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

315 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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 315 | Ratings: 412
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.

 938 characters

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.

 402 characters

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

Poured a murkey brown with a dime thin head. The aroma was muted oak, spice, bourbon. The flavors were almost shery like, little carbonation, more like a flat oxidized wine than an old ale. Some oak and spice flavors with middle of the road alcohol flavors. I had hoped for more. As the glass warmed, it improved a little, but not the beer I was seeking.

 354 characters

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

Vintage 1998 9.2oz bottle - Color is a deep muddy brown with super nice dark ruby highlights within, medium sized soft spongy beige head that sits a while before misting away, lace is fast dripping in sheets with minimal stickage. Aroma is light of mostly ethonalic alcohol and phenolic cleaners with some notes of pruney fruityness ans a bit of sweet oakyness. Kinda vinous with a kick. Taste has the flavors derived in the smell with a bit more liking, quite vinous with a sweet oakyness, a bit tartly too. Prunes, and sweet green raisins make the mold of sweetening along with a milding grab of sourness. Most of the alcohol noted in the nose barley make any appearance within the taste really. Good feel, medium to full with a mild yet lively character. Not a bad beer at all, a bit weird compared to some of the same style, but drinkable and interestingly good.

 866 characters

Photo of LuckySevens82
4.03/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2002 Edition. Took a while to get the cork out, was jammed in there pretty good.
Poured a murky amber color, but soon cleared. Small but pronounced head, gave way to a nice lace that still sits at the top of the glass as I continue to drink.
Smells distinctly of sherry, raisins, and what seems to be a woody scent that I can't quite place...definitely good.
Taste is just great very dry and smooth would like to sip this one all night.
If it wasn't so darn small I would say that this one was one of the best that I've tried, but man, 9.3 oz for this beer is just not enough...which I suppose is a complement in and of itself.

 631 characters

Photo of rkhaze
4.17/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2001 bottling. Poured a murky amber. A creamy head appeared for a split second and disappeared just as quickly. Sherry, raisins, caramel and a tartness in the nose.
Deep tart/sweet wine soaked wood taste. A caramel sweetness rounded it out and tangy sour cherries made an appearance near the end. A little different but complex nonetheless. Reminded me a bit of a less tart Duchess de Bourgogne. I liked it a lot.
Medium bodied and smooth in the mouth. A little chewy in the finish. Certainly a sippin beer. Wish those bottles weren't so damn small though. Would have liked to sip a little more!

 597 characters

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!

 1,050 characters

Photo of Jon
3.3/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

1996 Vintage.

Deep burgundy color lacking carbonation, head, or lacing, obviously. The cork was extracted in good condition. Intense vinous aroma -- incredibly port-like with caramel (tawny port), grapes, alcohol and a slight bit of black licorice. Burnt chocolate, caramel, port and corky/oaky flavors persist. Additional notes of overripe fruit and residual malt sugars are prevalent, as well, in addition to toffee and vanilla flavors (which are imparted by the wood). Syrupy, lifeless mouthfeel is incredibly viscous and oily that it lends very little to this brew, even though it's expected. This is a definite sipper, no doubt, but it seems to be so overly complex that it cannot be enjoyed on its own. Even the usually miniscule nine-ounce bottle seems to be more than sufficient in this case. It's almost a chore to drink more than half of the bottle. This is a beer well-suited for an intense cigar, dark chocolate or other rich desserts -- it simply doesn't work by itself, at least at this point in its life (it's almost eight years old). While this particular sample stood out in some categories but not in others, its longevity is most impressive. A must try for fans of tawny port.

 1,198 characters

Photo of shippos
2.34/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

1996 vintage

poured with no head at all and no carbonation whatsoever, has a murky brownish color that gets lighter towards the top of the glass. good thick sludge in the bottom of the bottle. has a woody vanilla aroma with hints of chocolate and dark dried fruits (plums raisins figs) with a good wift of alcohol. watery thin mouthfeel with a cocoa-coffee taste. either I had a mishandled bottle or this is past it's prime, I was expecting more from this ...disappointing.

 476 characters

Photo of ManekiNeko
1.41/5  rDev -59.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

1997 vintage served at cellar temp in a Trois Pistoles goblet. Serial# OA1 31483.

As promised, I cracked open the second bottle of this stuff, and it's bad as well. No new observations here. I think I'll skip this beer for the near future.

1997 vintage served at a wee bit lower than room temp in a pint glass. Serial # OA1 31469

Appearance: Dark, dark brown liquid with an ephemeral white head. No lacing or retention in the least.

Smell: Extremely sour, like a geuze. Very woody and vineous.

Taste: Grapey, cidery, geuzelike tartness. I think the bottle went bad judging by the other reviews here. Woody flavors are quite prominent.

