Christmas Ale
Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company

Christmas AleChristmas Ale
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Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #53
Ranked #26,171
3.81 | pDev: 12.86%
Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
Maine, United States
Very Good
Christmas AleChristmas Ale
Notes: If it looks like Ed just got merrier, you're right. Every November heralds the return of our holiday seasonal, Christmas Ale – available on draft and in six-packs. Our Christmas Ale is a robust E.S.B. (Extra Special Bitter) full of holiday cheer. Christmas Ale has a lovely, dark red/amber color and a rich, full-bodied, malty taste with a slightly roasted undertone. We brew our Christmas Ale to an original gravity of 1064 (about 6.2% alcohol by volume) using only the finest English Pale and Crystal Malts, with a touch of Roasted Barley as well. A blend of Clusters, Styrian Goldings, Saaz and Yakima Goldings leaf hops round out this hearty brew. Gritty's Christmas Ale has no additives, fruits or spices. It's just a good honest ale, perfect for the season. And to top it all off, it's already gift-wrapped! Happy Holidays!

28.5 IBU
Reviews: 125 | Ratings: 197 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Daktyls:
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Daktyls from Massachusetts

3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

Nov 16, 2014
More User Reviews:
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Jason from Massachusetts

4.35/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 22oz brown bomber with no freshness date.

Appearance: Slightly chill hazed reddish brown with a varied sized bubbly lace that sticks everywhere.

Smell: Buttery diacetyl, neighboring butterscotch in aroma. Candied fruit with a light malt sweetness and a touch of earthy hop.

Taste: Medium bodied with a crisp malty mouth feel, bordering dry though a pinch of residual sweetness is noticeable. Carbonation helps with the crisp malt and mild hop bitterness, chocolaty character is a bit dominant soon followed by an earthy / minty hop flavour with a musty buttery diacetyl flavour from the yeast. Alcohol is present with its light warming feature. Fruity middle to end with hints of melon and pear.

Notes: Sizeable and hearty ESB … full to capacity of malt, yeast and hop flavours. One of the best Gritty brews I have had to date and a great brew to end of the night with.

Sep 29, 2002
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JMH_ from New Jersey

3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The appearance is a nice crisp deep ruby colour with a mid-sized to thinnish head that quickly makes it's way down to a tight lace in the glass and leaves no residue on said glass.

Aroma is malty, with a caramel sweetness, some rough earth notes, a bit of a nut vibe and perhaps a bit of spice.

Flavour has a bit of a spice bite to it toward the finish (cinnamon?), but has a primarily toasted flavour throughout, cut through nicely by caramel sweetness. There's a nice overall blend of flavour and a fair amount of bitterness here. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with just a touch of heartiness to it.

Not bad overall. This is an ESB with a bit of a kick to it, but is still fairly tame and simple overall. Well worth a try.

Nov 24, 2007
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LarryV from Massachusetts

2.93/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep amber-red with nary a head to be found. Carbonation is very subdued. Malty aroma with little hops detected. Taste is on the malty side, hops are way in the background. A somewhat cloying sweetness, diacetyl seems a little out of control resulting in a butterscotch aftertaste. I don't really care much for this beer and would not purchase it again.

Nov 23, 2009
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jdhilt from New Hampshire

3.47/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a two-fingered head and leaving a good lace. Beautiful, clear amber/ruby color. Nose is fruity and slightly sweet. Starts with a sweet mix of hops and malt, finishes hoppy. A different Christmas Ale - no spices. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. The ABV is 6.2%.

Dec 20, 2003
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beernut7 from Massachusetts

4.3/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another quality seasonal from Gritty's. Copper color with a foamy lace around the glass. The taste is clean and full with a nice bitterness and a spicy hop profile. Very well brewed and tasty.

