Vintage Ale

Vintage AleVintage Ale
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Old Ale
Ranked #9
Ranked #1,547
4.22 | pDev: 10.66%
England, United Kingdom
Vintage AleVintage Ale
Notes: First released in 1997, Fuller's Vintage Ale is an exceptional beer, only available from Fuller's as a limited release of individually packaged and numbered bottles and will improve for many years to come, like a fine wine or whisky. 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. When the time comes, expect a deep amber pour with notes of sherry and Cognac on the nose, and rich, complex flavours that hint at toasted grains and sweet cherry Bakewell Tart.

1998 - Champion Alexis malt and Champion Northdown hops.
2001 - Maris Otter barley malt.
2002 - Golden Promise malt and Goldings hops.
2005 - Fuggles hops.
2006 - Fuggles and Super Styrian hops.
2008 - Maris Otter barley malt and Northdown and Challenger hops.
2011 - Goldings, Organic First Gold and Sovereign hops
2012 - Goldings, Sovereign and Target
2013 - Pearl Malt.
2014 - Goldings, Liberty and Cascade hops.
2015 - Maris Otter barley malt and Target, Northdown, Challenger and Goldings hops.
2016 - Nelson Sauvin alongside classic British hops.
2017 - Denali, Laureate, Target and Goldings hops.
2019 - Pale ale, New Zealand Gladfield Crystal, Chocolate malt and Target, Goldings, Northdown, Challenger and Wai.iti hops.
2020 - Double Roasted Crystal malt and Jester and Godiva hops.
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Photo of JamFuel
JamFuel from Sweden

4.26/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2020 vintage.

Pours a deep ruby with fine, soft head.

Smell is sweet and malty with notes of raisins, driedapricot, brown bread, caramel and a hint of port.

Taste is sweet and malty with some fruity hints. Notes of Pommac, raisins, apricot, brown bread, leather and port. Soft bitterness, and quite vinous on the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium to full, smooth and well carbonated.

Overall, really tasty, interested to see how it develops in the cellar.

Jan 16, 2021
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xander10 from England

4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2020 Vintage, perhaps should have waited but wanted a good beer for christmas.
Look: pours crystal clear and red-brown, with a fluffy tan head. Carbonation rolls slowly up the glass.
Smell: Rum and Dark Fruits, much stronger nose than Golden Pride.
Taste: Dark Fruits, Rum and Rasin, and some alcohol burn, in comparison to it's brother golden pride the alcohol is less hidden.
Feel: Medium mouthfeel, booziness is noticeable.
Overall: Give this beer time to age unlike what I did, you will, as it seems from other reviews, gain a lot from that.

Dec 25, 2020
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hman43 from North Carolina

4.12/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look: It pours dark amber with an off white head. Head retention is low.

Smell: Malty rich aroma with toffee and almonds. There are very low levels of lime with orange marmalade and a hint of lemon.

Taste: It is malty in the flavors with toffee and almonds. In addition is had flavors of bread. There are also lime and orange marmalade like flavors. There are hints of lemon that become stronger in the finish.

Feel: It has a full body, but is not quite chewy. The malt dominates in the palate from start to finish. Plenty of strong alcohol warming.

Overall, there are plenty of complex flavors and the hops add an new dimension to this style.

Oct 24, 2020
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Spike from England

3.68/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2018 vintage: “A celebration of Fuller’s long-lasting friendships with the hop growers, merchants, and maltsters of the UK. It has been brewed using exclusively home-grown ingredients. The beer’s passionfruit, grapefruit and mango notes might be synonymous with the ‘new-world’ hops of America and Australia, but the beer’s tropical flavours, in fact, come from the British Olicana® variety. Alongside Olicana®, Ernest hop from Kent has been added to the brew – a variety that brings apricot, citrus and spicy notes. There are also herby, pine and earthy flavours to discover, from the classic combination of Target, Goldings, Challenger and Northdown hops. As all Fuller’s malting barley is sourced exclusively in the UK, the malts are also in-keeping with the British theme of this year’s recipe. Vintage Ale 2018 sees the return of Maris Otter malt, a key feature in many Vintage Ale recipes of years gone by. Crystal malt, meanwhile, lends the beer its rich biscuit sweetness.”

