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Fuller's Vintage Ale - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

641 Reviews
THE BROS
96
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 641
Hads: 1,146
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 9.86%
Wants: 101
Gots: 259 | FT: 9
Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Murph on 02-20-2002

First released in 1997, Fuller's Vintage Ale is brewed in limited batches with each bottle being numbered. It can be enjoyed immediately, or Fuller's recommends laying the beer down to enjoy when it peaks in 3 to 4 years and consume at cellar temperature. And though it's released each year as a separate vintage, BA has been informed that the recipe is only slightly tweaked from year to year, while the ABV remains at 8.5%.
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Reviews: 641 | Hads: 1,146
Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Outstanding 2004 edition in year one, bottle 37989 Comes with a beautiful presentation box. I gave out a slew of these instead of single malt scotch and got great feedback while saving loads of money for more beer for me. Deliciously hoppy, pale ale with barley that remains long on the palate.

Had the 2005 edition fresh and it was a nice scotch taste, easy drink.
2006 edition showed hoppiness out front, drunk 1/3 year into release, then malt and vintage scotchiness.
Had the 2006 a year later and good soapy head but off-taste. Had it at end of 2008 and it was rich, with dried apricot, a citrus hoppy aroma, and lacey white. Had the 2006 five years later and a sweetish blend with a richer malt complexity in the finish. Still barleywinish.
The 2007 edition tasted like a young barleywine/old ale, with drying hops from beginning to end, some carmel malt secondary.
The 2008 was not astringent. Promises of a good old ale.
The 2009 was a well done old ale. Mild fruit, carmel gave it an above average mouthfeel. Not sweet, and most drinkable.
The 2010 was a good rich malting, with promise for ageing.
The 2012 was a rich maltiness, with citrus hop finish (had in '14). (1,176 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.8/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage.

Bottle # 123290.

Best before end 2015.

Pours a hazy dark orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, fruit, and some slight hop aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel and hop flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp but slightly medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer this fresh but I would be curious to see what some age does to this one. (644 characters)

Photo of kylehay2004
4.39/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: no head to speak of. Amber and murky.

S: sweet, grassy, piney and green apple.

T: lots of raisin. Honey and malty.the taste is dull ad a little too much alcohol in the flavor.

M: medium body, moderate carbonation. A little syrupy.

Overall: you need to drink this one down to appreciate it. (299 characters)

Photo of metter98
4.06/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy orange amber in color. It poured with a short off white head that died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of toffee are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and also has additional flavors of caramel and toffee and hints of vanilla. No alcohol is perceptible.
M: It feels a bit more than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer has an interesting mix of flavors that improve and become a little more complex as the beer warms up.

Note: 2012 vintage, No. 102325 (645 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.8/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

a real neat beer, 2011 edition enjoyed late 2014, so the time is now! hazy copper colored liquid with some viscosity, and still a nice off white head, but it fades pretty fast. a nose of caramel, biscuits, dried apricots, english ale yeast, and slight but not offensive oxidation. the alcohol cuts the malt sweetness, and there is some nice depth to this between the yeast and the layered sweet grain. barley at its finest, lots of body, excellent carbonation, butterscotch, toffee, golden raisin, and bittering hops are all there. the flavors have become really well integrated over time, i can only imagine an intense and moderately disjointed beverage fresh, but the time has made it nice. i dont taste much alcohol here, but i get an apple wine sort of flavor and warming thing late. great beer overall, if you like the patient english stuff this is not to be missed. (871 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 Edition opened in 2009, bottle #114182. The beer poured out as a copper color with a nice creamy looking head on it. The lacing was pretty nice for this beer, I wasn't really expecting that too much. The smell of the beer had some grainy malt aroma with some hops in the mix. The taste was semi-sweet like they might have added some brown sugar to it or caramel maybe. The taste was very good from start to finish though. The mouthfeel of the beer was very nice as well, it was smooth but had a decent amount of carbonation in it. Overall this beer was way better than any other Fuller's brew that I've tried. Well worthy trying if you find some! (651 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2004: Sampled on 10/22/09:

This beer really holds up great. Even with five years bottle conditioning, the hop profile still gives a bitter balance and an earthy, herbal complexity. Delicate caramels and brown sugars are well melded with hardly a trace of oxidation. Pleasantly cool (minty) and with a creamy, powdery finish.