Nov 04, 2002
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Bierman9 from New Hampshire

3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color of this Xmas Ale is deep chestnut, with some ruby highlights as well. It is clear throughout, and has a fine, thin head, which leaves just a trace o' lace. Body was decent and medium, and it had a fairly smooth pass across the tongue. Aroma has a touch of caramel-like malt, but hops and butteriness win out. Flavor, too, has some caramel aspects, but the buttery character again takes center stage. Some floral hoppiness co-mingles with the butter, and sticks in the throat for an extended period of time. I get a slight impression that there's some spiciness here. All-in-all a decent Bier, though the flavor imparted by the yeast strain can get old quickly. Thnx to bennybrew for the offering! Cheers!!

overall: 3.9
appearance: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


Nov 07, 2003
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oberon from North Carolina

3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great to see Gritty McDuff brews now available in wny,poured a deep rich bronze with a hefty tight 1 one finger slight off white head.Fruity yeasty aromas along with some caramel and biscuity malt a tad of butter,flavors seem to be malt tilted somewhat buttery and caramelly with some orange-like fruitiness a lighter leafy hop hits in the finish.A sustaining malty brew quite flavorful a few years ago this would have been it for me that is until I found the blessed hop,as is I still really enjoyed this brew.

Dec 02, 2006
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PatandDavid from Massachusetts

3.03/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On cask at the GLB this past weekend...I wonder if the serving style left out out all the holiday spirit? Medium dark amber when served, it came topped with a white frothy head. Aroma was mostly all caramel, with some diacetyl getting through. Tastewise: no spice. Bready malt. Low hops in finish. Lacks pizazz. Is this all I'm going to get from Santa? I must have been real bad this year.

Nov 29, 2004
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BillyBrew from Maine

4.45/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Gritty's casked this treat up in the middle of July, much to my benefit. Great sunny-brown colour with an giant, sudsy-looking head that retains big the whole pint. The scent is enormously sweet and sugary with supporting citrus-tones. The taste was heavily sweet with smooth malts and citrusy hops. Full flavor throughout with a big range from sugary sweet to striking cirtrus-bitterness. The body was a tremedously smooth, medium body without any rough biting.

This Gritty's brew is a full-sensory stimulant, makes you love the complexity and intricacies of beer. This onslaught on the senses does wear on you, but must be enjoyed whenever available. Cheers!

Jul 15, 2002
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edchicma from Massachusetts

3.85/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper with a nice initial head that dissipates quickly.Smell is butterscotch, grass and a touch of malt. Flavor is initially maltyt, then exapnds in a lightly bitter quality, with a slight butter quality..very nice. Mouthfeel is medium with a dryness on the finish that is very good. Smooth enough to rate higher than average on teh drinkability scale.

Nov 18, 2006
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WanderingFool from Massachusetts

3.91/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gritty's Christmas Ale pours a beautiful, clear dark copper color with a frothy light tan head on top. The foam fades slowly to a thick ring around the surface leaving a few spots of lace on the glass as it goes down. A mild aroma of pine, dry malt and a touch of spice.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is smooth on the palate with a nice carbonated fizz on the tip of the tongue. The flavor is mainly sweet malt with some fruity notes and a hint of spice mixed in. I can detect cherry and bubblegum up front. Towards the back some crisp hoppy spice notes help balance out all the malt. Once gone some of the sweet malt flavor lingers on the palate.

This is a very easy to drink beer that doesn't over power you with spices like other Christmas beers.

Nov 18, 2006
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sraimondi from Connecticut

4.2/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Two finger beige foamy head which lasts throughout the drink, although it shrinks to a film. Very good sheet lacing. A very pretty medium to deep copper color.

Smell is of bread/malt. Surprisingly I don't pick up any real hops notes.

Taste is very good. The thing that hits you is how balanced this beer is, with a very slight hop bitterness in the finish. The other thing that is interesting is that there seems to be a bit of a bourbon flavor at the start?

The mouthfeel is quite good and on style, as very low carbonation lends itself to a soft roundness.

