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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.

76 Ratings
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:
Photo of Dithyramb


4.08/5  rDev +17.6%

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.

01-03-2006 14:56:18 | More by Dithyramb
Photo of DrJay


2.5/5  rDev -28%

This beer came in a corked bottle and poured a mostly clear, caramel colour. There was little head and nearly no carbonation to it. There was plenty of spicy nutmeg aroma along with mild fruit and a wine-like character. Nutmeg was dominant in the flavour as well, with a bit of cinnamon and sweetness thrown in. Moderate bitterness lingered into the finish where grape flavour kicked in as well. Medium bodied with some alcohol warmth. This really didn't work for me. It finished weaker than I would have liked and the extremely low carbonation just didn't cut it. Thanks Zithal!

12-26-2005 19:30:45 | More by DrJay
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

2.85/5  rDev -17.9%

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.

12-25-2005 23:14:55 | More by jdhilt
Photo of marcobrau


3.9/5  rDev +12.4%

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.

07-22-2005 02:06:23 | More by marcobrau
Photo of DogFood11


2.33/5  rDev -32.9%

Ughhhh ...I was so pumped to uncork this baby as I found it tucked away behind some belgians at whole foods in santa monica. And I immediately thought I was smelling a cheap wine.

Yeast is floating and settling in the beer so you have to let it settle for a couple minutes before consuming unless you like yeast as a side dish. Potent alcohol smell with cinamon and sour odors. Tasted sour throughout. It definitely wasn't spoiled. This is the taste they were after and they succeeded in making a yeast filled sour debacle. The bottle presentation and corkage had me drooling but this dissapointed. I'll still get another bottle just to make sure but not reccomended at this time.

07-19-2005 00:47:29 | More by DogFood11
Photo of mzwolinski


2.85/5  rDev -17.9%

Pours a nice, Christmasy, orangeish-red, with a thin, light tan head. The aroma is dominated -- and I mean *dominated* -- by cranberry. A bit too sharp. More cranberry in the flavor as well, along with some mild holiday spices. The finish is a bit metallic, but the spices re-emerge in the aftertaste and linger pleasantly. Still, though, this cranberry flavor is too much, and gets worse as the beer sits. Just too cloying.

05-24-2005 17:52:42 | More by mzwolinski
Photo of ChrisBowers


3.23/5  rDev -6.9%

2001 Vintage served at the Brickskeller. I was pretty disappointed in this beer. Not sure if it was past its prime or is just a JW Lees/Thomas Hardy wannabe. Pours a murky, tawny brown. Aroma is similar to Hardy's with port and ripe fruit notes. Taste is like a watered down Hardy's. Also had a slightly sour tone to it. It was like, all the tastes were there for a great beer, but they were all muted or watered down. Perhaps this would have been better fresher, though its supposed to age well according to the brewer. This is the second Gale's product that has disappointed me. Perhaps the Jubilee Ale will be better, think I'll consume that one soon.

03-20-2005 15:43:10 | More by ChrisBowers
Photo of RedBaron


4.15/5  rDev +19.6%

A nice Christmas offering from Gale's. The 9.3 oz. bottle comes corked with red sealing wax.

Appearance: Dense bronze, with a faint, sustaining head.
Smell: Spices, nuts. Wonderful aroma. What you'd hope for in a well-made English Christmas ale.
Taste: Lots of spices up front (cinnamon, raisin and even perhaps some honey), a yeasty middle and a nice, dry finish. The tongue wants more after each sip, but must be careful as this beer is pretty strong...
Mouthfeel: Buttery, and fairly well-balanced. The alcohol notes in the finish let ya know this is a serious winter warmer/Christmas ale -- one to be respected and enjoyed slowly.
Drinkability: Good Christmas beer for any lover of the English holiday style. I would love to try this beer in a vintage flight.

