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

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

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

378 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 378
Reviews: 309
rAvg: 3.48
pDev: 23.85%
Wants: 17
Gots: 17 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
George Gale & Company Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-31-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 378 | Reviews: 309 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of crookedhalo
3.65/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1996 vintage bottle, lotted OA1 27064. Cork popped out moist and musty smelling, evidence of proper cellaring and storage. Poured into snifter a murky copper and deep brown color with no head even after forced, straight pour, being careful to leave the lees behind as per suggestion from the bottle. Cheesey and black-strap molasses aromas, solvent alcohol, dusty English noble hops, carob, and a small amount of dark berry notes. Overall, pretty pungent smelling. I'm allowing it to breathe and warm for a bit, it's not like I'm losing any carbonation. First sip purveyed a viscous mouthfeel and a subtle mineral saltiness. It struggles like there was some Fuggles and other nobles in there at one point, but the alphas are long gone, other than some residual grapeskin-like vinousness. What's left is a potent snifter of fusel alcohol-laden funkiness. A very intruiging brew, it comes across at times as having cheese-like and wine-like qualities to it. This is the first time I've tried this beer, and I opt for the 8 year old version; I'd like to try a non-vintage bottle next time and maybe taste some Fuggles and Goldings.

crookedhalo, Sep 08, 2004
Photo of Gusler
3.85/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle # OA2 29390 - 1999
The beer after uncorking from the 9.3 ounce brown bottle sets in the glass a muddy brown with absolute no head and the lace non-existent. The aroma of fusel alcohol, no a better description is JP4, or very old semi-gloss paint, blended with very old molasses, start is lightly sweet with a decent bit of malt, top is light in feel. Finish is devoid of carbonation and the hops very light, bleached desert bone dry after taste, certainly a unique blend of aromas and taste, I will leave this to the true experts, but to be completely honest it has certain morbid attraction, and I liked its different aromas and taste, well I’ve always been Abby-normal. lol

Gusler, Sep 06, 2004
Photo of GuinnessSmurf
3.78/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A wonderful looking beer! It looks like a thick pour of apple cider with a frothy head and noticable spices/sediment in the glass. Smell is reminiscent of toffee. Taste is infact very sweet...a combo of apples, sugars, grapes, and a sharp yeasty aftertaste that combines with a malty alcohol sensation. Too sweet.

The body is nice...its a heavy buttery slow drinker.

GuinnessSmurf, Sep 03, 2004
Photo of mschofield
3.98/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1996 vintage
Pours a dark cherry color, no carbonation, no head, no lacing.
Huge fruit syrup aroma, winy, alcohol soaked fruit (like you would prepare before making a fruit cake). Very strong and full aroma.
Molasses, wood, raisin, alcohol and spice make up the taste, with a chocolate aftertaste.
Full bodied and warming.

mschofield, Aug 20, 2004
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.65/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber color with a tan head that is developed by a slight carbonation. The aroma is a heady mix of malt, sourness, and alcohol. The sweet and sour combination is reminiscent of cherries. The taste is an interesting mix of sour, salty, and meaty; mmm sounds like a meal. This beer is slightly oxidized in flavor, but this adds a certain richness to the beer. This is a nice sipping brew, with some notes akin to a Flemish Sour ale; slight vinegar, rich maltiness, sour, and balsamic. This grows on me more and more as I sip it. The mix of flavors really start to work well together, still not something I would want to have all that often.

Gueuzedude, Aug 19, 2004
Photo of Sixpoint
3.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This evaluation is from the first time I ever tasted this beer... served on tap in a burgundy-style glass.


Although the appearance is nice, the aroma is the strongest category of this beer. Absolutely wonderful aroma of toffee, currants, alcohol, and even plums. Can definitely go toe-to-toe with a fine table wine.

As true to style, the beer was "undercarbonated" in the relative sense. However, the full-flavored alcohol taste did not mesh perfectly with the small amount of carbonation and full-bodied, dextrinous mouthfeel. As a result, lower scores in this category.

Drinkability? Well, it's definitely a sipping beer or an apertif. The alcohol flavor seems to be at the forefront of the beer... perhaps more caramelization of the wort or extended aging would help balance this out.

