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

414 Ratings
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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Ratings: 414 |  Reviews: 317
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 blackie
4.12/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: The pour off of the sediment produces very little head and only a few bubbles linger on the surface. The beer is a deep amber in color.

smell: The most vinous aroma I have ever found in a beer, and aromas as if some lactobacillus or something were used in the fermentation. Complex aromas including aged leather and hardwoods, red grape, dried dates and other concentrated fruits, vanilla, and bourbon. Moderate alcohol presence does not detract. Very strange, but very complex and interesting.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is just between light and medium. The body is medium.

taste: The first thing I notice is that the beer tastes surprisingly wild, with a touch of Belgian wild fermentation to the flavor. Vinous flavors abound, with hints of red grape and dried date paste found on the tongue. Not as complex as the aroma, but good in its own right. Just a touch of bitterness/astringency in the finish is the only hint of hop presence I found in this beer, if it was even caused by that.

drinkability: Pretty good drinkability for a 9% ABV old ale, as the alcohol is well hidden, but the complexity does limit drinkability somewhat.

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Photo of shbobdb
2.75/5  rDev -21%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

This sherry is quite interesting. In both look and taste it is somewhere between a rich amontillado and cream. The nose is dominated by the rich nutty characteristics of the amontillado, with strong, almost dominating, wet cardboard, while it rounds out and ends pleasantly sweet, like the cream. The light carbonation present is strange and wholly unexpected in a sherry. As is the faint hint of chocolate-covered raisins.

Oh, wait . . . this is a beer? Heck, coulda fooled me.

Next time, if I want a sherry, I'll order it. Gimme a Bell's or a Northcoast anyday.

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Photo of DogFood11
1.72/5  rDev -50.6%
look: 1 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Sorry but I've sampled 3 of these prized old ales now and all have poured flat and boring. I review this off three distinctly differnt occastions although all fall within the calendar year of 2006. Poured aggressively it forms nothing, leaves nothing, caramel brown color.

Taste is like chewing on a cedar stick laced with heartburn. A charred effect creeps into the bitterness, caramel late in the game.

Fuck!! I get so pissed!! I keep seeing decent to good reviews from this brewere and I keep buying into it, keep spending money on it and cant understand what is going wrong. The beer is far from spoiled it just tastes like some boring crap. I'm vowing to wait till i'm in their homeland to try this brewery again...Banned.

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Photo of scruffwhor
2.73/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a corked, 275ml bottle. Says it was brewed in 2003.

Appearance- Color is like a past its prime apple cider. Very dark amber, a rusty blood if you will. Like a cider, with no lacing or head of course.

Smell- Vinous, yet sweet malts. Reminds me of wine or oak. But their were some hints of mold.

Taste- Starts out tart with some mold and old house taste in the middle, and finishing with a more defined soury yet slightly sweet sherry flavor.

Mouthfeel- Pretty tart, maybe aging for about three years didn't subdue its tart flavor. Or...maybe it wasn't stored properly??? Either way, this beer hit the sides of the tongue the most with its cranberry like tart. The middle is wear pre-pennicilin hit the most.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
4.16/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


purchased on the recommendation of unionmade

surprised to find a cork under the red wrap. pours a dirty brown with no head, just some bubbles loitering around the edges like seedy denizens of beer world.

smells sweet of overripe fruits, vinous like the previously mentioned array of dessert wines one will encounter in a fancy restaurant.. smells like a beer lover's alternative. sweet and cloying, leathery, musty hints of age give character.. not rank foulness. nice.

big and figgy flavor. alcohol brings the malty, layered sweetness closer to icewine or sippable scotch levels. finish is mildly sour in a lambic-like way, and the present hints of roasted caramel are satisfying in very, very small doses.

didn't think i would like this at first, but when evaluated as a slow-drinking, sweet dessert beer.. well, it gains some serious appeal. i should get another one of these to cellar for '16. will probably be even better.

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

Bottle sampled is a 1996 that I've had in the beer cellar for almost a year. Purchased at Colonial Spirits in MA where they sell a lot of vintage ales.

As a cork filled bottle, age is always an issue. This bottle had a perfect Poured dark brown with almost no head, just a faint wisp at the edge of the glass.
The aroma has a thick sweetness, raison / prune with a hint of wood rounded out with an alcohol undertone.

Flavor is very nice. Often described as winey, I'd say desert wine consistency.with a definite raisins or earthy wood finish.

mouthfeel is rich, thick but not syrupy. alcohol warmnes almost whisps through in the finish leaving you wanting another sip.

