Gale's Christmas Ale | George Gale & Company Ltd

70 Reviews
Gale's Christmas AleGale's Christmas Ale

Brewed by:
George Gale & Company Ltd
England, United Kingdom

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-07-2001

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Reviews: 70 | Ratings: 77
Photo of warnerry
1.77/5  rDev -48.4%
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.

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Photo of jale
1.69/5  rDev -50.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Lets see how this 2001 bottle held up.

A: Pours a light brown with zero head.

S: Very aged malt aroma. Must be cherries in here because this smells of an old cherry wine.

T: Way beyond its prime. Slight cherry flavor, alcohol and an old hop bitter finish.

M: No carbonation. Thin

D: I only had about 20% of the bottle.

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Photo of clickpush
2.9/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pour: Unique 250ml bottle, red-wrapped & corked, age unknown (scary and intriguing at the same time...). Some goo atop the cork before opening, but upon opening the seal seems to still be intact. Completely still amber body. No life.

Nose: Fruit, caramel, oddity.... Spiced caramel apple. Green grape juice. Not good. Smells like a case of dead beer.

Mouth: Livelier than the appearance and aroma would have you believe. The spicy caramel apple flavors come through like a Christmas dessert. The finish is a bit warm, a bit roasty, and a bit hoppy. Some sizzle in the body, some CO2 that I wasn't expecting. Quite dry.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that I could drink multiple bottles of this beer, but the flavors were certainly an improvement over my initial impressions. I'd like to try a fresh bottle (my intuition tells me this one is several years old).

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Photo of moosiz
2.25/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

I found this bottle at a local store on a shelf in the back it was there as a decoration i think, but it had a price tag on it 3.75. It is from the 2002 vintage.

pours a bit thick and flat, but there are a lot of bubbles lining the sides of my glass. not active carbonation but carbonation nevertheless.
the color is a ruddy brown/red copper hard to nail down.

smells aged. sour notes left behind from something that was never meant to be aged this long on a store shelf a bit woody maybe from the cork.

sour nutty flavor with a slight clove hint. very sour.

slick mouthfeel with a lingering effect.

Im glad i have just one of these. but i look forward to drinking a fresh one if i can find it this winter.

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Photo of cadenwhitaker
2.27/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

2002 Vintage

I believe this was corked. So you can skip my review if you have a fresh bottle.

Very sour, vinagery, burnt coffee, and no carbonation. There was some residue on the actual cork, with some bits of dried beer on the top of the cork with sticky/slimy bits around the bottom of the cork as well.

Why review if it was bad? Well, just a heads up to act with caution when trying some of these older brews.

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Photo of paulthebeerguru
3.69/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2001 Vintage

A: pours a cloudy, murky tawny color. No head at all.

S: light coconut esters. Some apples and dates. Slightly strong alcohol notes. Some light sour aromas as well.

T: wow. Never had it fresh, but I can notice that a ton of flavors have passed away. Major malt notes, mostly caramel, plums and apples, some clove. Very wine-like. I do pull some grapes/raisins out of this. Very sour notes.

M: no carbonation left, so its flat. Some alcohol notes/vibes. Very smooth with the age of this. Think it was a aged a little too long.

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Photo of kyleec
4.52/5  rDev +31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 2003 bottle into a goblet.

A - reddish brown and absolutely no head at all.

S - Strong alcohol, raisin, clove, and fruit.

T - I'm not a brandy drinker, but in my poor recollection, this reminds me a lot of a brandy or some other such brown liquor. I got a fruity tartness with spices and a sweet raisin character. Fairly dry. Too much complexity for my novice palate to give due justice. This was an awesome beer. The drinkability is there, but I wouldn't have more than one. That one is a pure delight, though.

This tasted very different from any other beer I've had, and in a good way.

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Photo of adamdotson
3.84/5  rDev +12%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought in Allston, MA at Blanchard's. Drank in 08 bottle from 01.

Appearance-Amberish orange. Little to no carbonation. Nothing impressive about it visually. Fairly hazy. Just a notch of funk

Nose- Yummy. Sourdough fresh from the oven. Apple pie/ heavy on the cinnamon. A hint of soy sauce. A hint of whisky but not in a phenyly way. This is wine i'll tell my wine drinking friends to try if they can handle the funk.

Taste is round and dense. A bit of caramel and a surprisingly biting finish that is delicious to me. Sour apple but not in the same way as belgian sour apple (rodenbach) I bet the og on this was fairly high.

Mouth feel is light. Scrumptilumptious.

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Photo of aforbes10
3.08/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle from John's Grocery in Iowa City. Pours gluggy and flat from a corked 2002 bottle. Dark maroon in color. No head or sign of carbonation whatsoever. Smells of figs and raspberry liquor. Pungent and alcohol-laden, like a cheap wine. My first couple of sips were taken while the beer was still cold, and didnt give me much flavor at all. Warmer, it became increasingly fruity and wine-like. Grapes, raspberries, toffee all came through. Some spiced notes, most obviously nutmeg. Mostly it maintains the fruity red-wine character throughout, and if anything just becomes a little dull and cardboardy towards the end. Its also a little thin, considering the style and presentation. I expected a little more than what i got from this one.

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Photo of Smartestmonkey
3.62/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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Photo of iceviper22
3.82/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2001 Vintage Bottle on 12/2/07

Poured a hazy light reddish to brown hue with little to no head present. Just a fuzzy cream lace around the glass.