Overall, I am mostly satisfied with this beer, considering I am not a big fan of old ale.

Sixpoint, Jul 25, 2004
Photo of nogoodreason
3.75/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Caveat: this was the first Old Ale I've tasted. I understand that these beers can be aged, so I didn't see anything wrong with trying a bottle that was 6 years old at the point of tasting.)
Bottled in 1998. Bottle # 1867.

Like suggested on the bottle, I tasted this at room temp. I poured it into a large wine glass, figuring that it would help bring out the aromatics better than a pint.

Appearance: Pours a dark reddish brown, slightly hazy. Only the faintest of carbonation, but I didn't expect much. Impossible to get this to form a head. That's OK, it doesn't need one.

Smell: Warm, molasses-like smell. Prunes and dark berries. Perhaps lightly spiced, like with cinnamon? I can't smell a hop for the life of me. Sweet, fruity, appetizing scent.

Taste: Like the smell, but more so. Very rich, very mellow. Definite dark fruits, plums and especially figs. Still nary a trace of hops. Perhaps they're responsible for that faint spice? Sweet tasting, but much more fruity than malty. Delicious.

Mouthfeel: Not too thick, but fairly viscous. No carbonation whatsoever. Feels like a full-bodied red wine.

Drinkability: Finishing more than one bottle of this stuff would be feat of patience. It's a fine beer to relax with, slowly. Nothing else.


Notes: This beer will likely never be a favorite of mine. It would, however, make an excellent replacement for a port or a sherry when served with dark chocolates, etc. I would even suggest splitting one bottle between two people and serving this in sherry glasses.

nogoodreason, Jul 13, 2004
Photo of rajendra82
3.33/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This was purchased as a 1996 vintage at the awesome Green’s Discount Beverage store on Buford Highway. The bottle has an odd 275 ml volume, and is brown with a red paper covering the cork inset in the neck. The look of the beer is like dried blood, reddish murky black, with no carbonation at all. The aroma is sweetly vinous with cherries, raisins, and prunes dancing around. The taste is crumbly velvety chocolate malt underlain by spiced alcohol warmth. There are also the odd oxidized flavors of cough syrup, leather, sweaty socks, and musk. By this time all indications of any hops are long gone and the taste is bit too one dimensional I think there are better old ales out there.

rajendra82, Jul 12, 2004
Photo of oggg
2/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Brewed in 2001. 9.3 fluid ounce bottle. Intact wrapper and cork. Serial number 10746 10221

This beer cannot be induced to foam at any height of pour. It is dark brown and murky even before I get a little sediment into the glass. The aroma is reminiscent of a Belgian ale, with a lot of alcohol smell. The beer starts full and sweet but is quickly overwhelmed by a sour taste that lingers into a puckering finish. After the sourness fades, I do sense a bit of maltiness and dark fruit along with warming alcohol.

As I drink a bit more, the sourness is less apparent. The puckering finish remains. I get more of the winey alcohol taste. It clears a little with warming. No hop presence.

What the heck is this? It must be old or infected. I see there are some other reviews like mine, which makes me wonder if this is the rule rather than the exception. I couldn't finish this beer, and I don't think I would ever try it again unless I was in Britain and it was fresh from the brewery.

oggg, Jul 01, 2004
Photo of granger10
4.03/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a dark brown color with no real head to be seen. It had a brandy like aroma with alcohol, vinous fruits, and some woody aspects in it. Flavor was very complex and intriging. Sweet vinous flavors upfront and some figs, plums, raisins to go along with that. Middle was spicy and I noticed more of a non-fruit dark malt taste as well. Alcohol became quite prevalent in the finish along with a tarty aspect that lingered. The body was thicker than I thought it would be and this beer seemed to improve as it warmed allowing more flavors to come forth. My only problem is such an expensive price for such a little bottle. Otherwise, very nice nightcap.

granger10, Apr 03, 2004
Photo of Suds
3.73/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Presented in a small, corked bottle dated 2002.
Pours as a nearly still liquid with a shadowy, quickly disappearing tan head. Deep mahogany color with a bit of yeasty cloudiness. Resin-like, woody, vinuous aroma, with an under-ripened pear & apple smell. Alcohol aroma is certainly present, but it’s hidden behind the other smells. Full, and warming sensation throughout the taste. Finish has an alcohol bite, with a slight hop bitterness. There’s a molasses-like undertone in the taste as well. It’s a very enjoyable, contemplative, complex beer…but I think that it may have been a little young and rough-edged. I’d like to try one that was a few years older.