02-23-2005 04:25:00 | More by RedBaron
Photo of GClarkage


4.1/5  rDev +18.2%

02/04/05- Purchased at Beverages and More in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 2004 Version. Small stubby 9.3oz sealed and corked bottle. Poured into my Maredsous glass.

Appearance- Small 1/4-1/2 inch head that slowly erodes, but near the end there is still a tad left. Cloudy iced tea colored with average lacing.

Smell- Heavy on the cinnimon and nutmeg. A bit of clove-like scents plus some alcohol fumes.

Taste- Almost indentical taste to the scent. Nutmeg is most prominent with cinnimon not too far behind. A bit of alcohol in the background, but not too overpowering. Flavors come through big time after this thing gets to room temperature. I guess my mistake for only waiting 30 minutes from taking it out of my DBF.

Mouthfeel- Moderate carbonation with a tad bit of thickness.

Drinkability- I have no problem with picking up one of these each winter. A bit expensive for 9.3oz though. I think I paid as much as $4.99 for this little guy. Good deal though. Pick it up for the experience.

02-04-2005 20:18:25 | More by GClarkage
Photo of rkhaze


4.1/5  rDev +18.2%

Pours out a bright red/orange color with a quickly dissapating, big bubbled light beige head.
Sweet malt, ripe fruit and baking spice aromas.
Nice flavor. Sweet bready malt and brandy soaked candied fruits spiked with hints of cinnamon and clove. It finishes with a rich caramel taste and a tart element that cuts the richness a bit and gives it an overall complexity. Well done!
Medium bodied but with a rather thinnish, pallid mouthfeel.
Really an up and down beer for me. Had its good and bad points. The alcohol was hidden well. Definitly a sipper.

01-25-2005 01:49:31 | More by rkhaze
Photo of Crotor


3.28/5  rDev -5.5%

Pours a cloudy, deep mahogony, with two fingers of dimpled, off-wite head with good retention.

Smells slightly malty, slightly spicy, and heavily medicinal.

It has a good malt backbone and prominent fruit esters forming the major aspects of the flavor. There's also a slight tartness and a barnyard characteristic. The spices are there but are indistinct. Slightly bitter and citric character to it. My final and oddest taste impression is one of beef broth. *Weird.*

Not really that drinkable, and overall underwhelming. Might benefit from some cellaring though...

12-30-2004 00:48:22 | More by Crotor
Photo of BuckeyeNation


3.98/5  rDev +14.7%

2003 vintage. Considerably murky tawny that looks remarkably like sweet apple cider. The head isn't really a head at all, at least not in the conventional sense. A somewhat vigorous pour has resulted in a loose collection of big bubbles that are rapidly dying as I watch and are now all but gone. As there was nothing present to create any lace, the glass is spotlessly clean. Tough call on the appearance, but the so-called head was so pathetic that I can only be so kind.

Christmas Ale begins to gain some measure of respectability with the nose. Its primary feature is sweet, dried fruits such as spiced apples, golden raisins and, perhaps, figs. I don't appreciate any of the darker fruits such as black currants, raisins or prunes. It smells, in a sense, like a golden fruit version of Christmas fruitcake.

It has taken me a couple of sips and much rolling around of beer on tongue, but this is a pretty decent winter warmer. While the fruitcake comparison is still relevent, it's a cake that's heavy on sour fruit and light on wintery spices. Keeping the analogy alive (long past its usefulness perhaps), the fruitcake is coated with a sweet sauce that has been lightly spiked with white rum. The mouthfeel is lightly syrupy and matches the flavor profile perfectly.

Gale's Christmas Ale is a sipper that should be enjoyed by those who don't normally care for higher ABV beer (the 9.3 oz. will be gone before they know it). This is the first of many winter warmers for me this holiday season. It was nice to start things off with a good one.

