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 bob3701
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Pours a clear dark amber with reddish highlights with a small thick head that slowly goes into a film with very good lacing. Buttery toffee aroma. Slight malty sweetness mixed with a little citrus with a mild hoppy bitterness finish. Really enjoyed this brew. Could drink a few of these in a sitting.

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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 Durge
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark mahogany color, relatively clear with a fair off-white head and little sign of lacing. The aroma offers deep malt and light peach hops and juniper. The flavor brings malty licorice evergreen, slightly resinous but generally on the light side and fairly drinkable. The hop goodness is sweet and there's a bready barley-malt base with a touch of licorice. Though slightly different from the bottle version, still a very solid holiday brew.

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Photo of thecarster1
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a- bottle poured into a pint, one finger tan head that fades to a wispy layer of lace, deep clear chestnut brown color with highlights of tawny amber.

s- rich, loads of holiday spice, very bready, doughy, some vanilla sweetness, milk chocolate roast, not hoppy really, slight alcohol.

t- solid christmas beer, some roasted malts, vanilla, biscuit, slight alcohol, milk chocolate, slight bitterness on the end, finishes semi dry.

m- medium bodied.

d- solid drinkable christmas esb, not outstanding but drinkable, it really hits the spot on a cold snowy night.

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

A- Pours a clear deep copper to burgundy color with a large foamy head.

S- Sweet, notes of caramel and toffee, an earthy tea-like hoppiness...

T- Sweet and a bit fruity, biscuity malt, well balanced with a tea-like hoppiness. This brew really feels like a sweet black tea.

M- Lightly carbonated, medium bodied, a bit creamy and pleasant.

D- Pleasant, easy to drink, a nice example of an American ESB. There's a tug of war between the tea-like hoppiness and the sweet malt.

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

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Photo of morebeergood
3.87/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is one of the December craft beers of the month at West on Centre, a local restaurant in West Roxbury. Served in the bottle and poured into a pilsner style glass. Dark brown color with a medium sized head. Smelled of cinnamon and pine trees. Taste was perfect for this time of year: nutmeg, brown sugar, and other Christmas spices. Much heartier mouthfeel than other Xmas ales on the market. Due to its rich body and robust flavor, it may not be the best beer to pair with dinner. More of a dessert beer. A great cold weather, holiday brew. I just wish I could find more of it.

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Photo of Duhast500
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured From a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

The color is a dark amber color, clear with about two fingers of foamy white head, and some nice lacing

The smell is a little toasty with some slight bitterness to the aroma. The hops are just sitting in the background but there is some caramel hints there as well

The taste has some sweet malty flavor at first. There is a bit of caramel flavor with a toffee mixed in. Some nice bitter hops do present themselves a little after the first sip of two.

The feel of this beer is just right got this time of year. It has a bit more of a body than a fall of summer beer. It's something to have during the holiday season that is a bit more filling but drinks really well.

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Photo of Minotaur
3.66/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Both on cask at Winter Beer Fest in Philadelphia and a bottle in the pint glass.

Pours with the carbonation and head of a light colored birch beer. The head is at first billowing but then settles to just some spots of white-gray atop the deep rust colored beer.

The aroma is very malty with some raisin notes.

The taste is a good balance of malt and hops. Both are present and strong but even each other out. The lasting finish is a bitter hop taste. There is a bit of prune/raisin flavor along with a bit of spice. But it is not overly seasoned unlike some seasonal ales. There may also be a hint of cedar or spruce in there: adding to the bite.
The mouthfeel is a bit dense despite the fizz, which adds a nice contrast in sensation.

It is very drinkable and smooth for the amount of bitterness. I have had more unique winter ales, but this one has a strong sense of completion and flavor character which is memorable.

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Photo of bum732
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper red, decent creamy head that dissipates slightly. Smells of caramel and toffee sweetness, some dark fruits, earthy hops, touch of butterscotch. Tastes of sweet caramel malt, some dark fruits on the backbone. Hints of pear and touch of biscuit. A nice earthy and almost grassy bitterness balances the sweetness nicely. Finishes fairly sweet with more caramel and earthiness. Nice medium to full body, carbonation appropriate.

A really nice beer. Heavy on the caramel for an ESB, but the hops provide a nice balance. Not sure if i love the dark fruits, presumably from high lovibond crystal, but overall a solid beer.

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

12 oz. bottle with November '09 notched; sampled March '09. Brewed with UK pale and crystal malts, roasted barley, Cluster, Styrian and Yakima Goldings, and Saaz hops. OG 1.064, FG 1.016, 28.5 IBUs. The beer is a crystal-clear dark ruby, with low carbonation and a finger of tan head. Little sweet in the nose, malty, with fruity alcohol, floral hops and dark crystal malts. Similar on the palate, with leafy/floral, almost spicy hops, sweet crystal malts, a hint of roast and a sturdy bitterness. Flashes of alcohol here and there. It has a medium body with medium carbonation and a dry finish. This beer is a nice blend of ESB and winter warmer characteristics that, while not a quaffer, is definitely not a sipper either. A tasty winter ale.

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

Pours a deep chestnut brown with a modest off-white head.

Buttery and malty aroma thanks to that good ol' Maine staple, Ringwood yeast.

Flavor is nice. Tastes like a pretty traditional English ESB ale. Toasty malt overtones, roasty undertones. Hop presence is earthy and muffled. Mouthfeel is excellent. This beer fills the mouth nicely, with good medium-low carbonation.

This is definitely one of Gritty's best offerings. Similar to the Halloween Ale, but better, with a different hop profile and more maltiness.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.66/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at location in Freeport.

Pours a dark amber color with a huge fluffy head, fades slowly, leaves some patchy lacing.

