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 kesweeze
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served poured into a tulip glass. Deep amber in colour with a little head retention. Sweet aroma with no discernable hops. Noticeable residual sugars with a thick mouthfeel. Nice up front malt character with a nutty finish. Balanced very lightly with hops. Overall a nice fall beer. Difficult drinkability on a hot day but, excellent with food.

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Photo of bishopdc0
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

And you wonder why I travel ... I had this on cask while in Maine for the annual Brewers' Festival.

My server brought it to me with a light dusting of off-tan head that hung around as wisps throughout. Color was a deep, rich, coppery-amber with NE-quality clarity. Nose had cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, like Halloween at a lot of places. Mouthfeel was thin-to-medium with a lightly musty, spicy taste on the tongue. Finish was mildly spicy and pumpkin pie-ish, but a) I've had better "Halloween Ales" and b) Gritty's offers much better beers. I'll have one of those next!

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Maybe the best ESB I've ever tasted not made by Fuller's.

This was just exceptional. First, with more discrete points I may have given the appearance a 4.25 or something. It has an exceptional color. Frankly, the color of an ESB is a very reliable indicator on how good an ESB you have. The darker deep reds to brown are usually the superior ones. Unfortunately, the head didn't stay around too long.

The taste had all the elements. Biscuity notes. Buttery notes. Incredibly well-balanced between malt and hops. Occasionally the tastes would be out of sync and then by the next sip they were in perfect harmony.

Just a fantastic ESB. Maybe the best American one I've ever tasted.

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Photo of adamb02155
3.91/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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

2009 batch with an expiration date of October 2010. Sampled on November 5, 2009. It poured a good looking brown with tinges of ruby red and mahogany. The head is thin but the overall appearance is of great clarity. Sweet malts and fresher hops balance out the aroma but they balance each other quite well. The mouthfeel is medium to heavy and full of substance. The taste sports a bit of caramel along with bitterness, roasted malts, and hops. If I had not seen the label and tasted it blindly I might have thought it was an English Strong Ale rather than an autumn or pumpkin spice ale. It has a slightly dry finish.

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Photo of CHADMC3
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber body with copper hues and a huge, frothy off white head that dissipates leaving trail of sticky lacing behind.

Aroma consists of sweet malt, hop bite, and chocolate nibs.

Palate is full of malty sweetness up front with touches of spice, faint cocoa, and a pleasant bitter finish.

Medium in body and carbonation with a slight drying quality and an authentic bitterness left behind on the mouth.

This is really a great beer to sit & enjoy on a crisp fall night. Noticeable alcohol, but not so much to prevent you from enjoying more than one.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.08/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12-ounce twist-off bottle into a new SA pint glass.

A: Pours a medium-dark amber color with reddish and orange highlights to it. A one finger head of burnt orangey brown foam settled into a creamy coating and left some sticky lace.

S: Smells of roasted caramel and toffee malts with a little bit of spicy, herbal hopping and light fruity esters.

T: A nice bouquet of fruity ale flavors is presented first, with flavors of berry and apple mixed with a medium roasted caramel malt sweetness. The finish is a little sweet and spicy, with a buttery, rich grain flavor and a bitter, snappy aftertaste.

M: Medium-bodied, slightly creamy and nicely bitter on the palate.

D: This would be a really nice ESB to session at a Halloween party when you don;t feel like an Oktoberfest or Pumpkin Ale but don't want to reach for a stout or porter. Nice balance of sweet and bitter, a good showcase of malt complexity and a nice ABV to boot. It's a shame Halloween only comes once a year, numbers my opportunities to have a Gritty's ESB!

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Photo of indiapaleale
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Here we go...

Pour - Clean, clear, dark chestnut with some ruby highlights and a perfect inch of dense foam on top. Nothing scary about this pour.

Aroma - Frightfully malty, with some baked apple and cinnamon along with brown sugar. This is NOT a spiced beer nor does it contain and pumpkin. It just happens to give of a bit of a spicy aroma.

Taste - Starts off sweet with some fruit esters (apples and pears) and quickly turns bitter (but not hoppy bitter). There is a certain dryness to this beer along with a faint bit of buttery flavor from the staple yeast of Maine - ringwood.

