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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.

1,065 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,065
Reviews: 631
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.98%
Wants: 84
Gots: 214 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-21-2004

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,065 | Reviews: 631 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mdagnew
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml boxed bottle bought from Sainsburys... 2007 vintage...

Poured a nice rusty copper colour. Light creamy tan head poured tight, thick and foamy then faded fairly quickly to light coating with thick edging... no carbonation whatsoever... some very faint lacing...

Aroma - Spicy sticky fruits (orange marmalade, raisins, pears, apples), toasted bready / biscuity maltiness, sweet almond nuttiness, lots of grainy alcohol notes, oaky traces, grassy and peppery, some floral notes.... all slightly subdued...

Taste – This is a bit more like it if a little rough round the edges... lots of warming alcohol soaked fruitiness (definitely some orange marmalade / peel, figs, apples, lightly toasted caramel malts, floral honey, lots of peppery hop bitterness cuts nicely through the malts, mixed spices, some light pine notes, light earthiness.... could definitely do with some age to soften the harshness and meld all the flavours together...

Feel - Pretty smooth and creamy with a little sharp bite just coming through... medium / full bodied... a pretty quaffable brew for 8.5%...

Overall - A pretty good old ale that could definitely do with a couple of years in the cellar.... still definitely worth trying fresh though...

Photo of irishkyle21
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nothing like a good warming beer to ward of a cold day (and a cold for that matter). This Vintage is fresh (07). It pours with a fair sized head, good retention and lacing. Has a clear orange color.

Smells of alcohol, lots of fresh fruits, earthy hops and pale malt to balance.

Tastes very much like it smells. Lots of warming alcohol, hoppy, fruity and a good clean malt bill. Another great beer from Fuller's.

Photo of MAB
4.72/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I can't add a lot of descriptions that haven't already been done under this listing previously--suffice it to say that they are accurate and this is, indeed, a beer worth seeking out.

My bottle says Vintage 2007 but does that mean that it was brewed ten years ago? All of the labeling seems to imply that it is already ten years old, but I'm not so sure.

Whatever; ten years or one year, this is a damn fine brew!

Photo of bobsy
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle from the LCBO. Golden body with a rapidly dissipating white head. Caramel malts, wood and grass on the nose. Very nice mouthfeel - smooth with a good level of carbonation. The taste is a symphony of caramel, honey, spices and berries, but seems to be lacking something that would push it over the edge into a masterpiece. I’m sure a few years in a cellar would work wonders for this.

Photo of hoegaardenhero
3.73/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: the beer has a nice amber/red color with an incredibly quickly dissipating fluffy white head

s: very fruity/appley scent with nice grainy presence and hints of alcohol

t: first tastes of apples followed by a warming brandy type of alcohol flavor with hints of sweet malts and spices

m: quite good for the style. it is still able to be thick without being too syrupy/cloying

d: overall a very enjoyable brew that i found better than the competition thomas hardy's and a great warming ale for a cold english night.

Photo of rye726
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'05 vintage poured at 45F into a snifter.

Deep rich brown color with a tan head. Poor retention in the only fault here, but the beer is 4 years old.

Nice aroma that grows in complexity as it warms. Ripe cherries, sweet malts, toffee and vanilla. There are also some alcohol tones along with the English hops.

Sweet caramel malts and pitted fruits. Nice peppery hops for age. The malts continue through the finish and after taste.

Full body, but crisp and refreshing with good carbonation.

Well balanced and wonderfull example of style.

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

2006 Vintage, served at approximately 65 degrees F.

Pours a rich amber/red into a brandy snifter with a big tan head. Smells of alcohol, and a hint of brown sugar. Taste is very malt dominated. Has a very oak like character with hints of caramel. Slightly earthy as well, with good bitterness from the hops. The finish is very dry, I was quite surprised. This beer shares several of the same characteristics with a Scotch Whiskey IMO. Mouthfeel is full and rich, with pretty high carbonation levels. Usually this type of beer would take a long time to finish, but it is exceptionally smooth, and an easy drinker for such a high alcohol content. This isnt the type of beer you drink every day, but for special occasions it is fantastic to sip on.

Photo of udubdawg
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 vintage, bottle #72211 - great looking label and box.
I know from experience this needs another year or so, but it's still quite enjoyable, and I've one more than any other year, so gotta even things out!

Enoyed in a nonic, the head tall enough to impressively crown the glass when full. Pours a nice vibrant amber color, with a tall but airy cream/beige head. Most of this would be fleeting, and there is minimal lacing, but a ring stubbornly remains until near the end of the glass. Clarity is quite good.