Smelled of strong sweet tart fruits such as cranberry or sour apples with hints of alcohol. Very tarty and fruity taste that reminded me of drinking a glass of wine. Basically no carbonation with a light juice type mouthfeel to it.

Overall, this isn't a beer I'd choose a lot. Best to be enjoyed around the holidays, probably with a good sweet desert.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.85/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

With a very careful pour it only produces a three-finger thick, somewhat tightly beaded, tan colored head. The beer is a brilliantly clear, deep orangish tinted, copper color when held up to the light, but is otherwise a dull, albeit fairly dark, cranberry color. A wonderfully tart character greets my nose as I am inspecting this beer. A mix of tart cherry, green apple and some definite aromas of white wine vinegar. Woody aromas of damp oak, leather, as well as full on funky notes of moldy cotton, barnyard aromatics & interesting sharp acidic notes. This is definitely quite a bit more funky than when I last had this. It has a really nice, vibrant fruity character to it underneath all of the funk though; at times it has a distinct, candied cherry note to it.

Very lightly sweet and definitely well carbonated, the beer has a distinct spice flavor to it that was expected, but not really noticed in the aroma. The spices add a sharp, woody, bitter astringency to the finish of this brew. Definitely tart though, the acidity adds a nice touch to this brew. Sort of chalky, lactic, green apple, star-fruit, tannic oak, a touch of urea, almond, nutmeg, a touch of apricot pit and a touch of butterscotch form a mix of flavors all which I can't quite discern. As the beer warms the astringent spice notes tend to die down a bit and the tart / funky character becomes a bit more noticeable. This is definitely quite a nice brew at this stage, and I definitely prefer this brew when it gets more towards the funky side of the spectrum.

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Photo of BeardedSquash
4.17/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought a 9.3 oz bottle, also at McScrooges in Knoxville. One of many good brews I’ve found tucked away in that store.

A: A murky cola colored pour with no signs of life. No head, no carbonation, but some legs while I drank. It looks more like a flat soda than a beer. I'm not going to knock an aged beer too much for looking old, but if I didn't know the vintage, I would have guessed much older than 5 years.

S: Wood and cider smells take the forefront right off the bat. A mix of fruits, somewhere between plum and apricot take up as it warms, but a heavy leather smell oversees everything throughout. It reminds me of my grandfather's basement workshop for some reason, dusty and organic.

T: Sour malts mixed with a bit of spruce that lingers on the tongue after the swallow. The whole thing is very vinous with the woody backdrop. Tart cherries and brown sugar flow well with the acidic effects of the aging.

M: As dead as it looked, the mouthfeel could be considered to be in a coma. Only a faint hint of carbonation. Feels somewhat like a prematurely corked wine. Old ales will die out with age, but again, this one seems older than 5 years. Works well with the flavors though.

D: This is a great beer to sip at the end of the night. I had it with a black forest cake and the acidity of the beer was the perfect compliment to the sweetness of the desert.

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Photo of CWiggins
2.58/5  rDev -24.8%
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!

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Photo of tgbljb
3.73/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a cloudy brown color with virtually no head.
Smell presents with a bit of fruit, but really nothing notable.
Taste shows more of the fruitiness, and somewhat resembles a liquid fruit cake.
The ending allows more of a hoppiness to present itself.
The alcohol is extremely well hidden.
Nothing that great as compared with other winter warmers I've had. Not worth the price

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Photo of neonbrown82
3.02/5  rDev -12%
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.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.27/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2003 vintage

The beer poured into the sniffer clear medium amber and devoid of head at all.

The aroma was malty and nutty with a strong fruity presence of sherry coupled with cinnamon spice. A bit of clove presence was notable as was a light bit of pepper.

The flavor was lightly tart with a strong bready, biscuity, and nutty character. The flavor was fruity with dark fruits, namely raisins, present, but also dark caramel. The spice character in the aroma was muted and difficult to place, but alcohol was a strong presence. The bittering was fairly strong, but no particular hop presence was notable.

The finish was dry with lasting tartness and bittering into the aftertaste. The body was medium and seemed watery without any carbonation. This beer smelled wonderful but time may have detracted fiercely from the flavor.

9.3 ounce corked bottle.

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Photo of Sephiroth
3.6/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of scruffwhor
2.93/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 9.3oz corked bottle.

Appearance- Pours a caramel and copper color with a lot of suspended sediment. I gave this brew about ten minutes to settle before drinking. The head was about two fingers, but bad retention with a foamy film lasting about 50% of the volume of beer consumed.

Smell- Starts out a malty mix of cinnamon and nutmeg, but then turns into a sour mix of the two aforementioned spices.

Taste- Starts out a sweet and sour mix of christmas. Nut and cinnamon dancing with a hint of sugary plums to boot. This quickly leads to a pretty acidic flavor.

I saw this beer in the bargain bin at Binny's in Glen Ellyn for $2.99. Im not gonna say I got what I paid for, but with a beer of this strength and a corked bottle to boot, I was expecting more.

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Photo of Dithyramb
4.04/5  rDev +17.8%
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.

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Photo of DrJay
2.52/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

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!

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Photo of jdhilt
2.81/5  rDev -18.1%
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.

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Photo of marcobrau
3.93/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

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Photo of DogFood11
2.33/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

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Photo of mzwolinski
2.84/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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.

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Gale's Christmas Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd
3.43 out of 5 based on 77 ratings.
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