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Gale's Prize Old Ale - George Gale & Company Ltd

Not Rated.
Gale's Prize Old AleGale's Prize Old Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

312 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 312
Hads: 397
Avg: 3.48
pDev: 26.72%
Wants: 19
Gots: 21 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
George Gale & Company Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-31-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (7) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 312 | Hads: 397
Photo of rudzud
1.82/5  rDev -47.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

Got this last year maybe at Julio's. Oh yeah, this is a 1996 vintage! Oh lord this is going to be undrinkable...

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a murky, muddy reddish brown that had not the slightest sign of carbonation. Average and mehhhh.

S - Stale, old brown sugar, molasses, leather, raisins, plums. No real alcohol notes. Actually doesnt smell half bad. Smells good infact.

T - OH god! One sip and I don't think I can take another. Smokey, old stale leather. Old rotten dark fruits. Slight, slight sweetness. Just tastes old and bad. Ugh.

M - Like stale, rotten prune water. Ugh. This is horrendous.

O - Overall, one of the worst beers I've drank. Only reason why Overall is not a 1 is because the aroma was good, if not absurdly misleading. Disgustingly bad.

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Photo of Maltmaiden
3.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 vintage.

A: Kind of gross...Absolutely no head at all. Flat and extremely murky. Dark brown.

S: Tangy balsamic? Palm dates. Malt. Alcohol at the end. Hope it does not taste like this...

T: A lot mellower than expected. Dried/sugared dates. Oats. Has a red wine likeness. Slight bit of smokiness at the very end. plum. no hops. Some medicinal phenols. Malty and syrupy...like corn syrup. coca cola. Warming but the alcohol isnt pungent.

M: Flat yet smooth like a very thick wine. Has a beautiful softness.

O: Feels like I'm drinking wine. After a while I warmed up to the taste and body but I practically had to hold my nose drinking this :(

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.07/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

Thanks to twiggamortis420 for this bottle!

2007 vintage. Well, if this were a true prize-winner, rather than something prized by the creator, would it compare to the massive achievement of Pabst's blue ribbon way back when? Let's see: This stuff pours a slightly brackish sienna topped by a finger or so of glowing off-khaki foam. The nose comprises red wine grapes, oak-y toffee, a hint of walnut, a breeze of earthy greens, a sprig of spearmint, and a strain of vanilla through the back. The taste brings in more of the same, though the grapes, still lightly tart, are forced to a more background role (though not exactly in the background itself) in favor of a sweeter, richer, slightly buttery-er toffee. In fact, a general sweetness pervades until those grapes force a tannic tartness through and help dissipate everything in a cloud. There's also a sense of spiciness in there as well, one composed mainly of cinnamon and brown sugar, but it's mostly muted, and so doesn't really clash with everything else, fading instead with that aforementioned cloud. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and an ever-so-slightly vinous feel. Overall, a lovely, complex beer. I wish I had a fresh one to compare it to, but I'm prepared to say that the past five years have been quite good to this beer. I look forward to future engagements with various incarnations...

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Photo of superspak
3.38/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500 ml bottle into snifter, 2007 vintage best before 12/18/2010. Pours extremely hazy dark reddish brown color with a small foamy light khaki head with decent retention, that reduces to a spotty foamy cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of huge prune, raisin, fig, toast, red wine, molasses, caramel, chocolate, bread, earth, tobacco, and light herbal. Pretty nice aromas with good complexity and balance. Taste of raisin, cherry, prune, red wine, toast, molasses, caramel, roasted malt, chocolate, earth, tobacco, wood, light cardboard, and herbal. Moderate wine-like earthy tartness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark fruit, toast, roasted malt, chocolate, earth, tobacco, cardboard, and herbal earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Pretty nice flavor balance with good complexity; fair amount of oxidation noticed; slight cloying flavors noticed after the finish. Light carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a creamy, slick, syrupy, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is decent. Alcohol is fairly well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a pretty solid old ale. Some good flavor complexity with decent balance; though a bit cloying, it was quite smooth to sip on. This was fairly enjoyable.

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Photo of RochefortChris
2.15/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

I was very disappointed with this as I love old ales. I chipped the bottle trying to get the cork out It poured with absolutely no head despite pouring it slow. It has the aroma of a Belgian quad with a hazy reddish brown coloring. Flavor was a bit solventy with hint of raisins and prunes. Very thin body and watery mouth feel. Hard to finish.

