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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.

985 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 985
Reviews: 615
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.98%
Wants: 78
Gots: 188 | 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:
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)
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Ratings: 985 | Reviews: 615 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of HardTarget
4.63/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2000 vintage opened July 07

Bottle Inspection: Red cardboard box keeps the light off this 1 pint, 2.6 fl. oz. brown bottle. Label in numbered and the cap is held down by a paper strip.

Aroma: Roasted malt, bit of peat, some mild chocolate, and fruity esters that hint of raisin. Big and beautiful, this one’s not shy.

Appearance: Hazy brown glass holds a ½ finger brown head that clings to sides lacing in thick curtains.

Flavor: Rich layered malt, roasted and toasted but not burnt by any means. Some underlying alcohol but only manages to lighten up the malt a bit. Tons of caramel and toffee notes and only a hint of grassy hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Wonderful carbonation, creamy texture, thick coat but manages to have a dry finish.

Overall Impression: Wow. This is malt toffee candy. One of the best British beers, heck, one of the best beers I’ve ever had. A shame I’ll never find another bottle. Seven years age didn’t seem to hurt it at all, I would think this could go another few years no problem.

HardTarget, Jul 23, 2007
Photo of CharlieMopps
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2004

A: From a moderate pour, two fingers of fairly dense head formed. This occurred in spite of the odds looking grim for any head at all toward the beginning of the pour. The color itself was an immaculate, hazy deep ruby and auburn beauty, one could get lost in the color alone.

S: The smell of yeast, alcohol, and an almost Belgianesque sweetness swirl to create an interesting bouquet. Also, undertones of a dark fruit come to mind.

T: Very much its own beer, unique. Malts dominate the palate throughout, but other flavors are very much alive in conjunction. A subdued hop presence is detectable, while the sweet aspect comes through somewhere between the middle and the finish. A drying finish leaves the bitterness of the hops out, and is a great way to round off the flavors.

M: Syrupy up front, but creamy toward the end. Being a few years old, the carbonation seems to keep up in the back, but the other parts of the taste have been relaxed, which makes for an interesting taste and mouthfeel.

D: This is no everyday beer, but its character makes it worthy of the rarity for these vintage batches. Its composition has a distinctly English quality, which makes it all the more interesting to see it aged. This is so relaxed that it makes for easy sipping, and after maturing, it's developed a uniquely mellow flavor.

CharlieMopps, Jul 15, 2007
Photo of doubleipa
4.9/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I put 8 of these away back in 2004 and this is the first one I've had. Why did I wait so long. This is an incredible beer. Heavy malt, toasted, nutty, light yeast, dough tawny port, nutmeg aromas. Nice frothy head. Mostly clear, but a littel opaque, reddish-brown color. Lots of dark fruit in the taste.

doubleipa, Jun 29, 2007
Photo of taez555
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage, bottle#58132, sampled June 2007

This beer poured a dark amber/tan body with an off-white head.

Nose is pure sugary caramel malt with layers of sweet doughy bread. Alcohol, dark fruits, raisins, a strong fig note, a little bit of wood and some aged wine like qualities.

Taste is medium/full to full bodied and very creamy. Taste starts with nice sugary caramel malt followed by a big but somewhat muted earthy and slightly sour hop bitterness. A really interesting mix of fruit flavors. Sort of a fruit punch of dark raisins, grapes, figs, plums, dates yet all ground together with the stems giving it an earthy note. There's a numbing bitterness that really takes hold in the finish, but it's very muted and subdued. Almost has this anise like numbing quality.

Just a hint of that classic fullers yeast flavor in this beer. It's just so big and so hoppy. It's hard to know what to think of this beer as it's going to change so much in years to come. Overall though, a really nice sipper that I wouldn't mind keeping loads of in my cellar to pull out throughout the year.

taez555, Jun 24, 2007
Photo of sstackho
3.43/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 bottle. The first half pours an uninspired medium gold with no head, lots of carbonation, no lacing. Light sweet hop aroma. First taste knocks my head back with sugary sweetness. It gets better, but it still remains quite sweet all the way through. This is the second beer in a row that I'm judging as too sweet - after the Sam Adams Double Bock from yesterday. The alcohol is noticeable - and rather welcoming, I must say. This was my first of this series, though I didn't let it age since I am about to move house.

sstackho, Jun 23, 2007
Photo of BrewMonkey
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Number 72877 of 100k.

Pours very clear amber, light tan head that dissapates quickly with almost no lacing.

Aroma is strong of caramel and malt with a distinct alcohol presense. Any hint of hops that might be there is totally covered by the malt profile.

Taste: Bready, caramel, malt, alcoholic, warm pretzel. Caramel notes dominate with a nice almost custardy flavor. No hop flavor is percieved over the maltiness, with a mild to moderate bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is creamy but not heavy or cloying, low carbonation, light despite the creaminess. Slightly warming alcohol.

Overall just a wonderful flavor and a nice sipping beer. High ABV and alcohol flavor prevents extended drinking, but nevertheless a terrific drinking experience.

BrewMonkey, Jun 10, 2007
Photo of jasonjlewis
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

this beer is a marvel. Great balance of malts, mainly caramel with a faint bitterness and alcohol presence to balance. I could go on and on about this beer, but really just try it. I will buy it again. It's a great beer from one of my favorite styles. I love old ales and this really hits the spot. Go try it. I wish it was year round. If it was I'd have a shelf on my fridge for it.

jasonjlewis, Jun 02, 2007
Photo of kexp
3.5/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Looks like a nice dark Ale. Knowing that it is a Fullers, I was looking forward to trying it.

