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Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

659 Reviews
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Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale

Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

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%.

Added by Murph on 02-20-2002

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Reviews: 659 | Ratings: 1,213
Photo of Zorro
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 vintage, bottle #69408.

Pours a clear very deeply bronze colored ale with even a decent head despite the alcohol level.

Smell is very spicy and very full of herbal hop scents. Chocolate and cinnamon aromas are nicely strong. Scents of vanilla, cherry, grapes, plums, brown sugar and raisin are carried on the alcohol fumes. Lesser scents are tobacco and leather aromas.

The taste is very malty and full with a good solid herbal bitterness on the back end for a start. Pleasantly warming to the stomach. As this gets warmer more and more complexity comes out. After the initial taste this becomes mildly sweet and caramel and brown sugar flavor become stronger. There is a good long lasting hops after taste to this that is very herbal almost medicine like. Good flavor but it isn't as good as the smell.

Mouthfeel is good and full almost syrup.

Nicely drinkable but at it's price I won't be doing that on a regular basis. Tasty and very aromatic this is an ale you should try.

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Photo of Brent
3.58/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2004 vintage, still seems a bit young with room to develop. Poured a surprisingly bright cola amber for a bottle conditioned beer. Brown sugar, sweet malt and a rather cutting alcohol edge. Finished with the barest touch of vinious tannin. An old school old ale that I'd like to see a bit more age on and see what happens.

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Photo of Phatz
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had a 2004 vintage # 75579 The presentation is fantastic in this beautiful collectors box and inside is a unique 18.6 oz brown pint bottle. It looked very light while pouring, but it sits in the glass at a coppery transparent color. Huge head! I got like four fingers of head in my oversized Victory pint glass. Significant lacing. It has a great smell of gentle port. Hint of sweet fruit like a tangerine, then grapes. As it warmed the smell got to a darker fruit like raisins or figs. It makes me think of wine. (?) The taste is fantastic but pretty straight foreword. Extremely malty flavor with hints of dark fruit, and gentle on the taste buds. It is so soft on the taste bud I can't imagine anyone saying it tastes bad; even if it is not there preference. The mouthfeel is amazing (so much so I consider it a highlight of this beer). If I had not poured it myself I'd have thought it was on-cask. It is the creamiest feel. This is full bodied but light and frothy. One of the most gentle creamy mouthfeels I have ever experienced. Each sip you just want to last forever; it just feels right! It is fantastically drinkable. It’s so pleasant in the mouth that I would anticipate the next the next sip; yet it is a beer that can't be rushed. It is too pleasant to rush through. In other words it is worth the money. Someone complained it was $6 a bottle. I only wish I lived in that state. In PA its $9 a bottle and WELL worth the money.
In fact I went back and bought three more to age for another year.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of bruachan
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage has been sitting in my basement for awhile. #91902 (not sure why i'm compelled to post that. seems relevent). i stupidly tried to fit the whole bottle in my pint glass, which of course was always an impossibility, so the head didn't have much room to roam, but it did well. not exactly billowy, but tight and persistent

during the pour all i could think of was how much like wine this smelled, but i don't seem to get it from the beer in my glass. rich malt aroma, toffee. toffee flavors follow, with nutty and slight dried cherry notes

the color is very similar to that of the mad elf i just tried. clear red, but with a more coppery tinge. after the initial pour, not much visible carbonation but still a fairly spritzy feel

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Photo of Popsinc
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage Ale 2005, bottle #10606

It's 8pm, -8 degrees celcius & there's 10 cm of snow of the ground in Barrie....i'm very glad that i chose this beer tonight.

Pours deep amber with a nice foamy off-white head. A lighty spiced nose with hoppy notes and a pinch of fruit. The taste is gentley sweet with hop traces. A nice sponge toffee characteristic is here and lingers nicely. Mild spice, maybe some orange zest as well. Medium bodied. A nice chewiness to the beer brought on by the sweet caramel & molasses and alcohol kick. Warm, sweetn spicey finish with a mild hop trace. This is the perfect beer for a winter eveing. A nice sipper. Great alcohol warmth on the finish. Good complexity. I enjoyed it thuroughly.

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Photo of BDTyre
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No difference in score from my last review. Thiis bottle, # 47498 has been aged for about a year. Please see my last review....

This has mellowed considerably. Still a scotch ale feeling to it, but much smoother and no alcohol feeling. Good amber brown appearance with an ever so slight off-white head.

Tastes malty, with winey and whisky hints. Hops not easily detectable. The taste is mellow and smooth. Not your typical ale. An enjoyable brew, fit for sipping on a quiet winter's evening.

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Photo of ypsifly
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage, bottle # 84475. Served in an imperial pint glass.

Dark but clear copper with a tall head that is off white. Strong retention, globs of lace.

Wonderful aromas of dark ripe fruits such as cherries and plums, slightly toasty malts and a hint of earthy to bread like yeast. Rather simple, but it all comes together so well.

