Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...
Dismiss Notice
Join The Buzz! Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest BeerAdvocate updates delivered to your inbox.

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%.
View: Beers (35) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Fuller's Vintage Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 641 | Hads: 1,146
Photo of dcmchew
4.56/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I find this hard to rate, depending on which vintage and when you have it. The rates here stand for the 2004 one.

No. 18550 of 95000 bottles, had in 2013.
Dark fruit complexity (raisin, plum, but also red berries and a more than decent amount of cherry); Coffee, sweet chocolate, to toffee notes; Caramel malts, hints of vanilla, cocoa, also some licorice sweetness;
Thwe alcohol is smooth and prickles nicely, bringing also some brandy/bourbon whisky notes;
In the finish itțs backed up by a beautiful hoppy bitterness and a mild roast; the sweetness goes down like honey in the finish, the creaminess helps too; cellary, barrelly notes from the aging, with oaky woody notes;
This was beautiful: malty and fruity, deliciously sweet, with a nice smooth alcohol, a perfectly melded English ale; Aged beautifully, making it noble and elegant.

Also had the 2010 vintage in 2013, but the one above was better.

For the sake of completion, i re-edited. Had the 2000 vintage, in 2014. Different fish food entirely, would have rated it way closer to 5. (1,049 characters)

Photo of MistaT
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I registered on Beer Advocate to blast another beer but have since cooled. In doing so, and potentially helping, I've been privileged to enjoy a Fuller's 2011 Vintage Ale. This is a beautiful beer I've enjoyed a handful of times since learning about it three or so years ago, and this bottle was as good as ever.

Let's start with appearance - generally a beer's appearance is limited to its color, head and potentially the bottle. In all these aspects this beer excels, but credit to Fuller's for taking it a step further with a gorgeous dark red box that lets you know you're set to enjoy something special.

The beer smells of a slight musk with tones of raisins coming through immediately. Of all the beer's aspects I will admit the smell is the least appealing though that's not to say its poor. Rather it doesn't do much aside from confirm the age of the beer and the quality of its hops/malt. Of the two primary beer ingredients malt comes through more notably with hops being secondary.

Taste - exquisite. Simple as that.

Like many of Fuller's beers there is a great balance of hops and malts so that each set is fairly represented. This is certainly a beer for those that favor malts but its not over the top. Dried fruits are another prominent flavor with raisins coming through particularly strong.

Overall - a beautiful beer that I look to grab any time I see in the store. Its perfect for the cellar, and while its served in a pint sharing this beaut will be sure to please any guest. (1,502 characters)

Photo of delta490
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle of the 2009 vintage, cellared since early 2010.

A- pours a deep caramel with a short-lived white head, that lives on around the circumference of the imperial pint glass.

S- deep malt. Dark fruit dominates (currants, raisins). Sweet with subtle alcohol esters.

T- rich and deep. Dark toffee (or maybe treacle), fruit and alcohol. Reminded me of a Christmas rum cake, minus the spice.

M- smooth, almost creamy.

O- A great English ale. The aging has really made it fantastic. (485 characters)

Photo of CalgaryFMC
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Nice bottle. Very old fashioned and austere. What's inside is even better. Pours a light toasty orange that makes one think mellow but complex, aged yet dynamic. A whiff of the light caramel colored head evokes fine scotch whisky and butterscotch, coffee cake and sweet orange. Palate shows a mind-blowing complexity that includes the aforementioned aroma components along with citrus marmalade, brown sugar, nutmeg/mace, vanilla toffee, dates, tobacco, and bitter Brazil nuts. A sipper that won't get dull as each sip reveals something new, with each component falling into the dark and sweet categories. Hops prevent things from being too decadent and add spicy earthy notes. Body is not as heavy as excepted but still pretty chewy (think a strong brown ale) and finish is winey and aromatic. The sort of beer that might cause a paradigm shift in any novices who happen to be around when you partake and worth every penny. Will change with age. The present exemplar was almost three years old. (995 characters)

Photo of Libationguy
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Light brown color with amber hues and an off-white 1 1/2 finger head that has medium retention. Fine lacing in the glass.

Wonderfully complex nose: nutmeg, mace, brown bread, highland scotch without the peat, oloroso sherry, banana, toffee, orange marmalade and smoke. Nose keeps evolving as you are enjoying the beer.

On the palate, many of the same flavors return. That taste of peat-less scotch and oloroso sherry combined together linger.

