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 MrSeth
3.93/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The Prize Old Ale I have here was bottled in 1996.

I wasn't expecting a beer this old to pour so well, with a nice effervescent head that falls apart into a coffee-ish brew, with a tiny ring around the edges.

You can smell the age, in a good way (if you like such things). There is a woody character to the nose. Oak? Plums and raisins.

I enjoy the occasional bitterness in the flavor. It has mellowed from its original presence into a very smooth balance.

The body is on the verge of going flat, taking away from the overall drinkability. But there is still a fiesty undercurrent of carbonation that hasn't quit yet. Even if it were to go completely flat, this would still be an interesting and worthwhile ale.

a side note: the first bottle of Prize Old Ale that I bought had spoiled. I live too far away from the liquor store to run back to complain, so I was reluctant to try this all over again. But I can now say that it was worth getting another bottle, and here's to many more!

I went back for a 1999 bottle and here a some of my impressions:

It poured alot like coca-cola.. fizzy head that fell into the brew. A ring of tan foam on the glass.

Great nose! full of oaky musk. People are talking to me, but I'm lost in the sherryish aroma.

Taste: grapes, wood and bitter walnut.

Mouthfeel: pretty darn good for a 6 year old ale at room temperature.

Appearance: Murky brown, reddish highlights.

Drinkability: again, for a beer it's age, this one is easier to drink than most.


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Photo of shapudding
3.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brewed 2003, no drinkby dating. Paid attention to all the directions for once, instead of wanting it and realizing there were rules to follow and getting screwed. I uncapped and withdrew the cork slowly, set it out on the counter, then came back about 2 ½ hours later when it was what we felt the designated temperature. Did the nice slow pour to see the very cloudy chestnut brew with a non-existant head. Not even a bubble rising. Very still looking. Raisin and honey scents, sweet and malty. Medium and smooth, not really creamy at all, just nice! Taste of a barleywine. Brandied raisins, bit of alcohol. Very astringent, get a bit of grain alcohol on the tongue. Interesting brew.

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Photo of stjarnflikka
3.23/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

2004 vintage.

Pours a loght brown beer thats quite hazy. Some carbonation in there and just a touch of foam. Looks quite nasty ;(

Smell comes strong on the apple side. Sweet apples, white wine, some sour traces and alcohol whips nose. Nice big smell witha bite in it, very much like champagne or a dry cider with some yeast in it. Brings my mind to Belgium somehow.

Taste hits bitter and sour. Clearly some raisins in there. Raw sugar, apples, fruits and lively alcoholic traces. No real malts in here, traces of yeast and a thick feeling to it. Somewhat murky aftertaste with a sour touch and lots of alcohol.

This was a very split experience for me. Looked bad, smelled great and tasted... strange. This is not a bad beer, but it most certainly should be laid down at least a couple of years to remove the unpleasant parts of it.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.5/5  rDev +29.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage. ruddy copper brown, with not much of a head to speak of. Aromas are of dark fruits, plums, grapeskins, and a bit of port/sherry. The taste follows suit making this a very interesting, and complex English old ale. Caramel flavors also shine forth in this wonderful brew. Mouthfeel is light bodied and wine-like. Drinkability is unreal for a 9%abv brew. Wow, this brewery is just nuts.

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Photo of Sigmund
4.25/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

(275 ml corked bottle.) Bottled in 2004 ( I couldn’t wait). Dark copper colour, slightly hazy, large tan head. Intense and beguiling aroma of raspberries and blackberries, spices, oak and vintage port wine or sherry. Flavour is a bit raw in the edges, as expected for a bottle this fresh. There’s plenty of sweet (but not cloying) flavour elements of malts, caramel, raisins, plum pudding, spices and old sherry. Just enough hops to stand up to the sweetness. Warming mouthfeel - I suspect the ABV had already crept well above the stated 9%. This beer really is something special! Now, I wish I had a few more bottles available for cellaring - and the character to keep them for a few years!

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.44/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear orange-brown. Fine head initially, but it quickly consists of swiftly fading big bubbles and disappears from the face of this pond. Loud malty cherries hit the nose in their lambicy funkiness. Great wood character works very well with cinnamon like flavors. Somehow, in mouth, this vinegary concoction manages to deploy layers of floral interstice all around the tart chocolate and woody malts. Liquorous medium body displays particularly low carbonation. Pretty good despite being on the limit of having a bad cork.