I've probably been sniffing too many big IPAs and stouts, thus the nose is a bit underwhelming. Nothing wrong here, quite a bit of caramel, with raisins showing up only as it warms to room temperature. Alcohol is evident but not at all unpleasant.

I'm always thankful when the taste is the highlight, and this is no exception. Got impatient and opened this one at nearly 48 degrees or so, but that was not nearly enough warming to let the complexities of this brew come out. As it warms it is an extremely tasty caramel and toffee-filled beverage, with plums and raisins making brief cameos. This would be perhaps too sweet, but the alcohol keeps the malt bomb from becomingly overwhelming. I've been tasting a lot of "where the hell is the alcohol?!?" beers lately - here is the opposite - yet it never becomes hot, and really seems to add to the rich, full, overwhelmingly enjoyable nature of this beer. Really long-lasting finish, sweet and slightly dry.
Ample bitterness remains after more than a year - I'm not an expert on English hop varietals, but they seem to have held together nicely. Look forward to another tasting in a few years!

A very enjoyable smooth malt-filled body. Not the biggest body, but the alcohol gives keeps giving that impression. Warming overall, and near perfect carbonation. Well done!

Not the easiest to find, and even the finery on the label and box makes me not want to drink it very often - both scream "special occasion!"
To hell with that - if supplies would cooperate, I'd have this at least weekly, and perhaps hourly.

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

2005 Vintage, Bottle No. 76176. Bought several of these and am having this one now to set a measuring stick for them as they age.

A = Clear amber, tiny bubbles, small but frothy head made up of tiny bubbles leaving a full coating on glass (so full it doesn't seem right to use the term lacing).

S - Smooth malt characteristics, honey, maple syrup, nuts, slight hints of the hops used including juniper berries.

T = Slight bitterness on the front of my tongue, then the malt flavors begin to kick in, the maple syrup flavor in the mid-tongue kicks ass, fairly complex given that this still needs to age a little, in addition to maple syrup, there are nutty flavors, honey, flowers, juniper berries, very well balanced, leaning a little more heavily to malty.

M = Medium to heavy body, marvelous coating of the mouth, great level of carbonation.

D = Only marking this down because it needs more time to age, this is a brilliant beer that I will eagerly drink again.

Photo of alexw
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 edition - bottle #85539 - a bottle that was given to me a couple of years ago by a good friend & fellow beer fiend, Jerry King.

Pours with a big frothy head, which lingered for quite awhile. The initial smell was very sweet & syrupy. A great deal of lacing is apparent on the glass.

The mouthfeel is creamy, almost like a cup of hot cocoa. The first taste is very strong, but kind of coats the throat. Going back for a second taste uncovers a much more complex flavor.

An exceptional beer, but a bit overpowering. It's very sweet, but not of just sugar; as with the smell, this almost tastes like maple syrup... A heavily malty taste. Some spicing is apparent, but not overly so. The hops (which I'm sure were added) are not at all apparent.

Definitely a 'sipping' beer, to be enjoyed slowly & with a good friend. I enjoyed it immensely & will definitely look for another bottle!

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

16.9 oz. bottle, 2005 Vintage, No. 55700,

A: Pours a dark amber into my Chimay chalice, with a somewhat flimsy head at first, but has great retention through the remainder of the drink, nice lacing.

S: Fragrant smell of ale fruit, sulfur, caramel malt, earth, and cardboard.

T: Taste starts off with caramel malt and toffee, with a hint of oxidation that is to be expected, I believe. The hops come in last, quite robust in my opinion for a beer that is 2 years old, especially an English, very dry and grassy, with a little bit of ethanol character to carry it onto the finish.

M: Dry, mineral character, with hard water, altogether smooth and warming.

D: A good beer from Fuller's, I didn't like it as much as the '04 which I had when it was two years old, that one was much smoother, with more complex malt characters. Overall, a nice old ale, I'll buy a bottle or two every year from one of my favourite English breweries.

Photo of Gmann
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 Vintage, No 85886. Pours a cloudy brown color with golden highlights. The head was average and left an off-white ring around the glass. The smell is of wine grapes and raisins, a rather faint aroma. The taste is of a smooth velvet malt base, aged hops, some subtle dark fruit flavors, all of which blend into a nice mellow flavor profile. Has some wine characteristics. The feel is moderate to full and the carbonation is soft, the brew finishes sweet as the vintage would suggest. A rather smooth yet still actively carbonated old ale. Has port characteristics but still reminds me of a beer. #300

Photo of crwills
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 edition. The first time I've ever actually drank a Fuller's Vintage, although I have several vintages sitting in my storage cabinet (including this one) that I'll have to crack open sometime.