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Photo of smcolw
2.29/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Bottled in 1999, opened in 2012.

As typical of some in this style, there is NO head even with a vigorous pour. No lace, naturally. Muddy brown color--appears to be excessively cloudy.

Smells like a glass of Port was added to this beer. Strong alcohol and coyly sweet to the nose.

This is very flat. I believe this may have been exposed to oxygen (thus the strong port flavors). So I can't tell if this is ruined or intended to be like this. If it is intended, I am disappointed. It is sugary and rich. Frankly, this is nearly undrinkable. The aftertaste is similar to drinking a Sherry.

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Photo of StaveHooks
3.84/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review from notes:
2007 Vintage

A - Pours a hazy brown with a thin khaki head.

S - Raisins, prunes, dates, dark sweet bread, thick caramel malt, woody apples, new leather, has a sharp but sweet candy aroma, chocolate covered raspberries and alcohol.

T - Tangy fruit, cherries, raspberries, woody undertones, tart grapes, green apples, very woody with a dry tannic finish.

M - Low carbonation, smooth and drying finish,

Wonderfully complex aroma, the flavor was more tart and the tartness grows as it warms. A little weird but very good. I'll let my other bottle go a few more years before I try it again.

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Photo of beergoot
4.58/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dark, ruby-red, hazelnut-like color to the body. Absolutely no head on this one. Syrupy malt notes: high in figs, dates, raisins as far as smell goes. Thick and chewy body; slick and smooth with no perceptible carbonation. I guess this is what is described as vinous. Beautiful malt taste with strong overtones of dates and currants. A very nice alcohol warmth rises from the depths. Sweet and bitter at once.

Aside from the lack of any head, this is one tasty brew! Subtle yet distinctive complexity throughout and very, very well-balanced with the flavors. I've gotta get me mitts on another bottle or two of this beer. I would love to sip on this during the winter months when we have a wood fire crackling in the fireplace...

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Photo of allforbetterbeer
3.81/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle with a real cork, poured into a Swiss wine snifter. I can't find any dates or vintage numbers anywhere on this bottle or the cork, but the pour makes it look quite old. I would guess this couldn't be younger than 5-7 years.

Pours a muddy brown dirty-looking watery body with no head and no evidence of carbonation. Actually one of the least attractive beers I have never seen, and I have seen some pretty old beer. It looks like I dipped my glass in the shallow portion of a swamp after stirring up the mud. I even let this stand upright in my fridge for a week after buying it, and carefully poured it so as not to disturb the sediment. All to no avail apparently.

Smells rather like old banana peels, grape jelly, and raisin paste. Not a bad aroma at all.

To my utter surprise, the flavor is quite nice! The typical raisin, date/fig flavors of long-aged English strong ale are in full force here, and amazingly are not accompanied by the also typical savory unattractive meat flavors that show up in overly oxidized beer. The flavor is mellow and easy to drink. As this opens up I get even more dark stone fruit and a little jam and toffee.

The mouthfeel is actually quite nice because the body still has some weight. Looking at this one would think it would be a watery mess but instead has a thick feel. Very slight carbonation left.

Conclusion: Looks like muddy water, tastes pretty awesome for an old beer. I wish I could know how old this is.

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Photo of DoubleJ
2.58/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I'm getting old, and so is this beer. When my bottle was filled in 1998, I was about to enter the world of middle school. Yes, that was half a life ago. I don't expect the contents from the bottle to bring the memories of that year, but the beer itself should be a ride. On to the beer:

Yank that cork out and pour the beer. It's a beer that looks more like a spirit, with its leather brown color and few bubbles of head that quickly go away. The nose provides hope. There's some god oxidation in the aroma, pleasant notes of prunes, brown sugar, raisins, and a dose of alcohol.

I can't say this has aged too well. What smelled reasonably good and fallen into a sour old ale. Sour grapes and alcohol spice hit and quickly dominate the beer. Figs work their way into the picuture. The alcohol warmth is still there and offers a little sweet brown sugar in the end. It's like a trip down memory lane; you can find vague echoes of what this beer once was, only to be brought back to reality. Medium full bodied with no bubbles, however it still has a little texture remaining.