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

Pours a murky brown body with absolutely no carbonation. Completely flat without the slightest trace of head. The alcohol burns spicy in the sinuses, followed by dried fruit like raisins and apricots. A good bit of caramel. The flavor is sweet, but a little on the thin side until it warms a lot. I get an interesting bit of toasted pecans in the end that is quite pleasant. The stillness is a bit annoying in the mouthfeel, though. Sweet caramel and nuts.

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Photo of bigwern
3.77/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage

took a few attempts to uncork this bad boy (not really my specialty). pours with almost no head, a hazy brown color filling the glass. the aroma is of liquor and cider . . . in fact, "cider" is the first thing i think of when i examine this beer.

the taste is slightly sour, fruity with raisins and apples. the body is quite light for a beer of such a significant volume. the mouthfeel is pretty flat, as is consistent with the style. the finish is really quite pleasant, not astringent or heavily alcoholic like i would have expected.

the aging really seems to have smoothed out this beer and made it drinkable. it's flavorful and the sourness really balances the alcohol taste. i'm very surprised at how easy to drink this is, especially when you consider the complexity of the flavors and the strength. i'll have to pick up more of this soon, maybe try different vintages and compare the results. a tasty old ale - recommended.

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Photo of cerevisiaephilus
3.55/5  rDev +2%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


This is one ugly beer. I know old ales should be low carbonation, but this beer is straight up flat. It is also very murky. Its a decent color, dark red brownish hue, but so freakin' murky and flat. It looks like it could be the dregs from my garbage disposal.

The aromas, on the other hand, are quite nice. Very rich, warm malts with a nice wineyness and cider notes pervade the whole pallete. Pick up some alcohol in the nose too.

Flavor is intense. Very rich. I get everything from strong caramel to strong walnut to rich cherries to a lingering sourness and astringency and dry oakyness in the finish. I also get the alcohol in the back of my mouth and throat.

Mouthfeel is thin. I suppose that's right for the style, so I'll give it a 3.5 there.

I'm not sure how drinkable this beast is. Little flat and fat for me.

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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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Photo of krberg
1.46/5  rDev -58%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

1999 edition

Looks like a brown ale with no head even after an aggressive pour.

Smells like booze with a touch of vinegar. This does not bode well for my 2nd attempt at a Gale's POA.

Shot. Vinegar.

Thin mouthfeel.

Gross. Going down the sink.

I did not review this beer the first time I had it (a 1997 vintage) because it had obviously spoiled, but when a beer is bad 2 out of 2 times I have to chalk it off as a lousy beer. I might feel differently if I had tried the same vintage both times...

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Photo of crookedhalo
3.67/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1996 vintage bottle, lotted OA1 27064. Cork popped out moist and musty smelling, evidence of proper cellaring and storage. Poured into snifter a murky copper and deep brown color with no head even after forced, straight pour, being careful to leave the lees behind as per suggestion from the bottle. Cheesey and black-strap molasses aromas, solvent alcohol, dusty English noble hops, carob, and a small amount of dark berry notes. Overall, pretty pungent smelling. I'm allowing it to breathe and warm for a bit, it's not like I'm losing any carbonation. First sip purveyed a viscous mouthfeel and a subtle mineral saltiness. It struggles like there was some Fuggles and other nobles in there at one point, but the alphas are long gone, other than some residual grapeskin-like vinousness. What's left is a potent snifter of fusel alcohol-laden funkiness. A very intruiging brew, it comes across at times as having cheese-like and wine-like qualities to it. This is the first time I've tried this beer, and I opt for the 8 year old version; I'd like to try a non-vintage bottle next time and maybe taste some Fuggles and Goldings.

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Photo of Gusler
3.84/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle # OA2 29390 - 1999
The beer after uncorking from the 9.3 ounce brown bottle sets in the glass a muddy brown with absolute no head and the lace non-existent. The aroma of fusel alcohol, no a better description is JP4, or very old semi-gloss paint, blended with very old molasses, start is lightly sweet with a decent bit of malt, top is light in feel. Finish is devoid of carbonation and the hops very light, bleached desert bone dry after taste, certainly a unique blend of aromas and taste, I will leave this to the true experts, but to be completely honest it has certain morbid attraction, and I liked its different aromas and taste, well I’ve always been Abby-normal. lol

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Photo of GuinnessSmurf
3.81/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A wonderful looking beer! It looks like a thick pour of apple cider with a frothy head and noticable spices/sediment in the glass. Smell is reminiscent of toffee. Taste is infact very sweet...a combo of apples, sugars, grapes, and a sharp yeasty aftertaste that combines with a malty alcohol sensation. Too sweet.

