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Gale's Christmas Ale - George Gale & Company Ltd

Not Rated.
Gale's Christmas AleGale's Christmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
80
good

76 Ratings
THE BROS
87
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 76
Reviews: 70
rAvg: 3.47
pDev: 22.48%
Wants: 2
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
George Gale & Company Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-07-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 76 | Reviews: 70 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Sephiroth:
Photo of Sephiroth
3.58/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served from a firkin at Gravity Head at Rich O's in New Albany. Small head that instantly disappears. Smells malty and spiced, very rich. Marris otter malts I so love are obvious.

Taste is all over the place, too young and hot, caramel noted.. Malty, spicy, and hoppy. Drinkability suffers.

Sephiroth, Mar 10, 2006
More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
3.35/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance – The thick, dirty brown liquid was topless. Where’s the head?

Smell – The sugary malts were good but covered with boozy alcohol.

Taste – I really enjoyed the sugar and dark fruits, especially the raisins and cranberries, but the alcohol really trumped any subtlety in the flavors.

Mouthfeel – This medium-bodied bottle of booze was as flat as Whitney Houston before her boob job.

Drinkability – The lack of complexity, flat mouthfeel, and stinging alcohol makes this a one time effort.

RoyalT, Dec 06, 2004
Photo of warnerry
1.73/5  rDev -50.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

2001 Vintage into a tulip. Cork is very dry and breaks on the way out. Not a good sign. But there is a slight release pf CO2 after pushing the remaining end of cork into the bottle.

A - That must have been all the CO2 left, as this pours with absolutely no head Pours a murky brown with a couple cork bits floating on top (which I'll blame on user error).

S - Lots of caramel, a bit of cardboard and quite a spice presence. A bit odd overall. Cardboard suggests this is way past it's prime.

T - Quite bit tart up front, with a big caramel malt presence. Some fruit: apple, raisin and a bit of cherry. Pretty unpleasant overall. Was hard to drink enough to get the flavor profile.

M - Medium mouthfeel and completely flat.

O - Well this is clearly way past it's prime. I knew it was a gamble, and it didn't pay off. Drank enough to review and poured the rest. Would love to know what this tastes like fresh.

warnerry, Dec 27, 2011
Photo of Todd
4.45/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 9.3 oz thick brown custom bottle -- short, fat body, long neck. Stopped with a cork and sealed with a plastic neck wrap.

Appearance: A cloudy beer leaning towards brown in colour with amber-red hues. Pours a thin, but very creamy, tightly laced head.

Smell: Strong baked spice aromas of cinnamon and clove, with apple -- like apple pie.

Taste: Extremely smooth with a light, creamy, fluffy body. Quite tart initially, which is both unexpected and welcomed, with near sharp cherry, cranberry and sour apple flavours. It then smooths into an even more complex flavour of juicy raisins, leaving behind a leafy raw feel on the palate with fresh bitter tones. Burnt sugar flavours follow and help to subdue the tartness, then are rounded-off with dashes of cinnamon, faint clove and dare I say ... faint oregano and spruce? The experience is like taking a bite of a tart apple pie. Alcohol is warming and brings much cheer. Finish is leafy and very dry.

Notes: The most complex and enjoyable winter seasonal that I have had this year. Absolutely brilliant and an absolute treasure amongst the slew of boring seasonals.

Christmas Ale is naturally conditioned, which means there's yeast in the bottle. Just ensure that allow it to rest for sometime before serving to allow the yeast to compact, then uncork and pour with care. You could also age this beer upright in a basement for many years, and unleash at a later date to see how it matures.

Todd, Dec 25, 2001
Photo of Jason
3.28/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2001 vintage.

Nice tawny sunset hue, I though the lace was going to totally poop out but it stayed nearly the duration. Candied fruit, yeast, mild spice and lemon zest in the aroma. Very ester with some solvent alcohol on the palate, fruity with a woody spice duo. Flat maltiness with some coarse leafy hop flavour.

Tasty but not a beer I'd go back to. The alcoholic character brings this brew way out of balance.

Jason, Oct 18, 2003
Photo of ADR
3.78/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 edition...pretty sedimented light yellowish brown. Nice 1/2 inch head, sugary. Lace is minimal, more like downward flowing thin sheets. Aroma is spicy cardammon, with piquant citrusy qualities. Burnished woody flavors, birch beer -- hops emerge early and with very good depth. As the beer warms, more musty malts come forward, dank with a humid canvas quality. Well balanced with a dryish hop bittering. Aftertaste echos the finish. Interesting beer, not a favorite for me from Gale but a lot different than some overspiced holiday brews.