Vintage 2006: Sampled on 03/22/07:

Certainly agree with the recommendation to lay this beer down for a few years. This beer promises greatness with syrupy sweet amber malts and a soft hop presence. Complexity results from the sweet malts, bready, yeasty flavors and textures. While compounded harshly with strong alcohols, this beer will prove to melt and improve greatly with a little age. I look forward to editing this review and rating when this beer matures properly. (808 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle (Vintage 2000 - drank in 2005): Poured a deep clear brown color ale with a medium off-white bubbly head with average retention. Aroma of figs and dry raisins is quite enjoyable. Taste is also dominated by the figs and the dry raisins with some strong malt. What I thought was surprising what the piney and citrusy ending courtesy of too many hops IMHO for this type of beer. Body is above average but could be more consistent and carbonation is also above average. Good but I would say not as good as the previous vintage years I had the luck of drinking.

Bottle (Vintage 2012 - drank in 2013): Poured a copper color ale with a medium size foamy head with OK retention. Aroma consists of residual sugars with some dry caramel and minimal hoppy notes. Taste is also dominated by some residual sugars with quite a bit of dry caramel malt with weird grainy notes. Hops presence is kept at a low level. Body is about average with good carbonation and no alcohol is easily detectable. I usually like to give a year to the Vintage for the malt to balanced itself out and take out some of the hops presence. Seems like it wasn’t a good idea with the 2012 vintage since it tasted like a really old beer already. (1,213 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 bottle.

Appearance: Tawny with a slight haze. Good head retention.

Smell: Bread, grain, caramel and hops.

Taste/mouthfeel: Very malty, notes of butterscotch and toast. The finish is dry and hoppy, leaving a pleasant bitterness on the palate. Creamy on the tongue with gentle carbonation.

An excellent English ale. I've tried this fresh and aged for a few years, and I actually prefer it fresh for the more pronounced hop character. (440 characters)

Photo of biboergosum
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, 2008 version (#57532), into my University of Alberta beer stein.

This beer pours a hazy, medium copper amber colour, with two fat fingers of aggressively foamy, and somewhat sudsy off-white head, which leaves some nice rainforest canopy lace around the glass as it slowly recedes.

It smells of sweet caramel malt, hard toffee, dried orange rind, apple flesh, musty cellar, and some faint floral, earthy hops. The taste is big bready malt sweetness up front - caramel, butterscotch, raisins - which dries out very quickly under a strong noble hop surge, the alcohol chipping in its share. I can't help but notice the slow, subtle furtherance of that old musty, woody essence - it's like this beer sopped up the air under the old stairs in my parents' house. It isn't overpowering or even off-putting, just a different companion than I'm used to for the big buttery caramel malt.

The carbonation is quite low, manifesting in just a mild frothiness throughout, the body a sturdy medium weight, creamy, rounded, and solidly smooth. It finishes fairly dry, the malt turning crackery, and the alcohol making itself clearly known, gently rendered as it may be.

A pleasantly warming vintage ale, the 'old' character meshing well with the rest. Given the decent balance but slightly out of whack alcohol warming, I'm looking forward to seeing what a few years in the bottle have done to a couple of the earlier vintages of this that I've been saving, as they were big hits when I brought them to the office Christmas parties at the time. (1,548 characters)

Photo of emerge077
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 edition.

Into an Oerbier wine-style glass, this pours very dark, with a deep attractive ruby glint in the light. Sticky lacing all around, that seems to remain for the duration of the glass.

Aroma is a bit sweet and floral with cola spices and a backing of dried fruits, particularly citrus, some apricot. A bit of mustiness reflects it's 5 years of age.