Not as good as I expected, overall. Pours a cloudy brown with no head at all. Aroma is dominated by sweet malts and slightly toasty brown sugar. Flavour is... odd. Reminds me of Glossette Raisins, although nobody else who tasted it agreed with me. Ear-warming alcohol makes this an after dinner beer, or something for a cold evening.

Photo of CanuckRover
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2007 No. 00513

I would like to say I bought one to drink fresh and one to save, but in reality I just caved.

Colour is a shiny new copper. Brownish rolicking foam that leaves clear notches on the glass.

Pronounced alcohol in the aroma, slightly overshadowing the famous Fuller's fruity malt.

Malt does come through strongly at first touch of the tongue. Can't beat that Fuller's marmalade orange and a alot of burnt caramel. It's alot more full-flavoured in the Vintage Ale, but again the alcohol is quite strong and I don't feel I'm getting the most from it. An uncharacteristically hoppy brew, I get quite a bit of pine surprisingly. Was not expecting American style hoppiness from the king of English ales.

Mouthfeel is extraordinary. Everything about it is just perfect. Light carbonation, but the ale still manages to be thick and satisfying, like it was from a nitro-can, but in a good way.

A wonderfully complex brew, but rough around the edges at the moment. Want to see the alcohol come under control. It's also too "American" for my tastes, those hops will hopefully mellow out and let the malt take it's rightful place at centre stage.

Wish I had a time-machine!

Photo of evilbeefchan
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 bottle, # 79921

Pours a gorgeous ruby orange color, with strong head that lasts for a few minutes. Initial tastes of sweet malt aroma, hint of alcohol at the end. It's got the musky apricot flavor that I'm really starting to enjoy, with a tartness that balances out the sweet. Great carbonation, leaves the mouth feeling crisp. Delicious brew, great burst of flavor which doesn't linger too long.

Photo of ColoradoBobs
3.6/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Side by side of the 2004 and 2005 vintages. Went into this event with my son with very high expectations.

Set out both bottles and removed from their lovely boxes about 40 minutes before pouring.

Moderate pour into chalices produces a hazy dark-amberish mahogany body under a small light tan head that fades quickly away to nothing. Nothing special about the appearance. Both vintages look very much the same -- maybe the 2004 is just a tiny bit darker.

Smell is rich caramel malt and notable port-wine-tannin smell. Boozy alcohol is very evident. Was this aged in old port barrels? Smells like it. The 2005 smells more vinous than the 2004.

On the palate you can barely tell these are the same beer, as their characters are very different. The 2005 is more acidic, with lots more booziness. The 2004 is maltier, richer, more caramel and dark fruit. The 2005 is okay, while the 2004 is very good. How do I rate this? It's almost like two different beers. For taste, I give the 2005 a 3.0; the 2004, a 4.0. Average them at a 3.5.

The slurpaliciously smooth and warming mouthfeel is definitely the best aspect of both of these beers.

At 8.5%, you can't drink more than one of these and still drive home. Frankly, they're not good enough to warrant the price. I have one more 2004/2005 pair to sample in a side-by-side, and then I will probably look for other years of this brew, in hopes that they are better. Pretty pricey for what you get.

Photo of largadeer
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 bottle.

Appearance: Tawny with a slight haze. Good head retention.

Smell: Bread, grain, caramel and hops.

Taste/mouthfeel: Very malty, notes of butterscotch and toast. The finish is dry and hoppy, leaving a pleasant bitterness on the palate. Creamy on the tongue with gentle carbonation.

An excellent English ale. I've tried this fresh and aged for a few years, and I actually prefer it fresh for the more pronounced hop character.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage. Pours a brownish orange with only a thin head that fades to thin ring fairly quickly. The nose is wonderfully filled with brandied fruitcake, dry malt, and oak. Taste is exceptional. Obviously loaded with malt, but its very dry and a bit woody as well as vinous and loaded with notes of sherry and cognac. Some slight figgy and molassy sweetness as well, but only in the background. Not hotly alcoholic, but instead fruitcake like notes of liquor. Delicious, and quite well integrated. Slightly bitter wood notes on the finish. Mouthfeel is very dry, slightly tannic, but with well structured soft tannins that don't bite. Very smooth and creamy. This is one of the better old ales I've had and calls for a leather chair, a fire, and a good book.

