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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
94
outstanding

1,042 Ratings
THE BROS
97
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,042
Reviews: 621
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.98%
Wants: 82
Gots: 205 | 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
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Ratings: 1,042 | Reviews: 621 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Dogbrick
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at the Odds and Ends Tasting on 8/16/06 (2004 Bottle): Pours a clear dark amber color with a thin beige head that lasts alright. Thin spotty lacing. Aroma of ripe fruit and earthy malts. Medium-bodied with a smooth and sweet character. Roasted malt, raisin and spice flavors are all represented, along with a pinch of yeast. The finish is spicy with a mild hops aftertaste. All in all this beer held up pretty well.

Photo of egajdzis
4.8/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1999: Bottle # 64950... Poured a cloudy light ruby color with a small light tan head that encircled the top of the glass. A strong fruity aroma with touches of rum, whiskey and certainly alittle alcohol present. This is one of the most complex beers I have had. Alcohol is well balanced throughout, never too strong though. Sweet, fruity tastes found first, followed by a dry peppery taste. Some chocolate, toffee, sweet caramel and even alittle licorice next. Finishes crisp and smooth, no one flavor is overbearing. It is a sipper for sure, I wouldn't want to rush a superb drink such as this. Long finish that just dances across my tongue.

Photo of fartingdog
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 vintage. Smell is slightly 'soapy' and a little sweet and floral. Tastes like a pumped of version of Fuller's ESB, with a faint hint of butterscotch. Creamy mouthfeel. Doesn't quite have the alcohol feel of other old ales initially, just a slight warming on the back of the throat after a few moments. I am intrigued to see what this does in a few years. A good, strong English brew, a quality product. It's interesting to see how the Brittish styles differ drom the American old ales I've grown accustomed to (i.e. North Coast Old Stock), this one seems much milder than them.

Addendum 9/28/207
Another 2005 vintage-
Rich amber color, thin head. Aroma is of caramel and quite rich- awesome. Taste is of caramel, vanilla, faint bitterness, and fruity (plums? dates?) - much nicer. Medium body, Nicely carbonated with a tingly finish. Much better than I recall. It's rich and smooth it has aged quite nicely.

Due to definite improvement with age, I've upped my original review of a 4.0.

Photo of bark
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2002.

The colour is amber with a tint of orange. The finger thick head is compact, beige and there is some lacing. There are some small particles in the somewhat hazy liquid.

The smell is sweet with malty notes of butter, strong wine, raisins, honey and plums in Madeira. Luxurious!

The taste is as complex as the smell; sweet notes of raisins, plums, dries apricots, some strong wine, hazelnuts, toffee, brandy… The aftertaste got some lightly dry notes and a bitter touch, and the sweet fruity matured flavours seem to last forever.

The liquid is a bit viscous; the carbonation is low but not at all stale with lots and lots of minimal bubbles.

A great old ale!

Photo of watermelonman
3.98/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This looks very good. It poured to a deep gold and brown with a medium head. The lacing looks great.

The smell is strong and full of dates, plums, and alcohol. The taste is solid and full of hefty malt content. The mouthfeel is very strong without being heavy. Drinkability takes a hit for the noticable alcohol, but is still fairly good.

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

Poured 16.9 oz bottle into 11.2 oz glass tulip goblet. 2005 vintage bottle No. 68076, date on bottle: "best before 2008".

Appearance - Perfect. The clarity is flawless, the color is a very deep reddish amber. The head is light, less than half a finger. This remains with lacing throughout the drink.

Smell - The smell is cherry and wood. Also, the scent of wine grape is evident. The most obvious smell, however, is cranberry. No alcohol scent is in the aroma.

Taste - Raisin and cranberries dominate the taste, with a slight alcohol burn and a follow-through of malt. The hops are evident, but not nearly as strong as the fruity/floral flavor. Cherry is also hitting my tastebuds as I keep sipping it. The aftertaste is the highlight of the whole beer, in my opinion.

Mouthfeel - Excellent mouthfeel. The carbonation is right on, it is smooth, wet, and rolls around my mouth nicely.

Drinkability - Fantastic. Very smooth, good flavor, perfect aftertaste, good mouthfeel. The flavors are strong but not too strong. Excellent drinkability.

An excellent fruity/floral ale with obvious cherry and cranberry flavors. Highly recommended.

Photo of cbl2
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage Ale $6.99 1 pint 0.9 oz 8.50% Best by 2008, though bottle says it will last longer. Bottle marked 42186 out of 95,000.

Appearance:

Pours a crystal clear orange-brown with roughly an inch of foamy tan head.

