish on the back of the tongue. Additional sips showed a variety of very subtle taste including pear juice and a light roasted toffee.

Nice feeling of crbonation on the tongue. A lightly body without being watery.

A very nice example of the style. A welcome surprise in my local stores singles shelf. Would love this beer with a nice plate of wursts. Pick this up and give it a try, I think almost everyone will enjoy this.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.21/5  rDev -13.9%
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 Sycodrummer
4.43/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from the 12oz. bottle into an imperial nonic the beer was a caramel brown color with ruby highlights. A foamy two-finger head formed and retained throughout the sample leaving a fair amount of lace. Carbonation bubbles clung to the sides of the glass.

The nose is rich and malty. Some doughy notes (like fresh beer bread dough) and a slight flowery scent just barley detectable.

The taste has a nice sturdy malt backbone with a semi-sweet brown sugar like finish. Rich and doughy with accents of toffee and caramel. A bitterness finishes each sip, but very far from agressively hoppy. Well balanced with an ever so slight alcoholic presence in the finish. Bready and semi-sweet throughout.

Medium firm body, about average carbonation.

I thought this beer to be true to the style and near to what I view as a benchmark of the ESB style: Fullers. Exceptional balance with a firm malt body beginning each sip with a nice hop accent to finish. Sturdy and slighty warm, a great fall beer.

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Photo of Bowdoinbeerboy
4.2/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Deep amber color, with a creamy off-white head that dissipates quickly to a thin layer of small bubbles. Warm looking.

S-Earthy, citrus smell, with hits of acidity.

T-Creamy fruity flavor with bit of fizziness that lingers on the tongue. After-taste of fruit basket.

M-Feels like a light cream, roughly the same as light milk.

D-Overall very drinkable, on the heavey side but this works well with the color, smell, and taste combination. Overal very good, but not a lighty.

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Photo of BassAssassin
4.05/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

--2006 Vintage--

A: Pours an amber color with deep reddish hues. Thick, foamy head settles quickly into thin, white lace.

S: Slightly smoky and sweet, burnt caramel. Diacetyl is present, as well. Hops smell similar to tea leaves.

T: Starts with a crisp bite of hops. By mid sip, it becomes maltier with a distinct flavor of butterscotch. Gotta love the Ringwood. Finishes with a faint sweetness. Alcohol warmth appears by the end of the bottle.

M: Smooth, medium bodied. Low level of carbonation is perfect for this style. Well done.

D: I look forward to this one every year. A highly flavorful and very well balanced ESB. I could drink several. Paired perfectly with a chicken pot pie.

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Photo of bjohnson
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber.

A: Pours a dark copper color. Frothy off white almost cream colored head. Good retention. Nice looking lace.
S: Floral hop notes mixed in with a sweet caramel malt and toasted grains. A good sharpness as it warms up.
T/M: Smooth and creamy on the palate. Bitter yet malty. Bitterness sort of bubbles its way up with the malt in hot pursuit. Dryer finish with a with sweet caramel flavor to it. Floral hop presence takes a back seat to the malt. Decent balance with light levels of carbonation.
D: Pretty drinkable esb from Gritty's, ringwood and all. I'd purchase this again if I came across it.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.82/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Have had this on draft and in a bottle. The draft is much better. It's a dark brown with a medium white head. It has a caramel, spicy aroma. Taste was cloves and hops, not at all sweet. I thought it was a little thin in mouthfeel, but still quite enjoyable. Probably a cut above this genre.

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Photo of Damian
3.51/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank from a 12 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Julio's Liquors, Westboro, MA

Poured a dark, copper-brown with a large, tan, fizzy head that lasted.

Smell was quite metallic at first. Later, mild notes of caramel malts and brown sugar were noticeable.

Taste was initially rich and malty. A mix of both caramel and toasted malts were noticeable before some fruitiness and later some citrusy hops kicked in. Nice balance between malts and hops. Pleasant, mildly hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel was beautiful - lush and creamy with perfect carbonation.

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Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.13/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Translucent dark copper body with finger-thick light tan head. Smells very malty with strong caramel and yeast notes. Tastes malty and spicy, with hints of burnt malts. An excellent beer and an old favorite for me. While it's very good, I would love to try this on tap.