The body is nice...its a heavy buttery slow drinker.

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Photo of mschofield
3.99/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1996 vintage
Pours a dark cherry color, no carbonation, no head, no lacing.
Huge fruit syrup aroma, winy, alcohol soaked fruit (like you would prepare before making a fruit cake). Very strong and full aroma.
Molasses, wood, raisin, alcohol and spice make up the taste, with a chocolate aftertaste.
Full bodied and warming.

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

Pours a hazy amber color with a tan head that is developed by a slight carbonation. The aroma is a heady mix of malt, sourness, and alcohol. The sweet and sour combination is reminiscent of cherries. The taste is an interesting mix of sour, salty, and meaty; mmm sounds like a meal. This beer is slightly oxidized in flavor, but this adds a certain richness to the beer. This is a nice sipping brew, with some notes akin to a Flemish Sour ale; slight vinegar, rich maltiness, sour, and balsamic. This grows on me more and more as I sip it. The mix of flavors really start to work well together, still not something I would want to have all that often.

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Photo of Sixpoint
3.52/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This evaluation is from the first time I ever tasted this beer... served on tap in a burgundy-style glass.

Although the appearance is nice, the aroma is the strongest category of this beer. Absolutely wonderful aroma of toffee, currants, alcohol, and even plums. Can definitely go toe-to-toe with a fine table wine.

As true to style, the beer was "undercarbonated" in the relative sense. However, the full-flavored alcohol taste did not mesh perfectly with the small amount of carbonation and full-bodied, dextrinous mouthfeel. As a result, lower scores in this category.

Drinkability? Well, it's definitely a sipping beer or an apertif. The alcohol flavor seems to be at the forefront of the beer... perhaps more caramelization of the wort or extended aging would help balance this out.

Overall, I am mostly satisfied with this beer, considering I am not a big fan of old ale.

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Photo of nogoodreason
3.75/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Caveat: this was the first Old Ale I've tasted. I understand that these beers can be aged, so I didn't see anything wrong with trying a bottle that was 6 years old at the point of tasting.)
Bottled in 1998. Bottle # 1867.

Like suggested on the bottle, I tasted this at room temp. I poured it into a large wine glass, figuring that it would help bring out the aromatics better than a pint.

Appearance: Pours a dark reddish brown, slightly hazy. Only the faintest of carbonation, but I didn't expect much. Impossible to get this to form a head. That's OK, it doesn't need one.

Smell: Warm, molasses-like smell. Prunes and dark berries. Perhaps lightly spiced, like with cinnamon? I can't smell a hop for the life of me. Sweet, fruity, appetizing scent.

Taste: Like the smell, but more so. Very rich, very mellow. Definite dark fruits, plums and especially figs. Still nary a trace of hops. Perhaps they're responsible for that faint spice? Sweet tasting, but much more fruity than malty. Delicious.

Mouthfeel: Not too thick, but fairly viscous. No carbonation whatsoever. Feels like a full-bodied red wine.

Drinkability: Finishing more than one bottle of this stuff would be feat of patience. It's a fine beer to relax with, slowly. Nothing else.

Notes: This beer will likely never be a favorite of mine. It would, however, make an excellent replacement for a port or a sherry when served with dark chocolates, etc. I would even suggest splitting one bottle between two people and serving this in sherry glasses.

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Photo of rajendra82
3.32/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This was purchased as a 1996 vintage at the awesome Green’s Discount Beverage store on Buford Highway. The bottle has an odd 275 ml volume, and is brown with a red paper covering the cork inset in the neck. The look of the beer is like dried blood, reddish murky black, with no carbonation at all. The aroma is sweetly vinous with cherries, raisins, and prunes dancing around. The taste is crumbly velvety chocolate malt underlain by spiced alcohol warmth. There are also the odd oxidized flavors of cough syrup, leather, sweaty socks, and musk. By this time all indications of any hops are long gone and the taste is bit too one dimensional I think there are better old ales out there.