Aroma:

Caramel and scotch malts with a touch of alcohol.

Taste/Mouthfeel:

Toasted malts with some dark ripe fruit qualities coupled with a strong alcohol sensation. Hot alcohol needs to settle down a bit, but this is a complex intriguing Old Ale.

Photo of uncggop06
4.78/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 Vintage - Bought July 3rd 2006
First of all, this is an AMAZING brew. That said, on to the review.
Appearence - Caramel brown and slightly ruby with a quick off white head
Smell - Caramel, toffee, and burnt coffee
Taste - Heavy on chocolate and toffee, hop bitterness at first, then leveling off with the malt
Mouthfeel - Full cream, deep malt taste
For only being in the bottle for a year, this is an awesome experience, easily a beer that could be bought and consumed for a great time. The taste is definately young, a lot of hop bitterness at the start, and the malt flavors are not quite developed. This bottle was bought in order to save the same fate to a previous bottle, which will HOPEFULLY be aged for at least another year. This was bought for a birthday present, and wil l probably be consumed as a grad school graduation present.

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

2004 Edition, No. 82806. Poured into a half-pint glass.

Appearance: A rich mahogany color, with a thin, but frothy head that dissipated pretty quickly.

Smell: A strong, sweet aroma of plums, plus a faint spiciness from the hops.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Wow. An intense plum/raisin flavor hits you right away, and the malt presence makes it very sweet, very much like a good port. But it's not too sweet, there's a hop bitterness underneath that balances the brew out. The alcohol provides for a nice, warming finish. Mouthfeel is rich and smooth, again, very port-like.

Drinkability: Would I have another one? Yes, yes and yes. Could I have another one right after? I dunno, that 8.5 ABV sneaks up on you.

Notes: Dammmmnnnn....this is a hell of a beer. Complex in flavor, but not overpowering. Sip and savor this one. A must try for anyone, but especially a port-lover.

Photo of TurdFurgison
2.9/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I tried this at the Hopleaf in Chicago and didn't like it. Kind of against the grain as this is a highly rated beer but I know what I don't like.

To start with it was low in carbonation. The aroma was malty sweet with no hops, and smelled like a cross between sherry and cough syrup. There were lots of flavors (caramel, figs, a little bit of cherry or almond), but honestly the overall impression was cough syrup.

I won't try it again anytime soon.

Photo of hero27
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Limited Edition 2005 Vintage (# 47004).
16.9 oz bottle. 8.5% abv.
Best before end 2008.

Comes in a prestigious red box..beautiful labeling. I wish more breweries had the presence of mind to put beer that is meant to be aged in boxes to help preserve the quality.

Shimmering copper color. Modest off-white head of creamy foam.
Thick, earthy malts and resiny hops..tremendous complexity, with plums, raisins, molasses, and a virtual garden of dark fruit flavors. The fuggles hops shine through quite prominently...and the hop bitterness is surprisingly crisp..much of which would subside after two or three years of being stored away, I'd imagine. The 8.5% is noted, but just enough to add an alcohol bite without being overpowering in any sense of the word. There's a definite barrel-aged oak flavor and a slight woody finish.
Mouthfeel is superb also..smooth as silk and carries the malt flavors perfectly.
I plan on tracking down a couple more bottles and aging them for some time. I certainly think this can improve with a few years on her.

Bottle graciously provided by mynie. Thanks again for the chance to try this one.

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

I'll preface this by pointing out that I am opposed to giving out 5's. A 5 being perfect, it is thus non-existent. That said, the Appearance and Mouthfeel for this one were easily the greatest temptation I've had to award a 5. Taste also seemed 5 worthy except that it obviously had a lot of potential to get even better with age.

Vintage Ale 2004- Fuller's says this one is Maris Otter malt and Goldings hops. I don't usually pay much attention to packaging, but they did a very nice job with this. Bottle has a nice parchment like label with the bottles number near the bottom. The back has a blurb about the beer advising its ageing potential and the cap has a dated seal over it like a bottle of whisky. All of this is put in a box very much like a fine single malt scotch along with a little card that gives details on the previous vintages.

500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip. The beer pours a clear deep copper with a thick cream colored head rising at least 2" full of fine bubbles. Lacing is slight. The beer looks just as it should, hard to imagine anything better.

The aroma hits with a lot of bready malt with caramel, cherries, raisins and muted floral hops. Alcohol was obvious but not at all objectionable with some equally non-objectionable phenols. All of the components were very well blended and Smell gets a mere 4 because it would have been nice to have it turned up a bit.