Smell is mostly malt, this isn't a winter warmer or anything of the such that usually populate winter selections, so don't expect any holiday spice (I knew this going in though).

Taste is mostly malt (gee, sounds familiar) with a bit of a hop bite that lends some citrus elements (not too much though), definitely leaves a bitter aftertaste that is easy on the tongue. A refreshing change of pace from the "norm" of winter.

I think I prefer the Halloween Ale a bit more even though they are quite similar, so if you enjoyed that beer from Gritty's then you'll definitely enjoy this one as well.

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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 ToasterChef
3.71/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at the Great Lost Bear in Portland, Maine. The beer is a clear brown color with hints of ruby. Almost no head, just a skim of bubbles on top. The aroma isn't anything significant, just some maltiness and a few spices, but nothing strong enough to identify. The flavor is driven by the malts. It has a molasses sweetness present throughout. There are some bitter spices the make their way forward in the flavor near the end (although they are present as soon as you taste the beer, they aren't as strong). There is a crisp clarity to the flavor that also has some esters. It has a fairly light body and maybe a slightly above medium amount of carbonation. This is a very drinkable beer; there is nothing about it that you could grow tired of. I feel that the Gritty's Christmas is a pretty unique winter beer in the Portland microbrew landscape. It isn't strong like the Shipyard Prelude or Geary's HSA, nor is it full of winter spices like the Geary's and Shipyard's standard winter ales. And for that, it is a recommendable session beer for those cold Maine nights.

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Photo of CheckMate
5/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz brown bottle obtained at McKinnon's in Salem, NH. pours a ruby red with a half inch of off white head that slowly dissipated. nutty, fruity and chocolatey scents with a touch of diacetyl and hops. tastes of chocolate, fruity and nuttiness, a touch of earthiness from the hops, and a slight alcohol bite. clean finish, moderate carbonation. great beer a bit of a sipper but the first sip invites another.


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Photo of flanmedic51
4.87/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Received a glass from cask at the Gritty's Pub in Freeport, ME. According to the server, it's at cellar temp, just above 40F.

Appearance is dark red with 1" white head that laces the glass nicely while drinking.

MMMM...the smell...It's like smelling a bouquet of flowers. Very floral with a hint of alcohol.

The taste was almost as good as the smell. Malty deliciousness with pear & fig notes and a subtle spiciness. Some diacetyl.

Very smooth mouthfeel, low carbonation, with a slight bitter finish. The great deep malty/fruity flavor lingers on the tongue.

I was absolutely blown away by this seasonal having it off cask. It was an awesome experience, a total flavor explosion that cannot be re-created via a bottle from a 6 pack, although still delicious. When I say it smelled like a bouquet of flowers...dammit, I'm telling you it did!! Always a huge fan of this Gritty's seasonal and probably my favorite with the Halloween Ale a close 2nd.

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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 beer2day
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium reddish brown with thin head. Moderate lacing.

Nose is slighty sweet, with malt dominating hops. Maybe a hint of cinnamon.

I guess this is winter warmer meets esb. Robustly bitter at the end with hints of the spice of a winter warmer. Initial hit is nicely balanced with the malt predominating the taste in the middle. Then the bitters kick in, like a good esb.

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Photo of duffextracold
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- pours almost no head, leaves some thin lacing. medium amber brown color. a few lonely bubbles making their way to the top.

S- smells sweet, like butterscotch or hazelnut, with a hint of hop bitterness.

T- tastes like it smells, sweet up front, with a taste somewhere between butterscotch and hazelnut. some spice, bitter finish.

M- thinner body, medium carbonation.

D- not bad, the spice is well balanced. i like that mysterious sweetness.

thanks donkeyrunner

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

Off the tap this one was a deep garnet color with a light beige/off white head that left nice lacing of the collar. The aroma was grainy and dry, roasted malt and sweet malt with some general hops. The flavors were similar, lots of caramel malt and roasted malt with a bitter hops finish. Rather standard but pleasant enough. My main complaint was it had nothing particularly Christmas-like about it. The mouthfeel was a little light for the style, the carbonation was good and the body medium/full.

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Photo of Yeastcakes
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Serving notes: Hefe glass, cellar temp
Aroma: blend of alcohol, carmel malts and spices
Appearance: dark brownish amber, clear, light head upon pour, disappears relatively quickly
Mouthfeel: a strong medium mouthfeel, light carbonation.
Taste: Very balanced spices, carmel malty sweetness and alcohol just as in the flavor. Very slight roast in the background. Slight hop bitterness keeps everything even.
Drinkability: a decently filling and warming beer for winter, but one that definitely allows for a second pint.

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Photo of NEhophead
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 fl oz brown bottle; served in a tumbler.

Pours a dark oak with shades of maple and burgundy. Plenty of noticeable, active carbonation. Rather creamy, light brown head that remains stable at a quarter of an inch high. A few trails of patchy lacing, but nothing all that impressive.

Sweet, creamy toasted malts. Noticeable diacetyl, which pleasantly rounds out a mildly dry, floral hop presence. Light notes of gingerbread and nutmeg.

Caramel and brown sugar flavored toasted malt character with a hefty presence of dry nuts; especially hazlenut. Diacetyl-brushed biscuit flavor. The floral hop presence also brings a bright citrus flavor that is a bit watery and retracts from the deep, nutty flavors. Fairly smooth finish with notes of cream in the aftertaste.

Medium bodied; dry but smooth on the palate. Although the citrus flavor detracts from the creamy toasted malts in flavor, it doesn't cause a thinness or watery texture. A nice, stable mouthfeel for the style.

Not a bad ESB overall. The biggest flaw is the hop flavors for the most part. The citrus flavors are watery and overshadow some of the very pleasantly dry, rich malt flavors. I would order another if I was in the mood for an ESB.

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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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