1. Rating beers by attributes (look, smell, taste, feel, overall) is back! Read the latest update ...
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. 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.

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)
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: 985 | Reviews: 615 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gusler
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

“Bottle #76157”: The beer dispenses from the 500ml brown bottle a translucent deep amber to copper color with the head average in size, the texture semi-creamy and the color a winsome light tan and after its demise the residual lace a concealing sheet upon the glass. Nose is deep malt, sweet, hints of caramel, and oh yes “Alcohol” and the start delectable in its sweetness and the grain profile adequate, the top is middling in its feel. Finish scrumptious in its hop presence, moderately carbonated and a very dry long lasting aftertaste, the first new vintage in a few years at least for me.

Gusler, Jul 01, 2005
Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Outstanding 2004 edition in year one, bottle 37989 Comes with a beautiful presentation box. I gave out a slew of these instead of single malt scotch and got great feedback while saving loads of money for more beer for me. Deliciously hoppy, pale ale with barley that remains long on the palate.

Had the 2005 edition fresh and it was a nice scotch taste, easy drink.
2006 edition showed hoppiness out front, drunk 1/3 year into release, then malt and vintage scotchiness.
Had the 2006 a year later and good soapy head but off-taste. Had it at end of 2008 and it was rich, with dried apricot, a citrus hoppy aroma, and lacey white. Had the 2006 five years later and a sweetish blend with a richer malt complexity in the finish. Still barleywinish.
The 2007 edition tasted like a young barleywine/old ale, with drying hops from beginning to end, some carmel malt secondary.
The 2008 was not astringent. Promises of a good old ale.
The 2009 was a well done old ale. Mild fruit, carmel gave it an above average mouthfeel. Not sweet, and most drinkable.
The 2010 was a good rich malting, with promise for ageing.
The 2012 was a rich maltiness, with citrus hop finish (had in '14).

Sammy, May 13, 2005
Photo of Naerhu
3.83/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

No. 87866
A - Beautiful red amber body with no visible carbonation and thin off-white head.
S - Great spicy hops, fresh aroma with rich caramel maltiness
T - Big initial bitterness, which quickly fades. medium maltiness that starts as caramel, then fades into tabacco and finally port wine.
M - This wine is lacking in richness and body, thought the fine carbonation and well integrated alcohol was enjoyable.
D - No desire to have this again, and almost forgot to drink the last half of pint before going to sleep.

Naerhu, May 06, 2005
Photo of Bighuge
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle No: 41526

Bottle says "Best Before End 2003." Hope I didn't wait to long.

Fiery scarlet red appearance. Clarity is good. Head is beige, hefty and long-lasting. Lace is bountiful. This smells of toffee, caramelized raisins and vanilla nougat. Excellent aroma. Flavor is kind of sharp and dry. The bulk of this beer is all about the caramel and toffee flavor wheels. Also nuances of cedar. Alcohol is nearly absent. Dry, woody finish. Mouthfeel is appropriately prickly with carbonation. Body about light-medium. Good stuff, but I think I may have waited a titch too long.

Bighuge, Apr 28, 2005
Photo of kbub6f
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I get about a centimeter of yellowy-cream head: lots of bubbles floating on a dense base. The beer itself is clearish and copper-brown. Quite dark. The nose is a sweet and fruity liqueur. Port-like, too. Mmmmm. Fruity and malty in front. It turns thick, smooth, buttery, malty and slick. And then there's alcohol, loads of cherries (?) and a good, tangy, British bitterness. Excellent: a slick, buttery, fruity malt monster. Big alcohol kick.

kbub6f, Apr 23, 2005
Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beautifully thick, creamy head. Nice amber-brown color. Hops on the nose with some barleywine smells as well. You can still pick out the hops in the taste, which is impressive after all these years. Nice barleywine taste. Mellow, but deep. Smooth as silk. I think this one may be a little bit past its peak. Still well worth getting and consuming if you still have any around.

Do you really care what the bottle number is?

Edit: This review was of the 2000 vintage.

GeoffFromSJ, Apr 17, 2005
Photo of MrSeth
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It pours with a smallish, thin head. A beautfiul reddish-brown color body with red-gold highlights.

The nose is lightly hoppy, with an attractive maltiness.

The taste is a little on the bitter side, and it's not too sweet (as many of the vintage ales are). There is a slightly sweet apple taste, and this is what makes me think this will be an excellent ale to age. It will gain in complexity, without making you wonder how an overly heavy sweetness or hoppiness will turn out.

