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 slyke
slyke

Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

This was my first try of Fuller's Vintage Ale. Bottle 82172 from 2004.

The beer poured a hazy red-brown with a thin head. The smell was dominated by malty sweetness and alcohol with soft hop notes. The taste was similar to the aroma, but while remaining a beer it reminded me of a brandy, particularly as it warmed. Mouthfeel was what I expected, slightly coating the mouth, but without being creamy. Drinkability on this one is good. It is surely a sipper, but I don't see anything wrong with that. Recommended.

01-20-2007 01:35:32 | More by slyke
Photo of kirok1999
kirok1999

Ohio

3.78/5  rDev -9.8%

Bottle 65257, 2004
Pours a clear golden amber with a white head. Crisp and clean smell, slight medicinal, herbal hoppy notes in the smell, toffee and caramel as well.
Tastes crisp and dark, herbal hop notes, more like a bitter than an old ale. Slight wheat notes in the finish.
Lingering malt finish.
I bought another to lay down for another few years. I'm looking forward to it.

01-15-2007 01:29:06 | More by kirok1999
Photo of zuleboy
zuleboy

Ohio

4.58/5  rDev +9.3%

2005 bottle #65578

appearance: poured a coppery amber with a creamy head that slowly melts into a pool of deliciousness, while the carbonation melts away a little slower. Exactly what you want it to look like

smell: at first alcohol, then malty sweetness

taste: warm, sweet, creamy, and sophisticated with notes of dark fruits. sweetness is well balanced with conservative hopping. dances ever so lightly on the tongue

mouthfeel: medium to almost syrupy, almost. i was surprised by the creaminess of this ale considering the strength of the alcohol. carbonation is light but very nice

drinkability: this an absolutely delicious beer. one or maybe 2 would be more than enough. Its something to savor every sip and take in the amazingly well balanced complex composition.

Even though I think this beer would have matured nicely in a year or so, I think it was well worth drinking. Cellaring a couple is a great idea. This is by far one of the best beers I've ever enjoyed.

01-13-2007 02:08:44 | More by zuleboy
Photo of klewis
klewis

Ohio

4.18/5  rDev -0.2%

2006 vintage, No. 94753

A: pours a reddish amber with a much bigger head than your typical old ale. No lacing, but instead a thick ring of foam clings to the glass around the surface of the beer.

S: A pleasant smell with subtle aromas pineapple and orange.

T: Perfectly balanced with a bit of weight on sweeter side. Subtle flavors of tropical fruit provide an interesting and complex taste.

M: Medium-bodied and a bit bubbly. The weakest of this beer's traits.

D: This is a very excellent beer, although it is much different from some of the other old ales that I have had. A bit pricey, but perhaps worth it.

01-03-2007 04:39:54 | More by klewis
Photo of merlin48
merlin48

Kentucky

4.1/5  rDev -2.1%

2004 vintage, bottle number 66051. Pours a hazy copper amber body topped by a small beige head that leaves some sparse patchy lace.

Aroma of toffee and caramel, herbal Goldings hops, and subtle notes of pears and golden apples. A whiff of sherry there, as well.

Medium body with soft medium carbonation. Slight English mineral water feel.

Taste begins with toffee and burnt brown sugar maltiness, followed by red apple skins, old leather, bitter herbal hops, and sherry notes. Complexity deepens as it warms.

Splendid example of English brewing, but not my favorite year for this one. May need a few more months in the cellar.

01-02-2007 19:22:20 | More by merlin48
Photo of Matthew
Matthew

Connecticut

4.15/5  rDev -1%

2001 vintage.
Pours a ruby/copper color with a nice 1/2 inch of creamy off white colored head. Nice retention with pretty good lacing, leaving some rings and bubbles stuck to the side of my glass.
Big whiffs of alcoholic sherry, ripe raisins, sweet cider, and english toffee. Theres a very slight hint of an off aroma most likely due to some oxidation but is so subdued by the big sweet complex aromas that it is easy to overlook.
Very sweet malty body with flavors consisting of prunes, fig, sherry, and hints of the same toffee characteristic found in the nose. There is a lingering bitterness in the finish that for the most part removes the big prominent sweetness found in each sip.
I was very impressed by the mouthfeel of this beer. Nice with a medium fullness with a great level of carbonation.
A great beer to sip that goes down smoothly.