Suds, Mar 01, 2004
Photo of ADR
3.93/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

1998 bottle...# 3718...

Burnt sienna brown appearance, reddish highlights and just slightly hazy. Minimal tan head, 1/8 of an inch and fine-bubbled. Coats the glass well, small lace tendrils. Raisiny aromas, slight sense of of rubbing alcohol and turps. Thick mouthfeel, low carbonation. Complex flavor -- apple brandy, oaky perfumey smokiness, light chocolate, and pronounced vanilla. Finishes with alcoholic heat and a fruitiness that reminds me a little of apple cores and sport peppers, tart and peppery almost at the same time. A good beer, lots of complexity, slightly plasticy phenolics seem to arise on later sips. Drinkability is medium, there's a lot weighing on your senses here.

ADR, Feb 29, 2004
Photo of merlin48
3.03/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

9.3 oz corked and plastic wrapped(with a vengeance) bottle, 1998 vintage. Poured aggressively into a tulip glass, it produces zero head, and leaves no lacing. Appearance is of tannic swamp water.
Aroma is of toffee and molasses, with a strong suggestion of vinous alcohol, and some oak barrel woodiness.
Mouthfeel is smooth, but totally flat.
Taste is flat, no carbonation whatsoever. Slightly sweet, with some tart fruitiness-black raspberries is my perception. Ethanol is very much in evidence. I could not have finished this one if it were a 12 oz serving. Finishes like a wood smoked Port wine. Be careful with this one. The alcohol may not be as evident in the taste as in the aroma, but it will quickly alert your brain cells. Another disapointment from Gale's. I won't blame the fall of the British Empire on this one, but I've had much better. Maybe, I'm just getting the wrong vintage at the wrong time. Or, I just don't like ales that look and taste like wine.

merlin48, Feb 18, 2004
Photo of BeerResearcher
3.95/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1997
This one pours a muddy old leather color with just a few medium-sized bubbles floating on top. No lace.
A sherry-like aroma is noticed as it’s being poured. A sweet malt and light alcohol smell follows. Just a faint smell of spent motor oil (is it my imagination?) can be detected with some concentration. A light smell and taste of maple syrup emerges.
A fairly sweet malt body releases tastes of pears, figs, brown bread, and again, sherry. A faint woody aroma lasts throughout.
A mild lemony bitterness and a taste of strong tea come together quite nicely. A taste of wild tart berries peek through as it warms, as does a dose a caramel sweetness.
I feel this brew may be a year or two past its prime as I’m finding the structure of the body seems to be wearing down. A somewhat salty flavor begins to intrude and the flavors and tastes are separating instead of blending harmoniously. I need to try the 1999 version next.

BeerResearcher, Feb 05, 2004
Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 vintage - Pourred a dark brew with almost no carbonation or head. Vinous aroma is very strong, almost like port. Alcohol taste is well balance and body is between medium to strong. It is the first time I tried an old ale and find it similar to some barleywine that I tried before. Overall, a great beer and even greater bottle with cork. I'll try to get my hand on some more of these to aged them.

Phyl21ca, Jan 20, 2004
Photo of counselor
3.6/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a murkey brown with a dime thin head. The aroma was muted oak, spice, bourbon. The flavors were almost shery like, little carbonation, more like a flat oxidized wine than an old ale. Some oak and spice flavors with middle of the road alcohol flavors. I had hoped for more. As the glass warmed, it improved a little, but not the beer I was seeking.

counselor, Jan 10, 2004
Photo of tavernjef
3.98/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 1998 9.2oz bottle - Color is a deep muddy brown with super nice dark ruby highlights within, medium sized soft spongy beige head that sits a while before misting away, lace is fast dripping in sheets with minimal stickage. Aroma is light of mostly ethonalic alcohol and phenolic cleaners with some notes of pruney fruityness ans a bit of sweet oakyness. Kinda vinous with a kick. Taste has the flavors derived in the smell with a bit more liking, quite vinous with a sweet oakyness, a bit tartly too. Prunes, and sweet green raisins make the mold of sweetening along with a milding grab of sourness. Most of the alcohol noted in the nose barley make any appearance within the taste really. Good feel, medium to full with a mild yet lively character. Not a bad beer at all, a bit weird compared to some of the same style, but drinkable and interestingly good.