L: Opaque, chestnut colour with two fingers of creamy, off-white head. Spotty lacing.
S: Fruit & alcohol.
T: Rich & malty. Treacle, rum-soaked sultanas & booze.
F: Thick mouth-coating. Finish is a bit light, however.
O: A hot and intensely boozy ale. Alcohol is too dominant and mouthfeel is oddly thin despite the initial chewiness.

Oct 04, 2020
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plutonash from Latvia

3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Release: 2018
L: Copper, brown, bit hazy/murky. Large bubbles, holds a small head, mediocre lacing.
S: Butterscotch, toffee, caramel, whiskey barrel, sherry, some alcohol.
T: Caramel butterscotch as in the smell, nice malty afteraste. Some raisins.
F: Medium bodied, sweet, finish is bitterish. Can feel the booze.
O: Good autumn beer. I guess this beer varies year to year, but the 2018 release isn't that good, not worth the price tag that of ~7€.

Sep 26, 2020
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chitoryu12 from Florida

4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2019 bottling

Look: Very dark amber, but clear. One finger of slightly off-white head with short retention.

Smell: Sweet doughy malt, toffee, cherries.

Taste: Sweet cherries, toffee, caramel, and milk chocolate. Virtually no bitterness but a lightly metallic undercurrent, until a light stone fruit bitterness at the very end.

Mouthfeel: Chewy, with good carbonation.

Overall: A fantastic and complex ale, worthy of its price and packaging.

Aug 30, 2020
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flipper2gv from Canada (QC)

4.51/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2018 bottle

A: Pours a nice dark amber color with a very creamy looking off-white / tan colored head. The retention is only OK but lacing is very good.

S: Smell is medium to strong intensity. Strong scotch-like apples and pears with a very strong malt base with notes of biscuit, toffee, banana bread. The aging and hops interaction also bring strong notes of figs, dates and prunes. Light amount of baking spices with mostly cinnamon and cardamom as well as a light mint. Very coherent and good.

T: Strong intensity. Strong malt attack with a ton of biscuit and sticky pudding. It develops into a strong prunes and figs flavor and finishes with a strong burnt sugar / caramel / toffee note that lingers for a long long time.

M: Absolutely fantastic for the genre and ABV. It's medium to heavy in body with a low carbonation. It's very creamy and isn't too sticky considering the flavor profile.

O: This is an excellent beer from one of my favorite genre. I think it's underrated mostly because the style isn't too in fashion these days. Excellent.

Jun 05, 2020
Photo of Joneswd2

4.79/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

My first review on a brew, ever, to my knowledge.
I first bought this beer back in 2011/2012. I cracked one open the weekend I got it , and just opened the second one after anoint 8 years later. The serial of this bottle is 102283. At first, I was very afraid to even open it since it’s been several years. To be honest , I wish I had waited now. This ale has held up. Very smooth with that lovely soft fruity finish at the back. The smell was awesome from just opening the bottle. I poured it into a glass mug for a local brewery, which I wasn’t sure if this ale would allow this type glass , but it works. I love the velvety feel when sipping. The malty flavor settles into the mouth. I personally really enjoy this style of beer. It doesn’t feel like an 8.5 ABV.

In the future when I buy these vintage type beer / ales , I need to buy in greater quantities so I can have some waiting to be cracked open to enjoy mire.

Dec 30, 2019
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TheBierdimpfe from Canada (QC)

4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Medium: Capped 2018 + tulip glass. (aged 6 month)
Opacity: Densely veiled.
Color: Caramel brown.
Head: Slightly foamy beige 1 finger.
Legs: Not much but decent lacing and swirl reaction.
Smell: Spices/Apples/Toffee.
Taste: Raisins/Peach/Orange/Wood/Cognac.
Feel: Biscuity/Citrusy/Syrupy/Barrel aged.
Body: Medium oily but well rounded and very smooth.
Carbonation: Mild crisp.
Overall: Slightly alcoholic, rich and quite warming, makes a nice winter beer. Great quality craft with good aging qualities.