This one is very drinkable, despite the higher than normal ABV. Definitely sessionable.

This is a quality brew! I also think it is alot better than the Halloween Ale, which is the other ESB Gritty's produces. This one is so balanced and smooth. If you like ESBs or balanced brews, definitely pick this one up. One of the best offerings from Gritty McDuff's. I'm hoping my local store has some more, as this will be a case purchase for me.


Dec 08, 2007
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UnionMade from New York

4.42/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark mahogany brown, topped with a half inch of almond head. The head dies out to a thick film after sitting for a couple minutes. Excellent clarity, shining red through light. The head thins to a thick ring around the glass, with a couple sparse blobs of lace.
The aroma is richly malty, with toasty, biscuity malt. Some caramel, with some chocolate malt and estery apple, plum and a hint of pear. Mild british hops bolster and balance the malt, providing an earthy herbal tone. Some light butterscotch. Very pleasant.
Solid malt starts out the flavor, with a bicuity, toasty malt right up front, traveling into a toffee sweetness with a hint of grainy chocolate malt. Some estery pear and plum come through the middle, coupling with some roasted malt bitterness and a mild herbal hopping. Light diacetyl butterscotch is apparent in the finish, with some biscuity malt and herbal hops lingering in the aftertaste. Very smooth and rich, with a full bodied feel on the tongue. Lightly carbonationed, very much in the british style all the way around. Sweetish and robust, with excellent balance. Just the barest wisp of alcohol is evident in the swallow.
A very hearty, warming ESB. This is fantastic. I love beer in this style, and this is a great example. Plenty of fruitiness, with a lovely malt character and terrific hop balance. My only complaint is that I only have two bottles. I'm very happy with this beer.

Jan 14, 2004
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BeerResearcher from Massachusetts

3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle. Served in a SA Perfect Pint glass.
Pours a dark amber with a very fast-fading off-white head.
A smell of fruit cake leaps out at first pour. Smells of caramel malt, toffee, tea-like hops, plums and a whiff of rum follow.
A sweet fruity malt flavor carries tastes of citrus, tea, berries, edgy hops and white rum.
This is a very fluid, liquidy slip & sliding brew.
Highly drinkable, plus a good value.

Dec 03, 2011
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Gusler from Arizona

4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours from the 22 oz. bomber a limpid deep ruby color with the head mountainous in size and semi-creamy in texture, the color a beautiful light tan with the lace a thick and glutinous sheet to meld with the glass. Sweet malt dominates the nose, citrus like crispness with hints of green apples, light floral hop aroma present, start is thickly malt and sweet, top is moderate to full in feel. Finish is quite hop spicy and the carbonation brisk, very dry and the hops stay with you till the very end, quite a quaffable tis’ true, another great brew from a favorite brewery, I thank the grand old man of Maine bennybrew for this bottle.

Dec 20, 2003
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lackenhauser from Maryland

3.58/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very nice, deep bronze color. Fairly decent aroma-malty with a slight metallic odor. Solid malt flavor with an adequete hop bite. Somewhat fruity. Still with the metallic twinge. Lingering bitterness in the finish. Decent enough body, slightly creamy and fairly smooth. Really a notch above average overall.

Jan 04, 2009
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kelticblood from Massachusetts

4.09/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great roasted malt with a bitter grainy aroma. Hints of sweet bread-like and slight raisin smell. Has a nice dark clear copper color. Head started off great but fizzled out to almost nothing with half a minute. No real lacing present. Has the typical Gritty's signature of a fizzy carbonation. The taste isn't really bitter but the after-taste has a lingering bitterness in the throat. This is somewhat drinkable, although I probally wouldnt buy it again. It is very average and just about straight 4's. A bit watery on the mouthfeel and looks thicker than it is. Has a very light fizzy texture in the mouth and goes down smooth. The 6.20ABV is well-hidden and might sneek up on you. Overall it is average, but worth a try. I expected something stronger from a winter Christmas Ale.