Too old for my liking. Cut its age in half and we might be onto something.

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Photo of cbutova
2.8/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

1998 vintage bottle aged somewhere outside of my cellar, just picked it up at the store a few days ago.

A- The 14 year old beer cascades out of the corked bottle entering the glass with an odd red-brown hue, pretty murky up to light. Nothing forms atop the beer, no bubbles or clouds nevermind a head. Lace is non-existant. It appears that this is flat.

S- Old, stale sugars, brown and caramel, dominate the nose and remind me of basically all of the oldest beers I have had (not including lambics). Some mustiness. A dark fruit presence is also big, something like prune, cherries and figs. Phenols and alcohols are there giving it a strong edge.

T- The fruiter aspects of the beer seem to take over here, my beer is somewhere around cellar temperate (mid-50s). Flavors like raisin, fig, prune, plum, grape, cherries lending a lot of fruit to the beer's flavor, very vinous. Brown sugar and caramel still present but in the background. A bit dusty and musty feeling. Interestingly enough there is a magic marker/"Sharpie" thing going on (like I noticed in 1999 JW Lees), probably the phenols/alcohol/musty and edgy fruit combining.

MF- Carbonation is not even a factor in this beer, it all must have escaped the dry cork. Slick and thick oily body with alcohol warming on the palate.

Drinks sort of like a wine or juice because of the missing carbonation and the phenol fruit notes. Worth a shot at $6 and 14 years old but not a new favorite by any means. Really seems to get harsh after each sip.

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Photo of mmapes
3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

1998 vintage bottle bought locally and tasted in August 2012. Many vintages appeared at Liquor Mart so we started with the oldest to see if we'd like it.

Pours the color of flat Pepsi, sort of a dirty brown. In the glass it's black. No head at all. Carmel on the nose. Carmel/molasses that you get from aged beers. Dried fruit/raisin.

Watery. Not very sweet. Not rich. I could be wrong, but I think our bottle has passed its prime. Should have been drunk years ago. Down the drain with this one.

Would like to post this review so others thinking of buying it can decide to get a newer vintage, but hate to give it a numeric score since it's not a fair tasting. Will settle for 3s all around, since N/A is not allowed.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle, 2007 vintage. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a reddish/brown color with about an inch light tan head. Head retention is decent, and there isn't much lacing at all. Aroma is dark and sour fruit, caramel, and some bready malt. The taste is similar to the aroma, but there's the addition of some brown sugar. However, it tastes mostly like slightly tart dark fruit. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit coating and has good carbonation. I think this is a solid brew. Nothing impressive about it, but it's certainly not bad either. Maybe another vintage of this would be better, since I don't think aging this one longer would help this brew improve much.

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Photo of zeff80
3.62/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2001 bottle consumed on 8/5/12.

A - It poured out a murky brown color with almost no head. No lacing at all.

S - It smelled boozy and a little fruity. The fruit aroma increases as it warms up.

T - Boozy and malty. A little brandy-like. Mostly sweet with a sourness that I assume is unintended.

M - It was smooth and medium bodied. A somewhat sticky mouthfeel.

O - This is really interesting. I'd like to try newer vintages.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a bottle at The Diamond in Brooklyn, NY

2005 Vintage

A: Pours a murky dark orange to amber to brown in color with hints of golden yellow when held up to the light, which looks like a very dark unfiltered apple cider. There is just the most minimal amount of off-white head that dissipates almost instantly. No amount of lacing is observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of alcohol with more moderate notes of sherry and dark/tropical fruits.

T: There are light amounts of malty dark fruit (bordering on tropical fruit) sweetness with notes of sherry and some alcohol presence.

M: On the heavier side of medium bodied with very low amounts of carbonation. Light amounts of alcohol heat/warming.

O: Enjoyable and interesting but there is just too much alcohol presence for this one to be easy to drink. This would probably be a much more enjoyable beer sitting by the fireplace and sipping on a cold winter afternoon than in the middle of summer (even in frigid AC).

