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Fuller's Vintage Ale - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

1,000 Ratings
THE BROS
97
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,000
Reviews: 617
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.98%
Wants: 78
Gots: 192 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
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%.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-21-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,000 | Reviews: 617 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
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).

Sammy, May 13, 2005
Photo of t0rin0
2.75/5  rDev -34.4%

t0rin0, Oct 01, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.79/5  rDev -9.5%
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.

UCLABrewN84, Apr 27, 2013
Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -4.5%

djrn2, Mar 26, 2012
Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -4.5%

zestar, Sep 09, 2014
Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%

spycow, Mar 10, 2013
Photo of nmann08
4.75/5  rDev +13.4%

nmann08, Dec 14, 2011
Photo of metter98
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
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

metter98, Jun 29, 2014
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

BuckeyeNation, Apr 25, 2008
Photo of BEERchitect
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

BEERchitect, Mar 26, 2007
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.73/5  rDev -11%
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.

Phyl21ca, Mar 05, 2014
Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev -4.5%

kjkinsey, Dec 02, 2011
Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%

GRG1313, Jul 12, 2014
Photo of jaydoc
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

jaydoc, Nov 16, 2013
Photo of womencantsail
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
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.

womencantsail, Jul 17, 2012
Photo of kylehay2004
4.4/5  rDev +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.

kylehay2004, Sep 09, 2011
Photo of Knapp85
4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
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!

Knapp85, Jun 13, 2011
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.55/5  rDev -15.3%
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...

ChainGangGuy, Jan 27, 2007
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%

westcoastbeerlvr, Jan 10, 2013
Photo of oberon
4.15/5  rDev -1%
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.

oberon, Jan 14, 2006
Photo of largadeer
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

largadeer, Nov 16, 2007
Photo of TMoney2591
2.35/5  rDev -43.9%
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...

TMoney2591, Jan 07, 2013
Photo of SocalKicks
3/5  rDev -28.4%

SocalKicks, Mar 27, 2014
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev -4.5%

JAHMUR, Mar 04, 2013
Photo of emerge077
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

emerge077, Feb 08, 2010
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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 1,000 ratings.