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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

1,065 Ratings
THE BROS
97
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,065
Reviews: 631
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.98%
Wants: 84
Gots: 215 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-21-2004

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,065 | Reviews: 631 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bucklemyshoe
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle at 55 degrees into a mug. Bottle #110976.

A: It pours a deep amber color with a finger of short-lived, cream-colored head that has decent lacing.

S: Strong caramel, sweet fruits, biscuit malts, and some nuttiness.

T: Sweet dark fruits, burnt sugar, caramel, toffee, and hazelnuts.

M: The body is medium-thick with low to medium carbonation, and a little stickiness.

D: This is very good and strikingly similar to Sam Smith Yorkshire Stingo.

Photo of sprucetip
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From notes. Good clarity, medium amber, short lived fizzy off-white head, no lacing. But it's a good looking brew, all things considered.

Rich and sweet caramel malty notes blending and balancing very well with floral and tropical fruity hops. Boozy smell and feel is moderately strong, but not a defect, and I suspect it will mellow with time.

Lightly grainy and caramel mlaty sweet briefly before grassy and mildly bitter hops kick in. It dries out a bit for the finish.

Good carbonation, moderately rich medium body, with a clean and slightly dry finish.

Smooth, tasty, balanced, and fairly complex. Good beer now, but also a cellar candidate that could become even better.

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

Vintage 1999 (the score is for that one):
Bottle no. 21166, 550 ml, at Plan B, Copenhagen, august 2005. Cloudy chestnut colour, moderate head. Vinous aroma, raisins, oak. The flavour is very full and rich, old port or madeira, plenty of oak, hoppy and oaky aftertaste. Clearly a top notch beer.

Vintage 2005: Sampled bottle, RBNAG 2007 in Grimstad. ABV was 8.5%. Bottle No. 32089. Reddish amber colour. Pleasant vinous, raisiny and oaky aroma. Oaky, sweet and raisiny flavour. Very nice.

Vintage 2006: Sampled bottle, RBNAG 2007 in Grimstad. ABV was 8.5%. Bottle no. 32629. Amber colour. Slightly less sweet and aromatic than the 2005 vintage. There was also a more hoppy finish in this one.

Photo of misinformed
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 bottle. Reviewed 2/8/11. Tulip glass.

A- Clear medium to dark orange with red highlights. Active carbonation streams. Poured with 1/2" head that faded quickly to a small ring around the edge. Some gunky maroon sediment was present on the inside of the cap and around the top edge of the bottle.

S- Distinctly molasses at first. Alcohol, brown bread, faint sugar.

T- Molasses again at first. Sugar, sweet dark fruits - figs/raisins/prunes, toffee, grain and brown bread.

M- Medium. Syrupy smooth with a healthy amount of fine carbonation.

D- Not cloyingly sweet, but still very sweet. Still has a nice amount of carbonation at this point. The molasses notes faded as it warmed up more to allow the fruity, syrupy sweetness to shine.

Photo of MattMcGinnis
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Look: Creamy egg shell head over hazy dark amber beer

Smell: Sweet corn and dry grass

Taste: Silk mouthfeel layers on butterscotch hops, carmel malted orange peel and a slightly bitter alcohol bite at the end. The sweetness and boozy bite are to be expected from a brew that packs in 8.5% alcohol.

My full review is here: http://whatareyoudrinking.net/2010/07/fullers-vintage-ale-my-magic-carpet-ride-to-london/

Photo of rarbring
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours in a light copper amber tone, a large off-white head that settle's slowly leaving good lacing. The beer has curtains.

The smell is full of sweet dried fruits, raisins, dates, marzipan and vinous sherry-like tones.

The taste has sweet raw sugar tones upfront, some dried fruits but also fruity acidity, rhubarbs and much bitter lemon peel.

Low carbonation, smooth and syrup-like, a very dry finish.

Bottle 074216. Slightly tilting to the bitter side, a few years storage should give more balance.