Sweet and a bit oxidized, it feels creamy with some mild bitterness from the residual Fuggles still kicking around. Fairly fruity and vinous. Full bodied sipper. Don't think i'd age it for this long in the future, i'm getting tired of old-tasting beer. It's mellowed a bit, but I could imagine that the apricot & floral notes would have been more vibrant in days past. (733 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage. Bronzed dark pumpkin, an especially deep, rich and regal hue. The compact crown is a complementary shade of pastel orange-ecru. It falls extremely slowly, leaving an array of thick, patchy lace as it does so.

The aroma isn't quite a gobsmacker, but it more than gets the old ale job done. Present is a moderate toasted maltiness, along with dark butterscotch and dried fruits macerated in Irish whiskey. What was expected was more of a vinous, port wine-like nose, though I'm not disappointed in the least.

The 2004 vintage used Maris Otter malt and Goldings hops. Other years, Fuller, Smith & Turner has used Golden Promise or Optic Pale on the malt side of things... and Fuggles, Challenger or Target on the hop side. I'm sure they're all equally good.

Now *this* is an English old ale! Since I've never had a Vintage Ale fresh, I have no idea if aged is the way to go, but the brewers must know what the hell the're talking about. They suggest aging this fine ale to its peak flavor at 3-4 years. Who could possibly argue with that when the end result is so lip-smackingly delicious?

The first word to enter my mind when beer entered mouth was 'refined'. The second word was 'quality'. Time has allowed the various flavors to meld into something truly special. A hint of oxidation is perfect and adds yet another facet to an ale that is already incredibly complex.

The flavor profile includes lightly toasted brown bread covered with a thin layer of Curacao orange marmalade, a pinch of cocoa powder, butterscotch, sugar-crusted English walnuts and cherry pipe tobacco. Everything blends together in kaleidoscopic fashion throughout each mouthful. Why did I wait so long to enjoy the magnificence that is Vintage Ale?

It's quite possible that I've never before experienced a beer this glassy smooth. It's like liquid crushed velvet, only softer and much silkier. A handful of superfine bubbles keeps things from feeling flat. In a word: perfection.

I was pretty sure that this impressively packaged beer would be good, but I didn't expect the masterpiece that it turned out to be. If you're searching for an outstanding cellarable brew, your search is now over. Bottom line: Fuller's Vintage Ale is a timeless classic that is the gold standard for the English old ale style. (2,298 characters)

Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 Bottle No. 137247

A - Poured out a clear, caramel color (looked like a dopplebock) with a foamy, bubbly, tan, two-finger head. It left soapy trails of lace.

S - It smelled very sweet. Great malty and biscuity aromas.

T - It had a bitter spiciness with a very sweet, maltiness. Nice earthy hops.

M - It was soft, smooth and creamy. A medium-bodied beer with a warm alcohol presence.

D - This is a very good ole ale. Very sweet and delicious. (450 characters)

Photo of oberon
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2005 vintage bottle #49597,poured a deep rich copper with some burnt orange tint with a short lasting one finger white head.Aromas of brown sugar and orange marmalade with a hint of caramel,sweet but very pleasingly sweet dark sweet cherries dipped in brandy,brown suger and caramel dominate with just a hint of leafy herbal hop in the finish.The alcohol is a little raw but this bottle is pretty new would love to cellar one and likely will.The 2001 vintage is one of my alltime favorite beers, give this some time and it could reach its standards I believe. (559 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
3.58/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from 2005 shared by Patrick.

The pour is a clear amber color with a very small off-white head. A bit of a sherry-like aroma. Quite fruity (raisins and cherries) with some vanilla and cream. Interesting aroma. The flavor is also heavy on the vanilla, sweet fruit, sugar, and caramel. A touch of sherry and oxidation in there as well. (340 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.55/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a reddish-copper body with a large, lasting beige-colored head.

Smell: Aroma of earthy butterscotch, juicy apples, suede leather, with a bit of yeastiness. Plenty of alcohol notes, too.

