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

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Gale's Prize Old AleGale's Prize Old Ale
Gale's Prize Old AleGale's Prize Old Ale

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

Style: English Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

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User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 320 | Ratings: 418
Reviews by bark:
Photo of bark
2.88/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Vintage 2004 (I’m an impatient bastard).

The beer comes in a corked 275 ml bottle, that didn’t seem to contain any pressure at all. The dark ruby-red liquid contains yeast sediment, but after a careful decantation it is almost clear. There is no foam at all. I find it hard to grade the appearance, as it is quite different from all other brews that I have reviewed… I’m going to chicken out on this one, and give it a sort of neutral “3”.

The smell is a complex one. In fact, it reminds me of Commandoria St John, a dessert wine from Cyprus: Those were the aromas that I noted: Sweet raisins, sun-dried tomatoes, apricots, arrack, cognac-marzipan, alcohol, glögg (a Swedish yuletide drink with wine, sugar and spices). Fantastic!

The carbonation is almost completely absent, but there is a sticky mouthfeel at the end of the gulp.

The taste was not the sweet one that I expected. The first taste is, again, like a dessert wine. And just when I lower one's guard, a veritable explosion of flavours and a very strong, sour lemonade-like bitterness hits the taste buds. This is a really powerful brew in all aspects! Then, the bitter explosion is replaced by a crisp, dry taste filled with … the same notes as in the smell, really. After a short while, most of the flavours fades away leaving a kriek-like taste of cherries. The taste is overall strong; this is a beer that must be allowed plenty of time (and at 9%, that is a good thing).

The aftertaste is long and filled with dry cherries, raisins and a touch of cognac.

The almost chemical bitterness in the middle of the palette surprised me; it gave the brew an unbalanced tasting experience. Maybe I should have waited a few more years with this one?

Oh. It just struck me that this beer got a lot in common with the few unblended Belgian Lambrics that I have drunk in the past.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of lionchow
3.68/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2000 vintage.

Pours a mildly hazy, dark ruby red. No head and no carbonation.

A - Fruit, oak, candi sugar, marshmallows

F - Sweet cherries, raspberries, blackberries, candi sugar. Very nice.

M - dry, with no carbonation at all.

Overall it was good, I would certainly drink another.

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Photo of blamoe
3.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Gales Old Prize 2007 is a strange beer, but ina good way in that it has a sherry like flavour and basically no carbination. But you wouldn't think it's a ale at 9% and it's an almost a syrupy consistancey and is vey sweet and slightly malty with no trace of hops and i couldn't have more than one, but is worth a try just for the experiance.

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Photo of cookester
3.29/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I just popped open a 1995 vintage. Bottle#1021. The cork crumbled when I tried to pull it out. Fished out most of it. Like an idiot I did not keep it on its side. Oh well. That said,this ale is not too bad for its age. It has a muddy brown color and a raisin-like flavor. It has a bit of a sour after taste too. Not much alcohol notes either. The beer had almost no head, although this may have to do with its age. Just a few bubbles that dissipated quickly. I think I let this one age too long. A younger bottle may be better. Still not as bad as it could have been.

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Photo of Bananaman
4.27/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Prize Old Ale 2007 is a strange but nice beer. I have one more bottle in my "beer cellar" that I will save a year or two.

Dark-red color with a fast disapearing white head.

Smells lot of berries and some black currant Quite distinguished smell anyway.

The taste is nice with much black currant leaves, wine and a lot of sweet malts. Pretty low bitterness though. Medium thick palate.

Well, this was a really exciting beer. Hopefully some storing will make this one a real beauty.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.53/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 vintage served in a crystal snifter/balloon glass.

Bottle was a bit difficult to open considering the cork has been in there for over 14 years. The beer poured still with absolutely no carbonation at all which is to be expected. The nose was full of dried fruits, raisins, tobacco, sherry, Madeira, leather, prunes and oak. The body is a little on the thin side but considering it's age I'm not surprised. Plenty of alcohol legs when the still beer is swirled. The taste is immaculate. Leather, red stone fruits, prunes, tobacco is dominant, still retains a bit of sweetness, there is a subtle spicy character that could be from the hops used, heavy oxidation in the form of high sherry notes with the leather and Madeira. Warming alcohol presence in the finish. This vintage beer is a rich and wonderful taste of history.

This beer stood up to the test of time and deserved every point given. Some may not appreciate the aged qualities that make this beer great. It is a must try to see what cellaring beer can do to a fantastic original product. Bravo!

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Photo of boatshoes
2.46/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Picked this up (2001 vintage) at Beers of the World while in Rochester. Had heard very mixed things about this beer and thought I would give it a try.

Appearance- Pours a medium, opaque brown and is very nearly flat with just a minimal ring of large bubbles around the edge. Not very appetizing looking, but I wasn't expecting too much from an old ale in terms of carbonation.