Photo of hoser
3.7/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Rating a 2005 bottle tonight. Slightly oxidised,more of a malt caramel bomb than spicy fruity beer it was when younger. Just for the fun of it I will rate and change the numbers each time. Having this on cask in 2007 at the Raven in Bath was pretty special.

Rating a 2007 bottle tonight. Slightly oxidised,more of a malt caramel bomb than spicy fruity beer it was when younger. I don't think I am going to age these anymore.

Photo of puboflyons
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 2008 vintage bottle no. 149378. Sampled on January 1, 2011. The pour is a good looking amber-copper with a bit of a haze and a half-inch soft, silky head. The aroma sports a hard liquor nose from a barrel...maybe bourbon. Caramel sweetness and apricot accompany the barrel. The body is smooth and above medium. The taste also brings out a caramel, toffee sweetness with a dose of alcohol on the backside. This sat on my shelf for a year and I opened it to ring in 2011.

Photo of mattipt
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage (I know, not much of a vintage!), bottle # 7846.

A - Medium golden brown colour, good strong head.

S - There's an obvious maltiness to it but the fruity hops are able to cut through nicely. Balanced.

T - Strong! At this stage it tastes a little harsh due to the high alcohol content. I can imagine it mellowing over time. Subtly sweet.

M - Quite strongly carbonated but feels right in the mouth.

D - A good drink but perhaps note quite ready yet as it feels a little alcoholic. I personally prefer Brakspear's Triple (which isn't really marketed for maturation but which improves greatly with age) but this is a strong contender and an excellent example of a nice vintage ale with lots of potential for maturation.

Photo of mrnobody
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Comparative tasting of 2009 and 2010 vintages. 500 ml bottles poured into Duvel tulips.

A:
2010/2009 - Pours a hazy amber with one finger of off-white head. The 2010 has better retention and lacing.

S:
2010 - Smells of fruit, cherry, booze, caramel.
2009 - The aroma is substantially different, smoother and more integrated, very caramel-y.

T:
2010 - Tastes of sweet malt, fresh hops, fairly boozy.
2009 - The hops have definitely retreated as has the heat.

M:
2010 - The mouthfeel is very creamy, the carbonation is fairly lively.
2009 - This is a little stickier and more subdued.

D:
2010 - The drinkability is quite high: very tasty but a little hot.
2009 - Good although the sweetness may limit consumption.

I'm wondering if my current plan to buy 6 each year and drink one each year (aging them up to 5 years) is a good idea. I quite prefer the current year fresh and am not convinced I will prefer them later.

Photo of dauss
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 500ml glass bottle with raised lettering about when Fuller's was established. Paper "seal" over the lid, 2004 Limited Edition. This is bottle No. 00818 of 95,000. Fuller's says that the beer is in it's prime after 2-3 years in the cellar, but 2 days from 2011, and I hope it hasn't gone too far past it's prime.

Appearance: Very dull amber brown color. The clarity is poor with a lot of haze. A small white tan head barely forms and fades very quickly.

Aroma: Definite aroma of figs and cherry. The malt sweetness shines through briefly before notes of brandy and raisins. Really haven't smelled a beer this estery in a while.

Taste: Lightly carbonated and malt dominated. All notes of any hops are gone, now just very malty, caramel sweetness, more raisins and prunes, and finished light with a very smooth alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a thin finish. The carbonation level is very low, not sure if it is due to the age of the bottle or just the way the beer was produced.

Notes: I wish I had drank this about 3-4 years ago. The age is just too great and there are no more hops to balance out the malt sweetness. Although the malt flavor is complex, it does get slightly cloying sweet without a bitterness to complement the malt profile. The aroma is outstanding, and I wish it tasted and looked as good as it smelled.

Photo of FLBeerGuy
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 Vintage, #117970

Pours a translucent, copper color with a very thin white head. Even aggressively pouring at the end, failed to produce more than a pin size head. The very thin head does leave a small amount of lacing, however. Almost looks like a fine spirit sitting in my CCB snifer.

Nose is toffee, bready malt, some sweetness and alcohol.

Taste is malty, bready, some caramel sweetness, toffee and alcohol warming. Some dark fruit comes through as it warms

Mouth feel is slightly creamy, low carbonation.

