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

very good
124 Reviews
Gritty McDuff's Christmas AleGritty McDuff's Christmas Ale

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

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by Bierman9 on 01-11-2002

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Reviews: 124 | Ratings: 195
Photo of scotorum
4.01/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams English nonick.

a: Clear dark ruby with a finger thick offwhite head which receded to thick surface foam and patchy lacing.

s: Mainly caramel malt.

t; Strong caramel malt with a slightly tangy hop bite.

m; Medium, good body and carbonation tingle.

o: A fine holiday ESB in the British tradition, substantially malty and warmly satisfying.

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Photo of Flounder57
3.81/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle was poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: This beer poured a one finger off brown head that reduced to a thin layer. It is a copper color with good clarity and vision of bubbles coming up through the glass. Spotty lacing on the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Toasted malts, caramel, earthy hops, and a little fruitiness.

Taste: Toasted and caramel with some earthy hop bitterness and some fruitiness.

Mouthfeel: Chewy, a little bitterness, light bodied, and medium carbonation.

Overall: Pretty nice English bitter. Very enjoyable and easy to drink.

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Photo of Cavanaghty
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Dark brown with a thin white head, no lacing on the glass.

Smell: Citrus, spices, malts, and alcohol.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste of toasted malts, spices, and mild citrus. Some faint pine notes and bitters hops as well.

Overall: Ok beer, not my first choice for a holiday brew, but it is bold and will keep you warm on a cold winter night.

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Photo of gcamparone
4.09/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Purchased in Wakefield, RI.

A- Pours a deep amber, clear body with an off white head that reduces to a film of white foam.

S- Caramel, toffee, bread, some hops in the background.

T- Vanilla, caramel, slight bourbon notes, sweet burnt sugar. Quite delicious and dessert like.

M- Medium body, medium carbonation.

I was pleasantly surprised by this beer. I will be trying more from this company.

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Photo of magine
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a nonic.

Pours a hazed amber with a light tan thick head. Lots of bubbles cascading to the top. Little bit of head remains; lace layer. really good lace all the way down though - good looks.

Brew smells malty; spiced with some bready backbone. Good nose.

Brew is balanced; creamy upfront good malts then some spice and a mellow semi sweet, semi bitter finish. Really good stuff here; caramel malts, roasted nuttiness. Favors a scotch ale almost. Can pick up some hops in the finish. Very good mouthfeel here. Very good and drinkable stuff here.

I liked this one alot - lots of flavor and body and goes down super easy. Great brew.

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Photo of IronLover
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep red in color with a brownish hue and excellent clarity. Poured with a short white foam that quickly reduced to a wispy cap. Sweet toasted malt aroma with dark malt and buttery notes and touch of floral hops as it warmed. Medium bodied with pleasant carbonation and a dry finish. Toasted malt flavors up front quickly followed by dark malt with chocolate notes. Earthy floral hop flavors emerge through the middle to the end with buttery and toasted malt character. Finished crisp and dry with light hop bitterness. This was excellent. It reminded me how much I enjoy this style.

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Photo of greybeardloon
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best before November 2013

A: A thin, soda-like head that dissipates almost immediately. A clear reddish-brown.

S: Bready malt, heady on the butteriness. A strong aroma, but one note.

T: Bready malt, some fruitiness and syrupy sweetness. Mild herbal hops come through on the finish. The butteriness is definately present but it isn't bad.

M: Reasonably full, but the carbonation is too prickly.

O: the first couple of sips were pretty good, but it became pretty uninteresting pretty quickly. I much prefer the regular ESB. That said, it's still not a bad beer.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark caramel color with 2 fingers worth of light tan head

S: Very strong on the caramel malts and the distinct Gritty's ringwood yeast. Has some sweetness and hop notes as well

T: Follows the nose. The crystal malts make things quite sweet to start, but this is eventually taken over by some roast and hops

M: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Fairly smooth

O: A good robust ESB for the winter months. The ringwood yeast makes most of Gritty's beers taste alike, and this one is no different. Worth a shot if you like the brewery or ringwood yeast

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Photo of MrCee
3.81/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This has a hoppy malty mix. Dark brown and foaming in color. It has a robust, full-bodiedness that sits nicely on the tongue. There is a faint hoppy aroma. It is rich but mild for a Christmas beer. It is almost a whisper of a Christmas beer. This is probably a good Christmas beer for people who don't like Christmas beers.