Source: Liquid Solutions

ADR, Feb 15, 2004
Photo of DagFishHead
3.4/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2003 edition
Appearance: Hazy apple-cider body. Thin, but frothy light tan head that quickly fades to an 1/8" cap with minimal lace.
Smell: Earthy MacIntosh apple cider, cinnamon, clove, herbal tones.
Taste: Silky, sweet/sour MacIntosh/Granny Smith apple, earthy notes of apple skins, some mustiness/yeastiness. Spicing reminds me of fall. Raw, slightly acidic bite. Warm alcohol fruit aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Slick, fairly thin-bodied, low-level tingly carbonation. Subdued alcohol warmth.
Drinkability: Definitely still raw, assume that aging will mellow the rough edges... tried this too early, but how else are you going to learn to appreciate cellaring, right? However, nowhere near the disaster others have experienced.

DagFishHead, Dec 19, 2003
Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I first had this beer somewhere around '97 and found it quite tart. I thought that the beer had soured. I tried it again in 2001 alongside some of the other Gale's specialties. My opinion remained the same. This particular bottle dated 2001 has probably sat in one place in my cellar for a year and a half, and then a month or so in the fridge. I pulled it out and allowed it to warm to about 45-50F. I poured it carefully into a goblet and received a just-slightly-hazy body. The aroma was very nice with a gently caramelish malt, some apple-like fruitiness, a touch of spice (cinnamon, nutmeg) and some evident alcohol. The flavor displayed a similar maltiness and I was quite surprised that it was not nearly as tart as I'd remembered it. Then I made the mistake of pouring the yeast... it completely changed the beer by adding back that tart and vinous character. However, as it can't be expected that everyone cellar their bottles for a year and a half in one spot, I'll have to review it as is. But if you have the chance, pour it carefully and leave that last half ounce of yeasty sediment behind!

The body displays a hazy marmalade when held to the light, but takes on a darker, more reddish appearance when sitting on the table. Initially a short head of loose, off-white foam comes up; but it drops slowly to a thin cap, and then just a minor collar. A swirl of the glass will bring some of it back up, but it never leaves anything more than just a bit of short-lived spotty lace about the glass. The nose displays a vinous character similar to red wine, some sugary malt, a touch of spice, and some alcohol. It's medium bodied with an exceptionally fine and very low-key carbonation (<1.9 volumes CO2/litre) that leaves it quite supple and velvety smooth across the palate. The flavor starts with a swirl of mildly tart cherry-like fruitiness upfront, backed by some soft caramel. Some more cherry and a hit of raisin/plum appears as it crosses the palate; and the alcohol rises in a bone-dry finish along with some residual spiciness, a sprig of dried pine, and some eventual green grape astringency. Overall it's fairly nice, and it actually rounds a bit more as it warms beyond cellar temperature (although the alcohol becomes clearer as well).

NeroFiddled, Jul 04, 2003
Photo of beerluvr
4.15/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured with not much of a head at all, over dense brownish liquid. Lots of apple pie spice & cinnamon in the nose with some mustiness present. Taste is at first tart, with more of that great apple pie/cinnamon flavor, not at all hoppy. Finishes dry and winey, very tasty...one of the best, if not THE best British Xmas ales I've tried so far. I'm gonna cellar the remaing bottle and see what comes of it.

beerluvr, Jan 01, 2003
Photo of Imbiber
3.25/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tried just after a Harvey's Christmas Ale at Spuyten Duyvil, Brooklyn last night. Presumed to be the 2003 release. Hazy; deep copper in colour. Slight musty aroma, not much else detected there. Fruity, fairly rich as a beer but not enough for a good Xmas ale; carbonation was light. Butterscotch becomes more evident as the beer warms up. Not bad, but nowhere as good as the Harvey's.

Imbiber, Dec 06, 2003
Photo of marcobrau
3.9/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Christmas in July! I saw this bottle at Binny's in Glen Ellyn, Ill., for $1.29 and couldn't pass it up. It seemed like they were clearing out some Christmas brews. I figured this brew would still be in good shape after noting the 8.5 percent alcohol on the label.

This amber-colored ale poured with a lot, and I mean of LOT of carbonation, which oddly enough, dissipates rather quickly leaving the beer almost flat. Asr things calm down, I can't help noticing the nutty, musty and yeasty aroma of this beer. This beer takes me back to when I would go to my Grandmother's house around Christmas and she would always have a bowl of mixed nuts (in the shell) in wooden bowl. I think her favorite nut was called a Filbert and that's what this beer smells like -- Filberts -- with a little bit of Grandma's basement thrown in the mix. A musty sort of smell. I also can pick up a hint of cinnamon in the aroma, too. Albeit a bit odd, I really like the aroma of this beer.

