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

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Gritty McDuff's Christmas AleGritty McDuff's Christmas Ale
Very Good
196 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 196 |  Reviews: 124
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 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 Estarrio
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fittingly enough, this is my Christmas day '07 review...

A - Ruddy brown with ruby notes and a big, persistent tan head. This is a fine looking ESB.

S - Sweet malt, caramel, toffee, dark fruit, tart cherry and bread. Also a bit of butter (diacytel) in the nose, lending to a hint of nuttiness.

T - Caramel malt with toffee and vanilla. Dark fruit esters with hints of plum and cherry. The sweetness is well balanced by a bitter hop aftertaste. There is also a subtle spice profile; nutmeg, allspice, cinamin...but fortunately not overdone.

M - Moderate carbonation and a medium body create just the right mouthfeel for the style.

D - This is a highly sessionable brew

I've been impressed with the few offerings that I've tried from Gritty McDuff's. Their Halloween Ale renewed my interest in ESB's and prompted my renewed interest in balance over extreme. Not being a huge fan of winter warmers, I'm very pleased to see them stick with the ESB style that they do so well.

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

The beer came in a darker amber color close to brownish. Not too much head, but well enough to look nice.

The beer smelt just like most winter ales, a lot of winterseque hops.

With most of Gritty's beer, they come out tasting dry. With that said the beer tasted just fine dry, There is a little creaminess.

Overall the beer was decent. It is a good beer to sit and enjoy in little Pat's Pizza in Orono Maine on tap.

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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 sraimondi
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
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.


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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 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 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 SixpointJMH
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

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

Appearance- Pours a medium to dark brown color with a small offwhite head.

Smell- Coffee seems to be strong in the nose, heavy earthy odors.

Taste- Strong hints of toffee, coffee, some subtle hints of roasted nuts and cream.

Mouthfeel- Covers entire palate, very good balanced flavor.

Drinkability- A delicious brew one I highly recomend.

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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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Photo of beckje01
3.96/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Nice ruby color with a thin head.

S- Some spice in there with a nice malty backbone.

T- Good balance with very nice malts, the spice I smelled isn't really here in the taste but thats good as this is a great example of what an ESB should taste like.

M- Slightly to thin but good activity.

D- Can't ask for any better from an ESB for drinkability. Overall a good example of the style.

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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 Manosbeeroffate
3.91/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Leftover christmas beer from Jess's Market here in town. Pours quite dark brown. Smells a bit nutty but not very strong. Tastes like sweet malt, a bit of nutty flavor and finishes a little bitter but all very well balanced. A pretty decent beer. If I can find more (which I probably can) I'll get more.

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

A: Into a pint glass it poured brown with ruby undertones and a small white head that disappeared quickly, leaving a little lacing.

S: Mild all around and deriving from the malt -- caramel and nutty were the scents that came to mind.

T: Very much like a Brown Ale -- sweet, nutty caramel malt flavors dominate up front, with more buttery toffee and butterscotch following and a slight bitterness at the back of the tongue rounding it off. Good balance, though I expected a tad bit more hop bitterness and/or spice.

M: Light to moderate in body and well carbonated.

D: Pretty good. A tad bit sweet for my quaffing pleasure, but it's light yet flavorful and thus can be consumed pretty easily.

Notes: If you like ESBs or English Brown Ales, you can't go wrong with this beer. It's not extreme in any way or terribly unique, but it's a decently balanced, malty beer that is pretty drinkable. It seemed to go very well with smoked cheddar cheese.

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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 orfeu
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixpack of this yesterday, and decided I'd try it on tap at Cole's to see what it's like "fresh" and "as intended" before opening a bottle. The pint arrived dark -- darker than expected for a purported ESB, at least -- a ruddy bronze witha yellowed-parchment, creamy-dense foam cap. Aromas of candied orange peel and buttermints, some caramel maltiness, and a whiff of bergamot-infused tea leaves. Sturdy flavor, with mild citric and leafy-spice hops, candied citrus fruit rinds, and just a dash of butterscotch/caramel. This seems pretty typically "English," except there's just a bit too much spicy bite to the hops. Also, the mouthfeel is far too heavy to be mistaken for anything other than an American craft beer. It's big, imposing, and slick -- almost syrupy. Much bigger mouthfeel than most ESBs I've tried. This is not actually a bad thing for a winter seasonal, but it would be a bit thick for any other time of year (I noticed the bottles I bought are supposed to hold up through September 2007). But since the timing is right, I call this one suitably and seasonably drinkable right now.

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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 kennyo
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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

Dark copper body with ruby-red highlights and a little over an inch of offwhite head. Smells roasty with some diacetyl. Scent is not that strong. Tastes roasty, malty, yeasty with hints of spice and diacetyl. Medium in body. Tasty little brew. I like it, though not as much as I like the Halloween ale.

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Photo of kelticblood
4.09/5  rDev +7.6%
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.

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Gritty McDuff's Christmas Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 196 ratings
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