01-01-2007 05:12:49 | More by Matthew
Photo of pootz
pootz

Ontario (Canada)

3.45/5  rDev -17.7%

2006 eddition sampled 3 months after bottling.

Bottle No. 61586

Poured a deep burnished copper into the glass... sticky 2 finger cap lasts and laces well for a High ABV ale. Soft carbonation.

Aroma: this years seems to have a nice collaberation of sweet caramel malt tones, fruity yeast phenols mingle with subdued fusil alcohol spirits to give a caramel - ripe berry fruits - almond extract impression to the nose....very diferent for this ale.

Rich malt body not as dense as some vintages, peppery mouth feel, caramel fruity alcoholic character.

Up front you get to chew on some nice caramel malts then the spice-toffee-tobacco tones ensue and carry you to mid palate where the mixture gets more complex with hints of musty dried fruits, almond marzipan, wood, dark treacle...then the finish takes you a different direction where the alcohol is poorly hidden and becomes peppery and boozey like bourbon with a deep chest warming after burn...it tastes far more than it’s 8.5%ABV.

This vintage has a great potential when those yeast phenols and fusil alcohol tones making the marzipan smells mellow it will be interesting...the almond-berry decenment is wonderful but the boozey finish screws up the whole drink....but this is a very young sample....a few months or a year in the cellar and I await an entirely different profile on this one.

01-01-2007 01:07:07 | More by pootz
Photo of montageman
montageman

Michigan

4.6/5  rDev +9.8%

2005 Bottle number 46107 out of 95000 - label says best before end 2008 (a couple years early, I guess). Pours hazy copper with an inch head that goes away leaving a whole lot of lacing both on the sides of the glass and on the surface of the ale. Smells fruity - sour apple, tart cherry - there's a bit of pine here, too. The smell is wonderful - very clean, crisp. Taste is also very crisp. Delicious fruity tartness up front with a bit of bitterness in the back. There is also a bit of dryness - very complex. There is some mild carbonation, but it adds to the taste rather than retracting. I could drink this all night. I'm going back to the store to get some more for cellaring - this would do well with some more aging. Highest Recommendation.

12-30-2006 05:36:46 | More by montageman
Photo of Backer2004
Backer2004

North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev -3.8%

Sampled at the the Carolina Brewmaster Christmas party (thanks Tom). I believe it was a 2003. Pours a clear dark amber color with a thin hea. Smells of ripe fruit and earthy malts. Very balanced and a nice old ale, though not my favorite. Always wanted to try the beer in the box and need to age some myself.

12-13-2006 03:28:44 | More by Backer2004
Photo of mrmanning
mrmanning

Ontario (Canada)

4.03/5  rDev -3.8%

The Fuller’s Vintage Ale release is one I await with annual anticipation. The fact that such an awesome brew is obtainable in the beer hell that is Ontario is almost a miracle. This one is liquid mahogony/tan leather capped with billowing beige froth, leaving spiderweb-lace. It’s very aromatic in the way you would expect a scotch to be. There’s a hint of iodine at first, followed by heavy crystalized malts/burnt sugars/butterscotch and this is all wrapped up in a sipcy, floral, hoppy blanket. Sound complex? It is.the flavours are awash with full on deep rooted english malts (sweet caramel, brown sugar/butter) lots of spiced up hops here with a dash of whisky (wood, iodine). Lingering malt based finish, very warming and spicy. The complexity will leave you breathless. Keep this one away from the kiddies.