Taste: A very curious flavor; a mixture of light caramel, toasted pecans, a zesty Christmas spice, and hints of apples and pears. The hops, though minimal, are quite grassy tasting and lends a nice, dry finish. As with the nose, the alcohol is rather apparent, tasting like someone snuck in a shot of brandy in my glass. After some time, its all apples/pears and alcohol, really giving you the sense of a dry cider-cognac concoction.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body with a very soft, fine carbonation.

Drinkability: Its drinkable, even without much age under its belt. We'll see how my second bottle does in a couple of years... (840 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
2.4/5  rDev -42.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Served in a Sweetwater mini-snifter.

2007 vintage. I've long eyed this boxed bottle, and now I finally get to try some of the innards. It pours a lightly-brackish sunset amber topped by a minor bit of khaki foam. The nose comprises red apple skin, sweet caramel, and perfume-y flowers. The taste is an unpleasant melange of honey, cerumen and light biscuit. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, I'm not sure if the age somehow got to this one early or something, but either way it did not sit well with my tongue. It actually hurt a little to drink at times... (629 characters)

Photo of oline73
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass, this bottle was from the 2010 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with a slight reddish hue. There is a half finger of off white head that goes away rather quickly.

Smell: Sweet and rather malty, I'm getting caramel and some fruity notes. Dark fruits and some mild grapes.

Taste: Sweet, but not quite as sweet as the smell. Malty, lots of caramel and some grape notes. Also getting some dark fruits, raisins and figs. The finish has some alcohol and more sweet malt flavors.

Mouthfeel: The body is just on the thick side of medium with tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I didn't know much about this one going in, but I was quite happy with it. A very nice after dinner beer. (747 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Although the label reads "Best before end 2003", it's my belief after enjoying it over the last two years that it's just come into its prime. I've really grown to enjoy this ale in the past year! And I'd suggest that although it probably won't improve any further, it should hold well for at least another year or two. Stored undisturbed and served at cellar temperature, it's crystal clear. When held to the light it's a very nice amber-copper, but it takes on a more interesting ruby cast when sitting on the bar. The initially foamy head slowly drops to a thin but creamy surface covering. The head retention is excellent and it leaves really nice lace through most of the Imperial pint. The nose displays a softly sweet and fruity (soft strawberry) malt that's laced with gentle alcohol. It's full bodied and creamy in the mouth with a fine and moderate natural carbonation from bottle conditioning. The flavor delivers a rich, fruity malt upfront with a touch of blackberry and dark fruit skins; and across the middle a note of licorice appears due to a combination of sweet malt, grassy/floral hop flavors, and spicy alcohol. A firm hop bitterness appears leading into the swallow, followed by emerging notes of caramel and vanilla in the finish. Quite nicely balanced and somewhat complex! An exceptionally nice beer to casually enjoy in a relaxing atmosphere... ...a softened leather high-back chair, a softly glowing fireplace, and a well-worn copy of Moby Dick come to mind! An ale well worthy of the "Vintage" name. (1,526 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.85/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2011 release, bottle #111880 poured from a 16.9oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light golden brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains honey, caramelized malts, fruit and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, fruit and honey followed by some breadiness from a hearty malt character. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp but not very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, this is a flavorful beer to drink for a while if you’re in the mood for a style. (795 characters)

Photo of Jason
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: No: 20845 of 85000. 18.6 oz brown Victorian pint bottle. The bottle is perfect for keeping the dregs at bay and the pint glass clear. Presented in a collectors box, the bottle is also adorned as if it were a fine bottle of Port, all the way down to the labeling and the thin paper strip which crosses the crown.

Appearance: Rich reddish amber brew with a slight chill haze, wonderful lace that floats on top. The haze goes away as the brew reaches cellar temp.

Smell: Creamy with a figgy or raisin fruity aroma, touch of dry malt and estery alcohol in the nose also.

Taste & Mouthfeel : Creamy and smooth with a big malty body, a figgy / pruney like fruit flavour is the front of the malt sweetness which lingers on forever. Hop bitterness has held together well after 4+ years ... spot on for balance and still a decent amount of flavour left. Lovely chewy mouth feel throughout with a good amount of body even in the finish. Alcohol is quite evident ... esters are lively yet are kept at a minimum. The finish has a complex intertwined hop and malt flavour for a perfect end.

