1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Fuller's Vintage Ale - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

972 Ratings
THE BROS
97
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 972
Reviews: 613
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.98%
Wants: 77
Gots: 181 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  8.50% ABV

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%.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-21-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Fuller's Vintage Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 972 | Reviews: 613 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of stcules
stcules

Italy

3.4/5  rDev -18.9%

2003 Vintage.
Reddish color, quite dark, ruby reflexes.
Beautiful head, average in compactness.
Malt and caramel in the smell, with a sweet fruitiness. Maybe hints of raspberry, and musk. Red fruit (even sour black cherry). Good balance between sweet and bitter.
Same notes in the taste, with red fruit. Interesting. Alcohol well hidden.
Good beer, probabilly suitable for aging.
Good hop in the aftertaste, quite earthy.

04-16-2007 20:44:31 | More by stcules
Photo of jwc215
jwc215

Wisconsin

4.53/5  rDev +8.1%

2005 Vintage - No. 41928

Pours deep copper with a towering, slightly off-white head that quickly descends to a thin cover that becomes a patch. A small amount of lacing sticks to the glass.

The smell is of figs and dates, caramel, earthy and nutty, some sweet grains.

The taste is of caramel wrapped around figs and dates. Earthy hops in the background balance out the sweetness enough that it doesn't become too much. Smooth with a touch of butter. The Fuller's yeast strain, which I happen to like, gives it a nice Fuller's touch, while staying well-controlled. Peppery alcohol becomes more noticeable as it progresses, though it doesn't quite get too boozy. Finishes with a balanced, spicy sweetness.

Coating and smooth in a wonderfully rich body. Flavors hang on.

One of the most drinkable old ales I've had. This is really nice to sip on.

04-15-2007 19:08:25 | More by jwc215
Photo of bluejacket74
bluejacket74

Ohio

4.03/5  rDev -3.8%

2005 vintage, bottle #65614. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a brown/amber color with an inch and a half off-white head. Lacing and head retention are OK. It smells like dark fruit (figs, raisins), caramel and overall sugary sweet, spicy and malty. It tastes like dark fruit, caramel, brown sugar and also a bit of an earthy taste. There's also a slight bitter finish, but the beer is mostly malty and sweet. Mouthfeel/body is medium, and a little bit creamy. Drinkability is good, the beer is smooth and not hard to drink at all. I wish I would have bought another bottle to age. But overall, I thought this was good. I enjoyed it.

04-14-2007 00:28:55 | More by bluejacket74
Photo of bluegrassbrew
bluegrassbrew

Georgia

4.83/5  rDev +15.3%

2004 vintage, bottle # 85725

Pours a very clear ruby red with a solid white head that settles to a nice lace.

Wow! I don't even have to try to get the nose off this one, it reached up and popped me in the face. Smells sweet, grapes and other fruit with maybe a bit of peppermint.

Taste is amazing! Right of the bat, strawberry jelly and grapes, cream and biscuits. Huh, sounds like a fantastic breakfast spread. Alcohol is only noticable after significant warming. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Slightly dry in the finish with a touch of bitterness. One the best brews I've had to date. I'm interested to see how the other vintages compare.

04-13-2007 02:35:07 | More by bluegrassbrew
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect

Kentucky

4.08/5  rDev -2.6%

Vintage 2004: Sampled on 10/22/09:

This beer really holds up great. Even with five years bottle conditioning, the hop profile still gives a bitter balance and an earthy, herbal complexity. Delicate caramels and brown sugars are well melded with hardly a trace of oxidation. Pleasantly cool (minty) and with a creamy, powdery finish.

Vintage 2006: Sampled on 03/22/07:

Certainly agree with the recommendation to lay this beer down for a few years. This beer promises greatness with syrupy sweet amber malts and a soft hop presence. Complexity results from the sweet malts, bready, yeasty flavors and textures. While compounded harshly with strong alcohols, this beer will prove to melt and improve greatly with a little age. I look forward to editing this review and rating when this beer matures properly.