12-10-2006 03:54:00 | More by mrmanning
Photo of elricorico
elricorico

Alberta (Canada)

3.93/5  rDev -6.2%

2005 Vintage, bottle #26112

Having picked up my share of the 2006 version today, I figured tonight would be a good time to crack one of the 2005's I had left. It's been in the fridge for a year, basically unmoved.

Poured into an imperial pint glass. The beer is a slightly hazy, ruddy amber colour. A thin cream coloured head was formed, and sticks to the sides of the glass in spotty lacing. The head is sustained by visible carbonation.

Aromas of sweet cherry, flowery hops, mandarin orange, just a general ripe fruitiness. Something sugary, reminding me of a powder juice mix. Not a powerful smell, but complex and interesting.

Malts up front are a mix of fruits with a slight sugary feel. Cherry and raisin most notably, a base of toffee faintly noted. Hops are a bit spicy and medicinal, and are followed by an alcohol burn at the end. Nothing outstanding, but nice none the less.

The beer has a slight stickiness to it, and the carbonation is just enough to do its job. All together very suitable for the beer.

At this point I would say that this beer is good, but not yet at its potential. When the finish mellows a little more I imagine it will benefit in the balance department.

12-06-2006 03:16:53 | More by elricorico
Photo of scottoale
scottoale

California

4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Vintage 2006, bottles #72784 & 72791. Comes in a classy looking box, a 500ml. embossed brown glass bottle with a classy numbered label and sealed cap. The label also states: "best before end 2009".

This one pours a red-coppery, pristene ale with a 1 1/2 finger, ivory colored head and good carbonation. The head eventually dies down leaving some sticy lace behind.

The smell is malty sweet and fairly alcoholic. Some mild grassy hops in the background. The full-bodied ale is sweet and malty with earthy rich flavor of ripened fruits and a grassy hop winding down the brew to a mild warming of it's rather potent alcoholic content...nice!

Well balanced and well done...i'm sure this ale will age beautifully as the quality of this brew is first class. A must try...it won't disappoint.

12-05-2006 06:00:35 | More by scottoale
Photo of OStrungT
OStrungT

California

4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

2006 vintage number 81566

This beer pours a golden brown color with a nice looking ruby tint to it. It has a thick, fluffy light tan head that fades very slowly, leaving many thick laces.

This beer has a strong sweet malty aroma. It has a mild floral hop aroma also. A slight spicy aroma is present. The alcohol is well hidden in the nose.

This beer tastes sweet. A caramel malt flavor is present. Some hoppy, floral flavors are present. A slight spicy flavor mixes in as well. It also has a fruity flavor. Figs and raisins.

This beer is very well balanced. It goes down smooth, leaving a sweet caramel aftertaste. The alcohol warms slightly as it goes down.

At 8.5%, this beer might not make the best session beer. It is tasty though.

Overall: This beer is good. It might be just a little pricy, but it is worth it once in a while.

12-01-2006 03:30:56 | More by OStrungT
Photo of grub
grub

Ontario (Canada)

3.8/5  rDev -9.3%

2006 vintage, bottle 40402.

pours a nice copper red colour with a huge, fluffy tan head. the head is fairly slow to drop and leaves lots of lace behind.

aroma is nice. bready and biscuity malt. bit of alcohol.

taste is nice. alcohol fairly prominent, especially as it warms. nice bitterness level. bitterness is a little more rough than i'd expect. raisin and dried cranberry. toasty. that nice bready and biscuity malt is there too. bittersweet chocolate. bit of nuttyness too. a little rough around the edges, but that will mellow with time.

mouthfeel is good. great body and nice carbonation level.

drinkability is good, but i think will be great with time.

12-01-2006 02:04:25 | More by grub
Photo of theopholis
theopholis

California

4.88/5  rDev +16.5%

2006 Edition, bottle 80412.

Appearance; Has deep rustic coppery tone. Very clear, with little apparent carbonation. Tall, loose off-white head that eventually settles to a frothy cap with very good staying power.