Smell- A mix of good and bad here. Lots of vanilla and tannins on the nose but also some wet cardboard and mustiness. Smells as though it may have aged past its prime.

Taste- Similar to the nose. Some vanilla, leather, and tannins but these are overwhelmed by oxidation, cardboard, and mildew flavors that are also present. I have to image that this one has simply passed its prime in the aging process having gone eight years. Not very appetizing.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Mouthfeel is poor, being both thin and flat. The drinkability is also quite terrible on this given the off flavors present.

Overall, this tasted like it had potential back in the day but had been kept for too long. Would like to give a more recent vintage a chance if that is possible.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.52/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep brown with zero head, but oddly enough, some rising bubbles for a 1996 bottling. Some slight tears running down the side of the glass after a sip.

Big raisin, brown bread, molasses, bruised fruit aroma.

Raisins and dark bread, with some apple skin tartness. Not overly sweet, which is surprise, with no alcohol showing either. A little sour, a little acid, light bitter in the finish. Some earth, some...age.

Mush. I know this is old, but this is dead still, which makes this cloying. Alcohol or astringency would have helped.

Funny enough, this is going down ok. A true sipper, but this is not your novice beer. It is the most un-beer like thing I've had (that is not spoiled or turned, for that matter). It so wants to be wrong, and there is enough to redeem it. Not for everyone, and absolutely not to be the first try of this style.

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Photo of 100floods
3.65/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

bottled in 1998. purchased at healthy spirits. Cork was difficult to take off, few chunks of cork pour into a dark murky copper hue. Smells of smooth liquor. No head, no carbonation. Tastes a little like a dry red wine. hints of vinegar. You cannot really taste anything else. I'm hoping/guessing that this is what hops taste like when they're super old. Not quite sure what to think of it. Definitely not bad. It's just not every day that you get to drink a 12 year old bottle of beer, especially for $3.50. I'm curious as to who cellared it for so long, Healthy Spirits or the brewery.

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Photo of Thorpe429
2.06/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bottle courtesy of Lunch. Served in a SAVOR snifter.

Pours a very dark brown color with no head really at all. Thin, thin collar without much going on. The nose carries some cardboard and a bit of booze. Sweetness as well. Plenty of malt. Flavor has loads of wet cardboard and booze. Some malt sweetness. Medium, flat body. Meh.

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Photo of grayburn
1.63/5  rDev -53.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

bottled in 1996 bottle 0534

I bought this on the cheap like just about everyone else apparently, not expecting much, but definitely interested in a 13 year old brew. I expected no carbonation and some heavy oxidation...I got them both. The oxidation turned this into a sour cardboard mess, there were some port and sherry notes in the nose, but nothing redeeming enough to keep this from the lips of the mighty drain.

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Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.9/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2005 Vintage-Sampled 1/25/2009

Presentation: Very classy 9.3oz brown corked and foiled brown bottle---Brewed in 2005, and poured into a Chimay chalice at room temperature.

Appearance: Dark garnet beer with tints of brown and just the slightest hint of murkiness. Even a fairly strong pour produces no head to speak of.

Smell: One of the most unique noses I've ever experienced from a beer. It's enormously fruity up front, with primary aromas that remind me STRONGLY of Pommeau de Normandie, a specialty from Northern France made with Calvados and fresh apple cider aged in oak. Behind the oaky and apple cider aromas are hints of alcohol, a slight musty/earthiness, and hints of brown sugar. Overall, this is immensely intriguing and quite pleasant, though it reminds me more of a wine than a beer.

Taste: There are mild caramel malty flavors up front, balanced nicely with apple and raisin (maybe fig as well?). There's a defite zip of sourness and acidity as well as just a touch of warming alcohol and a hint of barnyard and oak in the finish. Definitely unique, and pretty tasty.

Mouthfeel: Medium-heavy bodied and somewhat viscous.

Drinkability: This is a sipper for sure; 9.3oz is the perfect amount.

Conclusion: One of the most unique beers I've tried to date. It has character somewhat reminiscent of a fine red wine, and it's held up beautifully for the 3 or so years it's been in the bottle. Not something I'd get all the time, but I am definitely considering picking up a bottle or two more of this to keep on hand for special occasions.

2005 Vintage (my last bottle)-Sampled 7/16/2010

Appearance: An aggressive pour produces a beautiful crystalline garnet beer with ruby highlights when held up to the light. No head. Not no way, not no how. Same goes for carbonation, though there was a soft "hiss" when I opened the bottle.

Smell: My immediate thought is I get the same Pommeau-like aromas as I did last time, but there's some rumminess and more dark caramel than I remember there being. Mild, restrained booziness as well. Pretty appealing actually, if a bit unusual.