The finish is dry and pleasantly short.

This is a remarkably clean tasting ale overall. I plan to get some more so I can let it age. It pairs well with Mortlach 32 Y.O. single malt (G&M) as well.

MrSeth, Mar 30, 2005
Photo of frazbri
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear mahogany with a short cream colored head. Fruity aromas of apples and oak. Bread, raisins and carmel with full bitterness, and some alcohol warmth. Mild carbonation and medium body that seems to fill out as it warms.

This is a beer brewed to last, yet is quite drinkable right now. The mouthfeel improves as it warms. I'd like to cellar a couple bottles of this and see how it matures.

frazbri, Mar 02, 2005
Photo of walleye
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle number 03785.shared this with bieristut. poured amber with a off white head. aroma malts, caramel, plums, raisins, honey, some hops, grapes, flavor, raisins, malts, honey, toffee, dark fruits, this is a good beer . will have to get the other vintages as they get to this area. just think being able to rate a beer that is retired.

walleye, Feb 03, 2005
Photo of GuinnessSmurf
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fullers Vintage Ale 2001 No: 12335; served on Dec. 31, 2004 (the last day of their suggested maturity)

Appearance: Apple cider orange. Very low ring of pale head. The combination of the warm colors and cool head are a nice contrast and give the beer a harvest look.

Smell: Fruity, apples and malts working together with some brown sugar and a biting tartness of fermented fruit. As it warms you start to get a nice plum or prune too.

Taste: Strong fruit upfront, then it sharpens like a u-turn and adds some hops with fermented tartness. The finish seems to last forever. I sat on my first sip for awhile, but, after coating my tongue with a second sip, I could taste that beer for what seemed like forever (i gave up waiting, so i could begin that 3rd sip).
As it warms up, it mellows out a bit, adding a bread flavor and some caramel notes too.

Mouthfeel: Body is very thick yet, it doesn't feel like it is big in the mouth. Just a full textured beer that is thick without the foaminess. The alcohol finishes after each taste and warms the mouth (nice!)

Drinkability: If only I had bought more!!!!

GuinnessSmurf, Jan 19, 2005
Photo of canucklehead
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Comes in a nice red box which make it easy to locate in the cellar. The beer pours dark gold with a big head. The nose is malt and English hops. This is a refined beer with little hint of the big alcohol inside. Instead I got a
complex mash of hops, malt and baking tastes. Well made and very easy to drink this beer is a true Winter treat.

canucklehead, Jan 18, 2005
Photo of assurbanipaul
4.8/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a clear reddish-brown with a thin but substantial bone-white head. Aroma is lots of sweet syrup and deep caramel malts.

Taste is a lot of complex malts, soft yet slightly astringent. Maple syrup, lots of aged wood flavors, single-malt scotch, some smoke or ashy element. Mildly buttery, lightly biscuity, no perceiveable off-flavors even though the bottle has a "best before" date of the end of 2002 (would this ever go bad?). Light alcohol flavor, just barely there but not enough to be distracting. Bitter finish, just to remind you there are hops in this.

Extremely, extremely smooth. Mouthfeel is fairly thick but soft, could be easy to drink but is really more of a sipper. But drink it too fast and you can feel the alcohol heat better. This is not a beer, this is an event. Does not suffer at all with the years, time is its friend. Would be a perfect pairing with a fine cigar, or the birth of your first child.

Bottle No. 71808 of 85,000.

assurbanipaul, Jan 12, 2005
Photo of bigbeerdrinka
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice copper color with a large bubbly white head that leaves a nice lace. Aromas are a mix of dark fruits (grapes and figs mostly) along with some toffees and a warming alcohol. Flavors start off initially sweet with a large dosage of grapes, plums, and figs. There is an abundant amount of sweetness that has a sugary feel to it along with a hot alcohol feel. In the middle the is a nice touch of caramels and toffees that go along nicely with this full bodied brew. The finish is fruity, citrusy, and very floral with a nice dosage of hops that helps round out this brew. Overall a highly drinkable old ale that seems just a bit young due to the sugary feel to it.

bigbeerdrinka, Jan 10, 2005
Photo of slitherySOB
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle No. 48280
Pours a coppery, almost dark orange colour. Big, fluffy head after a slow pour. About three fingers, which disipates to a little over one over a decent period of time. Rings of lace around the glass every few millimeters. Smells thick with malts and pungent earth, with a bit of honey, floral hops(which aids the earth quality) and some dry cow hide. Taste is huge with malts and earth. Wow. Layer after layer of thick malts, with a honey sweetness escorting beside it. Bit of a bitter aftertaste, which reminds me of rum and juniper berries. Mouthfeel is thick, and just a tad thinner than syrup. For this kind of beer, it's great. Pretty drinkable. Perhaps not a quaffer, but very few good beers are quaffers. An excellent brewed beer.

slitherySOB, Jan 08, 2005
Photo of EPseja
3.93/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Shared this red-boxed Vintage Ale with two BA buddies of mine. Served in a pint glass at about cellar temperature.