Aroma: The nose is a subtle and perfectly balenced blend of malt sweetness and delicate floral hops. I get hints of caramel malt, nutmeg, spruce. Maybe some brown sugar. Despite all that, it stills smells fresh and clean.

Taste: Warms the innards well, with low alcohol burn that is very relaxing. Has a very complex carmel up front with a beautiful balance of malt sweetness and hops in the finish. The aftertaste lasts for some time, and has a differnet blend, yet still perfectly balanced mixture of malty sweetness, floral and bittering hops. This stuff is freaking awesome. (My 1st 5 for taste)

Mouthfeel is velvety, smooth, creamy. The carbonation level would be superb if this were force carbonated. For a bottle conditioned ale, it's FREAKING SUPERB.

Drinkabilty: It's awesome. Not as heavy as a port, but interesting and complex enough to where you want to drink it without distraction. No TV, no wife bugging you about the fact that her computer needs more memory, or cats running around like a bunch of danm rats. Drink it in front of the fireplace or on the porch while watching the rain.

11-30-2006 06:17:08 | More by theopholis
Photo of Viggo
Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

3.65/5  rDev -12.9%

Vintage 2006, bottle number 48179.

Poured into a snifter, clear copper/orange, thick off white head forms, settles down into a thick ring, nice lacing. Smell is sweet, lots of toffee, alcohol, citrus/floral, fruits, almost strawberry character. Taste is toffee and figs, raisins, bready malt, some citrus and fruits, bitterness in the finish, significant heat, lots of booze. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, almost syrupy, low carbonation, warming, waiting for this beast to settle down.

11-28-2006 02:45:30 | More by Viggo
Photo of mnesporov
mnesporov

North Carolina

4.2/5  rDev +0.2%

Presentation: Bottle number 41431 in a pint. With the words conditioned in 2005

Appearance: A nice dark red amber tone to it with a 2 finger head.

Smell: A nice subtle smell of raisins and a fruity aroma with a little bit of malts and alcohol.

Taste: A little bit of fruit sweetness starts it of with a malty body that is balanced of with the hop bitterness.

Mouth-Feel: A creamy and smooth mouth-feel with great finish.

Drink-Ability: A great brew for around 6 bucks is well worth it.

Notes: I bought two so I could taste one now and age one for a year or so to see the difference so I can’t wait for the year to be up.

11-19-2006 13:34:50 | More by mnesporov
Photo of DrJay
DrJay

Massachusetts

3.75/5  rDev -10.5%

2006: Bottle no. 76030
Fluffy, long lasting foam topped this clear, coppery beer. Chunky lacing remained on the glass as the head slowly subsided. Burnt orange and reddish hues appeared, depending on the way the light hit the glass. Hops are still vivid in the nose, earthy, floral and a bit medicinal, but it's the malt that really carries the aroma. It smells of sweet caramel, brown sugar and toasted nuts, with mild alcohol and dried fruit. The flavour is kind of muddled due to fairly strong alcohol throughout. Still, there's a nice caramel, toasty malt backbone and solid hop bitterness/flavour. Carbonation is well integrated and it has a full body. I sampled this one a few months earlier than I normally do for Fuller's Vintage Ale. It looks great and the aroma is superb, but with the hot alcohol character it tastes like it's much too young and brash at this point. I'm expecting this one to mature nicely with a little aging.

11-17-2006 00:26:50 | More by DrJay
Photo of IronDjinn
IronDjinn

Alberta (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev -2.6%

2006 Edition, bottle 63067. Another holiday season, another go at a new Fuller's Vintage, great to see it back on the shelves here once again.

Pours out a deep rustic coppery tone, clear with lazy carbonation. Tall spongy head that eventually settles to a frothy, creamy cap with great retention. Beautiful looking ale.