12-20-2004 22:16:29 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of Brian700


3.95/5  rDev +13.8%

This pours a cloudy amber ale with not much of a head. What head there is sits an off-white color but does not stick around very long. It smells strongly of alcohol and darker fruits, maybe dates and brown sugar. It also tastes of darker fruits and apples with a little trace of cinnamon but not much. There is some nutmeg flavor in the finish. The mouthfeel is good, medium body and good carbonation. I think it is a good Holiday beer. I will definately have one of these on Christmas and then move on to something else. Go ahead and give it a shot.

12-15-2004 01:54:23 | More by Brian700
Photo of RoyalT


3.35/5  rDev -3.5%

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.

12-06-2004 16:09:21 | More by RoyalT
Photo of Globetrotter


2.63/5  rDev -24.2%

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.

11-30-2004 18:30:01 | More by Globetrotter
Photo of BeerBuilder


3.78/5  rDev +8.9%

2003 Edition

Hazy amber-brown color with a minimal tan head that leaves just a bit of lacing. The aroma is of brown sugar, apples, malt, and alcohol. It has an unusual smell that I can't explain. It smell pretty good. The flavor is of apples and dark fruits, with a brown sugar sweetness. It is medium in body and easy drinking for its strength. It has a drying finish. Another good sipper from George Gale.

11-21-2004 03:34:21 | More by BeerBuilder
Photo of trancefishy


2.63/5  rDev -24.2%

No vintage listed on bottle, but I'm assuming it is 2004, unless it is aged a year at the brewery. I would like to note that I'm not in the best mood right now. I was very careful to not disturb the sediment in this bottle, and doing things very carefully during the opening/pouring procedure. The cork broke causing the bottle to send my very nice crystal brandy snifter onto the floor, shattering it.

Appearance is nice, medium brown, a bit lighter than I was expecting by the looks of the bottle. light tan head that keeps growing with the addition of tiny carbonation bubbles.

Caught a whiff of nutmeg when I was pouring, but, when sniffing the beer after the pour, this disappeared. All that is in the aroma now is an estery yeasty smell.

Taste is where this beer gets a bit odd. It's this big muddled flavour up front, with a dry finish and peculiar aftertaste. i'm definately picking up cardamon in this, with a lot less nutmeg and cinnamon. the yeasty smell is also quite prevalent in the taste, and it's not welcome. I do like yeast flavour a lot, but this particular one is not the nicest. The aftertaste stays around for a while, kind of like eating a year old fruitcake and then not having anything to wash it down.

mouthfeel is ok, a little bit too carbonated, but perhaps that is for the better, as the taste is already a bit overpowering. drinkability is low, one is certainly enough.

This beer was worth a try, and I do like to give everything a shot once. Get it if you like spiced/seasonal beers, or english ales in general, and are looking for something new. I can't say whether the shaking in the beginning due to the faulty cork gave it excess carbonation, but it doesn't matter either way.
I would be curious if this would even out a bit with some aging, or just become an even bigger mess. I don't think I will ever find out, as I don't think I could get myself to buy another bottle of this.

11-20-2004 20:44:01 | More by trancefishy
Photo of francisweizen


4.5/5  rDev +29.7%

2001 Vintage. This stuff is a murky brown colour reminiscent of an unfiltered, cask-conditioned, real cider. Did Westons make this stuff? The aromas are very spicy, fruity, malty and complex. There is definately some cinnamon, and nutmeg in there, and an aroma that reminds me of blood pudding as well. The taste is pretty excellent. Chai, spiced cider, nutmeg, various fruits, a bit of lactic sour funk, and more. The mouthfeel is nice and full and the drinkability is excellent as well. I'd write more, but this one is kind of hard to explain. An amazingly complex beer from George Gale and Co. I should buy a few of these to cellar and drink at a later date. My local store has a stock pile of these for only $2.99 a bottle. Perhaps a trip is in order soon?

10-28-2004 21:11:16 | More by francisweizen
Photo of putnam


5/5  rDev +44.1%

I've used this beer many times since the initial review (in December 2002) to dazzle tasters at various multi-level tastings. It works after old, great wine just as well as it does after pilsner, hot dogs and televised sports. Most recently, at a spring retirement party, it exceeded even my lofty expectations. I look forward to tasting a 2003 in the cellar.

