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 Sammy
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a darkbrown wth a bit of fizziness, looks better aged than its half year storage. Neutral in the aroma. More or less medium mouthfeel. Taste is good, and drinkability good, based on malt, a bit of roasted malt, touch of nuttiness, background but significant bitterness in mid-sip, some chocolate, scotch-like something.
Bee-aye #2800

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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 oriolesfan4
4.31/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had their Halloween Ale so I tried this one as well.. seems like they skipped Thanksgiving Ale but maybe they'll have it next year.

This a beautiful beer.. pours a deep red with a nice head to it. Taste is somehow subtle, yet present all the way through the drinking in a good way. No overly abundant tastes that stand out but juts lots of hops and malts shining through making for a great tasting beer. A unique beer and I'm glad I got to try it out.. super drinkable.

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Photo of oberon
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a clear dark amber with a initial huge tan head. It eventually shrinks down into a smallish creamy covering that left good lacing. Aroma is sweet caramel maltiness, cherries, spice, and some fairly light hops.

Taste is caramel sweetness with hints of roast and spice, a prominent splash of tart cherry and a slight taste of butter. The sweetness is well balanced by a light hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied but not overly carbonated, giving it a full feeling over the tongue.

Not the most full flavored ESB but it seems to be well balanced with a nice assortment of hearty festive flavors for the holidays, plus it drinks pretty well.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep copper color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, nuts, spices, some fruit and a good amount of hops.

T: The taste is malty with flavors of caramel, roasted nuts, tea and touches of fruit and spice. There's a good hops presence that provides a nice balance but isn't overly strong. The after-taste is slightly bitter.

M: Smooth and very crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and dry.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, I had a feeling this was going to taste a lot like their Halloween Ale but while there are some similarities, it's not close to it as I thought it would be. This is a good hearty winter seasonal that's worth drinking for while.

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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 BuckeyeNation
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Burnt orange with dark bronze-like undertones. The three finger lid is peanut shell in color and features a mound of glassy bubbles that gradually loses altitude, resulting in broken sheets of tacky lace. This is a darker than usual ESB thanks to the use of roasted malt.

It's no surprise, then, that Christmas Ale smells a little brown ale-like. Only a little, though. It definitely doesn't smell roasted malty, since I'm sure that pale and crystal make up the lion's share of the grain bill. Unfortunately, the hops don't contribute much to the nose.

This holiday seasonal is good beer that tastes better than it smells. Before cracking the crown, I questioned the wisdom of brewing a Christmas ale devoid of spices. GMBC has pulled it off by adding an abundance of ingredients in exactly the right proportions. The beer is flavorful and hearty and that's all that matters.

As for the roasted maltiness, I'm fully on board, even though it moves things closer to brown ale territory than ESB territory. The sweet, buttery nuttiness is present on the palate as well, along with an herbal-fruity-grassy hoppiness that comes from a trans-Atlantic hop bill (Cluster, Styrian Goldings, Saaz and Yakima Goldings). If this is a brown ale, it's a hoppier than usual brown ale. Works for me.

The mouthfeel does just enough to be considered good. It's medium for the style... no matter which one of the above styles one chooses to use. More fullness would have allowed me to feel comfortable with the above score rather than uncertain.

Gritty McDuff's Halloween Ale is good and Gritty McDuff's Christmas Ale is equally tasty. Two beers probably aren't enough for a sweeping generalization to be made, but this brewery appears to be solid. I'd love to see what else they can do.

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Photo of smcolw
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reasonably clear; deep dark amber color (almost brown). Appropriate head that leaves some spotty lace on the glass.

A fairly malty offering.

This is surprisingly dry beer. The finish remains dry but with a slight creaminess. Light hop, but only at the end of the tasting.

There are no flaws in this beer, yet I believe that it is not anything more than middle of the road. I can enjoy it, but am not overjoyed by it.

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Photo of Jason
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
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.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.7/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

There was only a trace of foam laying across the top of the beer when it was brought to me. Color was a deep amber with NE-quality clarity and ruby highlights. Nose was much spicier than I anticipated. I liked the intermingling of the cinnamon with some sort of mint, spearmint, perhaps. Definitely not peppermint. Mouthfeel was full with a taste like a chocolate candy cane. Maybe I was wrong about it not being peppermint. It had a minty flavor on the tongue, at any rate. Finish had a breathtakingly minty quality. Damn, was this tasty! Do they bottle this one? Or better yet, put it in a CAN? Very refreshing, in a minty sort of way.

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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 jwc215
4.27/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best by Nov. '08:

Pours rubyish brown with a thin tan head. A trace amount of lacing sticks.

The smell is toffeeish, earthy, lightly minty. Fairly mild, esp. at first, but pleasant.

The taste is toffeeish with an earthy, minty hop background. Near full-bodied, it is a tasty, well-balanced, very easy drinking ale. The alcohol is just enough to give it a nice warming touch without interfering in the taste or drinkability.

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Photo of Gavage
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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Photo of WesWes
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle marked November 2010. Sampled on December 10, 2009. The pour is an attractive ruby red with excellent clarity and ab out a quarter inch light tan head that fizzles after a couple moments. The aroma is moderately hopped with a variety of bitter scents along with caramel malts. A mouthfeel that can be characterized as medium to heavy and maybe a tad creamy. The taste is more like a stong ale and less like a spicy Christmas ale but it is likeable. Gritty McDuff's makes a decent bitter ale and this is a slightly more pungent variation on their most recognized recipe.

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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 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 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 ppoitras
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle purchased as a single from Julio's, Marlboro, MA, I think. Notched best by Nov06.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" tan head over the clear dark amber/copper brew, which has some leafy floaties in it, not sure what's up there. Dense head lasts nicely, with heavy foamy lacing. Aroma is ample grains, with a bit of butteriness, it would seem. Taste is malty, with some dark fruitiness, medium bitterness, and a bit of a weird aftertaste. Hearty grains, a shot of dark fruits, with a dry finish and lingering warming. Mouthfeel and drinkability fine, just that aftertaste kind of quashes things a bit. Not bad, but frankly on-site is the place to drink Gritty's brews, esp on cask.

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Photo of Brad007
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ruby-red color with a one-finger head. Aroma is kind of spicy with a subtle bitterness in the nose. The taste is bitter with some spiciness upfront and fades to a bitterness at the back of the tongue. A second sip confirms many of the same characteristics. It is definitely a bitter but for some reason, I can't really taste much beyond. A decent, drinkable bitter that goes well on a cold winter night.

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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 Jwale73
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a standard pint glass. Poured a dark amber color. Voluminous off-white head, settled to a quarter inch and ending in a thin layer of foam. Sticky lacing adhered to side of glass during the tasting. Scent of hops and something sweet; I would have to reiterate the burnt toffee described in previous reviews. Taste similar to nose with perhaps a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon. Very pleasant mouthfeel - a bit of carbonation, but also a smooth, full-bodied feeling. I really like this offering from Gritty's and would definitely consider this an excellent seasonal session brew.

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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 Gusler
4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

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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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