The nose is a subtle blend of caramel malt, nutmeg and allspice, some spruce, hints of carob, and some bitter orange peel. Brown sugar and raisins come out after a while. A bit earthy as well.

Upon the first sip this ale warms the insides immediately with a low alcohol burn that is rather comforting. Very woody at first, along with dried dates and carmelized brown sugar. Heavy up front, the flavour and mouthfeel lightens up towards the finish, picking up spruce and some mild hops in the middle, and blending with seasonal spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, some clove, some allspice. Very refined, very smooth. The aftertaste lingers with mildly herbal hops, while the alcohol still continues to warm the insides.

The mouthfeel is silky smooth and slightly creamy, runs over the palate like a velvet glove cast in iron. A pleasure to consume.

This has it all in the right places so far in its young incarnation--it seems to me that this will be an even better vintage once it's had a few years to sit and age. Looking forward to it.

11-15-2006 23:56:38 | More by IronDjinn
Photo of NJpadreFan
NJpadreFan

New Jersey

3.53/5  rDev -15.8%

Fuller's- Vintage Ale

Bottle # 78530 out of 100,000 for the year 2006.

Appearance- Copper brown with a soapy wite head. Mild carbonation.
Smell- Malt, wood chips, earthy hops, and alcohol.
Taste- Caramel malt blended with light burnt oak and sugar. Alcohol more dominent in the end.
Mouthfeel- Flavor is light up front but builds up and finishes with a strong alcohol taste. A light whiskey flavor is in the undertones.

Overall- A nice sipping Ale but nothing outstanding. The flavor was too subdued for me. A little too pricey also, $8. Otherwise, not bad. If I spot it on tap I'd order up a pint.

11-15-2006 23:03:21 | More by NJpadreFan
Photo of AChamberlain
AChamberlain

Texas

4.75/5  rDev +13.4%

2005 Cask. On tap at the Atlantic Chip Shop in Brooklyn.

A: Dark amber with nice head.

S: Mostly malt.

T: Malt and alcohol flavors. Delicious.

M: Creamy and very smooth. Wet.

D: Pretty drinkable, but watch out. A great sipper.

We had the last two pints in the keg and I felt very privileged and lucky.

11-12-2006 03:01:20 | More by AChamberlain
Photo of JudgeRoughneck
JudgeRoughneck

Louisiana

4.95/5  rDev +18.1%

Vintage 2001, sampled Nov. 11 2006.

Despite being 5 years old, this beer produces an effervescent carbonation that races through a clear dark maple-syrupy amber beer to form a modest two-fingers of rich khaki head. It leaves a sticky, fragmented lace.

The smell is absolutly mouth-watering. Fruity hops, raisin, nut, cranberry, dark cherry, and yes, even the aroma of fresh pound-cake, form a chorus that wafts out of the glass without even a suggestion of alcohol. As the beer warms a yeasty aroma becomes apparent.

Upon sipping I am struck first by a sweet, rich, nutty, maltiness that is soon lifted off the palate by a combination of carbonation and very soft but fully-present fruity and earthy English hops. They introduce yeasty esters of dark fruit for a bit before a warming alcohol gently creeps in and calms all the layers of flavor on top of a woody scotch character. The aftertase is a delightful vapory perfume. Cordial and berry notes emerge with continued quaffing and amazingly the more I drink this beer the more cohesive and smooth it seems to get. It is very tempting to waste the precious elixer by gulping it.

Mouthfeel is light and gives up an inital soft billow of lifting carbonation before going totally still in the mouth. This beer surpasses and defys my expectations of the style. How ironic that my highest rated-beer may be in my least-favorite style. It is complex and boldly falvorful while amazingly light and drinkable. Yes, it would go very well with a light cigar, but if you have an aged bottle of this, I don't suggest adulterating the experience.

