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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.

642 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 642
Hads: 1,166
Avg: 4.17
pDev: 14.39%
Wants: 111
Gots: 278 | 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%.
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Reviews: 642 | Hads: 1,166
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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Photo of jcalabre
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Originally sampled on 14 September 2002. Bottle #73824. Lots of malt, yeast & fruitiness greets your palate when you start enjoy this baby. Thick, creamy carmelly, delicious.. What else can I say? I really enjoyed this. I should note that the aroma was a bit yeasty.

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Photo of aracauna
4.17/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the best of the three vintages I've had of Fuller's Vintage Ale. The 1999 may have been past it's peak perhaps and the 2001 struck me as too bitter and alcoholic for a good balance. This however, was excellent. Very fruity and malty body balances the alcholic flavors and aroma and the bittering hops peak through only enough to prevent the malts from running away with the flavor. Considering the 1999, this beer has perhaps peaked and probably should be consumed soon. The appearance could use a more lively head, but who cares when the flavor is this good.

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

Although the label reads "Best before end 2003", it's my belief after enjoying it over the last two years that it's just come into its prime. I've really grown to enjoy this ale in the past year! And I'd suggest that although it probably won't improve any further, it should hold well for at least another year or two. Stored undisturbed and served at cellar temperature, it's crystal clear. When held to the light it's a very nice amber-copper, but it takes on a more interesting ruby cast when sitting on the bar. The initially foamy head slowly drops to a thin but creamy surface covering. The head retention is excellent and it leaves really nice lace through most of the Imperial pint. The nose displays a softly sweet and fruity (soft strawberry) malt that's laced with gentle alcohol. It's full bodied and creamy in the mouth with a fine and moderate natural carbonation from bottle conditioning. The flavor delivers a rich, fruity malt upfront with a touch of blackberry and dark fruit skins; and across the middle a note of licorice appears due to a combination of sweet malt, grassy/floral hop flavors, and spicy alcohol. A firm hop bitterness appears leading into the swallow, followed by emerging notes of caramel and vanilla in the finish. Quite nicely balanced and somewhat complex! An exceptionally nice beer to casually enjoy in a relaxing atmosphere... ...a softened leather high-back chair, a softly glowing fireplace, and a well-worn copy of Moby Dick come to mind! An ale well worthy of the "Vintage" name.

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Photo of marc77
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

# 24139. "Best before end 2001" Turbid tawny dark bronze hue, topped by an ivory white, large bubbled head that manages sporadic foam trails. Waft of alcoholic, bourbon soaked figs hits the nose upfront, then tapers to allow deeply toffeeish and bready, lightly biscuit dark caramel and basemalt to provide contrast. As the beer breathes, brighter notes of strawberry like esters and mellow diacetyl form a berry and cream impression. Hint of cardboard like oxidation dulls the aroma slightly, preventing excellence. Mellow, rounded caramel sweetness upfront seemlessly leads into a combination of faded, but well integrated hop bitterness and diacetyl. Judicious fruitiness surfaces timidly mid palate, being comprised of mild plum and sugar concentrated dried prunes. Alcohol creeps in late, adding a pseudosweet licorice suggestion late when combined with the dark fruit character. Moderate bodied, with a creamy smooth, well calcuated mouthfeel and attenuation. Finishes with bready sweetness and slight butterscotch fading slowly. Vintage Ale 1998, although perhaps past its prime, still possesses depth of character most worthy of a taste. A bit faded esterwise and in hop bitterness and thus well skewed towards malt sweetness. Interestingly enough, its diminished overall character from the ample aging leaves it reminescent of a fresh Young's Old Nick. Nonetheless a very enjoyable brew. Big thanks to Jaybeerman for the bottle!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Color is a bright ruby red, head is an actively bubbly, lacey off-white, and swiftly dissipating. Aroma: huge with fruit! Bam! Boom! Strawberry Jam + booze all up in your nose, brother! Actually, more along the way of cherries and grapes, but very ripe, strong and powerful! Definitely the nose of a barleywine, and already I'm thoroughly impressed! (This ale hasn't exactly been cellared, merely waiting in a store's cooler all the while, for me to rescue it! )
Whoosh! Hoo, daddy! A large charge on the palate, a big deposit of hops and flavor and alcohol! Yessir, she's my baby, nossir, don't mean maybe!
Nice balance, malt sticks up for itself quite nicely, and provides sufficient backdrop for all this hoppy flavor and booze.
Fruity flavor continues, as does our friend Mr. Liquor, and my head is swimmin' already, and all it knows how to do is doggy paddle, but that does the trick.
It's "only" 8.5% and I feel blasted at all sides. This is rich, delightful, delicious stuff! Bottle #53,187 out of 85,000.
Bright, and deep, and plummy, but cherry, sweet and dark,
what a nice ale. Mmmmm...I'll say it again,...Mmmmm!!!!!

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Photo of Mark
4.01/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle #68225 This was my first aged ale if I remember correctly, a new frontier if you will. Poured a beautiful clear copper color, head was perfect and the lace coated the glass solidly. Off to a great start. Aroma was slightly sweet and strongly of stewed fruit. Taste was very port like, with aforementioned stewed fruit notes. Plums, Strawberries? Thick mouthfeel adds to the ambience. in my opinion I had this under the perfect circumstances. It's cold and rainy outside, Suzanne had the fireplace going, and we were having dinner. Went well with dinner though this might be even better as a nightcap. I didn't rate it much above average on drinkability because a sipping ale is not my favorite style, and this bad boy checks in at almost 9%. This is a very complex well made beer and one that might grow on me more if I had it regularly. Seeing it's from Fullers seals the deal. Very nice.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 642 ratings.