Dec 03, 2006
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kennyo from New York

3.77/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

had this beer in a bar and it is always tough to get real readings out of a beer

POured a crystal clear brown color with little to no head, could be because it is in a bar glass. Aroma is deep malt with some spices on the nose. Taste is malt, molasses taste on the toungue with a very dry finish. It has nice carbonation although there is a littl carbonation bite on the toungue.

A very nice, drinkable christmas beer that doesn't go over the top with spices and the like.

Dec 21, 2006
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Loki from North Carolina

4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a 22oz bomber thanks to bennybrew. To little info on the bottle, but smaller Maine producer so we'll let that slide.

Appearance: Great mahogany color that produces a small light beige head thats fades almost immediately. Maybe, due to the fact I sampled at near room temperature. (Sat it out to warm from the fridge and got side tracked.)

Smell: Roasted malt, spices of maybe nutmeg and allspice and something I can't quite place. Hints of roasted coffee in the back.

Taste: Roasted malt, toffee, nutmeg, and a mild coffee bitterness. The coffee taste was too much for my wife, and I thought it quite mild, but I drink very dark, strong coffee (usually serves itself). Quite enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light carbonation, clean, and crisp. Finishes very nicely.

Drinkability: Very good. Nice and flavorful with a good malt backbone and enough hops to clean the sweetness. Overall a very solid ale.

Dec 29, 2003
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Gavage from Nevada

3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: clear amber / bronze in color with a 1" head that lingers a while. Some light lacing shows up on the glass.

Smell: caramel sweeteness and bits of butter and spices are evident.

Taste: caramel with a hint of a toasted nut or two in the background. Plums, ripe red grapes, and a very mild nutmeg and cinnamon tone comes through at the end. There is the usual butter flavors running through the beer from the yeast.

Mouthfeel: smooth from start to finish, and it ends a bit dry too. Very brief aftertaste. Medium bodied.

Drinkability: nice beer to drink on a cold day that isn't an alcohol bomb. Definitely enjoyed this one and could drink several of these in a session.

Dec 28, 2007
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WesWes from New York

3.58/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a ruby red/brown color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a sweet, burnt toffee scent along with a light hop aroma. It's dry with a nice roasted character. The taste is decent as well. It has a smooth, crystal malt flavor along with a nice bitter hop element. This seems a bit malty for a bitter, but it tastes good. There is a roasted malt element as well. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good drinking beer and a fine seasonal, but a marginal ESB at that.

Jan 24, 2008
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ybnorml from Rhode Island

3.67/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A clean dark amber beer. Has a big dark beige head. Big malty aroma with strong caramel overtones. The malty sweetness starts at the tip of your tongue the the caramel background hugs the sides of your tongue. The finish is anice smooth and easy bitterness down the back of your throat.

Dec 06, 2004
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ViveLaChouffe from Georgia

3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep mahogany with a small tan head. Smells fruity (apple or peach?) with light hops.

Taste is also fruity followed by strong hops. really fruity sweet malt but nice strident hops to balance it out. Mouthfeel is really sticky witha nice hoppy aftertaste that lingers nicely on the tongue. Not bad for drinkablility but a bit too sweet for a real session brew. I might get this if I was out but probably won't keep it around the house. Too sweet for my liking.

Dec 01, 2003
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GeoffFromSJ from New Jersey

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

First time I had this beer (a few weeks ago), I would have told you that it was the best American ESB I've ever had. Now, not so much.

Brilliant dark copper color (true sign of whether an ESB is in consideration for being great or not). Yeasty smell.

Last time I had this it was perfectly balanced between malt and hops. Good butter flavor from the Ringwood yeast. Biscuity malt flavor. But it seems that the Ringwood yeast in this bottle dominates too much and the balance of the previous bottle I had has been lost.

Dec 24, 2009
Christmas Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 197 ratings