Gale's Christmas Ale
George Gale & Company Ltd

Gale's Christmas AleGale's Christmas Ale
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Winter Warmer
Ranked #262
Ranked #43,686
3.51 | pDev: 21.94%
George Gale & Company Ltd
England, United Kingdom
Gale's Christmas AleGale's Christmas Ale
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Reviews: 70 | Ratings: 77 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Todd:
Photo of Todd
4.4/5  rDev +25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Jason
3.32/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2001 vintage.

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

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

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Photo of beerluvr
4.17/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of Murph
4.64/5  rDev +32.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of Brent
3.08/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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

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Photo of jdhilt
2.81/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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

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Photo of beerguy101
3.22/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color. Small white foamy head. Aroma is malty and sweet.. Apple ciderish, musty and wineish. Spices throughout. Sweet malts, not very hoppy. More like a cider than a beer, not that thats a bad thing. Mouthfeel is full. Finish is clean. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

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Photo of Viking
4.2/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Red-amber brew with very little head and carbonation. Smell is vinous, with a spicy malty (butterscotch and caramel) presence. Nice malty flavor, with strong presence of slightly tart fruit and light spices - cinnamon and clove I think. Dry finish, with spices lingering on the palate. Served rather cold for my tastes. I'd like to try this one at room temperature (or warmer!)

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Photo of RonfromJersey
3.1/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Head starts at a minimal table top, and shrinks from there. Brown-red body. Nose has a lot of alcohol, with some cinnamon lurking about. Taste features some spices, some butterscotch, and finishes with a large alcoholic punch. Some wine-like notes. Mouthfeel is very full. Definitely a winter sipper, very warming.

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Photo of doerickson
3.87/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On cask @ Redbones. Coppery color with a ruby hue. No head. Rich fruity malt aromas. Light carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel. Raisin and caramel/brown sugar maltiness. Bit of spiciness (clove?). Hops are there to balance off the finish, which is surprisingly dry and not very long. Warming alcohol presence. Good winter seasonal.

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Photo of ADR
3.8/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Source: Liquid Solutions

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Photo of marcobrau
3.93/5  rDev +12%
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 jreitman
4.32/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of IrishRedRock
2.97/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

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 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.

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Photo of packetknife
4.44/5  rDev +26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bit of sweetness, caramel, chococate... spicy/cinnamon is the strongest character. Smells wonderful. Awfully pricey but for a once-a-year it's a nice investment. I had it with Indian food and it was quite good.

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Photo of Wildman
3.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a very dark amber color and formed little bubbly head. The aroma was of cinammon and clove. The flavor was of cinammon, clove and caramel. The finish was a touch astrigent. This beer was a bit pricey and I really expected more for my money. But the taste of the beer is not bad.

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Photo of kunzbrew
3.97/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew pours a rich amber color with no head. Lace is non-existent. A cidery nose is present with no hop or malt aroma. The first sip is very cidery, it is almost like drinking a hard cider. The finish is the same way filled with cider. This is not what I expected out if this beer.


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Photo of zerk
3.87/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy red-copper with no trace of a head. Aroma was extremely interesting... butterscotch, sage, pepper, and cherries. The flavor was much the same... but the butterscotch was a little more subdued in the flavor than it was in the aroma... some caramel... and quite a bit of cherries. Sage and pepper combine well, with the tart and slightly sweet flavor. Had a medium to full body, and almost no carbonation. The tart quality of the beer lowers the drinkablility somewhat, as does the fact that it was served at cellar temp. I honestly think that this beer would be much better if it were served mulled (warm).

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.57/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2002 Bottle: This isn't the first corked beer I have had, but it is definitely the first corked beer I have needed a corkscrew to open! Pours a dark reddish-mahogany color with virtually no head or lacing. Aroma of alcohol, raisins and grapes, and spice. Flavor is malty and spiced with some nutmeg. I found it a little earthy but thin. I think I may look for this one again next year.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.99/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

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

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Photo of mzwolinski
2.84/5  rDev -19.1%
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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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.82/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: The classic Gales Prize Old Ale bottle, a short 9.3 fl.oz. (275ml) stubby with the thin neck, is put to good use again. Covered in tight fitting red plastic “foil”, which has a small red tab allowing you to easily remove the upper lid which revealed a clean looking fresh cork. The main label is appropriately festive with a grizzled looking Father Christmas raising a goblet of Ale. Strength listed as 8.5% Vol. This is a 2003 Bottling.

Appearance: The cork was in excellent condition, it’s almost white in appearance, but easily extracted. The body of the beer is a turbid chestnut brown color, the head suitably beige in character but very thin, it tried hard to form a semblance of a decent covering but failed. But this is not ‘flat’ far from it, a myriad of bubbles form on all the inner surfaces of my McEwan’s Scotch Ale Glass. Usually this is the sign of a dirty glass, but as I cleaned it scrupulously, I know that can’t be the case. A slow tip of the glass reveals dissolved carbonation when the Glass is uprighted, but not that much.

Nose: Apples & sour Fruits mixed with a hint of Scotch Whisky. Strange, hardly a Xmas beer in nose, or character. Different.

Taste: There is for certain a large dollop of Nutmeg and Cinnamon in here, and I get hints of dry Ginger also at the back end. Has a spiced Cider feel to it at times. In fact the whole beer reminds me of some home-made spiced Apple Pies that I used to eat when I was in the South of England. Quite weird, but strangely likeable. This is quite a sharp, tart beer with some gingery bitterness in the finish. I found much more to the flavor profile in this beer as it warmed, as with all of the George Gale beers, even Cask-only ones.

Mouthfeel: This has quite a thin average mouthfeel at first, well when fresh at least. Feels light and is easily swirled, but as the beer warms to ambient the higher alcohols make themselves known and give the beer more body.

Drinkability: Average Drinkability when chilled, much more rewarding as it warms to room temperature. A light chilled 68 Degree afternoon in Long Beach is not the best time to drink this beer I suppose. I close my eyes and see the flaming Coal Fire that was always roaming in my Local when I lived back in England – then it was easy to drink.

Overall: I have two more of these 2003's, and it will be interesting to see how they develop in 2004 and 2005.

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Photo of putnam
5/5  rDev +42.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

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Photo of Shiredave
4.19/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cask conditioned but unfortunatly not hand drawn. Hazy, reddish brown color with a sparse ring of head. Aromas of freshly sliced apples with nutmeg and sugar waiting to be baked in a pie.... in a wet basement. Caramel and more apple pie spice flavors roll smoothly over the tongue, very candy like up front but firm earthy flavoring hops push in and finish this medium bodied classic with a hoppy dryness that lingers along with the apple pie juice.
Rich in malt and expertly flavored, IMHO this one sets the standard for a ( British style) spiced Winter Warmer.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.75/5  rDev +6.8%

Gale's Christmas Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd
Beer rating: 81 out of 100 with 77 ratings