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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

1,085 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,085
Reviews: 637
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 89
Gots: 233 | 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:
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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,085 | Reviews: 637
Photo of spointon
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I poured this one from a 16.9oz Euro-style brown bottle into a tulip pint glass. The bottle was marked 2005 vintage and was #83,863 of 85,000.

A= This ale poured a deep, faintly hazy red/amber color. With a gentle pour, the soapy off-white head rose just 1/4" and only dropped to about half that, leaving a nice cap on the beer all the way down the glass. Good web of lace on the glass as well.

S= Soft but complex profile, with the maltiness present but taking a back seat to a blend of spicy/peppery/fruity aromas. Rum-raisins, vanilla, port wine, toffee, a dry yeastiness, and a bit of estery alcohol all made an appearance.

T= Really unlike anything I have had before. Things started off with a quick flash of dark fruitiness (raisins again, with figs, vanilla beans, and prunes too) followed very quickly by a sharper vinous character. Midway, the earthy hops and peppery spiciness came through, only to fade into a long, dry finish of alcohol, and a faint trio of wood, leather, and tobacco. This beer was in great shape despite its age, with no oxidation or other age-flaws present.

MF= This was a medium bodied ale with a decent amount of carbonation despite its 3+ years of age. Chewy mouth feel yet smooth across the tongue.

D= Complex and wonderful. This was an incredible beer in which the ABV was dangerously hidden. Very drinkable! A moderately expensive ale that was worth every penny I paid for it.

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

Another beer in a box. I'm sold.

A: Reddish copper color, vaguely reminiscent of cream soda with a red hue. Filmy half-effort head with languid carbonation.

S: Brandy aroma with sweet caramel malts, almonds, vanilla, and some floral hoppiness at the tail end.

T: Sweet upfront with a tidal palette of caramels, candied fruits, sugary bourbon and brandy. A flowery bouquet of understated but balanced hops rolls in at the finish.

M: Creamy but tingly. Pleasant all around.

D: Definitely an enjoyable beer where repeat experiences can't be in disdain.

Photo of cratez
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 500ml bottle into a Westmalle glass.

Appearance: a glowing amber/golden colour with minimal head. Looks attractive despite the lack of head and lacing.

Smell: yeast, hops, nectarine, pine, apple, pear, and hints of alcohol. Very fruity aroma.

Taste: toasty, sweet, and bready malts, peaches, and a fruity English hop bitterness to end. A boozy warmth sets in after each sip.

Mouthfeel: crisp and tangy palate, quite pleasant. The syrupy, bittersweet finish masks the higher ABV.

Drinkability: a tasty, well-crafted beer. Wouldn't want to drink many, though, as this one blew me off my ass. A good sipper for hop and ale lovers, perfect for the winter time.

Photo of magictrokini
3.91/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear mahogany pour with a creamy off-white head. Malt, dark fruit, and hops make up the aroma. Velvety mouthfeel. The sweetness of the caramel malt hits you first, with raisins and hop bitterness to follow. Dry, earthy finish. Much better than last year.

Photo of thekevlarkid
4.31/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This bottle happened to be number 81,220, bottled in 2006 and opened in summer of 2008 while my then-girlfriend was breaking my heart. Thank God it was a muscular 8.5%! Out of the bottle this beer was a garnet red color with a two finger tan head. Lots of tiny visible carbonation. The retention and the lacing were stellar! The aroma was sweet and pungent, dark fruit, raisins and zesty alcohol esters. The flavors were also sweet and enjoyable, toffee and candy sugar, ripened figs, caramel malt, hints of spices and an herbal hop finish that added balance to an otherwise busy palate. Punchy but non-pretentious. The mouthfeel was very smooth, the carbonation good and the body medium/full. A challenging but rewarding experience.

Photo of krunchie
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 vintage no. 72586. Poured into a pint glass at approx. 46°F

A: Bronze/amber. Slightly brownish fluffy head. Clear liquid and nice carbonation. Looks delicious

S: Ale yeasts, some bread, spices and perhaps even some honey

T: Wow, this one's tasty! Well-balanced (might be slightly on the malty side, but I like it sweet =). Initally a bit bitter but evens to a sweeter taste after the third sip. A bit nutty and dried fruit flavors. Really nice! There are some hints of alcohol in there too. Reminds me of whishey somehow.

M: Some bitterness. Quite thick, still a medium body. The head is really juicy and creamy and makes the overall drink feel clean and smooth.

D: Takes some time to drink and you can feel it run down your throat. Satisfying nonetheless!