Visual 6/10 - Flavors 8/10 - Sensations 8.5/10 - Balance 8.5/10 -
Freshness 4/10 - Intensity 8.5/10 - Complexity 9/10 - Appreciation 8.5/10

Nov 21, 2019
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q33jeff from New Jersey

4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4


Bottle to tulip. 2014 vintage.

LOOK: muddy murky brown. small tan head. poor retention.
AROMA: PLUM, APPLE, fruit cake, spice.
TASTE: apple, raisin, spice
FEEL: very flat after a while. sediment makes a chalky finish.

Great aromas and tastes. At 5 years, this is decent, but expected maybe some stronger flavors.


Sep 20, 2019
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Gajo74 from New York

4.51/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I would like to preface this review by disclosing the fact that this bottle was 10 years old and given to me by a non beer drinker who had received it as a gift and had no intention of drinking it. Without hesitation I gave it a try simply to see if it was still drinkable. It was, albeit slightly past its prime. The debate then was whether to review it. In the end I decided to review it based on what I tried and what I imagined it must have been at its peak.
Pours a mostly opaque chestnut brown color with a moderate but rapidly dissipating head. No trace of the head nor lacing, not sure if it’s because of the age, nevertheless, it’s a fine looking brew.
The nose is full of rich malt and dark fruit. Notes of caramel, toffee and biscuity malt, along with notes of prune and raisin. I do not detect any booze, neither hops aromas, the latter of which I didn’t expect given the age.
The taste is moderately sweet, dessert like but not cloying. Gentle alcohol spices help the balance yet it’s amazing how non boozy this is and how well it hides the alcohol. Full flavored malts with notes of caramel, toffee, biscuit and dough, are complimented by notes of fruity esters, raisins, prune, figs and plum. Although the hops flavors seem to have faded, there is a modest bitterness.
Full bodied, soft, and creamy with a fluffy and chewy malt texture. The carbonation is quite gentle, perhaps a tad flat, however, I will not hold it against it because it seems to work and the style does allow it. The finish is long and reveals perhaps age induced oxidation and strong sherry flavors. However, this doesn't detract at all from my enjoyment, instead, I kind of dig the sherry flavor.
The final verdict is that despite this beer’s ability to age well, it was slightly past its peak. However, I tasted enough good things in it of which I can deduce that in its prime it was a wonderfully complex and outstanding brew. Despite its age, it was still delicious enough as it is. I shared it with my brother in law, with dessert and after a big meal. It was the perfect ending. I would love to get my hand on this again!

Aug 27, 2019
Photo of KooVee
KooVee from Finland

2.07/5  rDev -50.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

2018 vintage.

The first vintage after the retirement of John Keeling. The last vintage while still independent.

As always, mahogany clear colour, slightly tan creamy head.

Aroma is a disappointment. Unless warmed past optimal point for taste, quite timid nose. Caramel increases as the beer warms, but while cooler, more like molasses with those metallic notes. Some spicy/floral hop notes right after brewing, but you really have to look for it.

Taste is... raw. Body is quite thin for the style. Alcohol is prominent. And in a crude way that does not associate to any refined drink. This is unusual for Fuller's. Crystal malts try to surface but are dragged below by an unpleasant.. or let's say very raw.. herby bitterness. The brewery markets this beer as strictly British in terms of ingredients, highlighting the use of Olicana. Well, I cannot really taste anything except this herbiness. Ernest is mentioned as well, except the ingredient list on their web pages does *not* list it. Understandable oversight or a symptom of collapsing standards? And as for taste, the pervasive raw alcohol is excessive for the quite middling strength for a beer to age.

The attempt to be 'British' fails totally. Olicana and Ernest are hops bred to mimic truly fruity 'foreign' hops, but the aroma just does not compare. I say this from own experience and disappointment when brewing. None of these foreign-aping new British hops really work. The aroma is nice in your hands before you toss in the goods. But it just is too weak per gram. You have to put in so much that the flavour becomes downright herbal, medicinal even. Adding to this the strange choice to make the body so thin (sugars?) that alcohol makes everything taste.. cheap. I find it hard to believe this would age well. Alcohol will round out, but the body will be even thinner. The herbal notes tend to be very persistent. I predict diluted cough medicine without any interesting aroma.