03-26-2007 14:34:52 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of brdc
brdc

Wisconsin

4.75/5  rDev +13.4%

#78425. Vintage 2004.
This was a bad day, for a number of reasons. I got home very "annoyed", but you don't care about that.
I put Master of Puppets, go to the cellar and pick something special. I just did not know it was this special.
Beautiful amber color, with a small but very creamy, long-lasting white head.
Smell is delicate, but very pleasant: the first sniff felt like the best single malt scotch, although not as pungent. Following that, a sucession of malt, hops, port wine, dark fruits and alcohol.
This full-bodied beauty at times felt like a delicate, well-aged scotch, at other times, like a great port wine. Malty, but sometimes bitter, it is mostly sweetish but has a warming alcohol and a well balanced hoppiness.
It is amazingly easy to drink, it just ended too fast.
I believe this one was aged to perfection, but it will probably last two-three more years.
What a great day! What a masterpiece!

03-21-2007 01:27:29 | More by brdc
Photo of RedHaze
RedHaze

Nebraska

3.95/5  rDev -5.7%

2005 Vintage.

Pours a dark amber hued brown, with a frothy one finger head that settles quickly to a soapy cap. The lacing is thick, coating most of the inside of my glass.

Smell; starts out a bit spicy, with an abundance of dark fruits. Figs and dates are present as well as some hints of chocolate and caramel. Some alcohol is floating around in the background.

Taste; the caramel and chocolate hit me at first, and then the dark fruits come out with figs, dates a touch of cherries. The spiciness mixes with a bit of earthy hoppiness and alcohol that gives this a bit of a scotch like quality to the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation that gives this a nice smoothness, and helps give this a dangerously high drinkability.

03-13-2007 01:32:40 | More by RedHaze
Photo of vanrassel
vanrassel

Alberta (Canada)

4.05/5  rDev -3.3%

2006 vintage, #54,162

This is a pleasurable easy-drinker that has me salivating over the prospect my cellared bottles will likely be even better in a few years.

It poured into my pint glass a dark amber with a bubbly one-finger head that left nice lace as I drank. The smell was a litle muted — mostly caramel malt with a hint of spicy hops underneath. Vague fruity esters, too, but not distinct enough for me to specify.

The taste was well-balanced, starting with a malty, boozy beginning (almost like a Scotch ale). The sweetness took on an almost burnt, carmelized quality. Bitter hops at the end finished nice and dry. Medium to full mouthfeel and fantastic overall drinkability for a "young" vintage ale. It already hides the 8.5 per cent ABV well — I'm looking forward to an exceptionally smooth brew if I can manage to keep my hands off my cellar-bound bottles.

03-11-2007 00:19:25 | More by vanrassel
Photo of brucepepper
brucepepper

Ontario (Canada)

4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

2006 #69,885, in an oversized wine glass.

A - Deep Copper/amber. Pours a thick, off white head that lasts a few minutes. Very little lacing.

S - I picked up a bit of citrus but not much else. Aroma was not striking in any way, but was not bad.

M - I really enjoyed the mouthfeel. Very full and soft.

T - Rich flavour in the back of my mouth. Nice sweet taste that was not too strong.

D - I had trouble putting it down. ABV. doesn't play a role in the drinkability at all. Everything balances very well, in my opinion.

The mouthfeel is what separated this beer for me. As a novice beer advocate this mouth was very unique. I really enjoyed this beer and if it were cheaper I would drink it more often.

03-10-2007 17:26:14 | More by brucepepper
Photo of Cresant
Cresant

Kentucky

3.3/5  rDev -21.2%

Poured this 1 pint .09 oz. heavy brown bottle into a becker. 2004 vintage, bottle stated, "best before end of 2007". Three fingers of creamy, beige head sat atop a dull yet clear amber/golden body.

Smell was strong and aromatic. Dried fruits and mild rum. Brown sugar.

Taste was like sweet fruitcake. Boozy without being overpowering. Vinous. Moist brown bread. Slight caramel flavor. Tangy prunes. Complex and interesting. A bit too heavy in alcohol flavor.

Mouthfeel was smooth and somewhat oily. Mildly carbonated.