Overall - Great ESB. Easy drinking and refreshing with just enough ABV to keep you warmed on a cool Halloween night in New England or the Midwest or Alaska or wherever you might be.

Would I buy more of it? - Next Halloween I'll go back and buy some more. If you have access to this, give it a shot.

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Photo of dasenebler
3.56/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

No-brainer to review this one today. Poured from a Freeport-brewed bomber.

Really nice deep amber color. Creamy but small head. Decent lacing. Aroma of sweet malt and yellow cake batter.

Unlike most NE fall seasonals, this is not a spiced or pumpkin beer (so I don't know what reviewers below are talking about). This is a british style ESB, and it has a nice mellow and earthy hop flavor. Medium-light body, some sweet caramel and toastiness. Decent mouthfeel with nice and low carbonation.

I have a love/hate relationship with the yeasty component flavor. It's nice and reminiscent of British ales but also all too familiar for us Maine beer drinkers. What should really have us spooked is how so many of the beers taste the same between Shipyard, Geary's, Gritty's and Sebago. It's that Ringwood/british ale yeast profile. It's not bad beer, but there's no escaping the Pugsley influence. It haunts my dreams.

Happy Halloween.

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Photo of Risser09
3.62/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pilsner - fridge - best by August 2010

Appearance: Pours a transparent copper orange with vigorous carbnation streaming to the surface. A light yellow head builds to 1". Rings gather after each sip.

Smell: Biscuits, munich malt, fresh bread and sweet brown sugar. Nougat and old plums.

Taste: A mineral forefront breaks to allow sugary caramel malts in. Spicy cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper make a sharp beer. The carbonation adds to the crispness.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, clean and spicy. Not a lot of bitterness, but there is some in the finish. A bit of booze. Medium body. Plenty of carbonation.

Drinkability: A decent brew that is a good drinkerm but doesn't provide a whole lot of complexity or contemplation. Okay.

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Photo of corby112
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep ruby red mahogany/copper color with some dark golden orange/amber hues when held to a light source and a two finger frothy off white head. Excellent retention, slowly fading into a lasting cap that coats the glass with rings of soapy lacing.

Slightly spicy aroma with a good balance of biscuit malt, floral hops, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg. These spices are pretty subtle but are a nice addition to the toasty malts and floral hop notes. I thought that it was odd that a Halloween beer would be classified as an ESB but it makes sense in this case. It smells like an amped up version of the style with subtle hints of pumpkin beer/oktoberfest/marzen styles.

Medium body with a good bit of spiciness up front with some subtle hop notes. I'm picking up some cinnamon and brown sugar as well as some subtle clove and vanilla. There is a nice toasty, biscuit maltiness that provides nice body and very subtle dry bitterness from the hops. Based on the aroma I was expecting a lot more hops but the maltiness and autumnal pumpkin pie spices dominate the flavor of this beer. The ABV is very well masked and theexcellent balance make this brew very drinkable.

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Photo of thespaceman
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass:

Appearance: Pours a deep amber in color, red highlights, nice size head sizzles up the glass and slowly dissapates. Head retention is good and the lacing is soapy and sticks all around the glass.

Smell: Up front is alot of crystalized maltiness, very grain like and caramelish. Toasted maltiness leads into some darker fruits, not overpowering but evident. The malt profile is nutty and prevalent. I also get a bit of malt spice which is small but perfectly balanced.

Taste: Caramel malts are very bold and spicy, a bit of metallic twang hangs around but not enough to shy me away. A slight hop bitterness is paired towards the malt and balanced, but also makes it sweeter then other fall beers. Alot of malt spiciness is present and it's aligned nicely with the overall showing of this brew, the nutty aromas and the bread like maltiness adds depth to this fall offering.

Mourhfeel: Good carbonation, alot of extra bitterness hanging around from the hops, medium bodied and rich on the tongue.

Drinkability: Overall, I can see drinking Halloween Ale while scaring the crap out of trick or treaters or just hanging out on a cool, fall night. It's drinkable, interesting, and combines the perfect components for a good cool weather beer. I enjoyed it and reccommend you do to!