Mouthfeel: Lightly bodied and extremely puckering.

Drinkability: Corked bottle, I presume. I hope the 2nd one I purchased isn't like this. I'll crack that puppy open sometime and rereview, maybe grabbing a more recent vintage just to make sure this particular bottle went bad.

 933 characters

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

The return of an Old favorite tonight. It’s especially fitting that I cracked this one open on such a cold night in Long Beach after a day of torrential rain, thunder & lightning. The classic Prize Old Ale bottle, short 9.3 fl.oz. (275ml) stubby with the thin neck that is covered in tight fitting red plastic “foil”, which in turn hides a cork. Dated as Bottled in 2001, strength listed as 9% Vol.

Appearance: The cork was in good condition but tough to extract, resulting in a disturbed beer by the time I poured it. The body of the beer is a turbid chestnut brown color, the head suitably beige in character & smooth but always a solid ½” throughout the drink. This was a bit of a surprise in itself, I have had much flatter POA’s, albeit older than 2 years though. High conditioning levels.

Nose: Vinous, oak, walnuts, damp wood, & extreme pungent Malt Vinegar hints of sourness that I dearly loved. Dark fruits emerge as the beer closes on ambient room temperature. Some molasses, but not much. Certainly complex.

Taste: Sharp acidic malt attack, the vinous traits in the nose present themselves in a hard fighting Redoubt formation that is almost impenetrable until the middle of the beer when smooth toffee caramels break the ranks. Dark fruits come through slowly in the end as the crispy vinegar licks fade & the beer warms. This is quite something, even after “just” 2 years.

Mouthfeel: Pretty average feel actually, it felt light at times, & certainly belies its high alcohol content. The high carbonation added a very smooth but lively feel in the mouth - maybe this distracts you from its real strength. Lingering aged caramel feel on the cheeks.

Drinkability: Well it’s a sipper, suitable for the cold & windy Long Beach night as I stand on balcony imbibing this monster.

Overall: My Mums family live in West Sussex, and as such I have visited Horndean, the home of Gales, in the neighboring Hampshire several times. I always walked away with several of these beauties. I wish the waxed tops would come back but maybe I’m just a sentimentalist.

Maybe I drank this one a little too early, but I have had older versions before & for ‘only’ $3.99 for the bottle, I was interested to see what the POA offered after only 2 years. Probably best to leave this about 5 years to let the beer mellow a bit. However, I have to admit that as a Gueuze fan, I was really quite partial to the extreme sourness the 2001 exhibited. This of course may not endear the 2 year old POA to all palates!!

 2,529 characters

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

I had the 1996 vintage. Very dark color. Little head, fruity, raisiny nose. Taste was completely sour - I have had a younger bottle (98, I believe) in the past that was much less sour and more malty. It tasted like a poor mans Hardy - lighter in flavor and much less complex. I happen to really enjoy sour beers, so I was not disappointed - but if you have this vintage and don't don't want it totally sour you may want to drink up soon. The 1996 vintage is probably not a good example of the Old Ale style (as tasted in 2003), which is why the score is a bit low, even though drinking this beer was very enjoyable.

 615 characters

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

1998 draft tasted at Spuyten Duyvil on draft in October 2003. Age has been very kind to this keg. Appearence: Reddish-brown with purple highlights, fairly light head. Smell: Malty, balanced by woody-fruity aromas. Taste: Incredibly complex. The sweet, caramel malty flavor is balanced by oaky, port-like flavors, hints of figs and dates, and a slight sourness with dries the beer's finish a bit, but not as sour as this beer can sometimes be. Mouthfeel is somewhat light for a Old Ale, but works quite fine with this beer. Balance makes for a very drinkable beer, despite age and complexity.

 591 characters

Photo of far333
2.97/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

I've been wanting to try this for a while, but it was not what I expected. Corked 1998 bottle poured with no head. I almost sent it back until the barkeep said they're all like that. Mouthfeel is obviously watery and a little syrupy. Color is dark caramel, with a raisin smell. Flavor is mostly sour and alcoholic, but some notes of caramel and raisin emerge. It became more like sipping port or cognac, but I couldn't get my mind to totally believe that due to the sourness. Couldn't finish the glass.

 502 characters

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.

 398 characters

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

2001 bottle vintage-poured a rather muddy amber color.No head whatsoever.Somewhat vinous aroma-hints of oak,sour cherries,fruitiness.Similar flavors come thru as well-slight alchohol and a tartness in the finish.Somewhat thin in the mouthfeel-still comes off as a big beer.