03-06-2007 01:07:23 | More by Cresant
Photo of dogboy
dogboy

Alberta (Canada)

4.83/5  rDev +15.3%

Paid $9.50 Canadian for a bottle of this from my local liquor store. Worth every penny and made me wish I could afford more. Poured a gorgeous deep red/brown and went down way too easy for a beer of this strength.

Fuller brew some of the best examples of English ale and this has to be their best offering. Makes me wish I still lived down the road from the brewery...

02-28-2007 23:46:23 | More by dogboy
Photo of cjgator3
cjgator3

Florida

2.58/5  rDev -38.4%

2006 vintage, # 89117

Comes in a classy red box. Poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark amber/brown with a small fizzy head that quickly disappears. The aroma is sweet malt and dark fruits that is almost unpleasantly metallic and alcoholic. The taste is malty with some caramel and a dry, spicy and boozy finish from the alcohol. This one definitely needs some aging. I found it to be rather harsh and unpleasant when consumed fresh and I struggled to finish the whole thing.

02-26-2007 03:21:31 | More by cjgator3
Photo of BadRockBeer
BadRockBeer

Colorado

4.97/5  rDev +18.6%

Serving Type Sampled: One pint brown crown top bottle. Sealed with a ribbon reading “Limited Edition 2004” The bottle is number 74435 of 95000. Packaged in a dainty maroon box. Very proper looking. Served at cellar temperature.

Appearance: Pours burnt amber in color with slight chill haze. Very little head that quickly turned into a nice lace which eventually diminished as well.

Smell: Reeks of sherry, malts and dry fruity esters. The nose defiantly fits the style. -Pleasant

Taste: Smooth wonderful maltiness right up front. Followed by a rush of dried fruits, I taste hints of prune or raisins. As I mentioned in the nose maybe a sweet sherry of the finest make of course. The presents of the goldings are not so apparent. I detect a slight bitterness, but could not point out the hops. The finish is all about the warming alcohol, not overbearing but obvious. The aftertaste leaves you pondering with lovely complex caramel malt. Wow!

Mouthfeel: Medium in body, kind of on the thin side. Alcohol warmth is evident and pleasing. Carbonation is very soft making this a nice creamy ale.

Drinkability: This ale is very authoritative. It demands that you sit down and enjoy it slowly, every last drop. Reminds me of a younger barley wine. Very enjoyable and satisfying. This is a true English master piece.

02-24-2007 02:41:52 | More by BadRockBeer
Photo of allergictomacros
allergictomacros

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev -4.5%

2006 Vintage # 69864

A - Clear lightish copper. Foams up nicely into a sticky, 1+ inch head.

S - Fresh apple cider, pear and some roasty grain. A touch of funkiness is barely there and a big alcohol presence round it out.

T/M - Whoa. First mouthful is very full - both in flavour and body. Alcohol is front and center in this one. Less fruity than I expected, but sweet and creamy. Finishes with a solid hoppiness that sticks around.

D - Style-wise, I can't really comment since this might be the first old ale I've had. On it's own, this is clearly not a chuggin' beer. It's big, tasty, and warming, but not quite what I expected.

02-01-2007 05:00:50 | More by allergictomacros
Photo of ArrogantB
ArrogantB

Colorado

4.03/5  rDev -3.8%

2004 bottle consumed 01/30/2007. nice ruby red color with a nice white head that faded quickly. The smell was very nice and reminded me of raisins or plums. The taste was very complex and difficult to pick out exact flavors but fruit came to mind. The mouthfeel was smooth and the drinkability was awesome. I really can;t tell the difference between an old ale and a barleywine. I thought this was an English style barleywine. Anyway, I have a couple more bottles of this and I will probably not crack another until 2010.

01-31-2007 17:04:20 | More by ArrogantB
Photo of demcorhip
demcorhip

Ontario (Canada)

4.47/5  rDev +6.7%

2005 and 2006 vintages enjoyed during a mostly barleywine session with chonyr and and raider a couple weeks ago. the scores reflect the 2005 vintage, which was slightly more refined, defined, and smoothed with the additional years age. on retrospect this great beer didnt quite belong with the barleywines. live, drink, and learn.