The taste is very malty upfront, but it gives way to some of the fruits that are now showing signs of being soaked in alcohol. Nice bitter finish that is a bit vinous with a pinch of sugar and a warming alcohol sensation. Very, very nice!

Full mouth that wants to be chewy oil but is swept clean by the hops and active carbonation. One of the most drinkable OAs out there.

The only odd characteristic of this beer is its appearance. I'm used to OAs looking rather flat without much head to speak of, let alone one that's still a few centimeters high halfway through the glass. However, I like beers with strong retention and lacing. Good stuff. Get some and stash it away...it can only get better.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2000 vintage. This brew pours a murky brown color with amber hues around the edges. The head is mammoth and white. Lacing is thorough. The aroma screams that this brew is big. Hoppy, piney, malty. The taste is a lot more balanced than the aroma led me to believe it would be. The sip has a pronounced malt backbone, while hops break through in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is full bodied with good carbonation. Overall, this is a very good brew.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage. The brew pours a nice amber color with a small head that falls to a very light coating over the beer. The nose is deep raisin and fig with a very thick brown sugar sweetness and a bit of alcohol as well. I like it. Flavor is very much more smooth than the nose would indicate. The brown sugar and raisin flavor meld really well together. Incredible balance. The feel is thick with a light carbonation. Very nice on the tongue. I really like the beer. The nose is a touch too strong on the alcohol, but it is nothing to set back my feelings of it. This is deceptively drinkable. Well crafted beer.

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Photo of clvand0
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1999 Vintage. This one pours a dark amber color with a small head that falls fast and doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. The aroma has a lot of raisin and fruit and some alcohol. Smells pretty good. The flavor is awesome. So much smoother than expected. Lots of great fruit flavors with just a touch of alcohol. Very nice. The mouthfeel is on the heavy end of moderate and the drinkability is great.

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Photo of rocketmotor
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

2004 Vintage, bottle number 82121.

Pours a nice translucent, burnt orange color. Not much head, but my wife cleaned my glass, maybe not clean enough, no lacing present.

Has a great woody, spicy aroma, also smell yeast and rich, dark bread. Wonderful carmel, malt flavor with nice, spicy hop zing. The alcohol comes through a bit too strong on the finish. Can pick up a bit of raison too. Has a great mouthfeel. I usually prefer more carbonated beers, but this thick, chewy beer is great! Really coats your mouth well.

Drinkability, when I started off, I thought I could drink a few of these. Now that I'm half-way through the beer, one is enough. The alcohol flavor comes on a bit too strong here, and I'm used to drinking Imperial IPA beers frequently.

I have one other bottle that I will keep for some years. Should be interesting to compare notes with my future tasting.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.7/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had to break this out tonight as I've heard some rumblings that this is the prime time to drink this 2000 vintage. And what better time than a college football game that features two top five teams, Texas vs Ohio St.

Decent presentation in a oversized wine glass. beautiful frothy white head that recedes in uniform to a thin lazy fading froth ending in nothing. Copper color that is hard to see through. Bottle fermentation for 5 years may have jacked this baby up because I can smell the alcohol and it is welcomed. Prune, plumb, caramel smell comes through strongest. yeast. Tasted mellow dude. Just a layed back deep, rich easy drinking 8.5 abv (at bottling)....frickin sweeet....it did lack lacing and head retention but who cares the quality is in the taste. Even a little zing at the end to battle the caramel finish that is saucey.

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Photo of meathookjones
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2000

Bottle# 43816 with a best before date of end of 2003. Pours out a dark reddish brown with a decent sized frothy head. Some sticky rings of lace were left clinging to the glass. Sweet dark ripe fruit was strong in the aroma with plums and figs. Some caramel malt and a bit of musty earth. Figs, raisins and plenty more fruits kick of the taste before a bit of alcohol and molasses come in to play. There are some nice malt complexities going on as well. Light alcohol burn with a bit of earthiness and some fruit on the finish. Mouthfeel is a bit sticky sweet with a great thickness. A bit warming from the alcohol too. Really smooth and easy drinking stuff even if it is more of a sipper. For supposedly being 2 years past the best by date this is fantastic.

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Photo of tjthresh
3.86/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Big, big, big malt aroma. Crystal clear with an off white head. Very pretty beer. Again big malt flavor with a touch of bitterness. There are some flavor hops in the middle that I don’t care for. Very nice palate. Fuller bodied. Maybe a touch too much carbonation. This is by far the best Fuller’s beer I have ever drank.

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Photo of dgallina
4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, forgot to record the number or best-before date.

Pours a sparkling dark brown with ruby edges. Decent head of chunky off-white foam and quite a lot of moderately sticky lace. Strongly malty smells. Loads of the usual biscuit-like Fuller's yeast plus caramel malts and dark, fruity alcohol. Tastes much like the smell. Toasty and slightly smoky malts up front, with a chewy biscuit-like middle and very strong rum-like alcohol finish. Chewy and lightly carbonated body.

A bit boozy, but still tasty for an old strong ale. The house yeast and malt profile work better in the 1845 in my opinion.