My key message is that nationalism that actually has no sense of history never works in anything. This is not only a culinary failure, this is an intellectual farce. Cannot understand what the new head brewer was thinking to achieve. Bring in the Japanese.

May 24, 2019
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teromous from Virginia

4.39/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From the front label: "No 06977"

Appearance: The beer is a tawny brown with an abundance of haze making it opaque. the head is short and tobacco-stained-yellow-white. Moderate head retention and lacing.

Aroma: There is a nice and strong aroma of caramel and plum. It is very pronounced and very enticing. There is a bit of brown sugar aroma in the back.

Taste: Plums and prunes join the abundant wealth of currants and brown sugar. This beer is fantastic. It has an underlying sugary sweetness and an overlying fruity sweetness that bind together into something perfect. There is a light bit of toffee and a hint of coffee grounds in the background of this beer.

Mouthfeel: It feels bright and refreshing which feels a bit contrary to the style. It does have a nice underpinning of earthy characteristics giving it a slightly bitter undertone but as a whole it feels a bit "young." The body of the beer is in the medium-range.

Overall: The flavors and aromas for the beer are on point, but the texture or presence feels a bit off. It is still a very enjoyable beer, and as a whole it really sets the bar high. I would still recommend this beer and i would drink it again. I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy Belgian Strong Dark Ales or Winter Warmers.

May 05, 2019
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StJamesGate from New York

4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep chestnut; big pale sherry, butter toffee; huge blonde caramel, sultana, golden syrup, more sherry, peanut brittle, hints of pear + leather, slight spice to end; round + medium.

4 4.25 4.25 4 4.25

2014 version, so cellared for nearly 5 years. Deep, round, sweet, + smooth. Slight cakey vanilla thread. Never musty or murky - bright, somehow, despite age + style. Almost plays out like a baby barley wine. A proper little gem.

Feb 15, 2019
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Phi11 from Canada (ON)

4.7/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Natalia: "beer" smell: plum/dried plum taste: almost burnt bitter orange peel. Grapes/raisins. "Very malty".
Phil: smell: black liquorice and citrus zest. Taste: raisins and other dried fruit. "Yeasty and malty" a little citrus note. Not super bitter. A little sweet

Jan 11, 2019
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janubio from Spain

4.37/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle bought at Las Buenas Pulgas, tasted at home in a snifter glass. Pours a hazy copper colour, small head that doesn't hold and just a thin line of lacing.
Aroma has oranges, caramel, honey,wood, dried fruits.
Medium body, sticky texture, flat carbonation. Sweet finish.
Taste of honey, oranges, wood, caramel.

Jan 03, 2019
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Nass from Florida

1.83/5  rDev -56.6%
look: 1.75 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.75

This is a rough ale that drink more like a hard liquor drink. The alcohol is not hidden very well & it is bitter without a decent malt bill to support it. This beer doesn't deserve a fancy box. Cheers! D

Nov 08, 2018
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JonnoWillsteed from England

4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2018 Edition
L- Pours mid-chestnut brown with 1cm very pale tan head. I poured carefully after resting in the fridge for two days and it poured with effectively no haze at all, Also there was only the tiniest smudge of yeast residue on the bottom of the bottle. That said if you do age it, I expect that sediment might increase.
S- The orange/marmalade noted in the 'Beer Info' above is the more prominent, and I can smell the 'pine-like' aspect too.
T- Wow! Like liquid Xmas 'plum' pudding, that has been very heavily doused with sherry. Again the clear marmalade facet returns which together with the 8.5% creates a memorable lip-smacking tang.
M- Oh there is no doubt this is huge on mouthfeel. It's rich, puddingy, but balanced. I swallow and the roof of my mouth feels as if I've just had a shot-glass of sherry. And yet it's not sweet or cloying to me, the balance is sublime.
O- Now this is a show-stopping 'winter warmer'. This would make an ideal small Xmas gift for a beer fan. This beer and this season are made for each other. I'm very glad I bought this, I find zero aspects of it less than two thumbs up; it is divine. This is straight into the Top-10 beers I've ever enjoyed, simply stunning.