Drinkability & Notes: Wow ... a masterpiece in a bottle! Aged to perfection and worth the $6-$7 a bottle. Its flavours have peaked but may not fall to a lesser beer even a year or more of cellaring. Easy to drink with very little aged flavour and no signs of oxidation. (1,373 characters)

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006. Bottle #70785 Sampled 12-6-2006

Pours a dark amber with some ivory head. Nose is nicely hopped, but not overdone or overpowering. Slight citric scents present also. Flavor is smooth. If there were one beer you were going to call "fine beer", this would be it. Beautifully aged, you can tell by the flavor that time was taken with this one. Slight bit of a sweet edge that comes and goes quickly, as does a slight alcohol taste as well. Feel is thick. Borders on syrup qualities, but yet again is not overdone. Easy to drink off flavor, but not off texture. This is one to sip and enjoy for a time. I don't think you could go faster than that if you wanted to.

Overall a beautiful production. How often is it that a brewery can manage to make something so visually appealing through packaging and deliver such a big hit with the goods inside? I'll be looking for more of these after I move within the next month or two (I got this one when I was out of state). I will also be eagerly awaiting all future releases.

2004. Bottle #85580 Sampled 1-30-2008.

Pours a clear darker amber wiht firm brown hues. Fairly thin off white head forms and falls. When I first popped this one, I got a whiff of something and thought someone had put sherry in my beer. Unfortunately, there wasn't much left to give when I took a sniff of my glass. Flavor has some minor caramel tones. The alcohol is noticeable, but it gives a nice burn. Almost like I was sipping on bourbon. Mild earth tones and wood on the back side. Feel is smooth, but the liquid is thick. Not a detracting feature though. Very nice to drink, but the scores reflect the 2006 I had, so for this one knock off .5 for both taste and drinkibility. It's the alcohol. Just a wee bit too much. (1,748 characters)

Photo of russpowell
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 Bottle#67253

Pours amber/bronze with a fluffy white head that drops off to a healthy film.Very light lacing and below average head retnention

Smell: Raisins, dates, brown sugar. oakiness and alcohol dance together nicely

Taste: Huge maltiness, dryness and an oaky& vanilla taste that swings between whisky & sherry. Some hop bitterness lingers on the tounge and throat. Super dry and fruitty finish (dates, raisins& spiciness), plus some alcohol

MF: Silky/chewy and makes me think barley wine although the difference between an old ale and BW is not much. Carbonation almost perfect

Pretty drinkable for the heft. I enjoyed this true winter warmer. Fuller's comes through with another classic! (713 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.43/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2010 vintage 1 pint .9 fl oz brown glass bottle with papered-over branded black pressure cap and classy understated label art acquired at me local bottle shop (they just had 2010 vintage lying about in 2013) and served into a Glenmorangie whisky taster in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Bottle No 122366. 8.5% ABV confirmed. Brewed with Golding and Fuggle hops. Dry-hopped with Golding and Target hops. "Best before end 2013." Perfect! I believe Fuller's maintains that this peaks at 3 years as well.

Served chilled, but not cold, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured carefully per the label's instructions.

Good carbonation hiss as it's opened.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a half finger wide head of white/light khaki colour. Decent creaminess and thickness. Nice complexion. Head retention isn't bad considering the beer's age and high ABV - about 2 minutes. Some inconsistent spotty lacing clings to the sides of the glass when the glass is tilted, but little forms naturally as the head recedes.

Body colour is a clear translucent orange-copper of superb vibrance. No yeast particles/sediment are visible.

It's a nice appearance for an old ale and I'm looking forward to trying it. Nothing about the appearance reveals its age or suggests it's gone downhill. Not unique or special, but certainly attractive.

Sm: Has a light toasted malt character accompanied by some toffee as well as bursts of fruity esters: orange, pineapple, mango, and other tropical fruits which are too vague to identify. I'm surprised at the notable hop presence - both because of the style and because of the beer's age. Ripe orchard peach surfaces as it warms a bit. Honey. Very attractive sweet nectary notes. It's got a good malty sweetness and plenty of juicy fruits. I also pick up some white raisin and mellow berries.