This is definitely a beer to sip and savor rather than try to rush through. Not a beer for everyone, rather a beer for those that enjoy more than the typical mainstream or major craft beers. I think this has legs to make it as long as 20 years. I have added a nice stock of this to the beer cellar!

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Photo of weeare138
3.12/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to hopdog for this...
This is the Calvados aged edition.
Appears a light transparent golden brown with no head and no lacing.
Smell is vinous, with oak, vanilla, and caramel.
Taste is medicinal with a cherry wine and sweet caramel coming through.
Mouthfeel is is cloying and slightly sweet and medicinal.

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Photo of UncleFlip
4.1/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy brown with orange tones. Has a rather thin head.

Pungent smell...sort of a fumy apricot.

Flavour is a bit sour, with some cherry and brown sugar notes.

Carbonation hits kind of tight off the top. THis brew is a bit thin otherwise.

I could hae a couple of these in one sitting, but it might wear a bit thin on me.

Be well

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This baby's been collecting dust for several years, I'm doing some cellar sampling to start off the new year and wanted to see what this was all about.

Appearance - reddish amber, soft purple highlights. Not a bubble to be found.

Aroma - smells more like a red wine than beer. Alcohol, tannins, not very aromatic either, but okay.

Taste - pretty much tastes like wine. Vinous fruit, semi-dry, an occasional hint of chocoalte that suggests a beer, but if blindfolded I probably would classify this as a wine. As it warms, there is more of a stated presence of malt. It's not much, but I am picking it out better. Perhaps some woody tones, too. I'm a little on the fence here. If I wanted wine, I'd just buy a bottle of wine, there's not much here to set this apart.

Mouthfeel - a little heavy, just the barest trace of carbonation, complements the stateliness of the sample.

Drinkability - I forget what I paod for this, but for the chance to try it, it was worth the money. Doubtful that I'd get it again except at a good price and for a tasting party or something.

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Photo of walleye
4.38/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1996 bottle #2621. was a little worried about this cork fill apart had to pour thru a strainer. poured dark brown hardly any head or lacing. aroma got sweetness like honey and fruits and some alcohol and a winey smell like a port. flavor like a port wine with hints of fruit like warm raisins or prune juice.finish was pleasant this will be one of those beers that you can have as a after a great dinner drink. going to get several of these to keep deep in the cellar(basement)

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Photo of kzczp0
3.54/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This old ale held up well with vintage date of 2003. It poured murky and brown, dark maple syrup look but cloudy. Intense sedimentation in mix too. The smell is between an intense honey malt and fruit (grape?) flavour. There was very little carbonation that disappeared entirely within the first minute.This one is definitely not for big gulps and needs small tastes so not to overpower the senses. There is a heavy mouth feel of intense dark fruits and maltiness. I detected little hoppiness til the very end of the swallow and the alcohol was strong throughout the taste. The bottle says 9% abv but this one felt stronger than most trippels. It was a very interesting experience.

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Photo of CortexBomb
4.24/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Prize Old Ale, 1998 bottling, consumed in early 2006.

Pour into my snifter is spot on for the style, it is dirty brown, prune coloured with no head to speak of. Smell is an absolute grand slam of dates, this smells very similar to a sherry that I'm quite fond of. Beyond the dates are a whole host of other dark fruits: prunes, raisins and a certain sugary sweetness on top of all that. This smell is stunning for any style, and among the best of the old ales that I've had and I actually spent 5 minutes just picking the drink up occasionally and sniffing it prior to actually taking a sip...the smell is so good that drinking it isn't even necessary for major enjoyment.

Start is strongly alcoholic, almost like a white wine as a cool breeze hits your tongue. The sugary dark fruits then arrive in force and start pummelling the front and back of the tongue simultaneously. In addition to the extremely strong sweetness and fruits I'm also getting strong oaky flavours and a strange tartness which was completely unexpected. The finish is also odd, a nutty caress where I didn't notice that flavour earlier. The flavour isn't what I was expecting given the nose, but it is still very high quality.

Mouthfeel, is quite thick without being extremely oily. It does manage to find its way to each taste bud though, and the tart effect is interesting. Drinkability on this is good, if you first acknowledge the fact that a "beer" like this is meant to be a sipper.

My overall thoughts: A really unique and tasty example of what an old ale could be. The taste on this has a bit more alcohol than the smell was indicating, but the range of dark fruit flavours and the odd tartness make up for it. The smell is the real show-stealer with this one though, and would probably be my #1 reason for rebuying, assuming that I could find another one.

