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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.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

1,085 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,085
Reviews: 637
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 89
Gots: 233 | 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:
Beer added by: Murph on 02-20-2002

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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,085 | Reviews: 637
Photo of BadRockBeer
4.97/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Serving Type Sampled: One pint brown crown top bottle. Sealed with a ribbon reading “Limited Edition 2004” The bottle is number 74435 of 95000. Packaged in a dainty maroon box. Very proper looking. Served at cellar temperature.

Appearance: Pours burnt amber in color with slight chill haze. Very little head that quickly turned into a nice lace which eventually diminished as well.

Smell: Reeks of sherry, malts and dry fruity esters. The nose defiantly fits the style. -Pleasant

Taste: Smooth wonderful maltiness right up front. Followed by a rush of dried fruits, I taste hints of prune or raisins. As I mentioned in the nose maybe a sweet sherry of the finest make of course. The presents of the goldings are not so apparent. I detect a slight bitterness, but could not point out the hops. The finish is all about the warming alcohol, not overbearing but obvious. The aftertaste leaves you pondering with lovely complex caramel malt. Wow!

Mouthfeel: Medium in body, kind of on the thin side. Alcohol warmth is evident and pleasing. Carbonation is very soft making this a nice creamy ale.

Drinkability: This ale is very authoritative. It demands that you sit down and enjoy it slowly, every last drop. Reminds me of a younger barley wine. Very enjoyable and satisfying. This is a true English master piece.

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

2006 Vintage # 69864

A - Clear lightish copper. Foams up nicely into a sticky, 1+ inch head.

S - Fresh apple cider, pear and some roasty grain. A touch of funkiness is barely there and a big alcohol presence round it out.

T/M - Whoa. First mouthful is very full - both in flavour and body. Alcohol is front and center in this one. Less fruity than I expected, but sweet and creamy. Finishes with a solid hoppiness that sticks around.

D - Style-wise, I can't really comment since this might be the first old ale I've had. On it's own, this is clearly not a chuggin' beer. It's big, tasty, and warming, but not quite what I expected.

Photo of ArrogantB
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 bottle consumed 01/30/2007. nice ruby red color with a nice white head that faded quickly. The smell was very nice and reminded me of raisins or plums. The taste was very complex and difficult to pick out exact flavors but fruit came to mind. The mouthfeel was smooth and the drinkability was awesome. I really can;t tell the difference between an old ale and a barleywine. I thought this was an English style barleywine. Anyway, I have a couple more bottles of this and I will probably not crack another until 2010.

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

2005 and 2006 vintages enjoyed during a mostly barleywine session with chonyr and and raider a couple weeks ago. the scores reflect the 2005 vintage, which was slightly more refined, defined, and smoothed with the additional years age. on retrospect this great beer didnt quite belong with the barleywines. live, drink, and learn.

Appearance
A clear, burnished bronze coloured ale. Not much of an off white head formed on the pour. A thin collar of lacings rimmed the inside of the glass. Very lightly and finely carbonated.

Aroma
Amazingly rich, perfumy floral scents rose from my glass to tempt, tease, and please my nose. It was more clear and defined in the 2005 vintage. Some creamy nuts and butterscotch from the malts, as well as earthy and floral aromas from the hops.

Taste
Nutty and toasty malts, with hints of plum and grape. 2005 vintage was more mature and less raw than the fresh 2006. Both had brilliant floral accents, which was more clearly defined in the 2005. It was well worth aging the 2005, glad we have a couple more between us to continue verticalling this gem for years to come, it will be a pleasure to see how the flavours continue to mature and evolve with the passing of time.

Mouthfeel
Medium bodied lightly carbonated ale. Very well balanced with rich malts and a slight emphasis on perfumy, floral hops.

Drinkability
Insanely drinkable for an ale of 8.5% alcohol. No alcohol harshness or even warmth. Highly recommended, and definately sessionable if one can manage to put a few of these away and then be recklessly decadent enough to consume them. Its hard to imagine this gem not appealing to craft beer lovers or novices alike, although its delicate, floral notes may leave the hop hardened lovers of hop bombs wanting. A fanfreakingtastic brew!

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

Thanks to dano213 for this awesome brew.

2005 Vintage
Bottle No. 43004

Poured into a chalice, a nice slightly cloudy grape/amber color, nice carbonation, nice one plus finger creamy off-white head, lots of islands and sticky lacing left behind. The nose is sweet/malty, belgian yeasty, prunes, slight cinimmon, and slight caramel. The taste is sweet/malty, slightly fruity, slight alcohol touch, with a nice dry finish. Medium body. Very drinkable, very tasty, this is an awesome brew, wish I could get this again.

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

Poured a deep ruby-red color with moderate slightly off-white puffy head.
Smell is sweet and fruity, with notes of cherries ans caramel detected.
Taste is also sweet, malty and fruity, with more cherries present.
Massive mouthfeel, with a rich creaminess and great taste retention.
Very drinkable, alcohol well hidden.

2004 edition.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.55/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a reddish-copper body with a large, lasting beige-colored head.

