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

Gritty McDuff's Christmas Ale
12 oz brown bottle
Best before Nov 09 notched on the side label
Served in a 20 oz tulip pint glass

I brought back two bottles of these from Portland, Maine this past weekend. A few weeks after Christmas I know, but I could care less. I've been waiting all week to rip into these beers.

Pours a deep chestnut brown with a decent head on top. Some patterns of sticky lace on the side of the glass.

Malty nose with a whiff of buttery goodness.

Pretty classic Gritty McDuff's mouthfeel or any number of Maine brews for that matter. Distinctive and noticeable flavors of Ringwood yeast maybe?.

Buttery, malty and rather smooth overall. Nicely malted with flavors of caramel and sugar. Nice hop finish.


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Photo of Risser09
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a mexican tulip - Fridge temp - 2008

Appearance: Pours a garnet red and brown color with a nice 4" tall head. It shows great retention. The head is light tan and lasts and lasts. Stringy lace remains behind.

Smell: Brown sugar, caramel malt, caramel. Sugary sweet with some nutmeg and almond. Sweet.

Taste: Earthy and roasty. Dark pretzels, roasted barley, fig and a small amount of citrus. Very nice for a christmas ale. Rice aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Slick, smooth, sweet and spicy. Coats the mouth and swallows easy. Mild alcohol presence.

Drinkability: Very good. I usually don't like winter ales but this one is quite drinkable. Pretty complex and smooth. A beer worth drinking in multiples.

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Photo of bigkahunas4
4.4/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tuilp.

Came out of the bottle a caramel color, however, turned to jet black once it was settling in the glass. A nice, one finger, sandy head emerged. Retention was medium, lacing was adequate. Medium strong nose, some buttery figs and sweet candy notes.

Very smooth and well balanced brew. Flavors being with a sweet nuttiness, moving to some woody bitterness, before finishing with some mild honey. Really complex and flavorful for a relatively low ABV (Wait did I just catch a kick of Brett?). Brew is smooth, tingly, with some nice stickiness.

Heck yes! My girlfriend got this for me along with some other random singles - and I probably never would've ever bought this. This is incredibly drinkable, and is extremely sessionable. If you're looking for a nice candied warmer to drink a few of - reach for this!

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

Very nice, deep bronze color. Fairly decent aroma-malty with a slight metallic odor. Solid malt flavor with an adequete hop bite. Somewhat fruity. Still with the metallic twinge. Lingering bitterness in the finish. Decent enough body, slightly creamy and fairly smooth. Really a notch above average overall.

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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 Jayli
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a deep chestnut, with some ruby highlights to it. The is clear throughout with a fine, thin head. There is a slight reminent of lacing. Nose has a touch of caramel-like malt, and spices but hops are more prevalent. Flavor has some caramel aspects, hops, and spices. Medium body with low carbonation. Mouthfeel was great - not too light, not too heavy. This would be an excellent session beer!

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

The recipe for the Gritty's Christmas Ale has probably changed a bit over the years, since I remember this a bit differently. Nevertheless, the beer pours a nice clear mahogany amber color with a smallish tan colored head, some retention, not much lacing. The beer is moderately carbonated, just a tad bit syrupy, and nicely medium bodied. The nose right from the pour has a bit of a metallic aroma but this soon segues into a nice full palated, floral maltiness with some definite buttery diacetyl.

The taste is nicely balanced. The beer is a bit creamier than crisp, but the traditional malts blend nicely with some spiceness. There is a good amount of caramel, butterscotch, some spices perhaps in the allspice family, some drying hop presence towards the finish. The beer is a traditional interpretation of an English ESB, with a nice efforvesence in the mouthfeel, a nice drying finish, slightly bittering hops coupled with the nice buttery diacetyl. A nice find. L'Chaim

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Photo of tmoneyba
3.62/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from World of Beer, Clearwater, FL.

Pours a clear brown color with an average frothy off-white head that mostly lasted with good lacing. Moderate toasted malt, caramel and spice aroma. Medium body with a sticky texture and soft carbonation. Medium spicy sweet flavor with a medium spicy sweet finish of moderate duration.

Good drinkable beer.

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Photo of gford217
4.07/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle courtesy of Secret Santa lackenhauser poured into a pint glass. No better time than Christmas to crack this one open.

Pours a clear copper with a very small off-white head that recedes to a ring quickly leaving very little lacing.

Aroma is really interesting with three distinct things going on. First is the slightly toasted character that underlies everything else. Second is the opening floral hop aroma that gives way to the third element of the sweetness of caramel malts.

The taste starts with the big earthy and floral hops and gives way to a generous caramel malt backbone. The taste also featured a definite nutty character and finished with a slight hop bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and extremely crisp with lots of carbonation.

This is another interesting Christmas ale and a very enjoyable ESB. It's also my first offering from Gritty and I'll definitely be trying to find some others.

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Photo of philbe311
4.06/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - A finger and a half of fluffy white head off of a relatively hard pour... Reddish amber color... Very slow, very small carbonation bubbles along the sides of the glass... Clings to glass... Solid lacing...

S - Subtle but complex... Intriguing... Earthy floral notes are first and foremost... Muted hard candies... Malt... Ginger... Piney hops are detectable as well...