Photo of rtepiak
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this is the 2005 i had.

amber, a bit off clear. in the vein of englsh strong ales... aged. head is nice and soapy thick and does take a bit to dissipate. nice strong caramel malt. smell is like lipton tea with lemon and honey in it. taste is caramel malty. apple hop with cinnamon, fennel, honey and pumpkin malt taste, a hint of leather, and a pilsnery finish. nice beer... good for a cold and rainy day. would like to get more of the bloody character in my old ales though.

had the 2007 ten year anniversary in june of '10...

still same quintessential nose... thats a bit boozy at first. then some brown sugar and lemon zest citrus. palate of coconut, rose, licorice, and a earthy bitter finish.

i would kill to have in cask.

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

2008 vintage. This poured a clear, light mahogany with off-white head. It smelled like copper and orange hops, honey wheat and caramel malt, with a bit of alcohol and creamy yeast. It tasted like sweet caramel and honey and nutty malts, with light copper and orange hops, and a bit of creamy vanilla. It was thick with some carbonation, and had a sweet aftertaste with some alcohol warming. Overall this was very tasty with good body. It was much lighter than I expected, but was still very nice (even fresh). It had potent alcohol, but was clean and delicious, so it was still pretty easy to drink. This will be great for years.

2005 vintage. This poured a semi-hazy rusted copper color with light tan head. It smelled like malt and yeast balanced nicely with citrus hops. It had a subtle but fairly complex flavor of caramel malt with a mix of hops and a bit of dark fruit. It was slightly thick with a bit of carbonation and a bitter but mellow aftertaste. Overall this was very good for a standard ale. If it was a little hoppier (a pale ale or IPA), it would have been perfect!

Photo of BeerSox
3.53/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle into 8oz snifter. 2005. 76770 out of 95000. Stored in a maroon box.

Cloudy mohogany hue with a one finger stone khaki head that slowly settles to a thin bubbly rim, leaving behind a webby wall of lacing. Given the thick head, a lot of the carbonation seems to be intact.

A very sweet aroma with almost no hops to speak of. The malts are sligtly nutty, along with a light tart acidic aroma.

A little bit of fruit and some nutty flavors, along with a little bit of acidic tarness like in the aroma. A slight creaminess rolls in at the middle. The alcohol is still somewhat well perceived. Full bodied with lower carbonation, though not flat.

Can't say how well this was aged as I bought it in summer '08. So most of its three years it was out of my hands. Seems to be okay, but I was hoping for a little more.

---
500ml bottle into 8oz snifter. 2006. 71413 out of 1000. Stored in a maroon box.

Cloudy and opaque maroon hue with a thick and dense two finger light tan head that slowly settles to a thick cap, leaving behind a solid wall of lacing.

Plenty of strong alcohol aromas along with a creamy vanilla aroma.

Toasty malts with a lot of vanilla flavor once again. The alochol is hard to miss.

This one was a bit of a boozy mess, maybe it needed to stay in the cellar for another year. I'll have to try one new (2008 or 2009) just to get a baseline.

---
Here is the baseline review.

500ml bottle into 8oz snifter. 2008. 144695 out of 145000. Stored in a maroon box.

Pours a clear burnt orange hue with a one finger eggshell white head that slowly settles to a bubbly rim along the glass.

The aroma is very soft, consisting of sweet fruit and a little bit of brown sugar.

The flavor has the same nutty flavors as the older versions, along with some light fruit and caramel. However the alcohol is somewhat up front.

It's a great beer when it's fresh, but I can tell that the alcohol can use a little time to settle down. One of these days I'll buy a new one and cellar it myself, where I know the conditions.

Photo of mcsquint
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 vintage. Poured from Imperial pint bottle into tulip glass:
A - Golden in color. A bit cloudy. Dense off-white head.
S - Very malty, with notes of toffee, dried apricot and figs
T - Malt and toffee with dried fruit fruit which become more pronounced as it warms. The high ABV is not really noticeable except for the warming aftertaste.
M - Light to medium. Somewhat slick. Finishes a bit sweet.
D - This is definitely not intended to be a session beer; but rather sipped to enjoy all the nuances. I'm not a big fan of most high ABV beers, but this strikes a nice balance between flavor and ABV. I'm putting two on my Christmas list. One to drink and one to cellar!

Photo of johnnieoz
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage. 1 pint .9 fl oz (500 ml) bottle (nr 109,206 out of 150,000). Just released according to the brewery's website. Challenger and Northdown hops with Maris Otter malted barley.

A: Beautiful clear maroon ale with a minimal white head.

S: Malty, nutty, toasty, and toffee-y.

T: Sweet fruit like dates and figs plus caramel on the tip of the tongue. A nice balance is achieved with the English hops, yet this is definitely a malty rather than hoppy old ale. The finish is dry.

M: Not much carbonation yet. Still a bit light on the palate. But the potential is clearly there with flavors bursting on the gums.

D: Excellent. It goes down like a dream. Pairs nicely with cheese. The 8.5% abv is noticeable only in the solid flavors it enhances and in the creeping warming.