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Photo of jtierney89
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brown color with good clarity. 1 finger of off white head. Very faint nose, not a lot going, a bit of spice and pale malt.

Pretty robust beer. I forgot this was an ESB. A really big ESB at that. Prickly carbonation. Nice pale and caramel malts, big nice caramel malts, toffee, sugared biscuit balanced by big earthy hop presence. A really great brew.

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Photo of beerbiatchMD
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a stemless wine glass.

a: Pours a dark brown, amber when held up to light. Off-white head is about one fingers worth. Minimal lacing.

s: Bready, doughy, sweet, brown sugar/syrupy.

t: Caramel earthy malts predominate. Small hint of EtOH at the end of palate.

m: Nice, smooth, not boozy.

o: A good beer overall. Not a huge Gritty's fan, but this one is pretty darn good. Would recommend.

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Photo of SolipsismalCat
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. Reviewed alongside Heavy Seas Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale).

A: Clear red-brown with two-finger, off-white, creamy head that lasted a couple of minutes. Good lacing.

S: Sweet roasted malt and cherry.

T: Light sweetness and moderate hop bitterness. Rich roasted malt flavor that lasts through to the finish. Has a taste I can't quite place though.

M: Medium bodied with soft carbonation. Smooth and warm.

O: This is close to a tie. The Heavy Seas looked prettier and smelled nicer, but this beer had a comparable taste and a slightly better mouthfeel.

 583 characters

Photo of BeerResearcher
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

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Photo of beyah
3.96/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Deep reddish brown, lacing sticks to the side of the glass head does not hang around very long..

Smell - Buttery Malty with a trace of earthy English hops

Taste - The correct carbonation, mild earthy hop and diacetyl. Alcohol is not overbearing.

Mouthfeel - Slick smooth, not overly carbonated, a slight hint of alcohol and a little hops flavor left after the beer has past the tongue.

Overall - Really like this Gritty's offering now the hard part Halloween Ale or Christmas Ale? Better yet keep 6 of each on hand.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap into a shaker pint at Buck Naked's BBQ Windham.

A very creamy and very cask like looking head, one finger presented with an off tan color. Body is a great red copper dark amber and clear with some noticeable rising carbonation. Lots of great sticky rings of lacing around. Great looking beer.

Nose is a slightly spicy malt, but mostly kind of "stinky" a little. Some ripping grain slightly husky, a mild cherry fruit sense. Kind of a strong nose, but one to enjoy.

Taste is sort of weird but good. Chewy malt body with a nice mild hop pine finish. Stinky malt is almost taffy like tasting in texture with some powder. Cherry fruit on the finish as well. Creamy head makes for a nice body.

Overall, pretty good. Marketed as a winter warmer but definitely feels ESB like mentioned here on BA. It all makes sense now and feels alright.

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Photo of BeerKangaroo
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

In a pint glass:

A: chestnut/copper colored body, small white one finger head, lacing slid quickly into the body

S: sweet subdued caramel, slightly bready

T: pretty much the same, but coming through in a bland sort of way

M: medium, slightly sessionable, creamy aftertaste, sweet bready finish

O: average for the style, but acutally I liked it and went nicely with some Christmas cookies

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Photo of TK5150
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Pours dark amber (bordering on ruby) with a beige head.

S- Bread, Ringwood yeast, plums, light hints of roasted malt.

T- Sweet malt, sour cherry, plums, Ringwood yeast butter, nutty, lingering continental hop bitterness.

M- Medium bodied, sharp carbonation.

O- When I first started drinking beer, this was my favorite. While not a great beer, the sentimental value makes this one of my favorite beers for the holiday season nowadays.

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Photo of Centennial
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage 12oz bottle poured into pint glass

A. Dark amber hue, darker then your average esb with good initial head that recedes to next to nothing

S. sweet and slightly roasted malt aroma

T. roasted semi sweet flavor, slightly balanced with a mild hop presence

M. bubbly, crisp, clean

O. good to the style of esb, not your typical christmas or holiday ale but a nice change of pace away from normal spiced up holiday ales.