Alcohol is pretty strong on this one when it is cold. It does fade with some dark fruits coming through as it warms. I think putting some age on this one would improve it. It's recommended this one be laid down for 3-4 years and served at cellar temperature.

Photo of paxkey
4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010. love the raised writing on the bottle.
bottle No. 63522 of 125000.

poured into a Duvel tulip.lots of carbonation. two finger off white head. slightly cloudy orange beer. lots of sticky lacing

the aroma is bready. slightly smoky with cherry notes. definitely picking up cherry. very prominent cherry with slight alcohol under that. almost a jammy smell.

delicious bitterness. very slight alchohol taste. beautiful stuff.

an amazing brew which has great cellaring potential. drink some now and save more for later.

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

2009 Vintage #114908

Thanks to Dom for picking this up for me while in London. Clear copper-reddish pour with a one finger creamy head that fades pretty quickly with decent lacing. The earthy nose is somewhat subdued with hints of sweet caramel malt, toffee and a touch of dark fruit, specifically rasins in the background. It pretty much tastes like it smells. Lots of biscuity, caramel malt and fruitiness with just a touch of tang from the alcohol. Also getting hints of tea, brown sugar, and rasins. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel with just a touch of bitterness. Slight warming from the alcohol makes this a sipper, but pretty drinkable overall. I'm a huge fan of Fuller's and probably raised my expectations of this beer a bit too much. It's a good solid beer, but slightly disappointing.

Photo of AdamBear
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle

A-Dark honey colored. Cream colored head that quickly disappears

S-Very strong grape flavor with a lot of alcohol. Possibly a high quality whiskey in there as well with some caramel

T-Hits with a strong blast of barley and caramel and ends with a very pronounced caramelized sugar sweetness.

M-medium to carbonation with a slightly dry finish. Its a very sharp feel due to the ABV i believe.

D-the taste stays. its a fun beer to drink but one bottle is enough for me!

Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was a 2008 bottle.

Poured a copperish amber with large head and nice lacing.

The smell is faint but of raisins and a little malt.

The taste is fairly complex and I wish I tried this bottle in 08 when it was fresh. It tastes of smooth malt (cant pick up on any specific kind) and a slight spiciness. The taste in mostly of alcohol but in a good way.

I think I might get another bottle and let it age for another year or two just for fun considering it was under $10

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage # 144866

A very dark amber with an orange hue and a quick to form head which is gone pretty fast.

The aroma had a unique and hefty malt, toffee and caramel and earthy tang from the hops.

A very complex malt flavor,sweet and thick hefty toffee and balanced with tangy, zesty hearty flavored hops and a nice warming heat. a strange mix and balance of flavor's but it works well in a unique way.

The feel is full and heavy, zesty in the middle, slightly peppery and warming, finishing malty slick.

Seems young, and it is an old ale so i can really imagine this one to age very well.

Photo of mondegreen
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage poured into a large snifter.

Pours a deep ruby brown. Gorgeous garnett highlights shine beneath a razor thin layer of spotty head.

A sweet nose of dark fruits and caramel with a touch of bread and earth. Taste is smooth yet complex, with equal parts malt sweetness and medicinal bite. All in a good way.

Mouth is rather full bodied, this is a nice thick sipper.

Drinks well for an old ale. Not as abrasive as others in the style, this beer benefits from that old English subtleness I keep hearing about.

Photo of claspada
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007, wow what a find the other day!
Aromas of light dried fruit, currants, figs, a little biscuit and caramel maltiness and a little musty. Faintest earthy hop aromas and a bit of alcohol presence. I could definitely smell this for hours.
The taste is amazingly smooth and complex. Lightly toasted nuttiness and caramel malts hit the tongue first followed by a warming bit of alcohol. Some earthy and fruity hop notes pop up and mingle with the malts before fading into a spicy, slightly syrupy finish. Extremely luxurious.
Mouthfeel is definitely on the fuller side as far as English ales go. Adequate is medium bodied with enough carbonation to compensate for the mildly syrupy qualities. Very, very smooth.
Overall this is an amazing beer. Very drinkable, but this is definitely a beer to be sipped and savored.