Bought at Waitrose in Windsor. I hesitate before paying as here £6 for a shop-bought 500ml bottle of beer, but it's Fullers so I knew there was no leap of faith needed. Bottle number #026528. I looked for a BBE date curious what it might be given they clearly suggest you lay this down to age/improve it; but can't find it. [later-edit/PS, now I see it with a tip-off from an earlier review below, at the very base of the back lable; BBE 'End 2028', ie 10+ years]. ... 2/3rds of the way through my glass, now the head is lacing, and this brew is still just wonderful...

Nov 06, 2018
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monkist from Hungary

4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had the 2017 year edition of this Vintage Ale, Limited Edition with a numbered bottle # 129128.
Love Fullers big time, they never made anything bad nor even mediocre. So far my favorite was the Golden Pride and I'm quite glad that this ale is brewed in the same vein. The smell doesn't tell much but the taste even more: it feels like they took that smooth and sweet molasses-like taste and they blended it with a more typical ale, creating a perfect fusion that isn't as in-your-face as the Golden but perfectly drinkable. Still smooth, perfectly balanced and never boring. I drank this beer on the day I quit my job to "celebrate" - perfect choice for the ocassion.

Oct 16, 2018
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.5

$11.62 (Including tax and deposit)/500 mL bottle ($ 0.681/oz) from The Lager Mill, Frankenmuth, MI. Reviewed 8/5/18.
Bottle marked on back label “Best before end 2024”, stored on shelf in store. Served at 55 degrees in a hand washed and dried Jester King snifter.
Appearance – 4.
Body – Deep amber, clear.
Head – Large (Maximum 4.8 cm, controlled center pour), off-white, moderately dense, average retention time, diminishing to an undulating four to ten mm ring and a complete layer with raised center. The ring undulations smooth out to a constant four mm. The second pour produced about one half the head of the first.
Lacing – None.
First pour – Amber, clear.
Aroma – 4 – Caramel and toffee, moderately strong.
Flavor – 4.25 – Begins semi-sweet with a bit of earthy hop flavor followed by caramel/toffee. It ends with the sweetness of the caramel/toffee flavor but avoids being cloying. No alcohol, no diacetyl, no dimethylsulfide.
Palate – 3.25 – Medium, creamy but approaching syrupy, soft carbonation.
Impression and interpretation – 4.5 – The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. While none of the characteristics taken alone are incredible, they combine to produce one of the best “new” beers I’ve had in some time. This has been cellared for four years and I’d forgotten about it until last night when I was organizing said cellar to better control its depletion.

Aug 05, 2018
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rex_4539 from Greece

3.76/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

L: Hazy red color, half finger off white head, excellent lacing, minimal carbonation.

S: Hops, malts, yeast.

T: Malty, yeasty, slightly hoppy. Distinct taste and flavors.

F: Medium bodied, extremely smooth.

O: Interesting ale but nothing I will look for again.

Aug 02, 2018
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sokol_1993 from California

4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Got one bottle from Total Wine, 2017 Edition.
A beautiful beer.
Look: dark brownish yellow, with ample head. A little bit too much during pour, actually.
Smell: the signature Fuller's smell of sweet floral honey, coupled with citrusy American Denali hops.
Taste: strong malt backbone, sweet, viscous like honey and molasses, yet it is balanced perfectly by the hoppiness.
Feel: full body, however the booze was apparent.

Overall: excellent beer. Will try to age it next time.

Jul 09, 2018
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stevoj from Idaho

3.99/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle at Beer Mongers. Dark amber with small bubbly head. Malty aroma, woody notes, leather. Taste too is mostly malts, bottle conditioning adds some tannic notes. Some sweet malts and toffee too. Elegant. 2009 bottle in cellar.

Jun 20, 2018
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puck1225 from Texas

4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a gorgeous beer: deep, rich orangish red with a nice short lived head and beautiful curtain lacing.

Enjoyed the orange citrus smell with a bit a booze. Silky feel. Very rich taste: molasses, dark fruit, orange and a bit of dark honey. Going to buy another bottle to age.

May 21, 2018
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EmperorBevis from England

4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled, boxed and bottle conditioned
Pours a burnished gold coloured body with ruby hues and full on white head with cranberry notes and hints of brandy
Deep sugar plum aroma
All that in the flavour with rum fudge

Mar 10, 2018
Vintage Ale from Fuller's
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 1358 ratings