Gale's Christmas Ale | George Gale & Company Ltd

77 Ratings
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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Ratings: 77 |  Reviews: 70
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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Photo of mntlover
1.63/5  rDev -52.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Nice bottle but I think Santa would prefer something better then this. 2001 vintage so someone did the cellaring for me. Pours a dark hazy amber with no head at all only a few bubbles. Smell is famillar but can't pin it down nasty all the same.Taste about the same, spoiled vineger? Hopefully something bad happened to this beer along its journey because I can not see anyone ever buying more then one of these in 2 life times. Hate to pour 4.50 beer down the sink but live and learn.

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Photo of Imbiber
3.22/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tried just after a Harvey's Christmas Ale at Spuyten Duyvil, Brooklyn last night. Presumed to be the 2003 release. Hazy; deep copper in colour. Slight musty aroma, not much else detected there. Fruity, fairly rich as a beer but not enough for a good Xmas ale; carbonation was light. Butterscotch becomes more evident as the beer warms up. Not bad, but nowhere as good as the Harvey's.

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Photo of Jason
3.32/5  rDev -3.2%
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 beerguy101
3.22/5  rDev -6.1%
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 NeroFiddled
3.99/5  rDev +16.3%
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 brewdlyhooked13
3.6/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very nice presentation with Santa on the label, very festive and I like the English style bottle, too. Christmas in June!

Pours a soft, muted red, rather cloudy at first but clarifies as it sits in the glass while one takes notes on its appearance... No head and no carbonation, rather ordinary there, but maybe Appearance is not this beer's strong suit.

Aroma is fruity, vinous, grape-like, I'm not picking up much spice on the nose.

Taste is very wine-like. Very fruity up front, resolving to a raisiny, alcohol taste. As the aftertaste begins to develop, I pick up some spiciness, but cannot nail down anything specific. The window of opportunity there is small, too, for the aftertaste turns (pleasantly) sour and that takes over, lingering until the next sip.

Mouthfeel is thin and watery. This would probably be well served as a wassail, with a cinnamon stick (don't know how you feel about flavoring your beer, but this would enhance it a bit I think).

It's not my favorite, but it would be very relaxing and soothing on a wintry or rainy evening, I could make an evening out of several, wrapping presents, listening to Christmas music, etc. Just think - only 185 days until Christmas!!!

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Photo of marburg
4.82/5  rDev +40.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This highly aromatic brew pours calm and dark like a pond just after dusk. The lack of head is a little disturbing until you begin smelling and tasting the beer. Aromas of cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and exotic spices that I'm not nearly cultured enough to identify. The flavor is highly dynamic, turning on a dime. Highly sweet fruit flavors -- apricots or peaches -- with malty and syrupy sweetness is spun around to a spicy combination of Indian spiced tea, nutmg, cinnamon, and pepper. This is one of the finest Christmas ales I can think of -- an alcoholic warmer with a huge dessert potential to match any holiday cookies, spiced apples, and a number of other festive foods. I've been hanging on to this since Christmas, and I've got another to cellar to mellow it out a bit and see what else this beer can do. It's a great one.

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Photo of jreitman
4.32/5  rDev +25.9%
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 Shiredave
4.19/5  rDev +22.2%
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 kunzbrew
3.97/5  rDev +15.7%
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 Dogbrick
3.57/5  rDev +4.1%
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 Viking
4.2/5  rDev +22.4%
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 -9.6%
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 zerk
3.87/5  rDev +12.8%
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 beerluvr
4.17/5  rDev +21.6%
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 doerickson
3.87/5  rDev +12.8%
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 Wildman
3.55/5  rDev +3.5%
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 packetknife
4.44/5  rDev +29.4%
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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Gale's Christmas Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd
3.43 out of 5 based on 77 ratings.
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