Beer O’ the Moment: Gritty McDuff’s Pub Ale

We will actually be the first to admit that we are going through a rather unusual “English Ale” phase right now. The porters of winter and the imperial IPAs of last autumn have ebbed, and will likely rise again, but currently we are experiencing a bit of an affinity for the subtle, balanced ales, ostensibly perfected by our neighbors across the Atlantic. We suspect that this affinity for the English style is perhaps subconsciously concurrent with our obsession with all things English (we just finished watching the first season of Fawlty Towers on DVD of all things), yet we digress.
Enter Gritty McDuff’s, a heretofore slightly average (in this critic’s eyes) brewery based in Portland, Maine. Granted, I had only had two of their other brews — The Black Fly Stout and the Christmas Ale — neither of which are particular favorite “genres” of ours. Now maybe it was the lowered expectations, but I found this beer to be a really excellent session brew, with a little something for everyone.

First of all, it just looks like an English ale. Flat and warm. Well, not really, but there is no pillowy head, no deep dark haze. In other words, no gimmicks. It isn’t trying to wow you with flashing lights while it serves up a mediocre brew.

Then there is the flavor. Oh the glorious flavor. It’s actually one of the more versatile brews I’ve had in a while. It would be just as welcome on a hot summer Saturday by the pool as it would watching the snow fall at Clark’s Ale House on a Tuesday evening. It’s light, yet substantial. It’s dry, yet utterly thirst-quenching.

The hops are strictly an accent to the dry, biscuity malt flavor. No bitterness, no bite. Easy to drink: sip, finish, repeat. The hops that do come to the forefront are slightly sweet and with a flowery character. They are a perfect complement to the understated malt.

Technically, I do suppose this is actually an American Pale Ale, but rather than having that distinctive pale malt with a dash of hops, it has more of the English style. Even the label (shown above) conjures up the merriment of an English pub. The scary part is, this is apparently twice as good on-tap, and I had it out of a bottle.

Get out there and try one. You know you can trust us.

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~ by William H on June 8, 2007.

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