Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale
Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale

Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

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%.

As the new Head Brewer, this 2017 edition of Vintage Ale champions a new American hop variety Denali, used to give the beer a citrusy, pine-like flavour and a new British malt variety Laureate. Combined with trusty British hops Target and Goldings, our 21st Vintage Ale is a well-rounded and balanced beer wilh Fuller's yeast adding the orange, marmalade characters to it.
Vinlage 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.

As the beer is bottle conditioned it will form a natural sediment, so pour carefully, sit back and enjoy the very finest of Fuller's ales.

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User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 697 | Ratings: 1,330
Photo of KooVee
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.

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Photo of teromous
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.

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Photo of StJamesGate
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.

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Photo of Phi11
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

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Photo of janubio
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.

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Photo of Nass
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

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Photo of JonnoWillsteed
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...

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Photo of monkist
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.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
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.

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Photo of rex_4539
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.

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Photo of sokol_1993
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.

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Photo of stevoj
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.

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Photo of puck1225
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.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
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

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Photo of redleg64
4.72/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

While perusing the shelves of my local wine and beer emporium, I came across a single, elegant box. I’m intrigued by any beer that comes in a box and this one was no exception. The price was reasonable and after I bought it I did some research and discovered the history behind this storied ale.

I have a 2016 vintage that I intended to store for a few years, but curiosity got the best of me tonight. I pulled it out of the box, broke the seal and pried the cap off with my favorite bottle opener. The beer poured a rich, vibrant, deep shade of copper and left a thin, creamy head that complimented it quite nicely. I can’t comment on the smell due to some nose issues, but I’m sure it’s pleasant. The thing I enjoy most about old ales is the complex flavor profiles found in them, and this is no exception. I’m not going to elaborate about the nuances...I’ll just say this beer is definitely one of the all time best I have had the pleasure of enjoying. I just wish I was able to buy another bottle to enjoy later down the road.

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4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage No.146925
Poured with a 1/4" head, falls to a cap and then ring quickly. Murky brown with orange highlights.
Aroma started out muted but opened up to dark fruits, tea and earth.
Tea, herbal, mint. Tobacco. Mild caramel. Dark fruit...fig/prune even (?) Late notes of what seem like wood/barrel.
Medium body, low carbonation. Long finish with a combination of interesting flavors.
I've owned these since they were fresh, have a couple left....really fun to open an almost 10 year old English ale and still very tasty.

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Photo of qrazvan
4.41/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 Vintage Ale: brownish colour, very small head and low carbonation. Bourbon smell.
The taste is dominated by the wooden flavours, the bourbon and scotch are very present. It has a barley wine feel also and a bit of sweetness, not too much, just right. The body is a bit thinner than expected. Low alcohol content for a 14-year old beer.
Very good.

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

Shared the 2016 Vintage with a good friend. Big flavour profile with toffee pudding and oak notes that kept me sipping and contemplating the deep flavours here.

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Photo of ajm5108
4.85/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Deep copper, perfect amount of fluffy, inviting barm. Aroma is decadently sweet & enticing - calvados, apple must, chardonnay grape, butterscotch, sticky toffee pudding. Delightful. Taste focuses more on those heartier, warm flavors - toasted nut, toffee brittle, prune, fig with a trace of honey and a cognac heat. Finishes with a delicate kiss of hop bitterness. It was oddly thin for the style, which is really the only criticism I can lay against. The standard for old ales.

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Photo of mothmanscott
4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fuller's Vintage Ale, Limited Release. This example was a 2011 vintage, serial number 135390. Fully 6 years old... Two years longer than recommended by the Brewer. It was a nice experience but I kept it a little too long as there were hints of oxidation. Poured a murky, thin prune juice brown, producing 2+ fingers of shortlived, tan head that leaves a thin surface collar & a nice web of clumpy lacing. Aroma is deeply roasted malt, chocolate, molasses, toffee, date/fig/prune, oak/vanilla, whiskey, smoke, alcohol & buttery notes. Taste is dark fruit & whiskey forward having a biscuity, roasted malt, caramel, molasses, oak, slight burnt/smokey quality from mid-sip through the buttery finish. Butter, roast, smoke, raisins & alcohol lingers in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is low-medium carbonation & medium-full body with a tongue coating, smoothness throughout the sip but developing a slightly chalky aftertaste. The alcohol is quite prominent even for an 8.5 ABV. Hell, who knows, being bottle-conditioned the alcohol content may have gone up over the years.

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Photo of unclekeith
4.22/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2016 Near room temp. Big billowing off white head,clean dark amber. Figs and other sweet fruit on the nose. Sweet with little bitterness - more fruits and some heat from the alcohol. A bit more him for the style. A long time want that I unexpectedly tracked down.

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Photo of bubseymour
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had a Vintage 2015 in August 2017. Nice "old" (damp cave/old basement smell) aroma with English malts and flavorings you just can't replecate from beers to style made in the US. My friends and I really enjoyed this one. A touch light and watery and not as "big" as I typically like for the style. Overall its a great beer though and reasonably priced for how sophisticated the box and bottle is. Great for gift giving or to "show off" at a party.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2016 release (seems early but what the hey) - Poured a copper body with orange tints with minimal head and lace. The aroma has a touch of caramel/toffee (sticky) malt with more notes of dark fruits. The beer is sweet, sticky, has dark fruits flavors like raisins, plums, figs, mixes with a sturdy malt base, has a sweetness from various components that add balance yet isn't hard to drink as low ABV and not a heavy beer.

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Photo of neurobot01
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage. 500ml bottle into a Perfect Pint glass at cellar temp.

Look: a hearty orange with lots of carbonation and a moderate light tan head.

Smell: bread pudding, cinnamon, banana, vanilla, grapes.

Taste: rich hearty brandy, bread pudding, tapioca, sherry, toasted almond. It's impressive how completely the character changes from rich tinged with brighter fruity notes up front to an almost toasty, doughy finish.

Feel: pretty thick, but very drinkable. Similar in some ways to St. Bernardus Abt 12.

Overall: now I'm really sad I didn't pick up more of these back when they had them at my local Costco. Not something I'd drink every day, but quite good. All the flavors work well together, and every aspect of the beer is very good to excellent.

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Photo of mac31
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Fruit, fruit, fruit. I really like English beers. This is the most fruit driven English beer I've had. Malts are sweet and fruity. I get grape, raisin, plums from the malts. Also, I get some modest cooked caramel, biscuity, light breadiness that are apparent. There are some mild roasty notes in there too. All the sweetness is balanced out by a sly, but moderate amount of hoppiness. Hops are very earthy, which kick up in the finish. There is some slight citrus brightness. The Goldings really come through in this. Spices are soft and there is green bitterness without being vegetal. Hops are slightly minty and astringent (although not sure if the astringency comes from the hop compounds or the alcohol.) The body appeared thinnish in the beginning, but was actually medium and creamy the more I drank on. Carbonation started off spritzy, but mellowed out as the CO2 escaped the glass. If you love American styled and made beers, pass on this. If you like Belgians, more specifically quads, you will like this. This reminds of a baby quad/quad light with more roastiness and hoppiness. It's a nice beer, a year from now this would have beer more mellowed and better received (for me).

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 4.22 out of 5 with 1,330 ratings