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

316 Reviews
Gale's Prize Old AleGale's Prize Old Ale

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

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-31-2001

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Reviews: 316 | Ratings: 411
Photo of UCLABrewN84
1.96/5  rDev -43.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

2005 vintage.

Pours a thick murky dark brown with absolutely no head and no lacing. Smell is of malt, dark fruit, oxidized sherry/port, and some cork aromas. Taste is salty with malt, earth, rotten fruit, and cork flavors. This beer has zero carbonation and is super flat. Not even the slightest hint of carbonation on this one. Overall, this is a pretty horrible beer all around. I had high hopes when the cork came out clean and intact but I guess I didn't luck out.

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Photo of metter98
3.65/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle at The Diamond, Brooklyn, NY

A: The beer is very dark brownish amber in color and poured with absolutely no trace of a head.
S: There are aromas of alcohol in the nose along with notes of sherry and sweet, dark fruits.
T: The overall taste tastes like a lighter version of sherry with hints of alcohol and toffee.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and has a low amount of carbonation.
O: This beer must have been aged upright with a cork because there’s not that much visible or perceptible carbonation. Although the alcohol was noticeable in the smell, it wasn’t that perceptible in the taste.

Note: 2005 Vintage

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.47/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 1998 on-tap at Rich O's Gravity Head '08: February, 29, 2007

A murky brown color with soft, light carbonation, dainty head retention and basically still. Aromas of the deepest, darkest fruits imaginable: figs, plumbs, grapes, raisons, prunes, dates, berries, nuts, and a mild musty / woody aroma. These characters cary over to the flavors seamlessly. Subdued sweetness, and light soft textures without a hint of harshness or heat. Finishes very soft with a hearty sweetness and a linger of herbal hops and woodiness.

Recently drank a pint of the '05 vintage hand drawn from cask at Rich O's (Louisville). Expecting a lot from this brew, it didn't give me what I was expecting, but it was different. The Cask gave an almost flat look to the beer with lessened carbonation and virtually no carbonation. A dark brown brew with amber highlights. Smells much older than and '05 with a very woodsy, musky, nutty, almost-moldy aroma. Flavors supported the aromas, but added caramel, malts, dark fruits, figs and dates, and a strong (fusal) alcohol flavor. The feel was heavy on the palate with a mildly oily texture. Lack of carbonation made the beer seem heavier than it was. The finish was a lingering maltiness and alcohol sensation. Strange, but good training for the taste buds.

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Photo of largadeer
3.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

'96 vintage shared by nickd717 at his birthday bash. This was purchased by his father Dalton, an English native, 13 years ago, and cellared until Nick's 21st birthday, when it was given to him for his coming of age. Congratulations Nick, you're a man now.

The beer pours a clear chestnut color, and rests in the glass completely flat. The color and clarity make this a beautiful beer despite the lack of carbonation.

Aromas of cork, prunes, tobacco and soy sauce greet my nose first. The cork aroma is fairly dominant initially, but the beer grows in complexity as it's allowed to breathe. There's a touch of fruity tartness, sherry and leather beneath more powerful dried fruit aromas.

Vinous on the palate with a wallop of prunes, figs and light soy sauce. Toffee sweetness meets wood, earth, tobacco and leather. The body seems to have thinned quite a bit from age, and the stillness amplifies that. 13 years is a long time for a 9% beer, but all things considered, this has held up pretty nicely. While I couldn't drink a lot of this, it makes for an interesting sipper.

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Photo of brentk56
3.07/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Brewed in 2003

Appearance: Pours a caramel color without a head, though I am not surprised given the age

Smell: Caramel, raisins and a barrel-aged tartness

Taste: Somewhat like a Madeira, with a caramel, raisin and tart cherry character up front, the beer becomes increasingly sour by mid-palate; after the swallow, the sourness becomes overwhelming and ruins the complexity

Mouthfeel: Flat and a bit watery

Drinkability: The smell is the best part and the mouthfeel is the worst; it appears that this beer is hit or miss with respect to how it ages; mine was a miss

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 vintage - Pourred a dark brew with almost no carbonation or head. Vinous aroma is very strong, almost like port. Alcohol taste is well balance and body is between medium to strong. It is the first time I tried an old ale and find it similar to some barleywine that I tried before. Overall, a great beer and even greater bottle with cork. I'll try to get my hand on some more of these to aged them.

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Photo of emerge077
4.17/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 bottle: Less oxidation, toffee, spices, and fruit are much more vivid here. Active carbonation with a thin tan cap of whipped foam. Enjoyed this bottle enough to bring up the score to 4.15.

B- / 3.4
Neck label, "bottled in 1996, bottle # 4991"

After trying some aged Thomas Hardy's recently, i've been interested in exploring more English Old Ales.