Medium+ bodied and almost a little oily in the mouthfeel. Nice long aftertaste in this beer.

Really nicely done. Could see myself savoring a pint of this for an extended period after a nice meal or during the fall and winter months. (679 characters)

Photo of facundoCNB
3.92/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 vintage

poured a hazy deep orange in color with 2 fingers of fluffy off-white head which left behind nice amounts of lacing. looks a lot like a barleywine. aromas of barley, vanilla, wood barrels, raisins, pennies. this is a very sweet tasting beer, very subtle with everything really - lots of bready notes, biscuity, then you get a slight whisky flavor.. more wood than anything, a slight charred bitterness.. AND you do get a nice warmth from the abv.. almost a corn flakes like aftertaste.

the beer itself is slightly thin for the abv%, but right on the money for an old ale. medium body, thin on the tongue, but the alcohol warmth makes it feel like it's almost full bodied.. until you go for another sip.

this is a nice beer all around. it was a present from my wife, who knows absolutely nothing about beer - she just thought it looked fancy in the box. i'm glad she picked this up for me for christmas.. i feel like the few months in the cellar have done this one well. not sure about its cost, but this seems like an affordable beer, and very spot on for the style. i'll go ahead and recommend it. (1,114 characters)

Photo of WillCarrera
4.24/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16.9 oz bottle, 2011 vintage, poured into a snifter.

A- Pours a clear caramel reddish color, with golden highlights at the edges, topped with a finger of off-white head that recedes to a wisp. Leaves no lacing.

S- Sweet, rich aroma. Lots of sweet caramel, dark fruit, vanilla and booze. Smells very nice.

T- Similar to the aroma, with more dark fruit, berries, caramel and vanilla. There's some herbal hop flavors towards the finish, but as the beer warms these become less prominent amid the malty sweetness. Some nice boozy sweetness and warmth at the finish.

M- Medium-bodied, smooth with a good amount of warmth.

O- A nice old ale, the sweet malt flavors are great, I might grab some more of this to hang onto and see how it's tasting after the hops fade out, a very good beer overall. (794 characters)

Photo of brureview
4.29/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2012 Fullers Vintage ale.

The beer poured an attractive copper color with less than a 1/2 finger head in a balloon glass.
Serving temp: 52F.

The aroma was prominent: figs, vanilla, peachy fruits.

The mouth feel was moderately carbonated.

The taste was excellent, unlike most British beers I have tasted: peachy, raisins.

The beer had a whiskey-like finish. Bitter, a bit alcoholic, but not over the top.

This is a complex beer which tastes more like a beer of 10+ABV. I will buy another bottle to cellar. (510 characters)

Photo of lighthabit
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

surprisingly little to comment on, as it is very well done . . . though not forging any real new ground. appearance is a solid ale, thick head dies down to leave not much in the lacing. nose is the best part, fruity, figgy, leather, a bit of sweetness that is very inviting. a bit of plum, leather and clove in the taste, very nice. presentation (packaging), gets bonus points (376 characters)

Photo of speter
4.58/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage.

A: Deep ruby that poured clear before I swirled the yeasty goodness that lent a tinge of cloud to the glass. Large bubble, off-white head quickly dissipated, leaving virtually no lacing nor residual carbonation.

S: Toffee, caramel, raisins, and toasted biscuits, with a faint hint of hay and a touch of yeast.

T: Follows the nose closely, with a dose of toffee up front giving way to more bready goodness in mid palate and a balancing bit of bitterness in the finish. However, the malt's the star here. As the ale opens up, the raisins give way to darker fruit and an almost oaky/bourbony quality.

M: Mouth-coating and syrupy, especially due to the light British carbonation levels. This would be a perfect crisp fall day beer.

O: This is a truly superb brew that captures the best of the British Isles. Akin to a German Doppelbock, this has a biscuity quality I have come to love in real British ales, along with the subtle understatement of Goldings. I am going to get more of these, laying them down for 3-4 years as recommended. (1,055 characters)

Photo of AndyPublican
3.45/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Burnt taste, really like black tea, it is very bitter. The flavors of malt and hops are intertwined. Tried vintage 2010, apparently was too young. Such beer to withstand the maximum, only if it is fully revealed. Suffice it to yourself to get a certain characteristics to safely call it in English, tough ale. (309 characters)

Photo of TwelveOunces
4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2011 Vintage poured into a snifter

A- Pours very murky/hazy orange amber color. A frothey off white head.