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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 ShogoKawada
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

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Photo of DNICE555
3.72/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Nice way to start of October.

A - A darker almost cloudy shade of amber. Small head. Thin lacing, like a witch with a yeast infection was flying around the glass on her broomstick leaving a trail.

S - Spices, Malt, Mild aroma of alcohol.

T - Goes from bitter to sweet. I've never tasted anything like it before. I could taste the alcohol as well. It was like eating an alcholic sour patch kid.

M - Medium body.

D - I enjoyed it. Wouldn't have more than one at time. Very unique beer. Drank it slowly as I didn't want too many ghosts and goblins inside me at the same time.

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

Pours copper red from a bomber into my pint glass. When held into the light has beautiful ruby highlights. Light two finger tan head produced. Has decent retention, as the head shrinks to a small sheet in about 10 minutes. Leaves some nice lacing.

The nose on this just screams pumpkin. I'm really not sure if there is actually pumpkin in here or not, but the spices and pumpkin like scent is telling me there likely is. Actually, now that I think about it, if it's not pumpkin it could be spiced apples. I also get a nice caramel character and sweet malts, with the lightest of light hop bitterness.

There is definitely a light pumpkin flavor going on here, but the more I think about it some more, it totally could be spiced apples, or a combination of the two. I'm really not sure and the bottle is no help. This is some pretty tasty stuff though, no doubt. Nice sweet malt backbone and a very light bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is medium and creamy going down. Smooth and bubbly. Drinkability is very good.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed with this beer. Is it an ESB? I'm sure it is. Could it possibly be a cross between an ESB and a Pumpkin Ale? That is up in the air but I'm leaning towards yes. Pretty dang tasty if you ask me.

Thanks to Ryan (rrheisler) for sending me this bottle as an extra. Thanks a ton!

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Photo of Nezzy
4.17/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

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Photo of Genuine
4/5  rDev +5.8%
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.

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Photo of flanmedic51
4.29/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle. Dark ruby color noted with 1-1/2" head that dissapated quickly but white lacing remained.

Smell of malt and roasted nuttiness.

Taste is full-bodied, malt hits you in the face with a hint of spice and dark roasted nutty flavor. Little hopiness but balances well. Little carbonation, kinda seems like a lager more so than an ESB. Aftertaste of spiciness and dark malty notes remain, very pleasant tho.

It's one of my absolute favorite Fall seasonals. It has such a great malty flavor yet light on the palate. So awesome on the cool Fall evenings, it's awesome...looking forward to having it off cask at the Gritty's in Freeport!

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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 Casey10
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is one that I have had for many years but just getting around to reviewing.

So here goes:

A - Copper orange with a thick head once poured into glass.

S - copper smell with a nice background notes

T - some caramel light spices, small bit of nutty taste.

M - light foamy, more of the nutty flavor comes through.

D - rated high as this was always a goto beer for me that I liked to drink a bunch of not to overpowering but delightful to drink.

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Photo of mdale13
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

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

12oz bottle with notching indicating "sept 09". tasted in mid/late april 2009

dark coppery amber, clear but for a few particles. decent beige head fades to foamy, creamy thin layer. some very scattered rings of splotchy lace, esp at top.

aroma: caramel, apples and pears upfront. mildly grassy hop in background. faintest trace of phenols and diacetyl.

taste: similar start, but hops are slightly brighter and bolder, with moderate, resinous bitterness to counter all the caramel and apple. touch of acidity before the finish, which also reveals the gentle phenols. more caramel notes in the aftertaste.

medium body, smooth overall, with acidic and resinous texture in the finish. mildly prickly carbonation.

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

Appearance: This beer poured a nice amber color with a thick white head. Lacing was present throughout.

Smell: Nice grain smell with hints of caramel and chocolates.

Taste: The caramel flavors really come out. The malts really add a nice balance from the bitterness to the beer. Has some nice hints of fruit and spice.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium carbonation

Overall: This is a great autumn beer. With the caramel flavors and descent ABV it's a great way to be ready for the colder months of fall!

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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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