Poured into a tulip glass, there were a few larger bubbles at first, then a skeletal web of skim across the surface. It glints ruby red in the light, otherwise a dark brown/black. A swirl releases an echo of cobweb skim, but there is very little visible carbonation. There was a decent pop when the cork was pulled.

Well oxidized aroma, old musty leather, tobacco, soil, and grapes.

Flavor is rich and sweet, ye old fruity elixir. The hallmarks of age are here, but compliment rather than strike against it. Musty oxidation and pruney raisin fig sweetness. No hint at a high ABV. Imagine a mixed fruit flavored fruit roll up aged for a few years in a cellar, then distilled into an old ale. Light yet slightly syrupy, mild carbonation, this is a sweet after dinner drink.

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Photo of zeff80
3.62/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2001 bottle consumed on 8/5/12.

A - It poured out a murky brown color with almost no head. No lacing at all.

S - It smelled boozy and a little fruity. The fruit aroma increases as it warms up.

T - Boozy and malty. A little brandy-like. Mostly sweet with a sourness that I assume is unintended.

M - It was smooth and medium bodied. A somewhat sticky mouthfeel.

O - This is really interesting. I'd like to try newer vintages.

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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 oberon
3.17/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Well found this up in Buffalo at Premiere Gourmet and decided on the 98 vintage,pours a deep ruby red with no head or carbonation to speak of,aroma is woody and raisiny sweet.The taste is pretty odd raisiny and port-like but also an annoying sourness to it that makes it a litle hard to drink.There are some nicethings going on with this beer but the little sour tinge to it kinda ruins the moment.

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Photo of jlindros
3.77/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A 1997 vintage.

Dark molasses brown color with no carbonation or head.

Nose has brown malts, light syrupy sweetness, raisin, caramel, aged malts, and a bit of cork.

Taste has aged chocolate malts, port wine, dark sweet malts, candied syrupy raisins and plums, tobacco, and a bit of cork flavors, burnt toffee, a little syrupy as well.

Mouth is medium bodied, syrupy, and no carbonation.

Drink is meh, syrupy, a bit of minerality, hint of booze.

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Photo of superspak
3.38/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500 ml bottle into snifter, 2007 vintage best before 12/18/2010. Pours extremely hazy dark reddish brown color with a small foamy light khaki head with decent retention, that reduces to a spotty foamy cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of huge prune, raisin, fig, toast, red wine, molasses, caramel, chocolate, bread, earth, tobacco, and light herbal. Pretty nice aromas with good complexity and balance. Taste of raisin, cherry, prune, red wine, toast, molasses, caramel, roasted malt, chocolate, earth, tobacco, wood, light cardboard, and herbal. Moderate wine-like earthy tartness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark fruit, toast, roasted malt, chocolate, earth, tobacco, cardboard, and herbal earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Pretty nice flavor balance with good complexity; fair amount of oxidation noticed; slight cloying flavors noticed after the finish. Light carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a creamy, slick, syrupy, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is decent. Alcohol is fairly well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a pretty solid old ale. Some good flavor complexity with decent balance; though a bit cloying, it was quite smooth to sip on. This was fairly enjoyable.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.75/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ah, 1997, we hardly knew ye. Scientists fulfilled the worldwide mandate to clone the noble sheep, audiences delighted at the blockbuster film "Con Air", the world said "good-bye" to Biggie Smalls and the members of the Heaven's Gate cult, and Gale's graciously gave us another bottling of their Prize Old Ale. Good times... good times, indeed.

Appearance: Pours out a slightly murky, mahogany-hued body with no real carbonation beyond a few scant bubbles.

Smell: Sweet-smelling caramel with notes of less-than-dark fruits and wood shavings, all mingled with some sherry-scented hints of oxidation.

Taste: Sweetish, candyish caramel in the fore followed by a fruity, vinous mix of golden raisins, figs, and even ripe apricots marinating in a tumbler of sherry. Vague wooden component. Remnants of a long-dead earthy hop character nearly vacant and bitterness. Only a touch oxidized overall. A rebound of sweet, over-toasted caramel cubes on the warming finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Low carbonation, subsequently giving it a smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Enjoyable and pleasantly drinkable, but, when reaching for an English-born beer from the 1990s, I far prefer to grab ahold of the J.W. Lees Harvest Ales.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.83/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2001 vintage. Orange-influenced dark bronze, until held up to the light of the setting sun. The color then becomes a beautiful, softly glowing, maraschino cherry red. The lid is slim to start, though it looks great since it's a complementary shade of golden beige. This is not the sort of beer that generates a large head, so I'm grateful that my relatively gentle pour resulted in one this nice.

