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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.

648 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 648
Hads: 1,187
Avg: 4.17
pDev: 14.63%
Wants: 113
Gots: 283 | FT: 10
Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
United Kingdom (England) | website

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: 648 | Hads: 1,187
Photo of ElGuapo
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle 53404
Pours somewhat cloudy in a deep amber brown color. It is equipped with a thick covering of off-white head that will sit with you for a while, and it will come right back up with some gentle swirling. The nose is a huge blast of sweet malts. Some nice hops are also present to provide a very nice aroma. It smells so fresh, which is pretty strange for something that is 5 years old.

The body is pretty full, but not all the way there. The carbonation is very mild. The initial flavor is nice and toasty. Malts are absolutely huge, and the backbone is absolutely delicious. Little touches of alcohol are found in the finish, but ever so subtle. The hops provide a bit of balance. This one is earthy and a bit grassy. I can only imagine that this would be a work of art on cask. The drinkability is excellent along with mouthfeel. It is so smooth. It definitely seems like an intensified ESB which is something I like to see. I think that this one may not have made it in the cellar for too much longer, so a big thanks to yen157 for letting me know that it was time to pop this one.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle No; 60097
I drank the 1999 over the holidays and swore to myself I would wait a year until popping this one open...oh well.
It pours a lovely orange-tinted amber with a small but lasting beige head on top and small trails of sticky lace.
Creamy caramel, hops, cut hay and a near perfect rummy alcohol aroma lasts a fair amount of time.
The full and rich malt body has flavors of toffee and rum cake. The hops are in abundance! Citrus and tea-like bitterness are quite noticeable. A slight metallic background adds a welcome additional edginess. The warming alcohol is in total harmony.
The mouthfeel has an almost perfect extra virgin olive oil and buttery finish to it.
It's velvety smooth, with a decadent richness one comes to associate and compare to a fine sherry.
Note to self; Hide the 2001!
Thanks Genaro!

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Photo of Doiv
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This stuff will cost a little more than your average bottle of bitter, but it is bloody marvellous. This is as strong as Golden Pride, but with a more wooden, burnished flavour, smoother mouthfeel, a strong, hoppy nose and a good dry finish. Worth absolutely every penny.

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Photo of mikeys01
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a beautiful numbered generouslysized 18.6oz brown bottle, the bottle is indeed sealed witha paper seal as would be a good port. The box was a nice touch as well, and a fairly intelligent feature to prevent excess light from entering the bottle. Pours out of the bottle with plenty of carbonation and a frothy head that dissipates quickly. Color is a slightly toasted amber with flashes of red when held to the light, very good clarity. Aroma is swollen with aged fruit, smooth alcohol, and sweet malt. Taste is oh so smooth and tasty with each flavor playing well with the others, fermented raisins and figs blending with a sweet caramel malt and just a bit of the characteristic mustiness you expect in a vintage ale. Alcohol is very subdued, almost encouraging you to drink the whole large bottle in one sitting, though its probably best shared or saved for a couple nights enjoyment. Hops play in just a bit to add a bit of citrus flavor and only a bit of bitterness. Finish is smooth with hints of oak and vanilla left on your breath..mmm.

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Photo of Mangus
4.63/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Can I cry? Can I shed tears of happiness?

What a beautiful ale this is. Gorgeous copper, honey color with a nice off-white head that just sort of hangs out and sits there. This thing screams quality.

Wonderful aromas of sweet malt, honey, fruity apples, maybe some raisins in there too, I don't know, I don't friggin' care, I just want to taste this gift from the Gods.

The gates of heaven open and surround me as the warm alchoholy, malty, earthy, sweet honey fruit elixer slides down my throat. Damn I only have one case.

Excuse me while I get a kleenex.


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Photo of sulldaddy
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My bottle says best before end of 2003, well after sampling, I think this is best right now!!
The beer pours a reddish amber color, very clear. I get a small off-white head to foam up about 1 cm and then it fades to a surface layer throughout my sampling.
WOW! Nice complex aroma on this brew. I get rich caramel malt mixed with a nice batch of fruit, grapes, raisins, and plums are prevelant. No real hop presence to be found.
FIrst sip gives me a very fine soft carbonation and average body, a slight syrupy texture is present also.
Flavor is similar to the nose. I get sweet caramel up front followed by plums and raisins and then a finish with some alcohol warming in my throat. This is a very smooth beer and goes down easily. WIsh I had some more of these I recommend you find some too!