Flavor starts strong with sweet caramel quickly enriched with cinnamon and figs. There is something woody about it. Not quite a barrel aged woodyness but almost along with some flavor of tobacco. It finishes complex and brandy-like with some lingering bitterness, a lot of warming alcohol, and orange essence. The last sip smells and tastes distinctly like whisky.

Very full-bodied, tongue coating and creamy. Very rich stuff with just enough carbonation to keep the palate reasonably fresh. Drinkability is surprisingly high for such a rich and alcoholic beer. It's hard to put it down and I am so disappointed when the bottle is gone.

Amazing. It's hard to imagine it any better but it is sweet and full enough that it clearly has a lot of potential to mature. I would love to try it again in another 5 years.

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

2005 Vintage

Deep mahogany pour with intense burgundy highlights supports a dense half inch of tan head that is both creamy and lasting.

Aroma is powerful and rich, brimming with notes of lightly scorched caramel, ripe fruits, brandy, oaked sherry, figs, raisins, and fruit.

Flavor is equally impressive. A very big malt presence is immediately known, with it's tale of brandy soaked fruits, dried figs, candied orange peel, English toffee, powdery cocoa, and oaky vanilla. Thge finish is surprisingly hoppy with notes of green herbs and light citrus.

The body is big, silky, and very creamy textured. A real joy to sip and hold for a moment before swallowing. Excellent.

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

Woot woot 2005. I totally waited 30 hours after buying it before I opened it! I mean--it's just sitting there in a little gift box and I'm supposed to leave it alone for years?

Dark juice red with a white head that fades and leaves behind rainbow bubbles, like an oil spill.

Smells incredibly intense. Kind of hard to pick out any complexities, when its cold or when its warmed up. Everything's just kind of thrown out there: fruits, zip yeast, and alcohol.

Tastes very much like it smells. Certainly a sipping beer. Big fruit upfront, in the British pub ale tradition, rounded, nitrogeny fruit. Like, the start of an apple, slightly tart, only before the sour finish the flavor shifts to a ripe banana. Rounded like that. Ends on alcohol, sweet and zippy.

Yup, this'll get better with age. I bought three bottles, and will try the second a year from now, the third a year after that. Still, I'm not too upset with myself for having opened it.

Photo of TastyTaste
5/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1999 vintage, found at some random beer store in the East Village. Fancy red box is still in great shape, despit years in the cooler.

Appearance: Poured into a Samuel Smith tulip, head is the first thing you notice, it's big, an inch or two, which means you have to pour slowly and wait while you get all of the contents into the glass. Very hazy rust brown body, with no sediment after a good decantation. Very appealing.

Smell: Toffee and raisin are big, with port like characters abounding. Sweet and dessert-like

Taste: Smooth as greased silk. Flavors are slightly nutty, slightly sweet (but not cloying in the least). Everything blends together perfectly, woody and smokey flavors giving it more backbone, hops are there (although mellowed by age), this is a beer to behold. I can't ask for more from the style.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and thick, creamy. Perfect for the style as well, and the beer.

Drinkability: A beer like this is far too rare, one that I will most likely never get to try again. Thank you Fuller's for brewing such a beer, and thank you random grocer for leaving this in your cooler long enough for me to happen upon. This is easily my favorite Old Ale I have sampled.

A big thanks to me for hauling this through Brooklyn at 6 in the morning (hungover), catching the train to Chinatown, booking it to the Chinatown Express bus stop, bringing it on a bus for 5 hours to Washington D.C., then finally dragging it to Reagan National to carry on a flight back to Minnesota (which included a layover in Milwaukee). I deserved this one.

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

2000 Vintage

A - a dark ruby reddish/brown, with half a finger of antique white head that laces rather quickly, no visible carbonation

S - a very sweet aroma, almost sickly sweet, like a dragonfruit beverage, an exotic citrus aroma, yeah dragonfruit or dark blood oranges

T - fruity at first, a nice alcohol/raisiny combo at first, and then BAM, a super sweet warm burnt caramel flavor that lasts, well after the swallow, wow is that good, this aged very well, the flavor is balanced complex and very sweet, i like this