Taste: I'm drinking this at room temperature, and you'd never know it's 9% abv. Very mild actually. Some red apple and fruit flavors, as well as a light pale malt backbone, just a hint of which remains. Ghostly notes of earth and cellar. What's here is pretty nice, though it definitely tastes a bit muted. I know you can put this down for the long haul, but I'm wondering if it's really kind of on the downslide. It's not that it's bad, and it's definitely mellow as all get out, especially considering the abv, but it's not very complex at this point.

Mouthfeel: W/out the carbonation it actually feels a bit thin; it tastes more like a mild sherry or a very weak liqueur, and it just feels a bit lacking.

Drinkability: Medium

Conclusion: I gave this an A- first time around, this I'd probably give a strong B. Overall, I think I'll bump the overall score down to a B+ to take both samples into account.

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Photo of DoctorDog
3.29/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Presentation: 9.3 oz bottle into a snifter. "Brewed in 2002" printed on the back label. Thanks to beveritt for procuring this, and many other brews, during his recent travels.

A- Murky reddish-brown. Pours with no flat as flat can be.

S- Sweet and sour cherries. Quite vinous, with hints of oak-esque aromas.

T- Quite vinous.... sweet and slightly sour cherries/dark fruits offset by tannin/oaken notes and a subdued alcohol presence.

M- No carbonation....medium/light feel. Smooth alcohol warming. Shame that the carbonation is gone...the overall experience suffers greatly from its absence.

D- Eh.... Enjoyable array of flavors rendered a confusing experience by the lack of carbonation. OK for one small bottle as a sipper only.

Future outlook: Pity that there is no carbonation left in this one. I could see really enjoying it immensely if it was somehow adequately carbed. Oh well, still an interesting aged beer that hit the mark in some areas, but fell short in others.

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Photo of Jason
4.27/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

1997, bottle # 4695.

A creamy and chewy mouth feel with a very low carbonation that merely adds to the smoothness. A complex mix of black malt astringency, raisin and apple fruitiness, and a dry maltiness that leaves mostly a grain taste and a trace of sweetness. Slight warming alcohol has a sweet spicy flavour. Hops have the flavour of an extended boil leaving a mild bitterness. A little dry though a handful of residual sweetness is left in the finish. Corky/woody flavour dries the finish even more. Around three years for this vintage has done it justice ... intricate and complex packed with fruity flavours.

1996, bottle # 4026.

Taste: Slick creamy mouth feel quickly leaves to let an acidic/tart granny smith apple twang and a mildly astringent grain flavour to the tongue. Hops have faded though leave a leafy flavour ... some earthiness and a woody/corky flavour also touches the palate from the wooden fermenters. Carbonation is very low and give the creaminess control throughout. Warming alcohol gives a little bit of spiciness. Some malt flavours are present ... husk and grain mostly. The finish is quite dry with a leftover grain taste. Surprisingly this brew could benefit from a few if not several more years mellow the tartness.

1995, bottle # 1043.

Thick syrupy mouths feel with barely any carbonation at all. Slight granny smith apple like tartness up front ... tartness is not too much. Blackberries and raisins mark the fruitiness in this ale ... light roasted lingering black malt twang in the middle, liken to mild black coffee. Hops are a faded memory leaving a vague bitterness. Warming alcohol and a grainy, woody/corky, apple peel and cracker like malt slowly fade into the finish.

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Photo of kvnstfrd
4/5  rDev +14.9%

Photo of beerluvr
2.32/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours into the glass with zero carbonation. Opaque, almost purple-ish color. Nose is of dark fruits and raisins, with a whiff of alcohol present. First taste is pruney, winey & dry. Mouthfeel is slightly similar to Sam Adams Triple Bock...only not nearly as syrupy. A short finish with a lingering astringency...not one of the best beers I've had.

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Photo of cbutova
2.8/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

1998 vintage bottle aged somewhere outside of my cellar, just picked it up at the store a few days ago.

A- The 14 year old beer cascades out of the corked bottle entering the glass with an odd red-brown hue, pretty murky up to light. Nothing forms atop the beer, no bubbles or clouds nevermind a head. Lace is non-existant. It appears that this is flat.

S- Old, stale sugars, brown and caramel, dominate the nose and remind me of basically all of the oldest beers I have had (not including lambics). Some mustiness. A dark fruit presence is also big, something like prune, cherries and figs. Phenols and alcohols are there giving it a strong edge.

T- The fruiter aspects of the beer seem to take over here, my beer is somewhere around cellar temperate (mid-50s). Flavors like raisin, fig, prune, plum, grape, cherries lending a lot of fruit to the beer's flavor, very vinous. Brown sugar and caramel still present but in the background. A bit dusty and musty feeling. Interestingly enough there is a magic marker/"Sharpie" thing going on (like I noticed in 1999 JW Lees), probably the phenols/alcohol/musty and edgy fruit combining.