The darkly fruity, vinous nose is reminiscent of port-soaked plums. I'd like a little more power and complexity, however. The snifter is doing all it can in terms of concentration, but it isn't enough. Since the beer is already at cellar temperature, it has no opportunity to warm and to gain anything in the process. I hope the nose is the weak link and the beer makes a huge comeback on the palate.

These George Gale & Company beers are interesting little sippers. I can't say they blow me away, but I find that if I put in a little effort and have some patience, I can better appreciate their subtleties and hidden charms. This one is lighter and more sour than expected. Why I expected anything at all is a mystery since they never seem to match up with their stated styles. They're oddball brews, in a good way.

The ripe fruitiness straddles the line between the darker fruits (raisins, plums) and the lighter ones (white raisins, green apples). The sourness, thankfully, is nicely offset by a stealth sweetness and a well-mannered vinousness. It drinks every bit of the 9.0% ABV, although it's as smooth and as warming as a high quality sherry or port.

If I could make one improvement, and one improvement only, it would be a bigger mouthfeel. That's a frequent request of mine, but a more full, chewy mouthfeel would benefit Prize Old Ale immensely. I'm convinced that if it remained in contact with my taste buds for longer than a second or two, new vistas of flavor would appear and would result in my liking it more than I already do. An opportunity lost.

Despite my scores, Gale's Prize Old Ale is an enjoyable beer. It isn't the typical old ale, if such a thing even exists, but I'm not sure what else I'd call it. I had a great time with all 9.3 ounces, sip by sip by sip. If you're looking for a comfort beer and a true original, you'll find it here. And in the rest of the Gale lineup as well.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a bottle at The Diamond in Brooklyn, NY

2005 Vintage

A: Pours a murky dark orange to amber to brown in color with hints of golden yellow when held up to the light, which looks like a very dark unfiltered apple cider. There is just the most minimal amount of off-white head that dissipates almost instantly. No amount of lacing is observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of alcohol with more moderate notes of sherry and dark/tropical fruits.

T: There are light amounts of malty dark fruit (bordering on tropical fruit) sweetness with notes of sherry and some alcohol presence.

M: On the heavier side of medium bodied with very low amounts of carbonation. Light amounts of alcohol heat/warming.

O: Enjoyable and interesting but there is just too much alcohol presence for this one to be easy to drink. This would probably be a much more enjoyable beer sitting by the fireplace and sipping on a cold winter afternoon than in the middle of summer (even in frigid AC).

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Photo of russpowell
4.17/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 2 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1996 version, from a great English brewery, Bottle# 4239 picked up at goebbels in Wichita

Pours murky mahogany with purple tinges & minimal brown head & much oilyness. Finishes hazed with floaties

S: Oakyness, sherry, sourness, raisins

T: Tart oak, burgundy & puckery dry raisins, port, & vinegar, alcohol burn, dryness & plums up front. Dryness, sherry, with loads of dryness & tannins, once warmer. Finishes with vinegar, oakyness & a bit of booze burn. Complex, but could've blended better. Almost pulled a 4.5

MF: Vinous, slick, & near stillness, skews hot/acidic

Drinks slooow, a great night cap, but not one to dive in to blightlty, a great dessert or cheese course selection. This would be nice one to split new years eve

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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 smcolw
2.29/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Bottled in 1999, opened in 2012.

As typical of some in this style, there is NO head even with a vigorous pour. No lace, naturally. Muddy brown color--appears to be excessively cloudy.

Smells like a glass of Port was added to this beer. Strong alcohol and coyly sweet to the nose.

This is very flat. I believe this may have been exposed to oxygen (thus the strong port flavors). So I can't tell if this is ruined or intended to be like this. If it is intended, I am disappointed. It is sugary and rich. Frankly, this is nearly undrinkable. The aftertaste is similar to drinking a Sherry.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.07/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

Thanks to twiggamortis420 for this bottle!

2007 vintage. Well, if this were a true prize-winner, rather than something prized by the creator, would it compare to the massive achievement of Pabst's blue ribbon way back when? Let's see: This stuff pours a slightly brackish sienna topped by a finger or so of glowing off-khaki foam. The nose comprises red wine grapes, oak-y toffee, a hint of walnut, a breeze of earthy greens, a sprig of spearmint, and a strain of vanilla through the back. The taste brings in more of the same, though the grapes, still lightly tart, are forced to a more background role (though not exactly in the background itself) in favor of a sweeter, richer, slightly buttery-er toffee. In fact, a general sweetness pervades until those grapes force a tannic tartness through and help dissipate everything in a cloud. There's also a sense of spiciness in there as well, one composed mainly of cinnamon and brown sugar, but it's mostly muted, and so doesn't really clash with everything else, fading instead with that aforementioned cloud. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and an ever-so-slightly vinous feel. Overall, a lovely, complex beer. I wish I had a fresh one to compare it to, but I'm prepared to say that the past five years have been quite good to this beer. I look forward to future engagements with various incarnations...