 273 characters

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

1999 bottle. Sorry, I forgot to write down the bottle number. Cool little fat brown bottle with a red waxy cover over the cork, sealed tighter than a frog's ass in water. No chance of oxidation or carbonation seeping out. Wow.
Deep dark brown or black color. Nearly no head or carbonation noticable. Rich aroamas, not smells, please, it's English after all, Aromas of rum soaked and then roasted plums, figs and cherries. Wow. Great rich taste slides by, super malty, roasted richness. Thick and full tastes. Roasted plums again on the tongue, some sweet nice malt flavors coat and soothe the tastebuds.Hints of woody smoke, and oak casks also linger. Wow. Nice full rounded feel, not slick, nor not much presence of any carbonation. Nice belly warming alcohol shot as well. A real treat. I am definitly going to look for this one again, and keep it on the shelve for a while. This one was nearly four years old, and full of flavors.

 935 characters

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....

 852 characters

Photo of clvand0
2.7/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This beer pours dark and the aroma isn't great - scents of grapes, but not as pleasing as one would expect. The taste is that of a polish dark beer that is very watered down. There really isn't any carbonation in this beer, but it is corked, so that was not expected. I did not like the taste very much.

 303 characters

Photo of Indybeer
4.13/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Part of a vintage beer tasting.
Vintage 1996. Poured a deep red/brown color, with absolutley no head, no lacing and no carbonation. Very mild aroma of candied fruit and tobacco. The taste however was syrupy sweet like a good sherry, but with some tartness thrown in the finish. Definetly a after dinner sipper.

 311 characters

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

Bottled in 1997.

This beer is a deep deep crimson color. Absolutely no carbonation is visible with the pour. No head. No collar. No CO2 bubbles. No lacing. But, this is 6 years old and of high A/V. On the nose I get mud, russet potates (uncooked whole ones), cough syrup vapor, bread pudding and rum. On to the flavors: a little wood, a little rum, a little brown sugar, a little bark, a little dark fruits and a little dates and raisins. All together though, not a lot of anything real tasty. Pretty average. Mouthfeel is lacing carbonation and almost syrupy. $4.19 for 9.3 ounces? Oh yeah, I'll use my beer money on something else next time. The Harvest Ales kick the shit out of this one.

 694 characters

Photo of Morris729
4.47/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 1995; Bottle #0610; OA1 18532

Pours a dark reddish brown color with no head or lacing whatsoever, which is basically what I was expecting. Nose is intense with aromas of sweet dark fruit and molasses blended with some tobacco and green apple peel with some additional slightly stinging alcohol that resembles a raisiny port. Fairly full in body with zero carbonation creating a velvety smooth texture. Taste begins with roasted dark malts and semi-ripened blackberries followed by a bit of burnt caramel. Some earthy flavors of wood (mostly oak) and leather come across towards the middle followed by some strong notes of heavy red wine and a bit of raisiny sweetness. Quite a complex beer that is to be drunk slowly and every sip savored. I think this would do just fine if aged for a few more years. Make sure that you don’t drink this beer too cold (the bottle recommends room temperature). Thanks to faernt for the sample!

 938 characters

Photo of hotstuff
1.28/5  rDev -63.2%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

1999 bottle.This was anything but a good beer experience.Yuck is all I can say about this beer. There was no head when this beer was poured and there was no lacing either. The body was cloudy and the hue was dark brown. I could not decide what the nose was of this beer. I could definitely taste the alcohol in this beer. I also observed a bitter aftertaste with this beer.

 373 characters

Photo of TheDM
1.96/5  rDev -43.7%
look: 5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

This bottle was labeled from year 1999. It had a very interesting aroma. Its aroma was different than I have smelled thus far. It was hard to describe. Initial reaction to the aroma is, "What the devil is this?” It poured no head at all with a very thick cloudy dark brown body. It left no lacing at all. Tastes like wine, perhaps grapes. No real fore taste and some bitterness in the after taste. It is failing the GF test and she may not drink it all. You can definitely taste the alcohol in this brew. It is definitely a different kind of brew. But not one I would buy again.

 579 characters

Photo of Loki
3.87/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled in a 275 ml bottle with a label stating a 1997 brew dated. Sampled on May 22nd, 2003.

Poured a dark mahogany brown with no head and no apparent carbonation what so ever. There was no lacing and swirling did not produce even a semblance of a head.

Smelled like a bad port or an after dinner liqueur, also some other flavor like prunes maybe. The aroma was intriguing, not really enticing but definitely intriguing.

Tasted of alcohol, oak, prunes, molasses, very similar to a port but slightly off. It would take some getting used to but I could come to enjoy this as an after dinner drink, would be great with some deserts.

 639 characters

Gale's Prize Old Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd
3.48 out of 5 based on 412 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.