Appearance: This one poured out bright copper with a light tan head that stayed for awhile before thinning out without disappearing. Pretty, but understated.

Smell: Slight latex paint smell up front (but not unpleasant in the least!), lavender, slight honey sweetness from the malts. My friends mentioned old leather but I couldn't discern it. All scents were well blended, and there were others that I couldn't pick out from the amalgamation. Quite unqiue and intriguing.

Taste: The first thing that came to mind for me was a wintertime fireplace. Slight maltiness, a hint of hops, a hint of smokiness - very smooth with the intricacies of a good scotch. I suspect that this would improve considerably with age. For 8.5%, the alcohol is well disguised and takes a back seat - even to the other mellow flavors. Slight warmth in the finish without overtly revealing the alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and well rounded. Carbonation is decent. Pleasant, but not very noteworthy.

Drinkability: The fact that everything about this beer is so mellow makes you want to keep sipping to try and peg down the flavors.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that this beer will improve with age. Be sure to serve this one a cellar temperature and a wide-mouthed glass to allow the subtle bouquet to open up!

EPseja, Jan 06, 2005
Photo of Wildman
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No. 73058: I know this one is a little young to try, but I had to at least try one before putting some aside. It poured a very dark reddish amber color and formed a foamy white head that left circular lace as it subsided. A small amount of carbonation is present. An aroma of malt, plums, chocolate, red wine and a hint of alcohol. The flavor was of malt, caramel, some light candy taste. The finish was silky and slightly sweet.

Wildman, Jan 04, 2005
Photo of gentlebubbles
4.6/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle-conditioned. No. 19154 of 30,000. "Best by end 2004". Okay, here we go.

Ambrosial scent of sherry and hazelnut and alcohol, verging even on varnish but in a wonderful way. Sweet caramel emerges as it warms.

Clear caramel color with ruby and amber highlights that glows like a polished apple before a light. Low amber-tinged head of densely packed tiny bubbles.

Intense caramel flavors made sticky with pine resin and chewy with nuttiness. It's exactly the caramel and pine I love so much in People's Pint ESB, but this is a little easier to get hold of. Alcohol opens out into a winey finish, giving you fair warning of what's coming. More hazelnut and vanilla emerge as it warms and I keep sipping. I don't exactly taste wood, but if someone told me it was aged on wood, I'd believe it.

Incredibly fine carbonation that's a bit too sharp for me at first.

Definitely want to get more of this, and see what a bit more time does to it.

gentlebubbles, Jan 01, 2005
Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer (the 2004 edition) went really fast at the LCBO, I was lucky to get the two bottles I did.

It pours a deep copper. Its a little lighter than the other vintages Ive tried but Its not 'Golden' like the label says. The head is big, craggy and long lasting. It leaves a trail of light tan lace behind. The aroma is of layers of thick malts with an excellent Goldings aroma and a spicey alcohol kick. It smells almost like the Fuller's ESB, only super stong. Also hoppier on the nose than other vintages.

The taste is very rich and heavy on the alcohol. I suppose this bottle might be a bit 'young' . There are some ripe plum flavors, fruity esters and doughy flavors. The hops are very noticeable though not so much in their bittering potential. The plums and dark fruits blend well with the alcohol to make a nice warming sensation. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy, very nice with fine carbonation bubbles.

This was a nice beer for sure, very complex in the malt department. I think its only drawback was a slightly brash alcohol note. It could use some cellaring. Still a great beer.

The taste is

CAMRAhardliner, Dec 21, 2004
Photo of fandgale
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Comes in a red box Fuller’s Vintage Ale popping the top comes to a light fizz the smell of malt some hops .
The pour, in a small glass 330 ml is just right nice small head again malt and some hops with a amber color .