The flavors are not as interesting as the aroma of this beer. The nutty character in the aroma translates at least partially into the flavor of this ale. The body seems a bit thin and the mouthfeel a bit dry and almost tannic. The finish is a touch tawny (and tannic) with warming sensation of alcohol. A tasty enough winter warmer, but it could use a bit more body and less tannin.

marcobrau, Jul 22, 2005
Photo of Murph
4.65/5  rDev +34%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amberish orange color with almost no head. The smell is alcohol, caramel, and slight cherry. The first sip is very tart with a slight sweetness to it and lots of warming alcohol. I agree with Venom on the cherry sweetness and apple like tartness but I am not getting any cinnamon or nutmeg. Some slight caramel notes and some other small complexities that I can't quite figure out. The mouthfeel is nice and tangy and this beer is definitely pretty drinkable. This is a strange brew. On the first sip I thought that I had made a big mistake buying it, on the second sip I thought that it wasn't that bad, and by the time I got to the bottom of the glass I was wishing I had some of this on hand for some nice cold winter nights. The alcohol is somewhat assertive but it warms the body which I like in a winter brew. The tangy tartness is very different but very welcome as well. I really liked this beer and I would highly recommend it.

Murph, Apr 18, 2002
Photo of matjack85
1.75/5  rDev -49.6%

matjack85, Jan 31, 2013
Photo of Brent
3.05/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

2002 vintage, it seemed a bit weary of the wait. Clean, tight cork. Minimal carbonation. Very vinegary and tart, like hard cider with sort of a fruity Belgian twist. Prunes hang around in the background. Not quite as hefty as it seems it ought to be to carry the flavor profile. Not a bad beer, but it did not engage me.

Brent, Jan 18, 2004
Photo of BGsWo22
2/5  rDev -42.4%

BGsWo22, Mar 21, 2013
Photo of Globetrotter
2.63/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

2002 vintage, bought at One Stop Liquors in Johnson City, Tennessee in mid-October, then shipped via air freight to Moscow. I popped the cork on this 9.3 oz. bottle on 11/30/04. Label features a pretty serious looking Santa lifting a chalice. No ingredient info, although the back label extols fruitiness and an "interesting lingering hop character."

Pours a cloudy amber red under absolutely no head whatsoever. None. Looks just like a lighter red wine. The cork came out just fine, but the nose is full of cork smell, along with red grapes and a touch of cinnamon. The mouth is very prickly, so it hasn't gone flat, quite dry and fairly heavy - rather like a carbonated cabernet. The taste - more cabernet. Dry red grapes, cork, resin, a touch of spice. There's a lingering dry bite, but it ain't hops. This is way too much like a wine. I like wine, but when I'm looking for beer, I won't reach for this.

Globetrotter, Nov 30, 2004
Photo of mntlover
1.6/5  rDev -53.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Nice bottle but I think Santa would prefer something better then this. 2001 vintage so someone did the cellaring for me. Pours a dark hazy amber with no head at all only a few bubbles. Smell is famillar but can't pin it down nasty all the same.Taste about the same, spoiled vineger? Hopefully something bad happened to this beer along its journey because I can not see anyone ever buying more then one of these in 2 life times. Hate to pour 4.50 beer down the sink but live and learn.

mntlover, Dec 15, 2003
Photo of Dithyramb
4.08/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed on cask at Max’s in Baltimore just yesterday while playing pool and watching bowl games. I’ve seen this one in bottle form, but it was always one of those “British corked brews”—I’ve had one too many bad ones of those. According to Casey at Max’s, the brew was still right, tight and drinkable. It was served at proper temperature in an imperial pint glass.

Poured chestnut brown and murky, with a limited beige head that rose and fell quite quickly. Limited rings of lacing. Not much carbonation trying to push through the brew either.

Had a “different” aroma to it that I didn’t expect. The usual winter warmer spicy character was there, but the spices were decidedly different. Though you would normally get a few cinnamon whiffs and such, I was certain to have detected some cardamom and sour apples steeping in rotgut whiskey.

Spicy, sour, and creamy brew, if that makes sense at all. Flavors of nutmeg, ginger, and some cinnamon were here, but there is a sourness that comes through that is lambic-like in quality. Tart, sour, homemade apple pie surges in the middle of the flavor very lightly. Very light hop bitterness poking in that was stealthy and unassertive. Mouthfeel was smooth and creamy. The cask may have helped this a bit, since the special flavor qualities and low carbonation would have been problematic otherwise.