It's quite clean; no yeast character is detectable. Alcohol is well concealed.

Overall, I'm really looking forward to trying this. The fruit notes are a definite highlight. It's also just a bit acidic, which accentuates the fruit. An inviting aroma of average strength.

T: It's got a marshmallow, toffee, light caramel, and vaguely toasty core with gorgeous balance. The fruity juiciness really comes in just before the climax, adding nuanced notes of peach, sticky pineapple, mango, and even a hint of passionfruit. White raisin. The hops have matured nicely with age, complementing the malts with unobtrusive fruity and faintly floral notes. The marshmallow is lovely, and was unexpected. I pick up some depleted orange jam notes and green apple as it warms. Some sherry too. Also a bit of butterscotch. There's plenty of rich English malt character here which is lovely. Refined and tasty, but perhaps not as approachable as other old ales. I like that it really commits to its distinguished English character, but that comes at the expense of accessibility and perhaps even balance. I can see where oxidation will actually complement this flavour profile rather than damage it.

It's an extremely cohesive build for an old ale, but not quite a gestalt one. Balanced and refined. There's plenty of complexity here, and even some intriguing nuance. But it could be far more intricate and subtle. Age has done it well and I'd be curious to try this fresh. Above average depth of flavour. Average intensity and duration of flavour.

The marshmallow is the standout note for me.

Hides its ABV well.

Mf: Decadently smooth and wet. Very rich. It's a rather refined texture which keeps it simple and stays out of the way of the flavour profile. In so doing, it complements the taste well and succeeds at facilitating full delivery of the complex flavours. A bit acidic, which is a nice characteristic in an old ale. Medium-bodied. Aptly thick. A biteen buttery. Has some alcohol-induced warmth, which is light enough that it just seems to complement the beer, and makes it a comforting winter sipper.

Not too sticky or chewy. Not oily, astringent, harsh, boozy, gushed, rough, or hot.

Dr: It's a refined sipper for the distinguished drinker. It sips real well out of a whisky tumbler. I haven't tried it fresh, but I'd like to, and the marshmallow note alone reveals this beer develops very well with age. I'd really like to try a 1-5 year vertical of this stuff. For now, my recommendation is in concordance with Fuller's - it peaks at 3 years. While it's not for the newcomer, this old ale is a fine example of a good English approach to the style and while I won't be putting any down to cellar meself, it's a beer I'd definitely recommend my friends try at least once. Certainly a classic, but not a world-class offering. I think with time and palate development, I'll come to appreciate this more and more, but constructively it's a bit overhopped and lacks the intricacy of superior beers in the style. I hope to update this review when I've tried other vintages.

B- (4,955 characters)

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Color is a bright ruby red, head is an actively bubbly, lacey off-white, and swiftly dissipating. Aroma: huge with fruit! Bam! Boom! Strawberry Jam + booze all up in your nose, brother! Actually, more along the way of cherries and grapes, but very ripe, strong and powerful! Definitely the nose of a barleywine, and already I'm thoroughly impressed! (This ale hasn't exactly been cellared, merely waiting in a store's cooler all the while, for me to rescue it! )
Whoosh! Hoo, daddy! A large charge on the palate, a big deposit of hops and flavor and alcohol! Yessir, she's my baby, nossir, don't mean maybe!
Nice balance, malt sticks up for itself quite nicely, and provides sufficient backdrop for all this hoppy flavor and booze.
Fruity flavor continues, as does our friend Mr. Liquor, and my head is swimmin' already, and all it knows how to do is doggy paddle, but that does the trick.
It's "only" 8.5% and I feel blasted at all sides. This is rich, delightful, delicious stuff! Bottle #53,187 out of 85,000.
Bright, and deep, and plummy, but cherry, sweet and dark,
what a nice ale. Mmmmm...I'll say it again,...Mmmmm!!!!! (1,135 characters)

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 641 ratings.