T - A near perfect blend of spicieness, maltiness, and a slight hoppy backbone... Biscuit... Apple... Roasted malt... Caramel... Minor hints of dark fruit...

M - Medium bodied... A tad on the dry side... Lush carbonation... Slightly puckering... Smooth... Warming... Crisp... Very good...

D - This is a great winter beer... Above average in all categories and slightly unique in terms of typical winter beers... Highly drinkable and still sessionable at 6.2% ABV... I had never heard of this beer or brewery prior to receiving this as part of a recent SEPA case split, but am highly impressed with my introduction to Gritty McDuff...

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I got this brew from lackenhauser, Thanks Steve!

12oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

L - hazed amber color with a beige head that thinned out after a little while.

S - mostly a bready malt aroma with some earthy/floral hops.

T - sweet malty flavor upfront with some bitterness kicking in on the back end.

F - medium bodied with light carbonation.

D - it went down pretty easy.

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

Picked this one up at Party Source.

12 oz. bottle poured into a nonic. Best Enjoyed Before November of 09 notched on the side.

Pours a clear deep amber hue with a thick two finger light khaki colored head that takes a while to die down to a thin layer of foam. A fair amount of sticky lacing remains on the sides of the glass, a nice looking beer for sure. Typical ESB smell with some butter, caramel malts, and floral hops. A sweet nutty aroma with a good amount of earth in the nose as well. Taste starts with some spicy hops, toffee, and tart apples. Midway some roasted malts and biscuits emerge. Aftertaste is slightly metallic with some gritty hops and a sweet nutty flavor. Medium body with a creamy feel and a stronger than needed carbonation. A nice drinking ESB, but I do prefer the Halloween Ale to this.

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

L: Pours a nice amber-reddish-brown color with a short and medium bodied white colored head that has some lacing down the glass.
S: Smells of sweet caramel malts, some nice bitter roasted malts, and some nice earthy/floral hops at the end of the nose.
T: There is a nice mix of sweet and bitter malts that mix well together. A nice floral hoppy finish makes it an interesting beer.
M: Very smooth and the right amount of carbonation.
D: Pretty drinkable as the malt mixing is really nice.

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

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a 20oz imperial pint. Thanks to Ineedabeerhere for the trade & hook-up!

A: Pours a clear, rusty/tarnished copper color with a creamy, one finger thick, light tan head that evapotates quickly and leaves a tiny amount of lace on the glass. Carbonation is present and somewhat lazy.

S: Decent aroma of toasted malt mixing it up with some tart apple and biscuit. Caramel, nuts, and toffee begin to emerge as it warms. Floral hoppiness.

T: Pretty much mirrors the smell. Pleasant roasted/toasted malt flavors as well as a bit of sweet caramel and fresh baked biscuit. Apple and a touch of tangy berry, as well.

M: Tangy, spicy, and prickly. Decent amount of dry & astringent bitterness that is tempered by a touch of sweetness. Surprisingly oily and sticky. Finishes dry, toasty, and tangy.

D: I was hoping for a touch more hoppiness in the smell and taste, but the lively mouthfeel more than made up for it. Enjoyable.

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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 donkeyrunner
3.99/5  rDev +5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a thin beige head that quickly evaporated into a dark amber colored beer. Smells like cognac, raisins, nutmeg and amber malt extract.

Tastes fruity and heavily of bread--like drinking a fuitcake. Holiday spices are there but they play a minor role. Light carbonation. Thick, wet mouthfeel and a warming butterscotch taste with swallow.

More drinkable than most holiday brews due to subtlty of xmas spices. Good beer.

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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 Hojaminbag
4.07/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Body is a mix of burnt orange and brown. Has about a finger of off-white head that leaves only irregular spots of lacing.

Aroma reveals a biscuity malt character, some hops, and some spiciness in there.

Flavor is pretty nice. The biscuity flavor also reveals some roasted character. Flavors of spices are definitely noticeable and hop bitterness runs throughout.

Medium bodied, slightly dry finish.

This beer is really drinkable, a pretty good ESB. If you've tried the Halloween beer, this one is very similar to it. I liked this one better though.

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Photo of billybob
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a reddish brown in color small light tan head and minimal lacing. faint smell mostly of roasted malt and touch of caramel. crisp and dry tasting on the palate with a roasted malt and slightly bitter hop finish. easy to drink and a enjoyable christmas ale.

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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 dsa7783
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Single, twelve-ounce bottle just purchased from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield for $1.89...
Pours a deep, dark, amber hue with a modest foamy head that left a copious amount of lacing around the edge of the glass...
Sweet, caramel-laden aroma with hints of honey and vanilla...
Taste strongly complemented the aroma, with noticeable nuances of alcohol on the tongue... Essences of caramel, bitter vanilla, honey, and slight esters evident...
Rich, very thick, creamy, and full-bodied mouthfeel, however drinkability took a slight hit due to the presence of alcohol on the tongue...

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

appearance - Poured a nice copper color with a small head that left some lace.

smell -Lots of spices here, fruits, and hops present.

taste - Spciey beer, roasted nuts presetn. Little bitter at the end from the hops.

mouthfeel - Medium body.

drinkability - Not a bad beer, i don't think i am into ESB beers, interesting spice taste to it.

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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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