M - sweet and with the alcohol burn a great balance

D - if you like sweet, its hihg, otherwise, only moderate, i love it

Photo of daliandragon
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I went into Superstar Beer and Soda in Smithtown last weekend to pick up a four pack of Ayinger Celebrator after a long day of work even though I knew I'd have cardiac arrest when I saw the price. As I did, and was half listening to the clerk tell me how many beers he drinks in a normal day at work (hint: it's more than ten but less than a hundred) I saw an odd red box on the shelf. I saw the Fuller's name and had to have it. Turn's out it's the 2000 edition of the Vintage Ale. I don't know how many ot these suckers are still around (although I would definitely ask at Superstar, that store has lots of good stuff but it's mostly slovenly and poorly organized, go figure) but you can officially write off # 39011.
I have noticed on the bottle that it states it's best to drink this before 2003 so I guess I'll have to have a fresher one and compare them. OK, so this pours a handsome but rather ordinary copper color with a mighty head that dies a tragic early death. Nose is dense and malty with alcohol notes and a sweet smoked flavor in the backround. Some balance is evident as the hops is present but outnumbered. Lacing is sticky early.
Taste is broad and crisp and very round. Alcohol is only evident in the texture but not the taste, as it should be. Full, delicious malt with nice hop balance and smoky aftertaste. Mouthfeel holds it all together very well and is not as carbonated as I feared initially. For 8.5% this is dangerously drinkable. This beer makes me smile. I'll be seeing it again soon.

Photo of RenoZymurgist
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The packaging of this ale is absolutly beautiful. It makes me take a second to appreciate the bottle and read all of the text on the label. I served this one at 45 degrees F and in a Fuller's labeled pint glass.
Poured a crystal clear copper color with an off-white head that stuck around nicely.
The aroma was rich and sweet with a good mineral character and a fruity english yeastyness.
The flavor begins with a quick mellow hop bitterness that segues perfectly into the malt sweetness which is carmelly and carries a slight dry toastyness.The hops linger into the finish giving a very refreshing character. The flavor is very malt oriented and yet is not cloying or overpowering.
The mouthfeel is perfect for the style as the lazy carbonation just barely keeps the head afloat and allows the malt and hops to dance in unison while staying in the background and tickling the tongue. This ale is extremly drinkable and makes me look forward to drinking more Vintage ales in the future

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

I picked up 2 bottles of the 2005 edition of Fuller's Vintage Ale back in early December. It comes singularly in an elaborate packaging, complete with box and each individually numbered. Seeing as the one I proceeded to open was # 69817, I no longer felt I was exclusive. Well unless they start numbering around 69000.

Since 1997, Fuller’s have made an annual Vintage Ale. They recommend storing this beer for 3-4 years to reach its peak condition. Without knowing what it tastes like to begin with, there will be no way of judging how well it has aged down the line. Beer enthusiasts recommend getting 2 of any beer that will be cellared: one for now / one after aging. Although it’s been a few months, it hasn’t been too long.

I poured this into a snifter and it looked beautiful – a nice thick caramel color with a ¼ tan head. The aroma was not overbearing. There were malt flavors that came through and hint of sweetness. The taste had a chewy malty backbone with toffee and coffee flavors. A bit of alcohol presence came through, a property that will dissipate with aging. Even still, this is a fine beer and I’m sure it will be even better in a few years.

Photo of Prufrock
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16.9 oz. bottle (2005, #44686) poured into a pilsner.

burnt orange amber, clear with some rising bubbles, an inch of foamy off-white head.

sweet aroma: cherries, wood, caramel malts, butter. can't quite find the hops, but i'll cheat and say i smell fuggles (from reading the label).

rich mouthfeel with a sharp carbonation. initial sweetness with some balancing hops and alcohol in the finish. flavors of dry sherry, cherries, prunes, and mild hops. lots of aromas, lots of flavors; an enjoyable one to sip.

Photo of brewandbbq
3.83/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 1997

Pours fizzy mahogany with a tight, bone head.
Moderate head dissapates fairly quick with soda-like carbonation.
Minimal dot lacing remains with a swirled skim coat of foam.
Dusty malt, dried cherries, and wet math paper lead the aromatics.
A pleasing vineousity becomes apparent along with steeped raisins and toffee.
Thickish in the body, mildly chewy and slightly syrupy.
Warming and moderately bitter on the pallet, with plenty of fruit and juicy malt.
Oxidation is less apparent than in the nose, and plenty of barleywine-like hopping helps.
Mild citrus and red grapes are layered underneath the thickish, caramel and toffee character.
Finishes fairly slow, warm, with a well placed bitterness.

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

2005 Vintage

Pours an appealing clear copper color with an off-white head that leaves plenty of lacing as it dissipates.

Smell is understated with mild fruit and earthy hop notes.

Taste is balanced caramel malt and hops, with the hops showing themselves to be slightly more aggressive. Cherries and warming alcohol flavor adds a brandy like character. Woodiness adds complexity.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Very soft and creamy.