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Photo of oggg
2/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Brewed in 2001. 9.3 fluid ounce bottle. Intact wrapper and cork. Serial number 10746 10221

This beer cannot be induced to foam at any height of pour. It is dark brown and murky even before I get a little sediment into the glass. The aroma is reminiscent of a Belgian ale, with a lot of alcohol smell. The beer starts full and sweet but is quickly overwhelmed by a sour taste that lingers into a puckering finish. After the sourness fades, I do sense a bit of maltiness and dark fruit along with warming alcohol.

As I drink a bit more, the sourness is less apparent. The puckering finish remains. I get more of the winey alcohol taste. It clears a little with warming. No hop presence.

What the heck is this? It must be old or infected. I see there are some other reviews like mine, which makes me wonder if this is the rule rather than the exception. I couldn't finish this beer, and I don't think I would ever try it again unless I was in Britain and it was fresh from the brewery.

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Photo of granger10
4.02/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a dark brown color with no real head to be seen. It had a brandy like aroma with alcohol, vinous fruits, and some woody aspects in it. Flavor was very complex and intriging. Sweet vinous flavors upfront and some figs, plums, raisins to go along with that. Middle was spicy and I noticed more of a non-fruit dark malt taste as well. Alcohol became quite prevalent in the finish along with a tarty aspect that lingered. The body was thicker than I thought it would be and this beer seemed to improve as it warmed allowing more flavors to come forth. My only problem is such an expensive price for such a little bottle. Otherwise, very nice nightcap.

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Photo of Suds
3.72/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Presented in a small, corked bottle dated 2002.
Pours as a nearly still liquid with a shadowy, quickly disappearing tan head. Deep mahogany color with a bit of yeasty cloudiness. Resin-like, woody, vinuous aroma, with an under-ripened pear & apple smell. Alcohol aroma is certainly present, but it’s hidden behind the other smells. Full, and warming sensation throughout the taste. Finish has an alcohol bite, with a slight hop bitterness. There’s a molasses-like undertone in the taste as well. It’s a very enjoyable, contemplative, complex beer…but I think that it may have been a little young and rough-edged. I’d like to try one that was a few years older.

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

1998 bottle...# 3718...

Burnt sienna brown appearance, reddish highlights and just slightly hazy. Minimal tan head, 1/8 of an inch and fine-bubbled. Coats the glass well, small lace tendrils. Raisiny aromas, slight sense of of rubbing alcohol and turps. Thick mouthfeel, low carbonation. Complex flavor -- apple brandy, oaky perfumey smokiness, light chocolate, and pronounced vanilla. Finishes with alcoholic heat and a fruitiness that reminds me a little of apple cores and sport peppers, tart and peppery almost at the same time. A good beer, lots of complexity, slightly plasticy phenolics seem to arise on later sips. Drinkability is medium, there's a lot weighing on your senses here.

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Photo of merlin48
3.06/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

9.3 oz corked and plastic wrapped(with a vengeance) bottle, 1998 vintage. Poured aggressively into a tulip glass, it produces zero head, and leaves no lacing. Appearance is of tannic swamp water.
Aroma is of toffee and molasses, with a strong suggestion of vinous alcohol, and some oak barrel woodiness.
Mouthfeel is smooth, but totally flat.
Taste is flat, no carbonation whatsoever. Slightly sweet, with some tart fruitiness-black raspberries is my perception. Ethanol is very much in evidence. I could not have finished this one if it were a 12 oz serving. Finishes like a wood smoked Port wine. Be careful with this one. The alcohol may not be as evident in the taste as in the aroma, but it will quickly alert your brain cells. Another disapointment from Gale's. I won't blame the fall of the British Empire on this one, but I've had much better. Maybe, I'm just getting the wrong vintage at the wrong time. Or, I just don't like ales that look and taste like wine.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
3.96/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one pours a muddy old leather color with just a few medium-sized bubbles floating on top. No lace.
A sherry-like aroma is noticed as it’s being poured. A sweet malt and light alcohol smell follows. Just a faint smell of spent motor oil (is it my imagination?) can be detected with some concentration. A light smell and taste of maple syrup emerges.
A fairly sweet malt body releases tastes of pears, figs, brown bread, and again, sherry. A faint woody aroma lasts throughout.
A mild lemony bitterness and a taste of strong tea come together quite nicely. A taste of wild tart berries peek through as it warms, as does a dose a caramel sweetness.
I feel this brew may be a year or two past its prime as I’m finding the structure of the body seems to be wearing down. A somewhat salty flavor begins to intrude and the flavors and tastes are separating instead of blending harmoniously. I need to try the 1999 version next.

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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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