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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of GClarkage
4.12/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

Mouthfeel- Moderate carbonation with a tad bit of thickness.

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

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Photo of rkhaze
4.07/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of Crotor
3.26/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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

Smells slightly malty, slightly spicy, and heavily medicinal.

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

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

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.97/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Brian700
3.94/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of RoyalT
3.35/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance – The thick, dirty brown liquid was topless. Where’s the head?

Smell – The sugary malts were good but covered with boozy alcohol.

Taste – I really enjoyed the sugar and dark fruits, especially the raisins and cranberries, but the alcohol really trumped any subtlety in the flavors.

Mouthfeel – This medium-bodied bottle of booze was as flat as Whitney Houston before her boob job.

Drinkability – The lack of complexity, flat mouthfeel, and stinging alcohol makes this a one time effort.

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Photo of Globetrotter
2.58/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

2002 vintage, bought at One Stop Liquors in Johnson City, Tennessee in mid-October, then shipped via air freight to Moscow. I popped the cork on this 9.3 oz. bottle on 11/30/04. Label features a pretty serious looking Santa lifting a chalice. No ingredient info, although the back label extols fruitiness and an "interesting lingering hop character."

Pours a cloudy amber red under absolutely no head whatsoever. None. Looks just like a lighter red wine. The cork came out just fine, but the nose is full of cork smell, along with red grapes and a touch of cinnamon. The mouth is very prickly, so it hasn't gone flat, quite dry and fairly heavy - rather like a carbonated cabernet. The taste - more cabernet. Dry red grapes, cork, resin, a touch of spice. There's a lingering dry bite, but it ain't hops. This is way too much like a wine. I like wine, but when I'm looking for beer, I won't reach for this.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
3.8/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 Edition

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

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Photo of trancefishy
2.66/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of francisweizen
4.5/5  rDev +31.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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Photo of putnam
5/5  rDev +45.8%
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 IrishRedRock
2.97/5  rDev -13.4%
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 Mitchster
4.13/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

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

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Photo of ADR
3.8/5  rDev +10.8%
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 ark57
3.82/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of alexgash
4/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of Brent
3.08/5  rDev -10.2%
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 ngandhi
2.48/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Gale's Christmas Ale is uncarbonated, but I think there's a reason for it. The sourness mixed with the green hop bittering does a nice job of cutting into the palate (without being aggressive) and carbonation might have made this beer too tough to drink.

The nose is candied caramel and spice and the palate is sour, with hops and maybe a hint of chocolate. I detect a latent ginger and maybe nutmeg, but nothing really pronounced.

Though the beer seems quite confused, it's also quite elegant. The sourness is balanced by a gorgeous creamy finish that lingers with those (odd) spices.

Dry enough to demand food, I think if you paired this with some good cheddar cheese you could add a full point to my review of this beer. But beer must stand on its own and this one does not.
Next time I have a cheese party, however, this beer will be on the drink table.

Suffice it to say that I've never had anything like this and doubt I ever will. How to describe it? Brown lambic chai.

Relax, relax.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.65/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Is a 9.3 oz. bottle ever worth $4.39 per, as I paid for it? Well, you never know, and that's the curse of the quest, the downside of trial and error, sometimes you try and you erred...This is my first sample, the 2003 edition, with jolly old St. Nick holding a chalice of ale aloft on the label, with a beatific smile on his cherubic it this brew that brings such bliss about? Let us see!
Appearance: pours out a beautiful, bright cherry red color, with a thick, frothy, light tan-toned head of foam atop, which stays awhile before dwindling off.
Aroma: unusual, at the start. Arousing at first, lovely, heady and deep, with flowering fruitiness, sharp green apple foremost, plus citrus, grape, very rich and ripe.
Taste: those fruity flavors return on the palate, with apple still predominant, with it gets mixed-up, maybe even coagulated, and tossed among other sensations also, some woodiness, a bit of nuts, something wholly foreign to a typical beer experience, especially from an English brewery. Toward the end, too, the alcohol content starts to kick and thoroughly coats the mouth, stick on the palate good and will not quit. Body is near-to -full, finish is medium, and propelled by that appley taste.
Not what I look for in a Christmas-type of brew (what is that, though, anyway?), and I can't say that I was altogether thrilled by the peculiar flavor, but an admirable oddity is how I'll put it. Worth over $4 for under 10 oz.? Oh, no!

Five years's damned good. Tasted the same, apples and raisins...but...yum,it is tasty.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.82/5  rDev +11.4%
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 Weissenheimer
4.39/5  rDev +28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is one of the most visually distinctive beers I've ever poured. The interior of the glass is completely coated with soda-sized bubbles. The smallish bubbly head sits atop the hazy brown, almost muddy-looking fluid. The lovely smell is just as distinctive. It's spicy, but with a creamy vanilla constituent which I associate strongly with homemade whipped cream.

The taste is every bit as striking as the appearance and smell. It's very carbonated and spicy, with lots of milky, creamy caramel and a licorice overtone. It's somewhat medicinal, but not in a bad way. The carbonation is omnipresent but never quite overdone. The medicinal licorice flavor reminds me of some Belgian styles I've tasted - perhaps North Coast Pranqster? - but is nonetheless unique.

This is fantastic stuff. The inital taste is rich and creamy, and this gives way to a bitter licorice taste in the middle. The licorice flavor persists into the slightly hoppy, medicinal finish. Gotta get me some more of this.

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Photo of daledeee
2.58/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This pours a somewhat cloudy brown. Virtually no head. Nose is vinegar or sour. Taste is strange. Not very satisfying. Sour malt with a little fruit. Finish is kind of dry.

My statement continues to be true. Most English brews are not my cup of tea. Stouts are the exception. This one is not what I prefer

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Photo of DagFishHead
3.4/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2003 edition
Appearance: Hazy apple-cider body. Thin, but frothy light tan head that quickly fades to an 1/8" cap with minimal lace.
Smell: Earthy MacIntosh apple cider, cinnamon, clove, herbal tones.
Taste: Silky, sweet/sour MacIntosh/Granny Smith apple, earthy notes of apple skins, some mustiness/yeastiness. Spicing reminds me of fall. Raw, slightly acidic bite. Warm alcohol fruit aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Slick, fairly thin-bodied, low-level tingly carbonation. Subdued alcohol warmth.
Drinkability: Definitely still raw, assume that aging will mellow the rough edges... tried this too early, but how else are you going to learn to appreciate cellaring, right? However, nowhere near the disaster others have experienced.

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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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