Photo of Pegasus
4.53/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance:Hazy deep golden orange color, with a massive tan head, scattered lacing, and faint carbonation

Aroma: Profoundly sweet aroma of honey and rich caramel, with slight dark fruits.

Taste: Opens with sweet caramel and toffee notes, mild herbal hops, some honey as well. Late in the taste, mildly bitter herbal hop notes appear, and linger on well past the end of the taste.

Mouth feel: Smooth, full, and exceptionally soft.

Drinkability/notes: Superbly crafted, and exceptional in every way. It is a pity that I may not be able to find this superb ale again.

Photo of srandycarter
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Into the tulip.
2006 Vintage numbered bottle 87387

A - Slightly murky honey color with small quickly leaving head. Lacing stays true throughout.

S - Earthy, close to the soil aromas. Bright sweet center of malt.

T - Yummy full thick malts, good carbonation, some hops at end, but not all that balanced. Nice flavor, though - like the sweet aftertaste. Not too cloying at all.

M - Mature is what comes to mind. Fills and coats, good suds, leaves you wanting another sip.

D - Good beer, I like it. An above average treat.

Photo of saintwarrick
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 vintage. Had this for a couple months and decided to open it on my birthday.

This brew is almost a perfect ruby red with a big fizzy white head that laces the glass for the entirety. Aroma is very strong, grapes, red wine, cherries, raisins and some cranberries. Taste is sweet, apples and cherries mixed with old port. Definitely a sipper, though the alcohol is readily present but not overwhelming. Mostly malty presence, though some hops at the end to lend a little balance.

Wow, one of the best old ales I’ve had, not a mission to drink, not easy, but doable. Hope to get some more of this and see how it does.

Photo of allengarvin
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage, just arrived in Texas. I've reviewed an aged version before but not a fresh one. Color looks like clear rubbed copper, with a good 3/4ths inch of foam on top, frothy and lasting. Lovely aroma of earthy hops, like fresh-turned soil in the spring, together with a light fruitiness and a lightly sweet malt in the background. Initial taste is the solid malt, caramelly with a light toasted, biscuity edge, followed by a big hoppy bitterness. Loads of hop flavor, but not the piney or grapefruity American type; actually, this much goldings adds a harshness that is on the border of being unpleasant, but is just restrained enough to add complexity. Fruity, with a dry finish. Warming alcohol is barely detectable at the finish.

A delicious beer, fresh or aged. I've found it deteriorates if kept longer than 2 or 3 years, though.

Photo of NCSUdo
4.65/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at Brawley's in Charlotte. v. 2005, bottle #58456.
Bottle also said "Golden Ale" which isn't exacly correct.

A: Slightly hazy ruby with some brown hues. Good sized off white head, slightly tan. Minimal lacing. Head stuck around as a ring around side of glass rather than covering any of the top.

S: Sweet smell of cherry. Very sweet fruit. Excellent smell. A little "punchy" as in fruit punch. Slight alcohol with some apple and cranberry. Very juicy smell.

T: Malty but not very sweet. Slight roasted notes in finish. Bitter finish as well with some alcohol, but not warming. Extremely dry. Hop character is piney. Alcohol character is not overwhelming. The taste really says "This is a beer" if that makes any sense. Slight hint of caramel. Some tartness. Very complex yet pretty well balanced.

M/D: Extremely dry (needed to be said again). Little carbonation. Even when opening the bottle, low carbonation was evident. A definate sipper but something that could be enjoyed 2-3 at a time given you have the money, but should probably be enjoyed 1 at a time.

Photo of bort11
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to kirok1999 for this one.
2004 vintage, number 65056. Poured into an imperial pint glass. Egg-shell white head with a tight foam, stands a fingers width. Quickly recedes to a thin ring and eventually disappears. Color is a sharp ruby red, very pretty to view.
Smell and taste are smooth and malty. Hints of wine grapes. There is some black pepper spiciness to the flavor. Sweet caramel and a little smokey.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a clean finish. This is a classic.

Photo of Onslow
3.53/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown-rust =
= Honey, malt, maple, molasses Aroma =
= Foam is constant low froth, some lacing =
= Taste is a mix of dubbel malt, honeycomb, and molasses dust =
= Enjoyable and intriguing =
= Being my first fullers vintage i am very interested in trying more of them == Not to bad of a brew considering its the lowest rated vintage....

Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 1,065 ratings.