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Photo of metter98
3.65/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle at The Diamond, Brooklyn, NY

A: The beer is very dark brownish amber in color and poured with absolutely no trace of a head.
S: There are aromas of alcohol in the nose along with notes of sherry and sweet, dark fruits.
T: The overall taste tastes like a lighter version of sherry with hints of alcohol and toffee.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and has a low amount of carbonation.
O: This beer must have been aged upright with a cork because there’s not that much visible or perceptible carbonation. Although the alcohol was noticeable in the smell, it wasn’t that perceptible in the taste.

Note: 2005 Vintage

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Photo of Daniellobo
4.14/5  rDev +19%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Complex, sweet and fruity long ale.

Presentation: 33 ml corked custom brown bottle. Old photograph of the brewery, b/w in a red frame with the brewery and ale branding. Back offers a small description with serving, storing, and background notes. Displays brewing in 2005, and 9% Alc. by Vol. Served at room temperature in a snifter.

A - Dark brown pour, bare attempt at a non-existent head, infant pour bubbles fade in an instant, leaving no traces.

S - Assertive nose with plenty of personality… Rich dark fruits, plenty of notes of port, sweetness with a sour hint. A rather compact announcement.

T - Complex and sturdy range, very fruity and sweet balanced by a nice sour hint. Acidic dash in the far background, hidden by the port-like profile which adds some vinous memories to the palate. Prunes, raisins, figs woven with the malt and a muted bitter tone. As it progresses the fruity sweetness unveils further notes of chocolate and sugar.

M - Medium/full body without noticeable carbonation, syrupy fruity smoothness, with a long lingering sense, and a nice rhythm.

O - Rather nice sipper if one is in the mood for this kind of complex sweetness.

Notes: Very notable… I also had the 2002 not long ago, and if anything different I remember a better appearance, but nothing that would set them significantly apart.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.28/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This is one of the oddest beers I've had. But "bottled conditioned" my eye. Barely any carbonation released after the cork was popped. And the cork broke apart twice. Be careful with this one.

Looks like dark cola, of course without the bubbles. None. Zip. Zilch. NO head whatsoever.
Aroma is strong and fruity. Sherry like. Rum raisin. While these are nice, the aroma bouquet is one sided. No other malt-ness. Because of this it reminds me of Sam Adams' Utopias

Flavors reflect the nose. Sherry like. Raisin. Rummy. A bit tart. Cherry and very weak tea. I wonder how many bottle conditioned beers were produced in UK in 1992-93 for this one to win first prize. It's odd, because the flavors are not bad...maybe a bit oxidized, but not in an intended way...they're just one sided and lacking body. Slick. Oily. Light.

I'm guessing better on cask. While this is on the same path as Old Ale, it just seems to try too much.

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Photo of jmdrpi
1.6/5  rDev -54%
look: 1 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

brewed in 2001. 275mL bottle. wine style cork, no cap. huh?

pours a gross looking murky muddy brown gray color. zero head or carbonation.

smell is actually okay - burnt raisins, figs, wine.

taste is extremely oxidized. flavors of wood, vinous, astringent, salty. terrible, only a few sips before I poured out. thin body, zero carbonation, bad.

it says on the rear label that it should be stored on the side. The store I bought it from did not have it that way. But why did the brewer not use a bottle cap? FAIL

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Photo of John_M
3.34/5  rDev -4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at Max's today. This is listed as the 2001 version, aged in whiskey and pinot noir barrels.

The beer pours a fairly dark brow color with read highlights. There is very little head in this beer and no lacing. Can't say this beer looks all that impressive.

On the other hand, this beer smells pretty nice. The beer smells sweet and malty, but with considerable underlying whiskey and wine. There are nuances of sherry on the nose as well. The flavor profile replicates the nose, though the wine flavor seems to really dominate in this beer. It gives the beer an unexpected sour component that I wasn't expecting. There is also some sherry and malty sweetness, coupled with some light brown sugar. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, and the flavors in this beer seemed to drop off on the finish. Alcohol is almost undetectable.

This is another beer that I think is way past its "best by" date. Still interesting, but it's best days are clearly behind it (IMHO).

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Photo of soju6
4.32/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2005

A: Pours a slightly hazy deep mahogany color with no head or lacing.

S: Aroma is a rich blend of dark fruit, hint of spice and brandy.