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Photo of Knapp85
2.51/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thought for sure this beer would have been much better. The whole idea of the Christmas beers is to have all these spicy rich flavors mixed with some fruits and alcohol all together for one big bang of flavors! I ha this one as my opened on 1-4-11 and to be honest I wasn't sure that I believed I got the right beer. I asked the bar tender about it and they assured me it was the right one. The color was a nice reddish tone, that works for me. The smell was a little spicy but nothing at all strong. And the flavor was just not there. Rather upsetting.

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Photo of BeefyMee
2.68/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Decent if a little boring. Coppery red color, weak head.

S: Buttery ringwood, some hops and alcohol.

T: I'm not into this at all. The sweet and fruity malt profile seems off, the hop notes from the aroma are gone, the nice butteriness from the aroma is gone. It's not horrible, but it's far from enjoyable. The flavors just don't seem to work right.

M: Good substance but a little too bubbly.

D: I could drink a few but I wouldn't really want to.

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Photo of cbutova
3.55/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark red with a small off-white head that has decent retention. A small ring and not much lace, suspicious about my glass.

S- Dark fruit and spice are big with some bread and caramel malt in the background. Has a toffee character to it as well as slight buttery notes.

T- Dark fruit, caramel and an almost raisin-like juniper spice character. Hops are spicier and grassier like the English varieties, some floral hints as well. Citrus just a bit as well as nutty hints.

MF- Highly carbonated light-end body with a somewhat creamy feel to it. Just a slight bitterness.

DB- Not bad, a bit different from what I am used to for the style bust still within the boundaries for the most part.

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Photo of DrinkingDrake
3.82/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours out a nice woody red with a good amount of bubbly foam for the head. Foam dissipates pretty quickly to some scattered lacing.

Smells of sweet malts and a nice spice combination. Cinnamon, nutmeg and there is a little twist I can't quite pick out.

The taste has a toasty malts and some biscuit along with a smooth vanilla, buttery flavor. It finishes with a smooth bitterness. Some good hop balance with a robust base.

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Photo of Genuine
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

the pour resulted in a dark red/amber body with a light tan head, which was quickly dissipated.

Smell - sweet, almost reminds me of their Halloween Ale, but enough to tell the difference. malts dominate the nose with no evidence of hops. I kind of detect a hint of apple.

Taste - Follows through with the nose - very bready, malty, which turns in to a sweet sour, hoppy finish. Very nice and mouth watering sort of flavor, very nice. lingering flavors that are nice, goes well with the holidays. Again, maybe a hint of apple.

Mouthfeel - this one is light medium. Carbonation is nice and light, fine bubbles.

Drinkability - I can see having 2-3 of these in a session but certainly not the whole sixer. This is another solid brew from Gritty's. Reminds me a bit of their Halloween Ale, but it's different enough. Glad I got to try it, I might pick up another sixer!

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Photo of caddybuyer
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Ruddy bright amber pour with a nice creamy tan head. Filtered clarity. Nice looking brew.

S-Biscuit malts predominate. Slightly nutty, sweet and earthy. A bit underwhelming, it reminds me of a well done brown.

T-Nose carries over to the palate but the taste is spot on and refreshing. The bready malts yield a bit midway to a bit of fresh and slighly sour fruit and a buttery backdrop that closes out with a crisp dry slighly hopped finish.

M-Medium feel and carbonation.

D-This is an exceptionaly drinkable beer, and while not the most complex thing on the shelf, is charming in its quality and its drinkability. This reminds me a bit of their Halloween Ale, although I think this may be a tad bit smoother.

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Photo of EtOHMD
3.51/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle with freshness date Nov 2010 into tulip glass. Chestnut copper color opaque at top and clears towards the bottom. Sweet caramel smell, but not too strong. Bready, caramel flavor, with hints of raisin. Unique for christmas ales in that it's not really spicy. Crisp dry feel. Easily drinkable espeicially for christmas ales.

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Gritty McDuff's Christmas Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
3.8 out of 5 based on 195 ratings.
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