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Photo of CharlesRiver
4.11/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

No: 45695 from 1999. I have had this beer in my cellar for about 2 years now and think the time is right. It came in the wooden caged set of three including years 99, 00 & 01. What a pleasure it is to "pop the top" on this beer. From the wood, to the box, to the seal and finally the cap, this is cool.

The smell is typical English barley wine/strong ale. VERY sweet with tons of layers coming at you. Pours a cloudy, reddish-brown with a small head that doesn't last. After the first sip, it reminds me of a "light" JW Lees. Much easier drinking with much less alcohol coming through. Raisins, dates, figs, earthy crust and many other notes come through. Very smooth yet still has that warming feeling.

I love this beer but do not feel that it can improve any more with age. Just my opinion though.

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

18.6oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep orange-brown color with two fingers of head. There is lots of lace left on the glass. The smell is fairly sweet with malty and fruity aromas. A little bit of grapes and caramel in there. The taste starts sweet, but gets really tart right after. It's only tart until it warms up good, then it smooths out wonderfully. The finish is fairly smooth and malty, just a little bit of hops. The mouthfeel is fairly thick and heavy. The drinkability lacks a little due to the 8.5% really showing. Drink this one now, it's prime!

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Photo of hollicetales
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

definitly get enough bang out of your buck for this one, just the amazing fluffy biscuit head alone is worth the pittance. This pours a nice golden almost coppery yellow, it has a great spreading mouth feel....and slides over the palatte with just enough kick. A good balance of fruitness and toffee with almost carmelly note with just the right touch of sweetness....hope to try some of the older vintages.

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Photo of Winter
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle # 57449. Pours a hazed tawny amber with a creamy khaki colored head. Aroma consists of raisins, sweet caramel malt, alcohol and a hint of toffee underneath. Smooth full-bodied mouthfeel. Initial flavors of caramel malt and rum-soaked raisins. A pleasant hop bitterness reveals itself midway through to cut through some of the sweetness as the flavor grows in complexity. Some mineral or hard water taste arrives at this point also. Flavors turn smokey toward the back, in addition to the presence of alcoholic vapors. Lingering spiciness in combination with vanilla round out the sweet dry finish.

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Photo of Nytemare
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle number 05845. Poured a nice reddish copper color with virtually no head and little carbonation. Had a malty nose with a fruity sweetness coming throught predominately. Smelled sweeter than I expected. Tasted malty first with a fruity sweetness quickly moving in. Followed by a light hops bitteness into the finish. Not bad. Really would have liked to have tried this fresher, but I only have one bottle and the liquor store only had 2000's left when I bought it. They still have several 2000's marked down to try and move 'em. Not sure I want to buy them. Quite a smooth mouthfeel. Very smooth in fact. I'm sure it would have had better drinkability than it did for me if I was really wanting it. Problem was, I was really looking for something more on the crisp and light side, I just didn't have any of that. Went to the store today and got some. All in all, pretty good, just didn't hit the spot for me. Lookin' for 2003's to come into my area so I can buy a couple of bottles and try it fresh and aged.

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Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
4.85/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I cannot believe that I was even fortunate enough to find a few of these at my favorite store in Milwaukee! I have to admit that I had very very high expectations going into this beer, so I could have been easily disappointed. Needless to say, it was quite opposite of disappointment. This is probably the best smelling beer that I have ever come across. There was a very nice light head with heavy lacing. This was a 2000 vintage and I sampled it 1/23/04 so it was nice and conditioned. The taste is somewhat sweet and the flavors spread across the entire palette. I would love to get my hands on some older vintages. If you have the fortunate opportunity to find one of these, you would be foolish to pass it up. This is one great beer!

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Photo of tavernjef
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle No:41773 - Pours out to a beautiful hazed copper color, gets a one inch high off-white head thats fluffy and lightly whipped, crumbles down slowly to a stocky skim and super sheets of thickly sticking lace. Aroma is very nice and softly fruity, nice peachy tones and very soft citrus of apples and oranges with a well rounded sweetened caramel malty backing. Taste is outstandingly warm and soft. Great subtlety throughtout. Opens with a great mix of fruityness that includes one of the nicest touches of peach and butterscotch I've ever encountered. Very pleasant malts, quite full and fruity with a substantial warmness to its approach. Toffee candyish alcohol. Yum, yum, yum, this is some very smooth and perfectly soft stuff. Hops are just right with added dulled citrusy things within the malted sweetness. Spectacular! I could get used to have'n this around, no prob. Great well rounded and nearly full feel throughout each sip and/or gulp, which wasn't all that hard to do I might add. But the alcoholic warmth that sneaks up upon most slurps does keep it from being a bit more drinkable, but still an absolute pleasure treasure to behold. And now I wonder if I would've splurged another $dollar for the 99' Vintage? Oh, well perhaps next time; if there ever is one?
2000 Vintage was exceptional!

