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 jim102864
2.36/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured this into my Schlafly nonic glass, and really more due to my aggressive pouring than the beer being vivacious and ballsy, the head was big, bubbly, and three fingers. It settled down of course. Chestnut brown color.

Nose was metallic of coins and aluminum. I'm not sure what to make of this beer at this point as there is no evidence of spice or pine nuts, etc as one would expect from a Christmas ale. Very poor in the aroma dept and I've graded it accordingly.

Taste was thin at best. Only the vaguest hint of piney hopes and little maltiness.

The mouthfeel was as transparent and lifeless as the taste. What a disaster. Either something happened in shipping or Gritty made a bad batch but shipped it anyway. Watery and listless.

Drinkability - obviously this was a loser but for the head. A total yawn fest. If I'm offered one gratis I'll review this one again, but c'mon Gritty, you can do much better than this.

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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 williamherbert
2.88/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Deep red color with very little head. No lace. Hazy look.

Sweet, malty smell. Has a bit of berry/cherry. Sweet fruitiness.

Sweet and spicy malt taste, but with a puckery, berry kick. Too sweet for me. No bitter balance. Definite cherry flavor.

Thick and syrupy. Feels like a liqueur or non-beer. Too sweet to have too many of these.

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Photo of LarryV
2.93/5  rDev -22.9%
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.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

An extra from donkeyrunner
Poured like a root beer color with a small white head. Nose was very faint. Taste has maybe some cinnamon or nutmeg with some graininess and a faint metallic twang to it. A little thinner bodied than I expected. Not my first choice for a warmer but worth a shot

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Photo of PatandDavid
3.03/5  rDev -20.3%
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.

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Photo of kkosmoski
3.08/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Longneck into Duvel tulip:

A - Dark red with cream colored head. About an inch and a half of head to start, dies down to a covering after a few minutes. Some stick on the sides.
S - All malt. Candy-like sweetness, dried fruit, raisins, caramel.
T - All malt again. Caramel and candy sweetness to start, sturdy malt throughout, and finishing with a touch of toast. Slight bitterness in the finish and a bit warming.
M - Medium to medium-full with ample carbonation. There is a slight astringent feel that lingers in the aftertaste.
D - This is not one of my favorite styles, so I would probably not have more than one. The alcohol warming is obvious and the lingering bitter/astringent finish of this beer doesn't really do it for me.

Note - This beer seems more belgian dubbel in style to me than ESB. Mabye they change the recipe from year to year - I will have to do some investigating. Not a bad beer if you are into this style, but it doesn't really do it for me tonight. I would probably pass if I came across it again.

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Photo of mikereaser
3.1/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - pours a deep mahogany with little foam, only a fine layer of bubbles

S - sweet aroma, caramel malts, maybe chocolate

T - sweet caramel and chocolate malts up front with a bit of bitterness in the finish

M/D - overall not a bad beer, its easy to drink, but I guess I was expecting more in the spice department, something more holiday like.

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Photo of bjohnson
3.12/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Gotta love a label with Santa on it. If the fat man gives his approval, I'll try it.

A: Pours a dark amber almost reddish brown with a tiny head that dissipates pretty quickly. Also a bit of fruit too, towards the end.

S: Smells of tons of malts with a little spiciness thrown in thereas well.

T: Taste starts off with a malt beginning the a lot of spices, caramel, and ending with a little bitterness.

M & D: The mouthfeel is pretty good although its not as bitter as I thought it was going to be, being an ESB. I was hoping for more of a heavier beer with a load more taste. Not a bad one though, probably would have a few of these.

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Photo of nick76
3.16/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

The aroma is malty with a toasted malt, caramel, nuts, hops, and yeast. The appearance is amber brown with an average head. The flavor is like the aroma and slightly watery. The flavor is decent but not great. The palate is smooth from the carbonation but too thin. Overall I am not that crazy about it but I can drink it.

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Photo of geexploitation
3.23/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a bright, cherry-mahogany brown with a good-sized head that fades to almost nothing quite quickly. The nose is sweet nickel, caramel malts and a light, seemingly Ringwood note. On the palate, dry malts play with sour English ale notes. There is a bit of malt bitterness (roasted malts?) in the back. Hops come out toward the end, but never achieve any really juicy, tasty volume levels. Mouthfeel is a touch acidic (in a good way), but the malts are not fleshed out very well and the carbonation is just medium -- which in this case seems either too weak or too strong, but not just right. Overall, this is an inoffensive beer but also a very mediocre one.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.26/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear, mahogany-hued body with a small, bubbly, white head.

Smell: A pretty wimpy aroma, I dare. Just a light hint of biscuity malts and a pinch of spices.