tavernjef, Jan 08, 2004
Photo of LuckySevens82
4.08/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2002 Edition. Took a while to get the cork out, was jammed in there pretty good.
Poured a murky amber color, but soon cleared. Small but pronounced head, gave way to a nice lace that still sits at the top of the glass as I continue to drink.
Smells distinctly of sherry, raisins, and what seems to be a woody scent that I can't quite place...definitely good.
Taste is just great very dry and smooth would like to sip this one all night.
If it wasn't so darn small I would say that this one was one of the best that I've tried, but man, 9.3 oz for this beer is just not enough...which I suppose is a complement in and of itself.

LuckySevens82, Jan 07, 2004
Photo of rkhaze
4.2/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2001 bottling. Poured a murky amber. A creamy head appeared for a split second and disappeared just as quickly. Sherry, raisins, caramel and a tartness in the nose.
Deep tart/sweet wine soaked wood taste. A caramel sweetness rounded it out and tangy sour cherries made an appearance near the end. A little different but complex nonetheless. Reminded me a bit of a less tart Duchess de Bourgogne. I liked it a lot.
Medium bodied and smooth in the mouth. A little chewy in the finish. Certainly a sippin beer. Wish those bottles weren't so damn small though. Would have liked to sip a little more!

rkhaze, Jan 04, 2004
Photo of feloniousmonk
3.93/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in 1997

Pours a dark, raisiny brown, with hardly any head, just thin, dusky foam.
Aroma, treacly sweet, molasses, dark rum, and a hint of Jagermeister. Spices abound, as well as darker fruit, cherries, grapes, but it's a wicked conglomoration.
Taste: most unusual! Anise jumps on board the palate, joining molasses and plums, rum and raisins, sweet and sticky. Prominent malt, but nary a hop to be heard from, and a long, lingering finish. Halfway in, this messy monster starts to tame, and feels almost mellow, but that is to laugh. Alcohol content comes through, then, too, and does it's warming business, not to mention other effects. A perfect winter warm-up, an excellent tonic against late-December chill. This time, I felt that the cute little Gale's 9.3 oz bottle was a mistake, and I could take a bit more of the stuff, for the glass emptied before I wanted it to. Gets darkier and fruitier toward the end, while that 9% tip-toes up to the cranium to do it's dirty work. A choice sledgehammer indeed to send me off to dreamland!

feloniousmonk, Dec 28, 2003
Photo of Jon
3.3/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

1996 Vintage.

Deep burgundy color lacking carbonation, head, or lacing, obviously. The cork was extracted in good condition. Intense vinous aroma -- incredibly port-like with caramel (tawny port), grapes, alcohol and a slight bit of black licorice. Burnt chocolate, caramel, port and corky/oaky flavors persist. Additional notes of overripe fruit and residual malt sugars are prevalent, as well, in addition to toffee and vanilla flavors (which are imparted by the wood). Syrupy, lifeless mouthfeel is incredibly viscous and oily that it lends very little to this brew, even though it's expected. This is a definite sipper, no doubt, but it seems to be so overly complex that it cannot be enjoyed on its own. Even the usually miniscule nine-ounce bottle seems to be more than sufficient in this case. It's almost a chore to drink more than half of the bottle. This is a beer well-suited for an intense cigar, dark chocolate or other rich desserts -- it simply doesn't work by itself, at least at this point in its life (it's almost eight years old). While this particular sample stood out in some categories but not in others, its longevity is most impressive. A must try for fans of tawny port.