Appearance
A clear, burnished bronze coloured ale. Not much of an off white head formed on the pour. A thin collar of lacings rimmed the inside of the glass. Very lightly and finely carbonated.

Aroma
Amazingly rich, perfumy floral scents rose from my glass to tempt, tease, and please my nose. It was more clear and defined in the 2005 vintage. Some creamy nuts and butterscotch from the malts, as well as earthy and floral aromas from the hops.

Taste
Nutty and toasty malts, with hints of plum and grape. 2005 vintage was more mature and less raw than the fresh 2006. Both had brilliant floral accents, which was more clearly defined in the 2005. It was well worth aging the 2005, glad we have a couple more between us to continue verticalling this gem for years to come, it will be a pleasure to see how the flavours continue to mature and evolve with the passing of time.

Mouthfeel
Medium bodied lightly carbonated ale. Very well balanced with rich malts and a slight emphasis on perfumy, floral hops.

Drinkability
Insanely drinkable for an ale of 8.5% alcohol. No alcohol harshness or even warmth. Highly recommended, and definately sessionable if one can manage to put a few of these away and then be recklessly decadent enough to consume them. Its hard to imagine this gem not appealing to craft beer lovers or novices alike, although its delicate, floral notes may leave the hop hardened lovers of hop bombs wanting. A fanfreakingtastic brew!

01-31-2007 01:11:01 | More by demcorhip
Photo of Wasatch
Wasatch

Utah

4.5/5  rDev +7.4%

Thanks to dano213 for this awesome brew.

2005 Vintage
Bottle No. 43004

Poured into a chalice, a nice slightly cloudy grape/amber color, nice carbonation, nice one plus finger creamy off-white head, lots of islands and sticky lacing left behind. The nose is sweet/malty, belgian yeasty, prunes, slight cinimmon, and slight caramel. The taste is sweet/malty, slightly fruity, slight alcohol touch, with a nice dry finish. Medium body. Very drinkable, very tasty, this is an awesome brew, wish I could get this again.

01-30-2007 01:49:06 | More by Wasatch
Photo of tgbljb
tgbljb

Pennsylvania

4.22/5  rDev +0.7%

Poured a deep ruby-red color with moderate slightly off-white puffy head.
Smell is sweet and fruity, with notes of cherries ans caramel detected.
Taste is also sweet, malty and fruity, with more cherries present.
Massive mouthfeel, with a rich creaminess and great taste retention.
Very drinkable, alcohol well hidden.

2004 edition.

01-28-2007 20:57:17 | More by tgbljb
Photo of ChainGangGuy
ChainGangGuy

Georgia

3.55/5  rDev -15.3%

Appearance: Pours a reddish-copper body with a large, lasting beige-colored head.

Smell: Aroma of earthy butterscotch, juicy apples, suede leather, with a bit of yeastiness. Plenty of alcohol notes, too.

Taste: A very curious flavor; a mixture of light caramel, toasted pecans, a zesty Christmas spice, and hints of apples and pears. The hops, though minimal, are quite grassy tasting and lends a nice, dry finish. As with the nose, the alcohol is rather apparent, tasting like someone snuck in a shot of brandy in my glass. After some time, its all apples/pears and alcohol, really giving you the sense of a dry cider-cognac concoction.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body with a very soft, fine carbonation.

Drinkability: Its drinkable, even without much age under its belt. We'll see how my second bottle does in a couple of years...

01-27-2007 23:11:37 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of Erdinger2003
Erdinger2003

Iowa

2.2/5  rDev -47.5%

The beer pours a nice clear brown/gold color that looks nice with no head and a little lacing. The smell is very light and hard to smell very well, but there's a slight hoppiness to it, but the hops flavor/aroma has morphed almost into a metallic flavor. The mouthfeel isn't so great, it's a little offensive. Overall I wouldn't try this ever again, not great.

01-27-2007 08:13:53 | More by Erdinger2003
Photo of Estarrio
Estarrio

Massachusetts

4.15/5  rDev -1%

2005 vintage

Poured dark, amber with brown, copper tones. Visible carbonation can be spied in the translucent liquid. A small, tan head gives way to silky, viscous lacings.