Smell: Aroma of earthy butterscotch, juicy apples, suede leather, with a bit of yeastiness. Plenty of alcohol notes, too.

Taste: A very curious flavor; a mixture of light caramel, toasted pecans, a zesty Christmas spice, and hints of apples and pears. The hops, though minimal, are quite grassy tasting and lends a nice, dry finish. As with the nose, the alcohol is rather apparent, tasting like someone snuck in a shot of brandy in my glass. After some time, its all apples/pears and alcohol, really giving you the sense of a dry cider-cognac concoction.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body with a very soft, fine carbonation.

Drinkability: Its drinkable, even without much age under its belt. We'll see how my second bottle does in a couple of years...

Photo of Erdinger2003
2.23/5  rDev -46.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

The beer pours a nice clear brown/gold color that looks nice with no head and a little lacing. The smell is very light and hard to smell very well, but there's a slight hoppiness to it, but the hops flavor/aroma has morphed almost into a metallic flavor. The mouthfeel isn't so great, it's a little offensive. Overall I wouldn't try this ever again, not great.

Photo of Estarrio
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage

Poured dark, amber with brown, copper tones. Visible carbonation can be spied in the translucent liquid. A small, tan head gives way to silky, viscous lacings.

Very fruity with lots of red grape and cherry in the nose. Sweet malt, chocolate, phenols, port wine and peppery, alcohol aromas render this delightful concoction to be quite enticing.

The body is thinner than I anticipated. It is slightly syrupy with ample, fizzy carbonation, lending to a light, creamy texture. Unexpected but pleasing and highly drinkable.

I found the flavor to be truly unique. Chocolate, vanilla, and sweet malt tastes form the backbone. The flavor thins and becomes somewhat medicinal and cidery before yielding to copious amounts of tart cherry and red grape flavors. The finish is moderately dry and accompanied by spicy alcohol and bountiful, bitter, English hops. The bitter, boozy finish is a dramatic contrast with the sweet, fruity flavors but the balance seems to jive well. I'd love to revisit this in a few years to see how well it matures. This brew begs to be aged.

Photo of Gavage
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle # 78527 2006 version.

Appearance: clear amber in color with a huge 3" head that lasted forever. Nice lacing developed.

Smell: caramel and mild bitterness are detectable.

Taste: bread, caramel, ripe fruits, butter, and a hearty bitterness level. Alcohol is mildly noticeable.

Mouthfeel: Lightly crisp at the start, smooth and mildly dry towards the finish. Aftertaste lingers briefly.

Drinkability: easy to quaff even though the alcohol is noticeable. Definitely worth picking it up and giving it a try.

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

Fuller's Vintage Ale 2005 No.43937 in a rather fancy looking presentation carton.
Poured a red bronze with an absolutely gorgeous thick frothy khaki coloured head that left thick, glue-like lacing on the glass. This looked really nice. Smell was both sweet and earthy. Some sweet malts, light fruity notes (apricot, perhaps) and some mild caramel, as well as some earthy hops. Nice array of contrasting smells.
Taste was cooked fruit, which I was not expecting, a bit of biscuit-malt, some noticeable alcohol, and the delightful hop (Fuggles) bitterness that I enjoy so much from English Ales. Fantastic balance between sweet malty flavours and hoppy, bitter ones. I would love to get some more of this and cellar it away to see what is like in 2 or 3 years. Absolutely wonderful!!

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

2005 bottling. Poured a clear amber hue with a good 3/4 inch head that lingered for a few minutes. Aroma was of toasty, bready malts and a faint hop aroma. Taste was quite good. Caramelly malts with notes of toffee, caramelized apples and fruity flavors in the finish. Hop flavor was present, just enough to balance the malty sweetness. I could feel just a tickle of alcohol on the tongue. Drinkability was very good. I could easily polish off two bottles, but why do that? My second bottle is going to have to wait a couple of years or so. Excellent Old/Strong ale from a classic English brewery.

Photo of Dukeofearl
4.6/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 vintage, tasted in July 2008. Not a lot to say differently from 2006, except it is much smoother and refreshing (perhaps a sweeter) with little to no alcohol burn. Good stuff!!! Scores tweaked accordingly.

2006 vintage, bottle number 80398. Pours a clear, clear clear copper with a lovely medium head in my Fuller's Imperial pint glass.

Aroma of cherry, port, and fruity sangria, offset but solid, slightly sweet malts. Flavor is a wonderful complexity of fruits, herbs, and a nice alcohol burn (that I complained about last year) that just set each other of very nicely. Sweet malts and slightly oily hops offset each other nicely. This is a good good beer.

The alcohol burn is still more pronounced than I like, but it actually is a nicely mixed component this year. Nice full mouthfeel, I could easily drink way too much of this if it was on hand.

Photo of slyke
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

Photo of kirok1999
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of zuleboy
4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of klewis
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of merlin48
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Matthew
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of pootz
3.47/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

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.

Photo of montageman
4.62/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of Backer2004
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of mrmanning
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of elricorico
3.92/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of scottoale
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 1,085 ratings.