Vintage Ale

Vintage AleVintage Ale
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Old Ale
Ranked #9
Ranked #1,566
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.
View: Beers
Reviews: 709 | Ratings: 1,362 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by beerandcycling88:
Photo of beerandcycling88
beerandcycling88 from Washington

4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Very nice presentation with the fancy box and the adornments on the bottle. 2008 vintage Bottle number 143310.

A Pours a clear tawny color with short lived thin white head.

S A very strong fruity note that has cherries, and raisins with just a hint of alcohol.

T Lots of fruit with cherries, alcohol, and a hint of hop bitterness on the back to provide some balance. Also a bit of an earthy presence as well.

M thick and creamy as an old ale should be.

Overall this is an excellent old ale that is perfect for sipping, on a cold day or special occasion. It has held up quite well in the cellar for the past three years with no apparent harm. Also an excellent value at only $8.00 for a bottle.

Dec 24, 2011
More User Reviews:
Photo of Marius
Marius from Netherlands

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2006 (opened in 2015)
Pours a chestnut red ale, with some foam that dissipates quite soon, which is only normal after 9 years of ageing.
The smell is quite rich, with caramel sweetness and a very strong brandy feel up front, followed by dried fruit (figs and raisins) and a hint of alcohol.
Smooth texture with light carbonation, warm to the feel, it tastes like caramel, toffee and dried nuts, and also figs and brandy. The finish and after-taste are slightly bitter. The alcohol is perfectly incorporated in this ale - it's present in the smell as well as taste, and feels like it belongs.

Vintage 2013 (opened in 2015)
Caramel, malted sugars, faint cognac/bourbon aromas and alcohol. Very smooth mouthfeel. As the previous versions, it doesn’t disappoint. However, it is lacking the complexity and rich flavours of previous versions.

Apr 12, 2015
Photo of philbe311
philbe311 from Pennsylvania

4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage - 2009 (No. 105054)

A - A finger and a half worth of cascading slightly late to develop light khaki colored froth that is equal parts airy and creamy... Audibly fizzy... Limited retention gives way to a full rich creamy mostly thick lacing... The color is a muted light-to-medium brown... There is a subtle murkiness about... A limited bit of sluggish carbonation can be seen rising along the sides of the glass...

S - Holy malt bomb batman... I love it... Bursting at the seams with rich caramel and toffee... Loaded with an abundance of dark fruits... Molasses... Light notes of brown sugar... Just a hint of vanilla... A very light whiff of booziness on the back end... Stellar with excellent depth and complexity...

T - Light brown sugar notes to start... Next comes a wave of dark fruit notes... Next there are subtle hints of toffee, vanilla and caramel... There seems to be a very subtle re component on the finish that compliments the warmth of the alcohol... The booziness lingers on the finish...

M - On the fuller side of medium bodied... Smooth and sophisticated... Coats the mouth and is a bit sticky... Some limited carbonation... The deep finish turns a bit chalky with just a touch of dryness... A light alcohol induced warmth lingers on the finish as well...

D - What a wonderful beer... Elegant... Sophisticated... A definite sipper... I found my self relaxing more and more with each and every sip... Beyond very good and just a notch below world class... I eagerly await the ability to try additional vintages... I'm not surprised that I liked this beer given the lofty expectations that I had, but I'm surprised that I enjoyed this much... Highly recommended and must for those BAs who enjoy the occassional malt bomb...

Aug 14, 2014
Photo of notchucknorris
notchucknorris from California

4.17/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a clear dark amber color with a thin off-white head. Looks really still and dead in the glass, but this is a 2008 bottle, so that may be to be expected.

S: Kind of a strange mix of things going on here, but it's really nice. Syrupy caramel and maybe a touch of molasses, lots of dark fruit (raisin, fig syrup and maybe a little prune), toffee and a little tickle of booze. It almost smells like it was aged in sherry or rum barrels.