Nice to try one of these just after bottling. It can only get (even) better from here on in...the other bottles in my cellar shall bear witness.

Photo of BBM
4.74/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 Vintage, opened in honor of Obama's victory on Tuesday.

Poured a clear dark brown with visible carbonation up the glass. Thin white head that disappeared quickly. Aroma was a beautiful fruit bouquet, along with some toasted almond notes.

The taste was a unique blend of dark fruits (raisins, plums) toasted caramel, and a warm alcohol finish. I can't say if the aging actually enhanced the flavors since this is the only one I've had but it was certainly a full-flavored and complex experience.

Mouthfeel was thin but not too thin. Dangerously drinkable at the ABV, to be honest I couldn't put the thing down. I may have to buy another one and wait another 4 years!

Photo of Overlord
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 edition. Thanks to my Dad for the gift!

Pours a surprisingly light orange/amber. Thin crust of off-white foam.

Smells like sweet malt and brandy soaked dark fruits. Taste delivers on the promise, overwhelmingly sweet malt/dark fruit backing with a dash of whiskey, brandy, or some other distilled spirit, and a nice bit of grapefruity hops as a balancing agent.

Smooth and creamy mouthfeel, a very nice beer.

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.53/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Semi transparent dark copper color. Small rim of sticky bubbles around the edge off glass, hardly worth noting the head. Fair amount of carbonation. Jorge: 4.0; Nick: 3.5

Smell: Oak and molasses are noted first. Toasted malts come next along with a dry, whiskey-esque smell. Not too complex but pleasant. Jorge 3.5; Nick: 3.5

Taste: Oaky...Very oaky. Toasted malts, nuts, and caramel as well. Big beginning, dry ending. Jorge: 3.5; Nick 4.0

Mouthfeel: Very watery. You can pretty much just open your mouth and pour it down. Moderate carbonation. Extreme lack of body. Jorge: 2.5; Nick 2.0

Drinkability: For an old ale, pretty drinkable. Pretty thin and the lower ABV helps it go down a little easier. Jorge 4.0; Nick 3.5

Though Nick and I (Jorge) each rated this beer differently per category, our scores turned out exactly the same: 3.55

Photo of GJ40
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled from a 500ml bottle in a tulip glass.

A - Amber with good clarity and a moderate tan head. Reminds me of a nice cask pour at the Churchill Arms in London. Decent lacing.

S - Mostly malty with caramel and bread.

T - A very firm and complex beer with a malty, nutty flavor. The alcohol kick is moderate and there's a faint bitterness in the finish. Much richer than any Fullers beer I've had before but about what I expected (malt based, well balanced, flawless). A very good English ale.

M - A fairly thick beer, almost silky, with perfect carbonation.

D - I enjoyed this one more and more as it went on and was sorry to see it end. I'm a hop guy but you've got to respect the excellent simplicity that you can get out of a seasoned English brewery like Fullers. Well done mates.

Photo of Ryan4
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Deep amber with a little ruby color.

Smell- Amazing aroma, Nice hint of hops. Smells very much like apple juice or cider. Dark grape scent, like an dessert wine.

Taste- Nice alcohol kick but not overpowering. Similar to a very smooth and drinkable IPA. Very fruity, but in a good way. Tastes of a well aged barleywine.

Mouthfeel- Very smooth, carbonation is not overpowering. A little creamy and just a hint of warmth lingering.

Drinkability- A drinkable beer although a don't see the point of gorging yourself on this beer. It should be savored slowly.

Overall, A highly recommended beer. Well above average. And it would interesting to see how it ages!

Photo of inhoc00
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Fuller's Vintage Ale opened on the day of receiving my Honorable Discharge paperwork from the Army.

A- Dark mohagany, amber. Minimal lacing, gone.

S- Sweet caramel, almost like belgian yeasty sweet kind of smell but roasty plums. That doesn't really make sense.

T- Still heavy alchohol. Sweet malt, no to little hops and heavy alcohol. Sweet but almost fake sweet like a diet coke. (and rum). Good but not great.

M- Quite a bit of carbonation still present.

D- Certainly a sipper. The problem I think is the alcohol. Its only 8.5%. DFH 120 has almost 3 times the alcohol and yet is pleasantly hidden. I understand its a different style, but even a more similar style Barleywine does a better job. Its just not that balanced. Good but not a great job. Probably would not get again.

Photo of Offa
4.9/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is wonderful stuff, rich, complex, smooth.

I just had, in Oct 08, the 2006 vintage, bottle 87778.

Deep ruby red with hints of brownish-amber, it has a small-medium pale tan head, creamy and dense, very slowly shrinking to a thin top that itself eventually disappears to foamy ring and wisps. It leaves a little lace, but not permanently.