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Photo of TheEclecticGent
4.32/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gale’s Prize Old Ale 1996 Bottle # 6146 WOW! A corked old ale, very nice presentation with the bottle. A high-speed collision between a port and a beer! Whoa! A heavy oak-woody flavor and nose. The color is deep mahogany with no head at all and no lace, but who cares! No carbonation...hey it’s been locked in a bottle for a decade! The mouth feel on this one is so heavy it nearly opened a black hole in my mouth! Man it’s dense and woody…and woody..and woody..and dense. Wow! This is a sipping beer, not a drinking beer. This defies physics!

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Photo of Zorro
3.31/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

2002 Vintage.

Curious corked English style bottle.

Very little remaining carbonation but the cork is sweet smelling and there is no leakage around the cork, it looks new.

This is a well-rested and carefully handled bottle that still pours a murky brown ale with no head.

Smell is INTENSE! Almost bloody your nose intense. My first impression is that I have mistakenly poured Napoleon brandy in my glass! Amazingly intense fruity aromas even after I know how intense it is on the second sniff. Figs, raisin, melon, walnuts and pecans are just part of the aromas. I will have to contradict myself thought, this really smells much more like the one time I had 40 year old port wine, it is the nut aromas in here that do it. You could write a book about the smell of this beer.

Taste is nutty and somewhat tart in flavor at the start. The taste is somewhere between the flavor of a Flanders red and a scotch. No flavors of hops are detectable to me. There is a clear flavor of alcohol here. The flavor is best summed up as tart berries and nuts. It is a shame but the flavor does not match the amazing aroma.

Mouthfeel is diluted by the alcohol content and lack of carbonation.

This beer was past its prime; too bad they used a cork and didn't cap it too.

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Photo of doubleipa
2.55/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Fuller's has bought Gale's. Who cares. Very dissapointed. Aroma was cherry, with tawny port. Virtually no head or lacing. Body was murly and dar-reddish brown. Initial flavor was harshly sweet and salty. WIth a heavy, sweet finish flavor that lasted way too long. Palate was full and syrupy. I have a few more in the cellar. I don't think I'll drink them. I can't imagine that this would get any better with age.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
3.97/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2001 bottling. Deep ruby colored amber, no head, no carbonation. Wood and peat are prevalent in the nose, smoky with lots of dark cherries. Very similar in flavor to sherry, yet without the alcohol and much smokier. I could see pairing this with a cigar, and I rarely say that about ANY beer. Spicy; herbal. Sips like a wine or fine liquer, as there is no carbonation and a good warming alcoholic presence. A nice fireside nightcap.

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

On tap at the Blind Tiger Ale House in NYC. This tasty liquid arrives orangy almond,, clearly low carbonation, minimal head and little lacing. Nose is of alcohol and figs. This is a big flavorful brew, notes of raisins, rum, figs, funk, must and some smoke. Nicely crafted, musty old stuff, slight sourness in the finish.

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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 Fish113d
4.18/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

**Brewed in 2003**
Served from a bottle at room temperature into a tulip glass.

Pouring a reddish mahogany color w/ a fizzy & light off-white head that dissipates to a distinctive edge layer around the glass. Lots of yeast on the bottom of the bottle left over, and lots of sediment throughout the ale in the glass.

Aroma is very potent. Sitting almost 2 ft. away, I can get very dangerous aroma. Lots of plum on the sinuses, along with some dry oak aromas make up the backbone of this one. I could be mistaking the plums for grapes, for this one has a very Cabernet aroma to it. Maybe a little sour up front, but nice though!

Very subtle flavors. The fruitiness I expected wasn't there so much as the oaken flavors from the barrels along with a big shot of alcohol on the palate tha warms my tummy all the way down through the swallow. Not a lot of carbonation at all, but lots of alcohol burn.

Again, the carbonation is not there as it seemed when I uncorked it, but a full-bodied ale with quite a nice alcohol bite. I am sure this one is much over 9% by now. I'd think it's approaching 11% if I compare it to other strong ales I've had over the past years.

Some would be scared off from this one due to the alcohol and probably would find it very drinkable, but I think the opposite. I really enjoy this one. I've had this in the past, but I'm glad I at least let this age til it was over 2 years. A shame that it is retired.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.29/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

08/25/05- Purchased at Plumpjack's in San Francisco, CA

Presentation- 9.3oz stubby bottle wrapped and corked. Poured into my Duvel tulip. No dates available.