S- This beer smells like an aged IPA surprisingly. A bitter Fruit smell. A lot of grapefruit, candied raisins. A slight cinnamon and spice. A sticky syrupy sweet smelling brew.

T- A big malty flavor to this beer. A light caramel and a sweet toffee flavor. A slight roastyness. A sticky dark fruit flavor. A massive plum presence and a candied raisin. A very nice grain flavor and yeastyness. A slight spiciness as well. A remaining hop bitterness but most of the flavor has faded.

M- A lighter body then I expected. Perfect carbonation and an overall pleasing brew on the palate.

O- A very solid Old ale. I would love to try some older vintages and have no doubt this would age well. (795 characters)

Photo of funkengruven
4.7/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

2006 vintage, bottle # 67668, had this sitting in my cellar since i acquired it nearly 7 years ago. I was expecting this to be a little off, not even a little bit.

This poured a deep clear ruby with a little off white head, smell is very strong mostly of caramel malt with some hops. Flavor is very bold and full of malt with some hops in the finish. Alcohol is definitely present but it's taste is well concealed in the brew.
Mouthfeel is very full and strong, this is something you want to take nice and slow.

I'm very glad i let this one rest a bit before giving it a go. I imagine that a fresh one would be very sweet and very boozy. I will have to get another one of these once they are available again to sit in my cellar for a while. (743 characters)

Photo of ElGallo
3.92/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage, poured into a snifter. Pours an amber orangey gold color. Good carbonation, decent head and lacing. Smells of caramel and toffee. Taste is mildly sweet, with caramel and toffee up front but chalk and metallic notes in the aftertaste that come and go. Tastes a lot like an American-style barley wine but not as complex as I had hoped for a slightly older vintage. Still worth trying once. (401 characters)

Photo of BGDrock
3.69/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: look of unfiltered peach juice, muddy orange/brown with off-white head that only lasts a minute or two

Aroma: apple or pear cider; oak; mostly sweet with a bit of sour tang; faintly of clove and cinnamon

Taste & Mouthfeel: a blend of orchard fruit with a mild balancing bitterness that tastes mostly of pith - in fact the beer is overall fairly mild and subtle, but wouldn't say boring; apples, pears are still top of mind, with some nectarine, apricot; toffee malt pairs well with fruit; slightly woody flavour has a hint of char in the finish; the toffee sweetness takes over halfway through, and steadily the builds to a cloying mouthfeel

Overall: starts off nice enough, but loses steam and really doesn't leave a great final impression; elements are there to make it great, but needs a little something.... (826 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 morebeergood
4.26/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had a 2009 vintage in the cellar and drank it tonight. Poured into a tulip glass. Dark amber color, very nice clarity. Soapy white head formed then faded quickly. Some carbonation left but some loss is detected. Smell was ripe figs and caramel. Taste was very nice. Sweet malt dominates. The mouthfeel was amazing. Super smooth and velvety. Went down like an aged port wine: just a bit of booze but delicious. What a nice beer. Aging this ale for 3-4 years did wonders. (469 characters)

Photo of SLeffler27
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours almost clear, shiny copper, into a Stone snifter while a thin, short-lived, off-white head provides a cap but no lacing.

The aroma is reminiscent of sherry with sweet malt and brown sugar, while light toasted malt provides a backdrop. Notes of cola, sun tea and nuts are also evident.

Exceptionally well-balanced with a slight, bitter finish that is long and subtle. Generally, the flavors follow the nose quite well with the addition of fresh white bread. While this Old Ale warms nicely, it is better at the cooler range.

A full body with a soft, smooth texture, light carbonation, and well-concealed alcohol. Simultaneously dry with light residual sugar on the lips.

One can easily imagine an Edwardian gentleman sipping this beer while reading to soft classical music in low light in a leather chair.

This was a 2009 vintage, bottle number 133946, consumed December 2012. (887 characters)

Photo of vinicole
4.68/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Re-Edit

1999 drunk in May 2015.
Over poured and allowed some yeast that I did not want.
Rich aroma of fruit cake, glace cherry and caramel.
Smooth as smooth can be. A multiplicity of flavours. A very slight sour note like all really old ales.
I've now tried 2010,2011,2012,2013 and 2014 and this one from 1999 is the best. I have a 2000 to try now. (349 characters)

Photo of Beerandboards
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage poured into a large wine glass

A - looks like dark murky apple cider. About 1.5 inches of thick white foam. Lots of lacing.