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Photo of Gusler
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

“Bottle #76157”: The beer dispenses from the 500ml brown bottle a translucent deep amber to copper color with the head average in size, the texture semi-creamy and the color a winsome light tan and after its demise the residual lace a concealing sheet upon the glass. Nose is deep malt, sweet, hints of caramel, and oh yes “Alcohol” and the start delectable in its sweetness and the grain profile adequate, the top is middling in its feel. Finish scrumptious in its hop presence, moderately carbonated and a very dry long lasting aftertaste, the first new vintage in a few years at least for me.

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Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
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).

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Photo of Naerhu
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

No. 87866
A - Beautiful red amber body with no visible carbonation and thin off-white head.
S - Great spicy hops, fresh aroma with rich caramel maltiness
T - Big initial bitterness, which quickly fades. medium maltiness that starts as caramel, then fades into tabacco and finally port wine.
M - This wine is lacking in richness and body, thought the fine carbonation and well integrated alcohol was enjoyable.
D - No desire to have this again, and almost forgot to drink the last half of pint before going to sleep.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle No: 41526

Bottle says "Best Before End 2003." Hope I didn't wait to long.

Fiery scarlet red appearance. Clarity is good. Head is beige, hefty and long-lasting. Lace is bountiful. This smells of toffee, caramelized raisins and vanilla nougat. Excellent aroma. Flavor is kind of sharp and dry. The bulk of this beer is all about the caramel and toffee flavor wheels. Also nuances of cedar. Alcohol is nearly absent. Dry, woody finish. Mouthfeel is appropriately prickly with carbonation. Body about light-medium. Good stuff, but I think I may have waited a titch too long.

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Photo of kbub6f
4.04/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I get about a centimeter of yellowy-cream head: lots of bubbles floating on a dense base. The beer itself is clearish and copper-brown. Quite dark. The nose is a sweet and fruity liqueur. Port-like, too. Mmmmm. Fruity and malty in front. It turns thick, smooth, buttery, malty and slick. And then there's alcohol, loads of cherries (?) and a good, tangy, British bitterness. Excellent: a slick, buttery, fruity malt monster. Big alcohol kick.

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.56/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beautifully thick, creamy head. Nice amber-brown color. Hops on the nose with some barleywine smells as well. You can still pick out the hops in the taste, which is impressive after all these years. Nice barleywine taste. Mellow, but deep. Smooth as silk. I think this one may be a little bit past its peak. Still well worth getting and consuming if you still have any around.

Do you really care what the bottle number is?

Edit: This review was of the 2000 vintage.

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Photo of MrSeth
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It pours with a smallish, thin head. A beautfiul reddish-brown color body with red-gold highlights.

The nose is lightly hoppy, with an attractive maltiness.

The taste is a little on the bitter side, and it's not too sweet (as many of the vintage ales are). There is a slightly sweet apple taste, and this is what makes me think this will be an excellent ale to age. It will gain in complexity, without making you wonder how an overly heavy sweetness or hoppiness will turn out.

The finish is dry and pleasantly short.

This is a remarkably clean tasting ale overall. I plan to get some more so I can let it age. It pairs well with Mortlach 32 Y.O. single malt (G&M) as well.

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Photo of frazbri
4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear mahogany with a short cream colored head. Fruity aromas of apples and oak. Bread, raisins and carmel with full bitterness, and some alcohol warmth. Mild carbonation and medium body that seems to fill out as it warms.

This is a beer brewed to last, yet is quite drinkable right now. The mouthfeel improves as it warms. I'd like to cellar a couple bottles of this and see how it matures.

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Photo of walleye
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle number 03785.shared this with bieristut. poured amber with a off white head. aroma malts, caramel, plums, raisins, honey, some hops, grapes, flavor, raisins, malts, honey, toffee, dark fruits, this is a good beer . will have to get the other vintages as they get to this area. just think being able to rate a beer that is retired.

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Photo of GuinnessSmurf
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fullers Vintage Ale 2001 No: 12335; served on Dec. 31, 2004 (the last day of their suggested maturity)

Appearance: Apple cider orange. Very low ring of pale head. The combination of the warm colors and cool head are a nice contrast and give the beer a harvest look.

Smell: Fruity, apples and malts working together with some brown sugar and a biting tartness of fermented fruit. As it warms you start to get a nice plum or prune too.

Taste: Strong fruit upfront, then it sharpens like a u-turn and adds some hops with fermented tartness. The finish seems to last forever. I sat on my first sip for awhile, but, after coating my tongue with a second sip, I could taste that beer for what seemed like forever (i gave up waiting, so i could begin that 3rd sip).
As it warms up, it mellows out a bit, adding a bread flavor and some caramel notes too.

Mouthfeel: Body is very thick yet, it doesn't feel like it is big in the mouth. Just a full textured beer that is thick without the foaminess. The alcohol finishes after each taste and warms the mouth (nice!)

Drinkability: If only I had bought more!!!!

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 659 ratings.