Appearance- Lucid mahagoney color, zero head (don't think it's supposed to have one) and no lacing.

Smell- Intense smells of rancid chocolate, dark fruits and alcohol. Smells more like a brandy than a beer. Very nice and different though.

Taste- The first two tastes to hit me were a huge caramel flavor as if eating Kraft caramels stright out of the bag. That combined with a nice butterscotch flavor as well. Huge raisin, prune and date tastes as well. A bit sour at first, but evens out after the swallow.

Mouthfeel- Quite warming and you can tell the 9% in the sweet mouthfeel. It's not a full mouthfeel though....rather thin and a touch watery. No thickness in it. The smallest bit of carbonation if any.

Drinkability- One of the few Old Ales I have had, so I'm still aquiring a taste for this style. Not bad, definitely different if you are used to your brews having carbonation. Almost like a watery cough sryup. But the flavors are very nice. This one would probably be best saved for the winter months.

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Photo of Goldorak
3.54/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Beersignal for sharing this 1999 vintage!

Appearance: Reddish brown, no head at all, barely a sparkle, but plenty of floaties and rocky chunks of dead lees! I'll give this a neutral score of 3, as I wasn't expecting anything less from a 6-year old ale.

Smell: An acetous nose, that I could only describe as "a cross between Rodenbach Grand Cru and a very mineral white wine from either Alsace or Germany". It also had an oak character to it, more like those american wines that tend to overdue the wood and taste like a freshly squeezed 2-by-4.

Taste: White port, sherry, tobacco and an intriguing sourness that I enjoyed. Obviously, carbonation was next to nil. An excellent experiment of cellaring that I would gladly repeat anytime.

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Photo of ypsifly
3.22/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

'96 vintage 9.3oz poured into a pint.

Deep brown almost black with no head but an anemic ring of bubbles. Seems flat.

Smells faintly vinous and has an aged woody aroma. A suggestion of molasses.

Pretty much flat with not much of a mouthfeel. With that said, it doesn't taste bad. Has a wine like character. Woody, slightly acidic with a mellow dry finish. The alcohol is gone, and there are no off or oxidized flavors.

I won't buy the 96 again, but I will go back and check out other years.

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Photo of alexgash
3.36/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Bottled in 1996.
After fighting with a very dry cork, I finally poured out a slightly viscous dark liver brown liquid with nary a head--just some big bubbles around the ring. Maybe this stuff really isn't meant to be aged...
Anyway, nose is pleasant enough. Oxidized aromas of sherry, oak, soy sauce, and grapes. Taste is not bad. Reminds me a lot of a cabernet. Oaky, vinous, dark fruits, numbing (but not over the top and burning) alcohol. Turns cidery and moderately bitter toward the warming, dark fruity finish. Mouthfeel is oily and thick, without a hint of carbonation. Man, it's too bad, because this would be a fine ale with some. I'll have to try it again and hope that I get a better cork.

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Photo of TheJudge
3.85/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I will be writing 2 reviews, for the 2000 vintage and the 1999 vintage. Had them back to back, starting with the 2000, so that one first. The scores on the side are for the 2000, the better of the two.

2000 vintage: This poured into an Orval glass with little head, and a nice deep caramel color. This looked like what I expected. The smell is very winelike, almost port in aroma. While not really my taste, i wanted about to stop there. So onward and upward to the mouth.

Hey. This is good. A real nice flavor at the front of the tongue, tingles every section of the tongue on the way back. An indication of very good balance of flavors. Still very port-like, reminicent of a good cigar. not sweet at all, but not overpoweringly wine.

The aftertaste continues the wine analogy. Now I like red wine, so this is not an issue. That is definately the aftertaste.

The tongue feels the little tingling even after swallowing. But it is flavor, not bubbles.

In many ways, this feels and tastes like an after dinner port, and I think that it would be best consumed that way. Flavorful enough to stand up to a cigar and complement it, not compete with it. Lets see what the 1999 brings

OK, 1999: This pours with no head at all, Looks like no carbonation. Thick brown, dark color. This is not nearly as attractive as the 2000. The smell is similar, althought the alcohol comes through much more in this one.

The taste. Huh. OK, I get the port flavors. I taste the fruit (but cannot place. Plum, maybe?). This is not nearly as scintellating as the 2000. Thicker, it hits and runs off the tongue, involving only the taste buds in the back. It then sits in the back of the mouth.

All in all, doesnt come close to 2000. It obviously did not age well (or properly). A disappointment.

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Gale's Prize Old Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd
3.48 out of 5 based on 414 ratings.
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