S - best description I could give it is apple sauce with some cinnamon. Some mustiness in the background.

T - ripe apples, sweet with some bitterness on the edges. It's actually really nice, but I guess I was expecting too much, given that my comparison to this is JW Lees harvest. It feels like there is a little bit of an element missing from the middle, some backbone, thats keeping it from being great, but nonetheless, refined and tasty.

M - medium thickness, low carb.

O - I wonder what my thoughts would have been had I not had a 2000 JW Lees first. They are different beers for sure, but they occupy a similar category in my mind. This is a very nice beer, but just missing a few key elements. Still, very enjoyable. (867 characters)

Photo of Dope
4.14/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Fresh 2012 bottle.

A: Pours a clear medium amber. Good sized fluffy and very fizzy tan head which fades away somewhat quickly. Decent head retention but almost zero lacing. Tiniest dots here and there.

S: Big caramel and raisins. Nice honey. Quite sweet. Surprisingly a little boozy too.

T: Again, sweet but not as much as the nose would indicate. There is some caramel and honey up front but then a big toasty and nutty wave shows up in the middle. Actually becomes the prominent flavor in the beer overall. Almost reminds me of a brown ale except this is much sweeter with lots of caramel and honey. Finish is a drier dark fruit flavor with some herbal hops with a touch of honey. Surprisingly decent hop bitterness. Lingering toast and herbs in the aftertaste.

M: Medium bodied. Kinda sticky sweet at first but ends on a drying note.

O: Interesting old ale. Lots of toastiness and nuttiness. Prominent typical english hops. Sweet and fairly complex. Feels more like an english strong ale than an olde ale to me. I will have to compare this to an aged version sometime. Tasty. (1,084 characters)

Photo of peensteen
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle

Murky brownish-red colour, cap of white head, not much in the way of lace. Nose is of sweet caramel and toffee, malty with lots of fruit, cherry, fig and raisin, bit of sugary sweetness and a bit of nutty/almond as well. Taste is of sweet malt and darker sugars, quite vibrant fruit, cherry, plum, fig, caramel like sweetness, lightly bitter hop, fruity finish. Lightly carbonated, full body. Nicely complex and enjoyable, really held up quite nicely, fantastic stuff here. (486 characters)

Photo of mttaylor1066
4.58/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

If you wonder what a master British brewer might do if he(she) could create a Belgian-style ale... this is it. Perhaps this is what old ale was... or should have been. (No wonder our ancestors were drunk all the time. )

The 2012 version, bottle #109350.

I'll forego all the particular details, but suffice to say, this is an ale you need to try. Deliciously balanced between hop bitterness and a figgy backbone of malt. Incredibly luxurious on the tongue and an ale you want to savor for hours. Gets better as it warms in the glass.

Buy some. You will not regret it. (569 characters)

Photo of Digimaika2
3.98/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage Ale 2012.

(4.25) A: An attractive slightly hazy burnt copper with a thick and creamy foam head. Long lasting retention and spotty lacing.

(4.25) S: Raisins, toffee, almonds, juicy orange, banana bread, floral qualities, and winter spices. Very smooth with aromas well integrated. Quite a variety of different fruits that can be picked out.

(3.75) T: Raisins, floral elements, banana, orange, spices, nutty qualities, and a rich toffee malt backbone. Definitely a bit of boozy warmth to this. The overall taste indicates that hops and malt are both in large quantities, although some of the hoppier tastes coming through seem a little lost at this fresher age.

(4.0) M: Full bodied with medium carbonation. Syrupy texture with quite a bitter and dry mouthfeel.

(4.0) D: I’d like to pick up another and sit on it for a year or two and really give the taste time to develop further. Nonetheless, still a treat to drink in it’s fresher current state. (964 characters)

Photo of uno99
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pretty fresh 2012 bottle here. I dont think I've ever had this before, but I intend on starting a vertical.

Appearance: Not sure I've seen this color in a beer before. Almost a rose tint to it. Quite clear and sparkling. Whatever head was brought about during the pour quickly fades away. Some lacing.

Smell: A somewhat expected malt bomb here. Really nice, sweet, oak, raisin, plum and prune. Some almond, rosepetal, and apple.

Taste: quite drinkable but not without its character. Made balanced with some hop bitterness at the end.

Mouthfeel: Quite thick as you might expect, fairly high carbonation keeps it a float and ensures that a long stored bottle still has some bite.

Overall: Not brilliant but looking forward to a 10 year vertical. (748 characters)

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