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Fuller's Vintage Ale - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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

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1,077 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,077
Reviews: 634
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 87
Gots: 226 | 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%.
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Ratings: 1,077 | Reviews: 634 | Display Reviews Only:
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
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
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
3.62/5  rDev -13.6%
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
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
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
4.67/5  rDev +11.5%
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
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
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
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
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
4.64/5  rDev +10.7%
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
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
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
3.52/5  rDev -16%
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....

Photo of wl0307
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage, No. 10253, tasted on 13/09/2007 in a large bulb wine glass. This bottle was sought along w/ 2000 and 2002 vintages at the Fuller's brewery shop last November. A rare find for me!

A: pours a dark amber hue with great clarity; the off-white head comes rather restrained in thickness and settles down to a thin velvet, on top of muted and scarse carbonation.
S: full-bodied aroma of a barley wine, full of rum-soaked cherries, date-syrup, marinated sweet prunes, melted barley candy, syrupy honey and a touch of caramel. A swirl reveals a semi-sharp fruit-esters like The aroma is so different from the only two other vintages I've tried (2005, 2006) and definitely is designed as a barley wine. Very rich and dense overall, lacking more complexities I have to admit.
T: the initial input of syrupy, honeyish, amber+caramely malts brings along more alcohol-soaked berries/cherries, then quietly followed by berry-fruit jam, spiciness, a dryish palate of sherry and an almost woody and herbal finish like a barrel-aged light rum added with a subtle edge of peppery hop bitterness (as in many Fuller's ales)... All flavours intertwine beautifully to show a harmony on the palate, while the alc. content is simply nowhere to be found.
M&D: the texture is flawless; after 8 years of ageing this bottle develops a most delicate fizzy body befitting for a strong ale (or barley wine), and the body is just moderate at most! The only pity is that almost the more exciting hoppy and yeasty flavours have somehow worn off during the years, but the end result is all the same satisfying. My opinion: don't drink it if you are not prepared to embrace a subtle pint!

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

2004 Vintage, bottle 93566.
Pours a ruby/brown, hazed body, a bit glossy, some floaties. head is off brown and minimal, yet persistent.
Strong aroma of caramelized prune, burnt caramel, and sweet malt. It's a dense smell. That is, can't smell it from a distance, but when nose just above glass, it's intense.
Nice soft fruit taste, some date and ripe apple. Again, strong flavor but very clean. Seems to hint at lasting a while with lingering aftertaste, but finishes really crisp. Sweet malt seems to die down just when it gets overpowering. A lot like North Coast's Old Ale, but this one seems to drink easier...not sure if that's good or bad.

Photo of ejquin
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is from the 2001 vintage.

A: Rusty cloudy copper color with thin white head that remains.

S: Brandy saoked plums and fig with a slight mustiness wo it. Rasins and plum come through as well with the slightes cofee quality and alcohol.

T: Bourbon and fig with molasses and caramel, butterscotch. Alcohol on finish and almost no hop character. Long finish and taste of plums remains.

M: Heavy and smooth with little carbonation.

O: Definitely a very complex and interesting brew. I'm guessing the age muted some of the flavors which makes this very complex yet subtle on some levels. Moe likely muted the hop character and brough out some of the deeper flavors. Overall it was impressive.

Photo of yelterdow
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

One of two bottles purchased in 2005, this bottle has been cellared for two full years. Served at cellar temperature in an oversize port snifter. Bottle number 41960 of 95000.

Appearance- This beer pours a viscous russet color, with phenomenal body. The head, also tinged with a bone white, orange hue, disappears quietly after leaving behind creamy trails of its former self. A textbook old ale, this looks quite nice.

Smell- Booze soaked prunes and figs, very fruit forward without the bacon and leather of some other English old ales. I'm getting the Fuggles hops aroma very clearly, which separates this experience from other beers in the same category. Massive and cohesive, with hints of sourdough bread and old yeast.

Taste- Age is evident here, with the alcohol elevated to match the intensely concentrated flavors of plums, figs, and prunes. The perceived "hotness" makes me think about leaving that second bottle alone for another two to three years.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Soft and effortless with regard to texture... the rolling efferfescence eases nicely into a smooth, slick swallow. A real treat, complement it with a full flavored aged cheese as I will next time.

Photo of bradford
3.67/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bought at the store for $7.49 plus tax
Pours a hazy red with a tiny head that dissapates very quickly leaving the lace on the rim of the glass
Smells rich with toffee and sweet and roasty malts
Tastes boozy and lots of minute complexities
Mouthfeel seems a bit thin but also coats the inside of my mouth like a watered down cough syrup
Drinkability is pretty good, as is this beer. If it were a bit cheaper and didn't come in a cardboard box, I would be tempted to buy this more often.

Photo of jamie2dope
3.23/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a vintage 2004 bottle. Number on the label says that it is bottle number 89505. Poured into a sniffer a honey color with reddish hues. Head was large at first, but soon became smaller, with good retention. The aroma held plenty of alcohol, and a backing of fruit and chocolate. Flavor had some husky grains, followed by fruit, and then ending with a sort of bitter, taste bud numbing effect. Mouthfeel was relatively medium, with a hint of carbonation. Drinkable? Yes, but one was more than enough for me. The last time I had this it was a new bottle, so I honestly can't remember the differences brought on by age. I might see myself picking this vintage year up again and putting it in the basement for a few more years to mature. Cheers

Photo of HardTarget
4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

Photo of CharlieMopps
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

Photo of doubleipa
4.88/5  rDev +16.5%
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.

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.

Photo of sstackho
3.4/5  rDev -18.9%
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.

Photo of BrewMonkey
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

Photo of jasonjlewis
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 1,077 ratings.