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Gritty McDuff's Halloween Ale so good, it's scary

Oct. 15, 2012 |

By Chris Maza chrism@thereminder.com Welcome to the spooky Halloween edition of my beer-related ramblings. Some people were surprised that I didn't save my critique of pumpkin beers for October, but I felt a Halloween-themed writing would be most appropriate for this time of year and I found the perfect beer to address this month. Girtty McDuff's, which touts itself as Maine's first post-prohibition brewhouse, has a terrific offering that is only available from September to November, known simply as its Halloween Ale. Gritty McDuff's labels this beer an extra special bitter, or ESB, but don't be thrown off by the name. This beer does not possess the bitterness often associated with hops. In fact, the Halloween Ale is quite malty. The beer, which is available on tap as well as in six-packs, 12-packs and 22-ounce bottles, pours a very dark amber with an off-white, creamy head. Overall, the nose of the beer leaves a bit of a mystery as no particular scent is overpowering, though there are notes of brown sugar and toffee. The beer's taste is not as subtle with caramel malts evident, along with some other sugary characteristics and a bit of a smoky finish with just a touch of hops. The beer has a terrific "mouthfeel" with a smooth, medium body that makes it extremely drinkable. For all you ghouls and goblins looking for something to bring to your Halloween party this year, consider this tasty treat.
Speaking of ghastly beings partaking of beer selections, I would be remiss if I didn't let people know about a fun event that is taking place in Northampton this weekend. The Northampton Zombie Pubcrawl is going to take to the streets on Oct. 20 with a group of undead patrons moving from place to place in search of beer . and maybe some brains! The crawl is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Sam's Pizzeria and Café on Main Street, then moves on to the Toasted Owl, The Elevens, Ye Olde Watering Hole, Hugo's, Diva's Nightclub and concluding at the World War II Club, also known as "The Deuce." So find those tattered old clothes, make up some fake blood (there are some great recipes on the Internet) and shuffle down to Northampton for some freakishly good fun. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/nohozombie.
I was pleased to see in recent weeks that The Beer Shop, the new upscale beer and wine store located at 33 Harkness Ave., next to Peppa's Pizza in East Longmeadow, had opened its doors. I have been impressed with the level of quality of the selection and the manner in which the beer is presented. Owner Richard Caudill and his wife, Tatiana, are extremely knowledgeable and appear intent on continuing to educate the masses on the art of beer and wine, something made evident by their impressive schedule of tastings. The store's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/thebeershopltd, is consistently updated with new arrivals, events and deals. They also have a website, www.thebeershop.us. I highly recommend checking out this new store in the interest of supporting small business and finding a new source for quality beer.

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