Taste is hops at first then malt very smooth not dry some alcohol that goes down the side of the tongue. Nice
This vintage ale will cellar well .plan on 2 or 3 away for next fall.

fandgale, Dec 18, 2004
Photo of marburg
4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dulled, gel-like amber brew. Thick, maple-ish scents. Liquid caramels. Whew. Intense nose. Equally intense flavor. Strong from the get go, there's a big load of alcohol and a truckload of caramel and brown sugar. Very sweet up front. A mild herbal/grassy bitterness takes hold and grows a bit to a huskier astringency through the finish.

I don't know what this was like in 2001, but it's a hell of an old ale now. Well-balanced and just hoppy enough despite an assertive maltiness. Cakey and viscous. As you settle into this, you just begin to feel what kicking back and drinking a nice old ale should feel like. It drizzles down the throat, coating as it goes, and giving warmth. The sweetness lingers past the finish. Very good beer.

marburg, Dec 14, 2004
Photo of TripelJ
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Now Quaffing: Fuller's Vintage Ale 2001 no. 11920 1pt. 2.6 oz.

Pours a clear, deep mahogany with a nice sticky, white head that leaves a nice lacing down the snifter. Appearance will likely be a little cloudier when I decant the rest of the bottle and the yeast deposit at the bottom. Aroma is vinous and candy sweet with some light alcoholic phenols. The taste is a subtle display of acidic and sweet fruitiness with a spicy alcoholic finish in a nice full creamy broth of a base. The sweetness is reminiscent of Belgium and its brewers remarkable ability to blur the lines between beer and wine. The mouthfeel is full, lucious, slick and creamy, which makes for a most addictive imbibing experience. Overall, a fantastic brew, I will certainly seek out other vintage offerings from this brewery.

TripelJ, Dec 06, 2004
Photo of cypressbob
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautifully boxed, numbered, this was no.51498, served at room temp.

Pours with a deep amber body, slight reddish hues, fairly creamy tan head, some retention, quite a bit of lacing

Smell, lovely warming alcohol coming off, slight hint of toffee and caramel, some esters, slightly nutty

Taste, the first flavour is the alcohol warming, cinnamon and cloves, creamy mouthfeel, some alcohol on the finish once again, some hop bitterness also

This is great stuff....and it can only get better with age


500ml bottle, boxed and numbered. 2007 vintage

Served very slightly chilled to take it down to roughly cellar temp in a Dobbelen tulip

Pours with a rich sticky dark coppery hued body. Puffy off white head with fair retention, about a centimetre thick soon settling to a fine whisp. Some small bubbles of lacing up and down the sides of the glass

Smell, rich brandy soaked fruits, a little hint of sticky almost floral maderia character. A hint of port and chinese five spice. Sugary alcoholic tinged malt, raisins soaking in a rich burgandy or merlot, some cinnamon and nutmeg on the finish

Taste, initially a slightly fizzy crisp english hop bite followed by some musty dryness from the malt. Some toffee and cigar tobacco notes, a little bit of old leather also. Some noticable alcohol on the finish too along with a quinine like bitterness

A bit disappointing to be honest. Previous years have had a much bolder and fuller flavour and aroma. This is pretty short lived on the palette for a beer of its apparent complexity and abv. It will be interesting to see if age can put some much needed depth into this.

cypressbob, Dec 04, 2004
Photo of tatterdash
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very interested and excited about trying this, heard good things. Comes in a box and a nice paper-sealed bottle. Pours a dark amber with thick off-white head that laces very well. Aroma of toffee and an earthy red wine-like smell. Taste was a very rich caramel and toffee with hoppy middle with some fruit, and a pleasent roasted finish. Mouthfeel was smooth and alcohol was well-hidden at first but revealed itself as it warmed. This is a very good ale and is the first old ale that I have tried. Not something I would like to have a lot of in one sitting though.

tatterdash, Nov 28, 2004
Photo of ChrisBowers
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber/ruby color from a 16.9oz bottle. Slightly fruity aroma with notes of alcohol, malt and perhaps some whisky. Taste is ripe fruit, creamy, slight whisky/tawny port notes. Some hops in the end. Very enjoyable brew. Not quite up to standards of Hardeys or JW Lees but quite a nice beer. Extra points for sophisticated packaging.

ChrisBowers, Oct 31, 2004
Photo of SeanChouffe
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

An amber color, hazy, with orange highlights. A tawny colored head with low retention. Aroma is of oak, tartness, malt, alcohol and hops. Flavor is surprisingly muted; a sweet start, whisky notes and a dry, lightly tart, finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy with low effervescence. I had some high expectations about this beer. Not a bad brew, but really lacking in character.

SeanChouffe, Oct 28, 2004
Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 985 ratings.