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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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1,078 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,078
Reviews: 634
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 87
Gots: 227 | 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: 1,078 | Reviews: 634 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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

2006 vintage number 81566

This beer pours a golden brown color with a nice looking ruby tint to it. It has a thick, fluffy light tan head that fades very slowly, leaving many thick laces.

This beer has a strong sweet malty aroma. It has a mild floral hop aroma also. A slight spicy aroma is present. The alcohol is well hidden in the nose.

This beer tastes sweet. A caramel malt flavor is present. Some hoppy, floral flavors are present. A slight spicy flavor mixes in as well. It also has a fruity flavor. Figs and raisins.

This beer is very well balanced. It goes down smooth, leaving a sweet caramel aftertaste. The alcohol warms slightly as it goes down.

At 8.5%, this beer might not make the best session beer. It is tasty though.

Overall: This beer is good. It might be just a little pricy, but it is worth it once in a while.

Photo of grub
3.83/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage, bottle 40402.

pours a nice copper red colour with a huge, fluffy tan head. the head is fairly slow to drop and leaves lots of lace behind.

aroma is nice. bready and biscuity malt. bit of alcohol.

taste is nice. alcohol fairly prominent, especially as it warms. nice bitterness level. bitterness is a little more rough than i'd expect. raisin and dried cranberry. toasty. that nice bready and biscuity malt is there too. bittersweet chocolate. bit of nuttyness too. a little rough around the edges, but that will mellow with time.

mouthfeel is good. great body and nice carbonation level.

drinkability is good, but i think will be great with time.

Photo of theopholis
4.85/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2006 Edition, bottle 80412.

Appearance; Has deep rustic coppery tone. Very clear, with little apparent carbonation. Tall, loose off-white head that eventually settles to a frothy cap with very good staying power.

Aroma: The nose is a subtle and perfectly balenced blend of malt sweetness and delicate floral hops. I get hints of caramel malt, nutmeg, spruce. Maybe some brown sugar. Despite all that, it stills smells fresh and clean.

Taste: Warms the innards well, with low alcohol burn that is very relaxing. Has a very complex carmel up front with a beautiful balance of malt sweetness and hops in the finish. The aftertaste lasts for some time, and has a differnet blend, yet still perfectly balanced mixture of malty sweetness, floral and bittering hops. This stuff is freaking awesome. (My 1st 5 for taste)

Mouthfeel is velvety, smooth, creamy. The carbonation level would be superb if this were force carbonated. For a bottle conditioned ale, it's FREAKING SUPERB.

Drinkabilty: It's awesome. Not as heavy as a port, but interesting and complex enough to where you want to drink it without distraction. No TV, no wife bugging you about the fact that her computer needs more memory, or cats running around like a bunch of danm rats. Drink it in front of the fireplace or on the porch while watching the rain.

Photo of Viggo
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2006, bottle number 48179.

Poured into a snifter, clear copper/orange, thick off white head forms, settles down into a thick ring, nice lacing. Smell is sweet, lots of toffee, alcohol, citrus/floral, fruits, almost strawberry character. Taste is toffee and figs, raisins, bready malt, some citrus and fruits, bitterness in the finish, significant heat, lots of booze. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, almost syrupy, low carbonation, warming, waiting for this beast to settle down.

Photo of mnesporov
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Bottle number 41431 in a pint. With the words conditioned in 2005

Appearance: A nice dark red amber tone to it with a 2 finger head.

Smell: A nice subtle smell of raisins and a fruity aroma with a little bit of malts and alcohol.

Taste: A little bit of fruit sweetness starts it of with a malty body that is balanced of with the hop bitterness.

Mouth-Feel: A creamy and smooth mouth-feel with great finish.

Drink-Ability: A great brew for around 6 bucks is well worth it.

Notes: I bought two so I could taste one now and age one for a year or so to see the difference so I can’t wait for the year to be up.

Photo of DrJay
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2006: Bottle no. 76030
Fluffy, long lasting foam topped this clear, coppery beer. Chunky lacing remained on the glass as the head slowly subsided. Burnt orange and reddish hues appeared, depending on the way the light hit the glass. Hops are still vivid in the nose, earthy, floral and a bit medicinal, but it's the malt that really carries the aroma. It smells of sweet caramel, brown sugar and toasted nuts, with mild alcohol and dried fruit. The flavour is kind of muddled due to fairly strong alcohol throughout. Still, there's a nice caramel, toasty malt backbone and solid hop bitterness/flavour. Carbonation is well integrated and it has a full body. I sampled this one a few months earlier than I normally do for Fuller's Vintage Ale. It looks great and the aroma is superb, but with the hot alcohol character it tastes like it's much too young and brash at this point. I'm expecting this one to mature nicely with a little aging.

Photo of IronDjinn
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Edition, bottle 63067. Another holiday season, another go at a new Fuller's Vintage, great to see it back on the shelves here once again.

Pours out a deep rustic coppery tone, clear with lazy carbonation. Tall spongy head that eventually settles to a frothy, creamy cap with great retention. Beautiful looking ale.

The nose is a subtle blend of caramel malt, nutmeg and allspice, some spruce, hints of carob, and some bitter orange peel. Brown sugar and raisins come out after a while. A bit earthy as well.

Upon the first sip this ale warms the insides immediately with a low alcohol burn that is rather comforting. Very woody at first, along with dried dates and carmelized brown sugar. Heavy up front, the flavour and mouthfeel lightens up towards the finish, picking up spruce and some mild hops in the middle, and blending with seasonal spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, some clove, some allspice. Very refined, very smooth. The aftertaste lingers with mildly herbal hops, while the alcohol still continues to warm the insides.

The mouthfeel is silky smooth and slightly creamy, runs over the palate like a velvet glove cast in iron. A pleasure to consume.

This has it all in the right places so far in its young incarnation--it seems to me that this will be an even better vintage once it's had a few years to sit and age. Looking forward to it.

Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 1,078 ratings.