Overall, I felt it was interesting, different, and subtle. I’d like to enjoy it fresh and on tap in England though. I’ll still keep away from those corked traveled bottles. I doubt those qualities will transfer well.

Dithyramb, Jan 03, 2006
Photo of Smartestmonkey
3.58/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2002 Vintage Bottle poured into a tulip glass - 12-25-07

This beer poured hazy red-brown with absolutely no head. The smell is rich and complex. First thought is wine, raisins and plums, dark fruit. Then I pick up a little woody, earthy hop. The taste is much like the smell, very vinous, very port like. Taste is first and foremost of dark fruits with hints of malt and grains and this is all followed with an odd hop bitter. The alcohol in this ale stands out and is felt throughout the drink. The mouthfeel is smooth and full and the taste lingers for a long time. An interesting beer that is well suited for the holidays, for sipping in front of a fire, but not much else.

Smartestmonkey, Dec 26, 2007
Photo of neonbrown82
3.03/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

2002 vintage.

Pours with absolutely no head, even from a vigorous attempt. Subsequently no lacing, and retention is a non-issue. No apparent carbonation. The color is a deep brownish ruby red.

The smell is heavy on the malt with some dark fruity esters of raisin, plum, and fig. Also plenty of brown sugar and molasses with a hint of cinnamon and clove. Even a hint of cider. The taste is very similar to the nose. It would be much more drinkable with some carbonation to liven it up. Also, it has a bit of a corked taste. I fear that the years of aging have not done this beer well. It was probably really interesting and tasty when fresh.

The body is fairly thick, but with no carbonation it is fairly unpleasant to drink, despite the great complexity. Even despite it being completely flat, I didn't hate it, but it was very difficult to finish.

neonbrown82, Feb 02, 2007
Photo of CWiggins
2.58/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

2002 Vintage; purchased at McScrooge's Liquor in Knoxville, TN just last week.

No head formed as I poured this beer into a Unibroue flute. The color is a deep ruby red, almost like port. Aromas of dark fruits such as fig, raisin, and plums waft up as an initial sniff is taken. The flavor is sour, and I can easily compare it to some of the Flemish red ales I've tasted, such as Duchess de Bourgogne and the Italian Paladin. No seasonal spices are at all apparent. I'm sure this wasn't the intended flavor, so perhaps aging isn't proper for this English ale. As it warmed to room temperature, the flavor became somewhat more palatable, but it still isn't like any Winter Warmer I've ever tried. The texture is pretty much spot on. I wouldn't try this again unless I had a fresh example to sample!

CWiggins, Aug 11, 2007
Photo of jdhilt
2.85/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a 5+ finger cream head that goes slowly and leaves a good lace. Cloudy amber color with yeast left in bottle. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Nose is apple cider. Starts with a strong flavor of sour apples, the high abv is not noticeable, finish is sour, hops are hidden. 275ml bottle for $4.39 from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

jdhilt, Dec 25, 2005
Photo of WynnO
3/5  rDev -13.5%

WynnO, Dec 16, 2012
Photo of jreitman
4.33/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very aromatic. Aromas I picked up on were a floral spiciness, vanilla, cloves, and nutmeg. All aromas made it into the flavor profile where they took turns coming out. Flavors and aromas really started to open up as the beer warmed. I quite liked this one to my surprise.

jreitman, Apr 26, 2003
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.6/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very nice presentation with Santa on the label, very festive and I like the English style bottle, too. Christmas in June!

Pours a soft, muted red, rather cloudy at first but clarifies as it sits in the glass while one takes notes on its appearance... No head and no carbonation, rather ordinary there, but maybe Appearance is not this beer's strong suit.

Aroma is fruity, vinous, grape-like, I'm not picking up much spice on the nose.

Taste is very wine-like. Very fruity up front, resolving to a raisiny, alcohol taste. As the aftertaste begins to develop, I pick up some spiciness, but cannot nail down anything specific. The window of opportunity there is small, too, for the aftertaste turns (pleasantly) sour and that takes over, lingering until the next sip.

Mouthfeel is thin and watery. This would probably be well served as a wassail, with a cinnamon stick (don't know how you feel about flavoring your beer, but this would enhance it a bit I think).

It's not my favorite, but it would be very relaxing and soothing on a wintry or rainy evening, I could make an evening out of several, wrapping presents, listening to Christmas music, etc. Just think - only 185 days until Christmas!!!

brewdlyhooked13, Jun 23, 2003
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Gale's Christmas Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd
80 out of 100 based on 76 ratings.