The aroma is a little subdued but wonderfully complex. It immediately has a lot of fruit and spice, stewed fermented plums and apples with some dried fig, whole wheat bread and toasted crust, cane syrup and brown sugar. The bread-crust elements slowly weaken to barely perceptible with plum wine becoming noticeable.

The taste is stronger and very complex, rich, and satisfying. It has a lot of fruit and spice up front, with port, caramelized stewed fruit, a hint of anise, a hint of pekmez (Turkish fruit "molasses"), a hint of a nice aged rum. It's thick and "chewy" but lively and zesty. Though sweet, it beautifully develops into a zesty, spicey-bitter finish. Alcohol is noticeable, barely, in the warmth, etc. It is amazingly smooth considering the flavours and strength.

Photo of jcdiflorio
3.6/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From a nice reddish-brown box with a fabric like texture,a 1pt.0.9oz bottle an 06 vintage no. 71409. served into a large Delirium snifter poured a ruttery reddish brown,cider-like color with a dense creamy bone white head.Good retention leaving a creamy ring and a few curtians of lace.

Clean fruitty aroma,some peach and pear,nutty with some dry vinious quality.Earthy with tartness and a hint of peat.

Very creamy mouthfeel with a dry grassiness with some smooth booziness coming through,peach skin like fruitiness finishes very dry and tart.Malts dominate with strong carmell with a slight burnt metallic edge.
Goes down fairly easy,more of a sipper though,nothing i would want more than a bottle at a time of.

Photo of ThirstyBird
4.71/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thank you to blisscent for sharing this 1999 vintage ale!
bottle# 69586

Cloudy! Looks like an unfiltered cider. Whispy head that because of it's age struggles to appear.

Big smell. Aged leather, malt, booze, oak, toffee. So complex! So wonderful!

The taste is super rich and silky smooth. Carmel apple is the prevalent taste that I get. It's delicious. Vanilla aftertaste lingers...

The mouth feel is so smooth with very light and gentle carbonation that remains after 9 years. Medium/ full bodied that is slightly oily.

What a treat! Serious but delicious yet complex. One of the best beers that I've ever experienced!

Photo of champ103
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Pours a beautiful hazy amber/orange color. A two finger beige head forms and leaves nice rings of lace.
S: Sweet toasted caramel malt. A nice subtle fruit aroma of pears, apples, figs, and plums. Some warming alcohol.
T: Malty and delicious. Light toasted caramel malt and a big fruit flavor that follows the nose. As I sip on it more flavors come out. Subtle and complex. Just wonderful.
M/D: A full body that is rich and creamy. A light snap of carbonation. This is exceptionally smooth and easy to drink. I can sip on this all day.

A 2005 bottle that is just great. I shared this with my Dad on my birthday, and I could not imagine a better setting on a cool Fall late afternoon. I want more.

Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

With the possible exception of Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout, this may be my favorite English beer ever. Everything good about English beer (full body, smooth, great balance) with a higher ABV (I love big beers!). I love their ESB and porter, but this takes it to another level. I don't notice the alcohol at all in the taste, but I do feel it a little. The typical caramel notes are there, with an apple pie-like spice (I happen to have homemade apple pie to eat when I'm done, too!). Smooth and warming. World class.

Photo of lightindarkness
3.59/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to prototypic for this one!

Pours a deep coppery red with a full off white head that leaves some splattered lacing around the glass.

Nose is rather underwhelming, with some wet grains, straw, and old hops. Pretty weak overall. I actually sucked some up my nose accidentally while trying to get a good whiff. Do not recommend trying.

Mild taste, but quite pleasant. Some weak grain flavor starts with a woody aged flavor. A little grassy herbal note with some rosemary bread. Faint hop bitterness at the finish. Mellow and smooth overall. Very cereal flavored grains. A little alcohol taste throughout.

Feel is relatively clean, medium bodied with a gentle and slightly filling carbonation.

Very drinkable in taste, slightly limited by alcohol. Good overall flavor, but kind of weak. I'm sure some age would develop the depth of old ale flavor, but there isn't too much there to work with as it seems now. Not to downplay it being a good beer, but I'm not blown away.

Photo of BierFan
3.48/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 16.9 oz bottle into a tumbler glass.

Appearance: Poured a very thick rocky head. It had a copper red/orange color. The back label says that it's a "mellow golden ale" but it was much darker than the label would have you believe. It left a creamy curtain of lacing down the glass.

Smell: It had a dark malty smell. It also smelled of alcohol.

Had a fairly thick mouthfeel and tasted of caramel malts and alcohol.

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.78/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle from Vin Hus in Solvang,CA.
Poured a deep red with lots of carbonation and a huge head. Taste is all English malt, a little alcohol twinge and a tart finish. Dried fruits, very sweet and super malty. Mainly notes of toffee, nuts fruits. ABV is just right but the taste was not to my liking. Good beer but not my fav Old Ale.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 1,085 ratings.