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle # 65349. Bottle was filled to 1/2" of the top. Bottle reads best before End 2002. 18.6 ounce bottle.

The bottle made barely an audible hiss when opened. The beer poured copper amber with just a slight head which retreated to the edge of the surface. The beer is crystal clear.

The aroma is sherry and malt. Also aromas of caramel, brandy, and raisin.

The flavor is alcoholic and has toffee, caramel, and a substantial bitterness hiding in the background. There is are also some fruit flavors and sherry flavors. A myriad of flavors happening at the same time, in conflict, and in concert. Very complex. As the beer warms, the flavors meld and the alcohol seems more subdued.

The beer was cold when poured and was viscous in appearance. The body is really medium full when allowed to come up to serving temp and the finish is crisp, bitter, and the alcohol warming is huge.

The drinkability is not so high, you can only sip this beer.

Total production run of 85,000 bottles.

This bottle has been kept cold since purchase a few years ago.

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

# 32676.

Spews a ruby-stained apricot color with a boastful, sticky, sizeable tan crown.
Nose full of roughneck muskmelons, pink grapes, butterscotch and dough. Ah, the nose. It makes me smile. Thinking of the "outside". of course.
First off, if you can't appreciate the wonders of real British ale, leave this on the shelf.
That is, if your vision of a barleywine is that of the jail cell, no-vasoline, violating hopfest USA renditions, this will disappoint.
It's hoppy, sure. But it doesn't tattoo a set of breasts upon your back, then make you grab your ankles and wince.

How unstately of me.

To relate this to prison sex is heresy.

This is rather a luxurious brew. One filled with deep, plush butterscotch. Silken, caressing red apples and candied cherries. Tickling vinous qualities. Grapes and pears and melons. The Golding bitterness provides a delicate counterpoint, and general cleanliness upon the finish.


Allow me to digress,

This is a rough medium-bodied. Like a jailhouse ESB that's been pumping iron out during rec hour. Rippled and streamlined, with a nasty underlying force.

This ain't nobody's bitch.

Except yours.

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Photo of Riggo
3.87/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

A turbid, deep copper ale with a sturdy beige head with little retention and lacing. Aroma is full of character, heavy with winey fruit--plums, apricots--and deep candy notes of butterscotch and molasses. Earthy elements of smoke/peat and tobacco as well. A gorgeous nose.

On palate, richness and high alcohol are immediately evident. Flavor is rich and malty. Earthy and fruity--orange, plums--but balanced with subtle citrusy hops. Still, this is a heavy, rich, malty brew, which makes for great mouthfeel--lush, full, and silky--but drops drinkability down quite a bit. Not something I am going to rush out and buy again, but impressive nonetheless.

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Photo of BierReise
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle # 58174. Poured a rusty brown and cloudy with a small yet dense and creamy head. A fantastic looking ale. Has a big sweet fruity malt aroma with noticible alcohol. Has a medium body that is quite smooth. Flavor is of strong sweet malt with caramel and fruit. This is an outstanding English ale.

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

I love the beers you come into with low expectations only to find the quality. Syrupy tan head over a sensuous cinnamon body. Candy store nose of caramel and toffee coated nuts, pralines and chocolate coated dried tropical fruits. Big mouth full of bitter honey warm and easy. This beer is like a down comforter on a snow day while a classic 70's movie plays on in the foreground. Relaxing. Vintage.

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Photo of nomad
4.67/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2000 Vintage, Bottle No. 35622:

Poured a hazy light hazelnut color that was amber toned. Had a clumpy head, a smooth wall of slipping lace, a good deal of carbonation surrounding, and occasional fingers of stain.

Smelled of sweet honey, fruity esters, and a scent of butter just melted and beginning to bubble. Strong malted barley (Optic) accents that were hearty but without the sometimes brazen accent of british malt so often found in strong ales and barleywines. Mild woody notes abound, though not as ominous as oak but hearty nonetheless with a tiny taint of alcohol about them.