S - Smells of very strong ale. A bit much on the alcohol to the nose.

T - Delicious. A little forward on the alcohol. I suspect that a year or so of maturity may even that out a touch.

M - Typical Fullers ale consistency, which is a very good thing

D - I would rate this higher, but for the agresiveness of the alcohol. I drank this one too soon.

Overall, I regret opening this one as soon as I did. The building blocks for a wonderful ale were all there. It just needed to go to its room and play with its toys for a year before coming back out. Next one will be treated better.

kexp, May 23, 2007
Photo of IntriqKen
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2006 Vintage being enjoyed in May, 2007.
Pours a deep dark golden amber with a soft white head that melts a very fine ring of white foam.

Aromas are caramel, dark brown sugar, and dark fruits with a slight touch of alcohol.

Flavors match the aromas and are similar to other vintages but freshness shows itself in this bottle. Everything tastes rich and fresh with nothing stale or aged tasting like in older vintages.

Mouthfeel is the same creaminess and aftertaste is even cleaner with a nice alcohol warmth that slowly permeates your body.

Overall, I would say that you cannot go wrong with this beer no matter what vintage you try.

I just edited my review 6/16/08, based upon possibly a more experienced palette and more likely just because I find myself continually going back to this brew.
I have to give it a 5 on drinkability. It's always there and always a perfect finish to the night.

IntriqKen, May 14, 2007
Photo of bobhits
5/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm giving this beer a perfect score based on the 2004. I've had 3 bottles of 2004 and a bottle of 2005 and 2006. The 2005 and 2006 are like completely differnt beers. I REALLY REALLY question beefadvocates revewing this beer as just vintage ale and not review each year differntly. If the differnce in the 2005 and 06 is almost completely a result of age then I truly am impressed.

The 2004 has this AMAZING cherry sweetness with a perfect balance of hops and malts coming in after that nice cherry start. The finish is smooth. The color is a redist color with a nice white head. The smell is of course a nice citric smell with a good bit of cherry.

This is simple a perfect brew when aged (or at least the 2004 is). I am giving the againing all the credit for the 2004 in this score. This beer apperntly HAS to be aged at least 3 years. I really mean this. Don't even DARE drink this until it's been aged this long. The 05 and 06 were simply not in the same league.

bobhits, May 06, 2007
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 Vintage, Sampled April 2007
Pours with an initially three-finger thick, light tan colored head. The beer is a supernaturally, brilliantly clear, cranberry-ruby color. The aroma is a mix of sweet malts, concentrated fruit and lightly warming alcohol. The aroma is quite a bit lighter than I was expecting; I do get notes of raisins, cherries, biscuit malt, rum and even some green herbal hop notes.

The taste is quite sweet, which brings out a bright, berry like fruit flavor up front. This concentrated fruit note actually continues on through to the finish, where it perhaps picks up some notes of green raisins as well. A soft, herbal hop character is noticeable up front and in fact picks up some steam towards the finish where it accentuates a nice, mostly clean bitterness that is perhaps a touch rough around the edges. The berry notes mix with a mellow bergamot note and the alcohol to produce almost something cordial like. At times this beer finishes with a warming alcohol sensation as it flows down the throat, this integrates quite well with the overall character though and in fact helps to balance the sweet malt and fruit notes.

This is a nice beer, I was not expecting this to be as nice as this already. It could clearly use more edge, but some of the previous releases were too cloying when young; this one is not quite there, though it is fairly sweet.

Gueuzedude, May 02, 2007
Photo of IPAcraig
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage

This beer was given to me by the bartender at the leon pub on my batchelor party. Enjoying a few weeks later while watching The Big Lebowski, nice.

You got to love the presentation of this beer. In a box, Limited edition no. 90452

A - nice copper orange, minimal head and co2.

S - Nice sweet smelling brew,

T - Big malty sweetness hits the tounge first. Hints of prune then a bit of alcohol hotness, followed by a bit of tobacco. Finally a slight bit of hop bitterness on the back of the tounge.

M - Slightly syrupy with mild carbonation

D - Nice beer, the best Ive had from fullers. For $6 at the leon pub its a deal. Oh yeah, and the drinkability, I give it a 4

IPAcraig, Apr 25, 2007
Photo of stcules
3.4/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

stcules, Apr 16, 2007
Photo of jwc215
4.53/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

jwc215, Apr 15, 2007
Photo of bluejacket74
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

bluejacket74, Apr 14, 2007
Photo of bluegrassbrew
4.83/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

bluegrassbrew, Apr 13, 2007
Photo of BEERchitect
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

BEERchitect, Mar 26, 2007
Photo of brdc
4.75/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

#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!

brdc, Mar 21, 2007
Photo of RedHaze
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

RedHaze, Mar 13, 2007
Photo of vanrassel
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

vanrassel, Mar 11, 2007
Photo of brucepepper
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 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.

brucepepper, Mar 10, 2007
Photo of Cresant
3.3/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

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.

Cresant, Mar 06, 2007
Photo of dogboy
4.83/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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...

dogboy, Feb 28, 2007
Photo of cjgator3
2.58/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

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.

cjgator3, Feb 26, 2007
Photo of BadRockBeer
4.97/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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.

BadRockBeer, Feb 24, 2007
Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 985 ratings.