T: The taste is a cross between the dark fruit sweetness and acidity of fortified wine, nicely done. Very subtle bitterness and clean finish.

F: Medium body, silky smooth with no hint of the 9% ABV.

O: Quite the sipper. A unique ale from start to finish.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
1.96/5  rDev -43.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

2005 vintage.

Pours a thick murky dark brown with absolutely no head and no lacing. Smell is of malt, dark fruit, oxidized sherry/port, and some cork aromas. Taste is salty with malt, earth, rotten fruit, and cork flavors. This beer has zero carbonation and is super flat. Not even the slightest hint of carbonation on this one. Overall, this is a pretty horrible beer all around. I had high hopes when the cork came out clean and intact but I guess I didn't luck out.

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Photo of samie85
3.77/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes; originally 10/9/11.

1999 Vintage:

Pours a slightly hazy chestnut color with zero head.

Woody and earthy with a lot of fruity esters with a bit of tobbacco, cedar, and pepper with some hints of oxidation.

Follows the nose with big cedar, tobbacco, tons of plum, and other dark fruit.

Light bodied with a tannic and crisp feel even though its still.

A very challenging and complex brew but well worth the effort to try if you can find a bottle.

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Photo of OSUBeerStudent
2.19/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

1996 vintage bottle into a snifter.

A - Mud/raisin water is what this looks like. No carbonation whatsoever (expected at this age). Looks extremely viscous. The color is unappetizing but the viscosity is ok.

S - Actually smells pretty good. Lots of dark fruit and noticeable sherry. A little bit of molasses.

T - Yuck. There's very little beer left. Totally sherry and cardboard here. A little bit of sour note there, but it's not really a positive here. It's primarily cardboard. Way, way past its prime. So 16 years is too old for this one.

M - Not really good. Totally flat. It's not as viscous as the appearance suggests, not very syrupy, yet somehow the oxidation sticks around forever. One sip and then two minutes later I can still taste it.

I wouldn't mind trying a much younger version of this. This shows up in the reviews that list vintage, too - apparently 2001 is drinking pretty well right now, while 1996 is bad. Still, don't bother trying this vintage at this point. Not worth it.

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Photo of thecheapies
2.73/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

1996 vintage. 16 yr old bottle. Oldest beer I have had to date (I was 13 when this puppy was fresh).

275ml nip. The cork came out... okay. I did pierce the bottom a bit, but I don't think I lost many particles to the brew. Some cork residue still around the inside of the bottleneck. Not sure if I should strain this, so I'm just going to carefully spill it into a snifter glass. I'm a little concerned, so I'm going to put on some music that I enjoy and wear a smile with confidence. Here goes...

Absolutely NO carbonation left in this one. Looks viscous and syrupy. Looks a bit like mud water with some great vintage brown hues in the opacity upon tilt. Great legs along the sides of the glass. This is gonna be an uphill climb, I can tell.

Huge wet raisin and cream sherry notes. Like a Bristol Cream. No discernible hops that can distinguish this as a beer. Not so much that sticky soy sauce character of Sam Adams Triple Bock (which I have an appreciation for... the beer, not the soy sauce). This one has oxidized, but oxidized on the palatable side. I'm sorry, but I love the smell of a sherried old ale with serious age.

The taste is definitely muted by the sherry. Not as sweet as cream sherries, for sure. More like semi-dry. There's a woody/bark note that retains some astringent bitterness. Not sour, but bitter puckering. A bit of campfire, stewed beef, and light caramel, but not much. More like a dry port. Pretty drinkable, to say the least. The booze is kind of even keel. Certainly not petrifying; this baby's smooth and, if anything, a little attenuated. I have to say, this is my first taste of Prize Old Ale. Can't compare to a fresher version. I can pick up some wet cardboard and a stale tannic quality. Some sips curl in your upper lip. It's not bad, except that the finish is bitter with tannins and a little unsettling. I feel like there's not enough of an original beer left in this one, which is to go without saying that this bottle is past its prime.

Much thinner than I expected. Still syrupy, but smooth. However, and this is a big 'however', no carb whatsoever. Feels pretty bad in that respect.

I think I got lucky with this particular bottle (and I have one more of the same vintage), but this one's too old for school.

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Gale's Prize Old Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd
79 out of 100 based on 312 ratings.