Jon, Dec 12, 2003
Photo of shippos
2.3/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

1996 vintage

poured with no head at all and no carbonation whatsoever, has a murky brownish color that gets lighter towards the top of the glass. good thick sludge in the bottom of the bottle. has a woody vanilla aroma with hints of chocolate and dark dried fruits (plums raisins figs) with a good wift of alcohol. watery thin mouthfeel with a cocoa-coffee taste. either I had a mishandled bottle or this is past it's prime, I was expecting more from this ...disappointing.

shippos, Dec 09, 2003
Photo of ManekiNeko
1.35/5  rDev -61.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

1997 vintage served at cellar temp in a Trois Pistoles goblet. Serial# OA1 31483.

As promised, I cracked open the second bottle of this stuff, and it's bad as well. No new observations here. I think I'll skip this beer for the near future.

1997 vintage served at a wee bit lower than room temp in a pint glass. Serial # OA1 31469

Appearance: Dark, dark brown liquid with an ephemeral white head. No lacing or retention in the least.

Smell: Extremely sour, like a geuze. Very woody and vineous.

Taste: Grapey, cidery, geuzelike tartness. I think the bottle went bad judging by the other reviews here. Woody flavors are quite prominent.

Mouthfeel: Lightly bodied and extremely puckering.

Drinkability: Corked bottle, I presume. I hope the 2nd one I purchased isn't like this. I'll crack that puppy open sometime and rereview, maybe grabbing a more recent vintage just to make sure this particular bottle went bad.

ManekiNeko, Dec 01, 2003
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The return of an Old favorite tonight. It’s especially fitting that I cracked this one open on such a cold night in Long Beach after a day of torrential rain, thunder & lightning. The classic Prize Old Ale bottle, short 9.3 fl.oz. (275ml) stubby with the thin neck that is covered in tight fitting red plastic “foil”, which in turn hides a cork. Dated as Bottled in 2001, strength listed as 9% Vol.

Appearance: The cork was in good condition but tough to extract, resulting in a disturbed beer by the time I poured it. The body of the beer is a turbid chestnut brown color, the head suitably beige in character & smooth but always a solid ½” throughout the drink. This was a bit of a surprise in itself, I have had much flatter POA’s, albeit older than 2 years though. High conditioning levels.

Nose: Vinous, oak, walnuts, damp wood, & extreme pungent Malt Vinegar hints of sourness that I dearly loved. Dark fruits emerge as the beer closes on ambient room temperature. Some molasses, but not much. Certainly complex.

Taste: Sharp acidic malt attack, the vinous traits in the nose present themselves in a hard fighting Redoubt formation that is almost impenetrable until the middle of the beer when smooth toffee caramels break the ranks. Dark fruits come through slowly in the end as the crispy vinegar licks fade & the beer warms. This is quite something, even after “just” 2 years.

Mouthfeel: Pretty average feel actually, it felt light at times, & certainly belies its high alcohol content. The high carbonation added a very smooth but lively feel in the mouth - maybe this distracts you from its real strength. Lingering aged caramel feel on the cheeks.

Drinkability: Well it’s a sipper, suitable for the cold & windy Long Beach night as I stand on balcony imbibing this monster.

Overall: My Mums family live in West Sussex, and as such I have visited Horndean, the home of Gales, in the neighboring Hampshire several times. I always walked away with several of these beauties. I wish the waxed tops would come back but maybe I’m just a sentimentalist.

Maybe I drank this one a little too early, but I have had older versions before & for ‘only’ $3.99 for the bottle, I was interested to see what the POA offered after only 2 years. Probably best to leave this about 5 years to let the beer mellow a bit. However, I have to admit that as a Gueuze fan, I was really quite partial to the extreme sourness the 2001 exhibited. This of course may not endear the 2 year old POA to all palates!!

TheLongBeachBum, Nov 13, 2003
Photo of ColForbin
3.9/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had the 1996 vintage. Very dark color. Little head, fruity, raisiny nose. Taste was completely sour - I have had a younger bottle (98, I believe) in the past that was much less sour and more malty. It tasted like a poor mans Hardy - lighter in flavor and much less complex. I happen to really enjoy sour beers, so I was not disappointed - but if you have this vintage and don't don't want it totally sour you may want to drink up soon. The 1996 vintage is probably not a good example of the Old Ale style (as tasted in 2003), which is why the score is a bit low, even though drinking this beer was very enjoyable.

ColForbin, Oct 20, 2003
Gale's Prize Old Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd
80 out of 100 based on 378 ratings.