Very fruity with lots of red grape and cherry in the nose. Sweet malt, chocolate, phenols, port wine and peppery, alcohol aromas render this delightful concoction to be quite enticing.

The body is thinner than I anticipated. It is slightly syrupy with ample, fizzy carbonation, lending to a light, creamy texture. Unexpected but pleasing and highly drinkable.

I found the flavor to be truly unique. Chocolate, vanilla, and sweet malt tastes form the backbone. The flavor thins and becomes somewhat medicinal and cidery before yielding to copious amounts of tart cherry and red grape flavors. The finish is moderately dry and accompanied by spicy alcohol and bountiful, bitter, English hops. The bitter, boozy finish is a dramatic contrast with the sweet, fruity flavors but the balance seems to jive well. I'd love to revisit this in a few years to see how well it matures. This brew begs to be aged.

01-27-2007 04:33:23 | More by Estarrio
Photo of Gavage
Gavage

New Jersey

4.22/5  rDev +0.7%

Bottle # 78527 2006 version.

Appearance: clear amber in color with a huge 3" head that lasted forever. Nice lacing developed.

Smell: caramel and mild bitterness are detectable.

Taste: bread, caramel, ripe fruits, butter, and a hearty bitterness level. Alcohol is mildly noticeable.

Mouthfeel: Lightly crisp at the start, smooth and mildly dry towards the finish. Aftertaste lingers briefly.

Drinkability: easy to quaff even though the alcohol is noticeable. Definitely worth picking it up and giving it a try.

01-24-2007 18:32:48 | More by Gavage
Photo of SilentSabre
SilentSabre

North Dakota

4.4/5  rDev +5%

Fuller's Vintage Ale 2005 No.43937 in a rather fancy looking presentation carton.
Poured a red bronze with an absolutely gorgeous thick frothy khaki coloured head that left thick, glue-like lacing on the glass. This looked really nice. Smell was both sweet and earthy. Some sweet malts, light fruity notes (apricot, perhaps) and some mild caramel, as well as some earthy hops. Nice array of contrasting smells.
Taste was cooked fruit, which I was not expecting, a bit of biscuit-malt, some noticeable alcohol, and the delightful hop (Fuggles) bitterness that I enjoy so much from English Ales. Fantastic balance between sweet malty flavours and hoppy, bitter ones. I would love to get some more of this and cellar it away to see what is like in 2 or 3 years. Absolutely wonderful!!

01-22-2007 23:20:23 | More by SilentSabre
Photo of rodrot
rodrot

North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +4.5%

2005 bottling. Poured a clear amber hue with a good 3/4 inch head that lingered for a few minutes. Aroma was of toasty, bready malts and a faint hop aroma. Taste was quite good. Caramelly malts with notes of toffee, caramelized apples and fruity flavors in the finish. Hop flavor was present, just enough to balance the malty sweetness. I could feel just a tickle of alcohol on the tongue. Drinkability was very good. I could easily polish off two bottles, but why do that? My second bottle is going to have to wait a couple of years or so. Excellent Old/Strong ale from a classic English brewery.

01-21-2007 18:34:06 | More by rodrot
Photo of Dukeofearl
Dukeofearl

California

4.6/5  rDev +9.8%

2007 vintage, tasted in July 2008. Not a lot to say differently from 2006, except it is much smoother and refreshing (perhaps a sweeter) with little to no alcohol burn. Good stuff!!! Scores tweaked accordingly.

2006 vintage, bottle number 80398. Pours a clear, clear clear copper with a lovely medium head in my Fuller's Imperial pint glass.

Aroma of cherry, port, and fruity sangria, offset but solid, slightly sweet malts. Flavor is a wonderful complexity of fruits, herbs, and a nice alcohol burn (that I complained about last year) that just set each other of very nicely. Sweet malts and slightly oily hops offset each other nicely. This is a good good beer.

The alcohol burn is still more pronounced than I like, but it actually is a nicely mixed component this year. Nice full mouthfeel, I could easily drink way too much of this if it was on hand.

01-20-2007 03:43:04 | More by Dukeofearl
Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 972 ratings.