MF- Carbonation is not even a factor in this beer, it all must have escaped the dry cork. Slick and thick oily body with alcohol warming on the palate.

Drinks sort of like a wine or juice because of the missing carbonation and the phenol fruit notes. Worth a shot at $6 and 14 years old but not a new favorite by any means. Really seems to get harsh after each sip.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.47/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2003 Vintage. Pours a one finger cream head that vanishes without a trace of lace. Murky brown color. Very light carbonation and heavy bodied. Nose is raisins and malt. Flavor is sweet and sour raisins and a hint of alcohol. Not bad but needs more carbonation. $6.99 for a corked 275ml bottle from Beverage Warehouse Winooski, VT.

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Photo of bamadog
1.9/5  rDev -45.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

OK, so first off, I feel that I have to say that I absolutely love Old Ales, easily one of my favorite styles. I've seen this one on the shelf numerous times, but didn't want to fork out the cash for it. Well, when I broke down and did it, I wish I could have that moment back. This one was pretty rough. I was nervous going into it since the reviews are really mixed, and I should have left it alone.

Appearance: So my experience started out simple enough, and this beer looked alright. Poured a deep dark caramel brown; started with a 1/4 finger head that's creamy and tan and fades quickly to nothing but a thin whisp on the surface; body is entirely opaque.

Smell: Deep and sweet caramel and toffee; burnt sugar and a bit of a spicy presence to it; definite whiff of alcohol and a bit of a rasin or prune scent to it.

Taste: Here is where it all went down hill. The second this touched my tongue, I knew it was a mistake. Started off like burnt chocolate and a mouthfull of rotten raisins and prunes mixed with isopropyl alcohol. I wish I could say I was exaggerating with that description, but that's actually how it tastes. If there are doubts, please read my other reviews as they're all pretty simple, cut and dry.

Mouthfeel: Oily, buttery and flat. Honestly, I couldn't tell you much more about this because the taste was so awful I really couldn't stand having it in my mouth.

Drinkability: Awful due to the taste.

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Photo of beernut7
4.57/5  rDev +31.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 vintage. This is one of the smoothest old ales I have ever tried. Nice brwon amber color and extremely smooth body with the perfect level of sweetness. Awesome.

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Photo of benclimbs
4.12/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"Bottled in 1997" on the label

Bought for half price at Healthy Spirits SF and they warned me "some of these are awful, some are amazing, take your chances, that's why they're half off" - stoked i took the plunge

This is by far the oldest beer i've ever had, and what an interesting, unique brew it is.

L - Pours very unexciting, flat and syrupy, but not discolored in the slightest ...hey, its 14 years old! what would you expect.

S - intense...olivey at first but dissipates into a strong prune/dried fruit driven, cocoa and vitamin nose - big oak in there too. very nice

TASTE - is fantastic - yes its a lot of prune juice and raisins, but its also loaded with dry, coffee malts, off-sour cherry/berry character and a nice cake like finish....delicious for what this is

Overall - this is a wholly unique and incredible beer...after 14 years this has gained an impeccable complexity, a lot like a nice port wine, oakey and full of rich fruit. so glad i tried this

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Photo of Viking
4.19/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark reddish brown, fairly clear (yet still rather dark). No apparent carbonation in the body. Very faint head, no retention whatsoever. Very vinous caramel/tofee aroma. Big presence of fruit in the smell and taste - seems to be an odd (but good) combination of sweet apple and slightly sour cherry. Big caramel/toffee presence in the flavor. Spicy as well. I'm not sure, but there seemed to be hints of nutmeg in this one. Slight fruity aftertaste, and fairly dry. Full-bodied, creamy brew. This should have been my nightcap. Alas, there were beers I had not yet met...

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Photo of mikecharley
4/5  rDev +14.9%

Photo of ZAP
3.98/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I just about busted a nut getting the #$# cork off in one piece..ahh make that several pieces that didn't fall back into the bottle...but after a long and arduos process the cork was successfully removed..

Poured a dark brown...relatively clear..absolutely no head...mouthfeel is very uncarbonated..I love the nose...molasses....brown sugar....dark fruits (plums, dates, even burgandy cherries)..a bit of oak...just an awesome smelling beer..

The flavors are similar to the nose but much more tame....dark fruits...molasses...oak...good taste to this...

My biggest complaint is the loose mothfeel...very uncabonated which gives it almost a watery texture...seems almost thin...

Overall, the nose is great and the taste is very good but the body leaves something to be desired..definitely worth trying...I won't be buying any more though....

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Photo of jaydoc
3.76/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

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Gale's Prize Old Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd
Beer rating: 3.48 out of 5 with 418 ratings