I've come to expect good things from Fuller's. This brew does not disappoint. Unified flavors make this brew easy to drink. Interesting and complex. This is a nice treat. I’ll be looking forward to trying the vintage ale every year.

Photo of bashiba
3.93/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a 2005 vintage - bottle number 46790

Poured a nice dark amber with tons of carbonation running throughout. A thick creamy head lingered forever.

Smell had minor toasted malt odors with a bit of floral hops poking through.

Taste starts out with a nice bready and toasty malt flavor with a hint of metallic copper flavor, it finishes with a nice earthy and spicy hop finish.

Mouthfeel is creamy and full with a good bit of carbonation on the tongue.

Overall another good offering from Fullers.

Photo of scruffwhor
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 vintage. Bottle number 47002.
I bought two bottles, one for NOW and the other to forget about in ye ol' cellar.

Appearance- Pours a very deep mix of merlot and barley brown with a little thick ring around the beer foam into my Leffe labeled goblet.

Smell- Since this brew is young for a better with style of beer, I was expecteing a more pronounced hop aroma and flavor and I got both. The smell was a light leathery hop flower with mostly roaste malts coming with some penny candy mixed around in the middle of the aroma.

Taste- Starts out with a tricking malt sweetness that turns tart, almost sour. But the true culprit behind the tartness is the subdued hops of the English. But the mild bitterness blends well with prunes, raisins, and melba toast.

Mouthfeel- Silky smooth, even though it was more tart than I usually liked in my beer. But this fit well while sitting in front of a fire with a good friend.

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

Limited Edition 2005. Bottle No. 55015.

Presentation: Maybe I am a nerd with some kind of conformist fixation but I dearly love the way that Fuller’s package their Vintage Ales. The general style and presentation of these is a high quality libation. The usual high quality purple and cream colored tall box captivates a 500ml brown glass bottle which is embossed on the shoulder and also around the main oval label. A black colored crown cap has a thick cartridge paper seal which has the words ‘Limited Edition 2005’ on it. The main label has the words ‘Fuller’s 2005 Bottle Conditioned Vintage Ale’ and the bottle number (#55015). The reverse label explains the brew in greater depth and confirms that this is indeed Alc. 8.5% Vol. Best Before 2008….rather humble that part of the label I feel.

“95,000 Bottles of the 2005 Edition have been brewed with the finest Fuggles Hops and floor malted Optic malts.”

Appearance: Cracked out my cleanest and most pristine Stone Old Guardian Goblet for this annual treat. Gently rolls into the glass like a fine Brandy, has a very appealing deep ruddy amber-brown with a superb clarity from the initial top-ups. A light tan head soon forms, super fine carbonation is relatively stiff and has longevity, something which was lacking in last years 2004 offering. Head retention is good, occasional slow swirls beef up the ¼” thin but resilient cloth cap which never fades but does break ever so slightly.

Smell: Warm toffee, alcohol and some toasted caramel which has a light acidic tingle. Earthy and rural the nose has a lovely rustic tone.

Taste: High conditioning carpets the tongue and blitzes the mouth with an effervescent explosion of hops and earthy malts. Middle warms whilst the finish has a toasty alcoholic feel, like a good Single Malt it never burns; it just raises the temperature and blood circulation a little. Rich Fuggles are very evident and do a much better job than last years Goldings. The lightly sweet malt exhibits a base-load character, this will see the 2005 Vintage Ale through a few years with little trouble and serve it admirably I am sure. The hops are what attract me though, higher than usual, fresh from the bottle this has a little of the character that I picked up from the Stone Old Guardian 2006 that I had last night. Solid English Strong Ale with a determined hop character that helps to differentiate it from other wannabes.

Mouthfeel: The warming fusel alcohol vapors can sneak up the nose as you swallow and lend a big feel to this one. After the swallow the satisfaction is self evident as I quickly relax and push back in my reclining chair.

Drinkability: The spritzy carbonation carries the flavours through, all the way, and well into the lingering aftertaste. Far from a challenge, the problem is trying not to drink this one too quickly and finding time to savor it properly. Alas, it was soon all gone.

Overall: This has really put me in the mood for my trip back to England in a few weeks time. I always like to get two bottles of the relatively expensive Vintage Ale; one to drink immediately and one to be stashed away for a rainy day some time henceforth. Very good fresh from the bottle and a lovely evening treat. A few years will no doubt add some depth and allow the conditioning to mature but this is good to go right now.

A classic English Strong Ale. It is always worth picking up and stashing away one or more of these if you can. A Perennial favourite - Recommended.

Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
94 out of 100 based on 1,042 ratings.