UPDATE: Adding a 2010 review for comparison.
Aromas are much more hop direct with a lot of earthy and lesser spicy hops smells. As it warms you get that light English ale yeast fruity notes with fig and plum being the most prevalent.
Taste is also English hop forward with spicy and earthy hop bitterness leading the way. As it warms you get some nutty and slightly toffee maltiness, not sweet, like I remember the 2007 version being. The alcohol and hop presence adds a pleasant dryness to the finish. Mouthfeel is full with perfect carbonation for the style. Not as thick and "syrupy" as the aged version. Overall this is a great beer fresh or aged. This fresh version is the most hop forward English beer I have ever had which is really interesting and different from your average English beer or the highly hopped citrus/pine bombs from the US. This brew is really really earthy and floral and slightly spicy which really showcases the beauty of the English style Old Ale/Barleywine style. Final note: Fuller's wins!!!

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

2008 (consumed Nov. 2010), pour from bottle (no. 144,963/145,000) into snifter, single finger of head diminishing into nice lacing, which clings to the edge of the glass in legs when tilted. Translucent/semitransparent caramel color, also caramel on the nose. No bitterness at all, sweet but not cloying, and with a relatively clean finish. Toffee and golden raisin on the palate, with a hint of dark chocolate against a backbone of malt. Bit of booze taste (8.5% ABV), but not in a bad way. Hardly any bitterness at all. Mouthfeel is impressive; the carbonation prevents a substantial, rich mouthfeel from becoming syrupy. I'll repeat the recommendation given to me: buy two; have one now and cellar the other.

Photo of tbeckett
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review of a 2009 bottle consumed with a friend while doing a side-by-side with it and a 2010.

A - Copper in colour with no visible carbonation and very minimal head.

S - Caramel and toffee come to the nose and blend well together. A rich malty aroma that also shows some other candied elements.

T - Huge caramel in the mouth. Lot's of toffee is there again too. Very malty and very sweet with a lingering malt sweetness in the finish.

M - Medium to full bodied with no carbonation in the mouth. Very English.

D - High for this one. Might be too sweet but it's a nice complex brew that unfortunately took a year to acheive quality.

Photo of Dster
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage.

Pours rusty brown with small tan head. I think perhaps I stirred up the sediment...which I was warned not to on the packaging.

Smells of caramel and mildly of alcohol - very inviting.

Tastes somewhere between a english bitter and a belgian strong ale...adjectives escape me. Very delicious. It would be great to pair with nice food but not a session beer.

Photo of kwjd
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage. Maybe I should have aged this, but wanted to try it first to see if it was worth aging.

Pours a copper-amber colour with thick white head that dissipates without too much lacing. Smells of sweet caramel and butterscotch, some mild earthy hops and alcohol. Flavour is quite alcoholic, with a ton of sweetness. I really think laying down a bottle of this for a couple years could be a good idea.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.45/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 Vintage; poured in to Duvel tulip.

A - Amber, somewhat translucent with a very small amount of white head.

S - Sweet brown sugar and grainy malts up front. Very subtle hops and some noticeable alcohol.

T - Sweet cereal malts, caramel, toffee, brown sugar. No discernible hops. Some noticeable alcohol taste.

M - Medium body, lightly carbonated.

D - A bit hot but an enjoyable beer. I don't think I would track this one down again though.

Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage
Bottle # 121946

Pours a rust colored body with a thin ring of white bubbles.

Fruity, malty aromas.

Rich malty flavors of caramel, toffee, and brown sugar with fruity accents of raisin and fig. Malty sweetness on the finish. Not much hop flavor, but just enough hop bitterness to keep it quaffable.

Not highly carbonated, but it has more than some other Old Ales. This helps lighten the body and increase its drinakabilty. Malty, but not syrupy.

An understated classic. Very well balanced. Old world brewing at its subtle best. A joy to drink even though this bottle is about as fresh as can be. Its not even close to peaking.

Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 1,065 ratings.