Taste was of a tempered oak washed over by a glide of mild honey. Tasty alcohol flavors jumped about, warming and nascently spicy, while buttery flavors built up while moving toward the finish. Through out is the body of that Optic malt: sweetish but not, ghostly grainy but barely textured, and with a caramel character of a mild but complex temper - truly outstanding malt. Tasty bitter finish of british hop varieties aged well, slightly green with an oiliness that quickly receded, sliding in to touches of yeast and diacetyl flavors. Complex and slightly chewy, thin-to-moderate mouthfeel, quite tasty.

Great example of strong ale flavors, and a great winter warmer. Very british, and a heady brew because of such a large bottle.

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

Bottle No. 63315 Sampled Oct. 6, 2003.

This strong ale poured a slightly hazy, reddish amber color with tall, creamy, light tan foam that persisted for a long time and clung to the inside of the glass. The smell was very nice and improved as the sampled warmed to room temperature. The smell was initially slightly sweet, fruity (figs, raisins), malty, and yeasty. The smell got less sweet and more dry as the sample warmed and breathed. The taste was slightly sweet and malty with flavors of fruit (figs and raisins and vinous grapes), and sherry. There was a dry hop bitterness in the finish and the taste of alcohol in the finish and aftertaste. The mouthfeel was smooth and velvety -- light on the tongue. The feeling was warming from the alcohol. The body was medium-full with medium carbonation feel. The aftertaste was dry and hoppy. This was a very excellent ale. A very special brew that aged nicely for 4 years.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a woody dark amber, topped with a minimal head, mostly a disappearing mist, with a thin ring lining the glass. I'm amazed at the consistency of color with each year. They're all pretty much the exact same color. This one seems the darkest, bit only a miniscule difference, with a touch of mahogany.
Aroma is very smooth and mellowed out. Sweet malty aroma, with plenty of caramel. The malt stands out best in this beer, with the hops subdued and mellowed with some age. Some apparent alcohol, with a slightly woody yeast aroma and mild fruitiness. Mostly fig and currant.
The beer has aged very nicely. Malts stand out prominently throughout the sip, with hops coming in aged and mellow much later than the other two vintages. Still very bitter, but a more refined flavor, with less harshness. A woodsy yeast flavor, with mild estery fruitiness appearing in the middle. Carbonation is even smoother, almost nonexistent in it's mellowness. Full bodied and rich. Alcohol mingles with the hops in the finish, providing a warmth as it's swallowed. Very drinkable and delicious, although the power of it's flavor and the alcohol limits my consumption. I certainly would have a hard time drinking more than one bottle.
Impeccably balanced. A masterpiece of brewer's art, and it's only going to get better. Quite an experience in beer sampling.

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Photo of Hefe
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasted on 8/29/03. Packaged in a classy red box. Bottle # 45063. States best by end of 2002 on back of bottle but I figured what the heck and gave it a shot anyway. Well worth it as far as I'm concerned.

Appearance: Glorious red-gold-tawny hue with a slightly brown head that sticks around.

Smell: How to describe it, toffee, malt, rum, orange, a pleasant flowery hoppiness and just a touch of alcohol.

Taste: Complex, with flavors of dark rum, fig, orange peel, malt, chocolate, and a nice bite from the hops on the finish.

Mothfeel: Rich and creamy, a touch of oiliness.

Drinkability: I can't see knocking back several of these out on the patio when its 97 in the shade, but thats not what it was meant for. As a replacement for your port or cognac with a good cigar, or just as treat to finish up your day with, this gets my vote.


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Photo of beerguy101
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Medium brown color, medium head. Deep malt aroma, intense malt flavors. Somewhat hoppy. Full flavor, fully rounded mouthfeel. Malts have an aged taste, smoky sort of like a good scotch. Very smooth. Even with a high alcohol content (8.5%) not a noticeable alcohol bite. Finish is smooth and clean. Aftertaste is malty and smoky. A wonderful beer.

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Photo of hotstuff
3.23/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle #02245. This beer poured a medium sized head with medium sized bubbles. The body was clear and the hue of this beer was brown. There was good lacing on the sides of my glass. The nose was hoppy and it had a bitter aftertaste to it. This beer was just so-so in my opinion.

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Photo of TheDM
3.56/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The bottle was numbered No. 02245. Nice hoppy aroma. When poured, it yielded a medium head of medium sized white bubbles and a golden brown transparent color. As the head receded, it left behind a nice lacing that slowly followed the head down the side of the glass. This brew has an initial bite that lasts through the taste and well into the aftertaste. Not as smooth as I like. But I bet after a while I will feel the alcohol content in this brew.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 648 ratings.