2002 Murky, sewage brown, with no effort to produce a head. Rather, there is some batik-like line patterning on the surface that provides the only evidence of gas.
Aromas are profound and deep, like living in a house made of Russian black bread...big, steamy bowls of rye groats on the table. Marischino cherries are being spooned into someone's drink. Dried apricots, Mexican coffee, porcelain, Reggiano+Boerenkaas...
Heavy flavors dwell impossibly atop a humble stream of baked, pressed apples and chai. They include suggestions of brown bananas, bitter, sour chestnuts and green grapes.

This is a tour de force...way beyond what I was expecting.

Must age some of these

08-07-2004 23:24:45 | More by putnam
Photo of IrishRedRock


2.95/5  rDev -15%

I just picked up a Gale's POA and am letting it sit, but in the meantime I thought I'd try a pretty fresh bottle of their Xmas Ale, 2003 vintage. It was like uncorking a bottle of wine...no carbonation. Poured as flat a beer as I've ever seen, with the appearance of a blush or light merlot. Nose is of dark fruits, cherry, plums, with a hint of alcohol. An interesting flavor with an even odder aftertaste. Kind of sweet, a bit spicy with a warming alcohol finish. Mouthfeel was extremely thin. An odd beer indeed, maybe I got an off bottle.

07-16-2004 22:53:37 | More by IrishRedRock
Photo of Mitchster


4.18/5  rDev +20.5%

2001 edition.
Pours out to a very cloudy amber, barely forming a beige head with no retention or lacing. Carbonation is mild to moderate with bits of cork sinking to the bottom of my snifter, despite not having pierced it. Mouthfeel is tart and pleasantly astringent, sustaining my interest throughout the bottle. Medium-firm body. Aroma is immediately vinous with port, whiskey, ginger and very faint cinnamon. Immediate taste is of tobacco, followed by a spicy Belgian sourness, a dry and peppery blast of spices with an astringent bite of prune juice and sour crab apples. Funky sourness makes it interesting, and gives it a nice Belgian twang. The malt body is dank and musty. The alcohol is strong, but doesn't contain any obtrusive fusels or acetones, making it more palatable. The finish is woody and fruity. The level of bitterness is well-balanced with everything that's going on here.

I didn't know what to make of this upon smelling it, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is probably the most "Non-English" English brew I've ever had. Tasting closer to something DeDolle might make, this was a rewarding brew to drink. Was it worth $3.99 a bottle? Probably not, but I could see this one growing on me.
Many thanks to The Blue Goat for supporting my addiction!

04-15-2004 00:58:47 | More by Mitchster
Photo of ADR


3.78/5  rDev +8.9%

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

02-15-2004 20:04:44 | More by ADR
Photo of ark57


3.85/5  rDev +11%

Vintage 2002 - This is about one 2 years old at the time of the tasting. It is cloudy brown and has little to no carbonation. The aroma is sweet and vinous, but not too strong. It is malty and has begun to develop some oxidized tastes. There is a slight tartness that is hiding behind the oxidation and it finishes with a fleeting hint of spices.

02-15-2004 01:51:30 | More by ark57
Photo of alexgash


4/5  rDev +15.3%

Hazy, light copper body with a good-sized off-white head. Smell: spicy malt, cork (oaky), tangy yeast, and candied hops. Interesting...for an English ale. More like a Belgian variety. Tangy sweet malts: caramel, honey, apple and spice. This is followed by tangy, citrusy hops. This is the sourest English ale I've ever had. I like the balance here, and there's plenty of alcohol to boot. Big body in a small package, with perhaps a bit too much alcohol character.

02-02-2004 21:52:22 | More by alexgash
Photo of Brent


3.05/5  rDev -12.1%

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.

01-18-2004 01:33:35 | More by Brent
Gale's Christmas Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd
80 out of 100 based on 76 ratings.