Taste: Biscuity, light toasty caramel maltiness, though, overall, it's kinda light. Slight sweetness. Faint fruitiness. Mild spiciness, mild bitterness. Clean, dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Nothing bad, but I could definitely stand a bit more -- more of everything. Even if I get my ass thrown onto Santa's Naughty List I just had to speak my mind about it. Perhaps the oil crunch is hitting us, even Jolly Old Saint Nick, in ways we never could have imagined, but I have a sneaky suspicion he's holding back.

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Photo of mountdew1
3.3/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. Looked like a root beer in color, slightly browner than a cola. Poured a nice 1 finger head that lasted about 1/2 the beer with lacing during the rest of the beer. Had a slight cream aroma to the smell. Nothing really stood out about the taste, either bad or good. Slight undertones of something in the flavor I couldn't place. Felt fine in the mouth, and fairly easy to drink. Not my first choice for a flavorful beer, but no complaints at all.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a clear, dark, cherry-apple color with a micro-fizzy flat tan head that barely covered the surface and quickly dissipated without leaving any lacing. Visible carbonation was light. Overall a very nice deep coloring saved this from just an average appearance.

S: The nose however didn't fair as good. A light cookie sweetness and caramel apples are present but was pretty mundane overall.

T: a dry munich malting upon first tasting with some dry caramel apple fruitiness. A woodsy flavor type hopping and sweet caramel and cola highlights are also present. A light toasted breadiness with fresh raisins and fruitcake flavor rounds things out here. Better then average flavor wise, dry, warm, and not overly spicy were its strong points.

M: a light fizziness with a slick texture and a warming cola and caramel lacing.

D: Good for a try at best as with most xmas beers but not one you want to continually drink. A fair and good drink overall with its warm and toned down nature lets you enjoy this without being assaulted by a barrage of spices that distracts from the flavor.

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Photo of TLove
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle to Palm snifter.

A great beer for drinking just about any time of the year, as I've come to think of this as more of an IPA with winter spices than a Winter Warmer or ESB.

Pours light brown with some hints of red and a thin head. The nose has a bit of maltiness and some grainy winter spices, with a nice, buttery touch and piercing alcohol in the hops.

A little round in the mouth, balanced by a wheat-like taste and some crispness in the carbonation. Finishes pretty well. Again, like an IPA with winter spices. Hard to argue with a few of these.

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Photo of meathookjones
3.41/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled from a 22oz bottle. Dark red colored body with a tall off white fluffy head that gives the glass a decent coating of lace. Aroma is very mild with spice and caramel malts. Light fruit notes as well as some bitterness. The taste was similar with sweet malts and fruits being complemented by a light spiciness. Some chocolate notes were noticeable at times. Finished off caramel fruit with a light spice. Solid body and pretty smooth. Easy enough drinking though the mildness of it could make it a boring drink early in a session. Overall though a decent brew.

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Photo of Freshie
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber color with slight head. Varying size bubbles dissipate to the sides somewhat quickly.

Sweet malt smell. Somewhat like candy, maybe honey. Also, maybe a little nut.

The taste is a smokey/sweet malt. Spiced hops comes afterwards with a very active carbonation. Adds bite the hop middle-taste. Medium-bodied.

Very malty but the hops adds spice, in combination with that biting carbonation.

I would suggest some pizza with this holiday brew.


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Photo of CHADMC3
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Gritty McDuff’s Christmas Ale (2007)

· Appearance: Walnut brown with a light creamy head quickly subsiding. Consistant, but few carbonation bubbles continuously rising. Lacing is faint but remains.
· Aroma: Smells bitter, perhaps some caramel and light spice hints.
· Taste: Substantial bitterness , perhaps some woody notes, but also rather nutty? Assuming a strong hop presence on bitterness and flavor on back of the tongue.
· Mouthfeel: Perhaps the best aspect of this beer, clear carbonation, medium body, but noticeable bitterness. All encompassing on the palate.
· Drinkability: Likely sticking to one of these Gritty’s. Seems to be fairly consistent with esb’s, with which my tasting experience is limited.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.47/5  rDev -8.7%
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%.

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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 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 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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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ya gotta love these combo packs. You get to try three or four beers in one 12 pack. This winter seasonal has a nice red color with a small head. It has a predominately spicy aroma. The taste is a sweet malty flavor, with a little hops thrown in. Nice mouthfeel, only a little carbonation. I liked this beer, but I drank it after Gritty's Scottish ale, and it suffers in comparison.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Gritty McDuff's- Christmas Ale

A- Beautiful ruby red with a huge frothy head.
S- Molasses and caramel malt with a touch of brown sugar. Slight spiciness; nutmeg and cinnamon.
T- Brown sugar, caramel, and toffee malt with a touch of vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and butter.
M- Bitter up front with a sweet buttery body. Flavors really kick in near the back end.

Overall- The 2007 batch just hit the stores. Not bad. I'll be drinking this on tap from the brewpub when I go up to Portland.

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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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