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.05/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - dark coppery ruddy red in color, with orange hints and a full finger of light tan head, and lots of carbonation

S - malty predominance with hoppy undertones, thereare very faint hints of a pumpkin or pumpkin pie quality, a pleasant aroma

T - wow, a more complex taste than i had imagined. first is the malty sweetness with definite pumpkin undertones, then the hoppiness balances it out with a rich, alomst stouty finish, very nice

M&D - balanced and a quality smoothness, very drinkable, and very October, a great Gritty brew, they continue to impress

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Photo of LordHarris
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into pint glass, medium head that lingers for a bit.

appearance: a dark red in color, very nice looking in my glass.

Smell: a nice smell of malt, with hints of spice and hops.

Taste: a malt taste with other spices, hard to tell, and a nice smooth hop finish.

Mouthfeel: nice and smooth, perfect amount of carbonation with a nice finish that lingers just long enough.

Drinkabilty: very good, the pint glass is empty as i right this, i'm glad i live within walking distance of a Gritty's brew pub, because i'm going to spend some time there this fall.

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Photo of HopHeadKen
3.8/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Charlesw for this trade.

Pours deep orange copper with a tall ivory head of large bubbles which quickly fades to a thin lace and edge ring. Served at cellar temp (66 deg F) into a pint glass, this beer has an interesting spicy hoppy smell.

Taste is smooth and sweet; malt with subtle spicy well balanced hops

Mouthfeel is medium, not thin or harsh - nice

Drinkable, I wish I had a sixer of these.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
3.5/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is an ESB? Huh? Odd. It is still a good beer but not quite an ESB. Where's the bitters?

Poured a mahogany brown in color. When I look through it everything has a nice brown tinge to it. No floaties. Thick head that recedes to a hit and miss filmy head. Lots of cake layered lacing.

Nose is caramel and slightly toasted malts.

The flavor is all about the malts. Caramel and toasted nuts. Biscuits and pretzels. Doughy and sugar. Hops are present but very subdued. Hardly bitter at all. Got some of the yeast coming through as well. More of an altered take on an Oktoberfest-ale.

A rather dry finish. Leaves me thirsty. Medium body. Even kind of crisp. Or is that the dry finish?

This beer kind of confuses me. I like it but am unsure what style it really falls into as a beer.

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Photo of aquatonex
2.93/5  rDev -21.4%
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 charlesw
4.28/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Go cask! Yeah cask!


Deep amber. Poured from the engine and brought to the table foaming - beautiful tiny bubbles... Head doesn't last long (a few minutes at best) while leaving a ring that won't quit. It's defnitely the service that rates the appearance so high - you've got to be in the pub on a slowish day and very near to the bar. But oh so beautiful!

Smells like caramel malts, man...

And it tastes very nice. Cask is the only way to go for this one... It's like it's like it's like... It's like an Old Thumper, you know? I mean, if you're not having it on cask, well, you're not having it. So, yeah, an ESB. You bet. A bitter... A nice one... As it warms the caramel malt comes out a bit more - the end of the glass has a tiny caramel bite to it! Always a teeny touch of bitterness just there... Very pleasant to drink... No lingering flavors (especially NOT off ones) to speak of.

Drinkability? Well, it's not my fault that I've had 7 pints of it in the past 2 days! I was forced! But, hey, I've got to enjoy it while I can - it is, after all, only seasonal!

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Photo of gotbeer
4.43/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is a beer that I have had many, many times over the years. It has always been a favorite, especially on tap. Last year I was afraid that it or my palate had changed, but this year's version has found the right magic again.

It pours a dark copper color with a quickly fading head that leaves only the slightest lacing on the glass. It smells like buttered bread.

The taste is impressive. Malty bread and some nice bitter hop balance. There is some diacetyl, but this is not a negative as it compliments the overall flavors and is an exceptional example of Ringwood yeast. There is some pear and apple flavors in the background.

The mouthfeel is smooth and soft, and the drinkablity is exceptional. This is a great alternative to all the Octoberfest brews that show up this time of the year. Definitely reccomended. A seasonal fall favorite for sure.

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Photo of Dewey0603
3.85/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A great looking ale.not too many this dark.A small lacey head with a hint of reminds me off some sam adams brews, but with less sugar.once you taste this you realize this beer has much taste!I think this would go well with seasonal foods,turkey or roast pork.I'm not sure you could have more than 2 or 3.these kind of beers tend to leave me more thirsty,like that's a bad thing! A fine beer that makes me long for halloween.

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Gritty McDuff's Halloween Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.73 out of 5 with 322 ratings