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Photo of mdfb79
2.27/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

From 10/30/11 notes. Review $1600! Poured from a 9.3oz bottle into a tulip. 1997 vintage with the following written on the back "OA1 31433".

a - Pours a hazy dark mahogany brown color with no head or carbonation evident. An agressive pour got me a few bubbles, maybe be flat already.

s - Smells of dark sweet fruits, alcohol, raisins, musty, port, and light caramel. Lots of alcohol and a little sweet; not awful not not that great.

t - Tastes of sweet dark fruits, raisins, alcohol, caramel, musty notes, port, lightly sour. No carbonation and seems oxidized, definitely a step down from the nose and a little difficult to put down a whole bottle of.

m - Medium body and no carbonation. Unfortunately this one seems to be flat and oxidized at this point, and takes a bit away from drinking it.

o - Overall I wasn't a big fan of this beer at all. It was flat and the alcohol/port wine in the taste dominated and made it hard to rpink a 9 oz. bottle of it. Wouldn't seek it out again.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
2.54/5  rDev -27%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle shared by Lunch. Thanks Paul.

1999 vintage

The beer is flat and appears a light brown hue. The aroma offers old, dank basement, cardboard, malt, booze. The flavor is just not appealing. Old, boozy liquor dipped in cardboard. Devoid of carbonation and off putting on the palate. I have tried this beer several times over the last several years and have yet to have a positive experience. Avoid.

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Photo of stakem
3.57/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1997 vintage from a 275ml corked bottle into a tulip. Unfortunately, like most of these style bottles, this was not stored on it's side so the cork snapped while removing it. The brew pours a clear mahogany color with ruby through the body. A lighter yellowish hint is seen around the edges and no bubble formation outside of the initial pour.

The aroma is leathery with caramel, toffee and some residual sweetness still seems to flirt with the nose. A bit of booze is evident and somewhat fruity in nature coupled with a hint of brown sugar. The aroma is surprisingly lacking in the expected oxidative notes.

The flavor is somewhat oxidized with a mild paper, cardboard and foliage aspect but not overly so. There are notes of leather, earth and caramel to toffee but without the accompanying sweetness. The malt is more like burnt sugar at this point and plenty of fruity alcohol keeps things warming. As it warms up, a mild tangy vinous to wild note emerges along with a slight indication of chocolate.

This is a surprisingly light bodied brew that is still. I was surprised that it was not showing its age as much as I thought it would. The alcohol is still vibrant in this and I found it to be quite enjoyable despite the packaging failure that is thise corked 9oz bottles.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.05/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 version. Pours a murky brown that delivers absolutely zero head. Nose seems a bit spicy really. There is an interesting fruit aspect here. I want to say it is banana...or plantain? Not entirely sure. Pretty smooth on the mouth. Nice to drink and an unusual treat.

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Photo of jwc215
4.02/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2007 vintage, best by 18/12/10, poured into snifter:

Pours dark brown with a thin head that descends to a vanishing swirl and a bubbly rings that leaves "legs".

The smell is of figs, plums, nuts, slight alcohol, bitter chocolate and earthy tones.

The taste is of figs, dates, raisins, prunes and some bittersweet chocolate. Alcohol shows, but not too boozy or sharp. A vinuous character grows as it progresses, balanced by some caramel. Finishes with a long dryness.

It has very low carbonation. It's on the syrupy side. It could use a bigger, creamier body, IMO.

It shows off the somewhat boozy dark fruitiness well, with characteristics of red wine. An interesting sipper with quite a bit of complexity.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.92/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in 1997

Pours a dark, raisiny brown, with hardly any head, just thin, dusky foam.
Aroma, treacly sweet, molasses, dark rum, and a hint of Jagermeister. Spices abound, as well as darker fruit, cherries, grapes, but it's a wicked conglomoration.
Taste: most unusual! Anise jumps on board the palate, joining molasses and plums, rum and raisins, sweet and sticky. Prominent malt, but nary a hop to be heard from, and a long, lingering finish. Halfway in, this messy monster starts to tame, and feels almost mellow, but that is to laugh. Alcohol content comes through, then, too, and does it's warming business, not to mention other effects. A perfect winter warm-up, an excellent tonic against late-December chill. This time, I felt that the cute little Gale's 9.3 oz bottle was a mistake, and I could take a bit more of the stuff, for the glass emptied before I wanted it to. Gets darkier and fruitier toward the end, while that 9% tip-toes up to the cranium to do it's dirty work. A choice sledgehammer indeed to send me off to dreamland!

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Gale's Prize Old Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd
3.48 out of 5 based on 411 ratings.
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