11-11-2006 07:35:46 | More by JudgeRoughneck
Photo of blackie
blackie

California

4.28/5  rDev +2.1%

2005 Vintage, Bottle #58716

appearance: The pour gives a 1 finger off white head that steadily falls back to a nice looking ring and island of foam in the center. The beer is a rich orange-amber in color.

smell: Bready, grainy toasted malts give aromas of toffee and caramel. Some light fruits, namely some estery banana-like aroma. Great depth while retaining subtlety. Great English hop aroma and the perfect touch of ethanol.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is medium, and the body full. Smooth and with good balance between body and carbonation.

taste: Very interesting flavor, being rich, flavorful, and subtle at once. Rich English malts with a moderate sweetness and subtle grainy and toasted flavors. Playful notes of buttery toffee and toast. Light English hop flavor and bitterness. Nearly a 4.5 but I'd like a touch more complexity.

drinkability: quite easy, and a pleasure to drink

Bottle purchased at Whole Foods upon arrival and cellared since

02/08/07: Vintage 2004 Bottle 91916 Purchased in DC with dirtylou on our trip to DFH

Head is low, carbonation is low, and the body is fullish. Very vinous, in an old port fashion (flavors and aromas of aged dark, leathery fruits, especially prunes carried on a dry English caramel malt base) which is surprising given the light color. Aromas of raw hardwood, but not in a BA way. Musty basement aromas, maybe even sour. Quite dry. Hops aged and subdued. Clean and mineral, in both aroma and flavor. Very interesting and I will certainly age another. This one has moved no less than 3 times with me over my last few years of school, and I felt it was time even though sentiment caused me to hesitate. NOTHING like the 2005 I had over a year back.

4/4.5/4.5/4/4.5 Not rated as high as my first, but I think I'd rather have this one any day.

11-08-2006 05:41:14 | More by blackie
Photo of weeare138
weeare138

Pennsylvania

3.85/5  rDev -8.1%

Thanks to egajdzis for this...
Vintage, 2005 bottle.
Appears a transparent red toned copper with a small off-white head that slowly fades out. Scattered lacing is left all around the glass.
Smell is complex of raisins, cherries, spice, caramel, and perhaps a touch of something medicinal ala Robitussen in the background but it doesn't seem to be offending in this brew.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a mix of the rich, fruity, sugary mixture.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, sweet, with a mild syrup feel. The brew slides slickly down the tongue to a dry finish.

Thanks to egajdzis for opening this 2007 edition. Bottle # 113930.

Appears a light orange with a small white head that slowly fades into a tiny cap. Streaky lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, biscuit, citrus, rasins, and earthy notes.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with standout caramel, biscuits, and notes of cherries.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, chewy, and semi-dry along the palate during the swallow.

10-23-2006 15:34:04 | More by weeare138
Photo of RedwoodGeorge
RedwoodGeorge

California

4.83/5  rDev +15.3%

Oh my god is this a beautiful ale! This is one of those rare beer experiences where you're dumbstruck in awe by the experience. (Can you tell I really, really, really liked this beer???)

A murky deep amber red in appearance, three fingers of clumpy sticky light tan head that sticks around for quite some time and leaves moderate amounts of lacing on the glass. A bit more lacing and it would have been a "5" for appearance.

Malt in the nose along with peat, earth, woody moss, sugar, apricots and alcohol sweetness. Very complex.

Everything the nose was, the flavor is even more. Fruity esters predominate, caramel sugars, alcohol sweetness, woody Noble hops providing balance and an overall smoothness, balance and complexity that is just incredible.

Great mouthfeel as well - creamy, medium to heavy bodied... You can feel the sugars but they don't leave a coating on the tongue. You can taste the alcohol but there's no burn. You can taste the hops clear as day but there's no bitterness that isn't blended into all the other experiences.

Fuller's 1845 is one of my favorite British Ales and until today I didn't think it could be improved upon. Fuller's Vintage Ale has all the great characteristics of the 1845 but is somehow even better in every possible way.

10-21-2006 02:52:18 | More by RedwoodGeorge
Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 972 ratings.