T: A light trace of caramel and honey-soaked malt, then some rum raisin, toffee and prune. Finishes with some molasses, brown sugar and a trace of tobacco. Mouthfeel is a touch light, but I don't feel like it hurts here too much. Says to drink by 2011, but this doesn't taste over the hill at all. Very nice.

Aug 03, 2015
Photo of IckyT2012
IckyT2012 from Florida

4.07/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014: Full of raisins with a little bitter bite on the finish. 3.94
2012: Richer smell, fuller body, but the flavor isn't much different from the newer bottle. 3.99
2009: Hard to believe this one is 6 years old. It actually tastes a bit watered down, instead of stronger. It does go down a bit creamier. The bite is completely gone. The raisin flavor is nearly gone, and a touch of cognac and honey is added. Very smooth, but not as impressive a flavor as I had expected. 4.07
Fun experiment. Thanks for the recommendation to age it, but I won't be devoting cellar space to this in the future.

Jul 21, 2015
Photo of SportsandJorts
SportsandJorts from Virginia

4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 2012 drank in 2014

Appearance: This beer pours a deep burnt orange, almost the color of a fall leaf with some brownish hues. A two finger creamy head forms. The head has a tannish color to it. The retention is very strong and a thin tan layer stays on the surface the whole time. As it moves around the glass it leaves behind huge foamy streaks on the glass. It is fairly hazy and almost opaque, but streaks of brightness break through the haze.

Smell: The scent starts off with a few different characteristics. The is a strong graininess to it, hinting at toasted grains and caramelized malts with no signs of roasted malts. Some strong hoppy aromas come through reminiscent of citrus, herbs and some earthiness. Overall the scent is sweet with small amounts of earthy bitterness.

Taste: The taste opens up a very slight hop bite. The taste of the hops is citrus, herbs, and some earthiness. The bitterness is quickly drowned out by a rich sweetness, caramels, toffee, and some dark fruits. The fruitiness varies from raisins to figs. Some maple syrup comes through lightly and mixes with some tobacco. Some booziness is present near the end in the form of rum or possibly brandy.

Mouthfeel: The feel on this one is thick and chewy. There is plenty of sweetness in the flavor but almost none is left behind, eaten up by mostly tobacco and some earthy bitterness. There is a slight syrupy stickiness comes through along with slight alcohol warmth.

Overall: This is easily one of the more influential old ales. It's a must try for anyone who likes the style and a staple in any cellar. The amount of improvement from one year to two is pretty substantial. This would be a fun one to do a large vertical on to see where the peak is. I think at 2+ years it is still moving upward. The balancing with the hops on this one is unlike any old ale I have had before. I look forward to slowly stocking my cellar with these boxes.

Dec 10, 2014
Photo of monkist
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
Photo of stakem
stakem from Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 2005 - procured from a store shelf circa 2008 at clearance discount price of $3.

500ml bottle into a thistle appears a perfectly polished mahogany color with rich khaki head 2 fingers tall that slowly fades leaving a curtain of webby lace.

Aroma is bready with caramel, raison, dates, slight herbs, apple, pear and trace minerals.

Taste is bready layers of malt sweetness - caramel, toast, vanilla, slight leafy oxidation, raison, molasses and fruity alcohol.

Medium in body, modestly carbonated and very pleasant/easy drinking. For only having 8.5% abv, it held up nicely for 11 years. Worth seeking out. Id love to know how the other vintages of this are and how they taste fresh. I am surprised more people dont talk about this as a cellar candidate as it has held up exceptionally well. Id clear shelves at $3 per bottle if the opportunity presented itself again.

Dec 13, 2016
Photo of Ozzylizard
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
Photo of Sammy
Sammy from Canada (ON)

4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Outstanding 2004 edition in year one, bottle 37989 Comes with a beautiful presentation box. I gave out a slew of these instead of single malt scotch and got great feedback while saving loads of money for more beer for me. Deliciously hoppy, pale ale with barley that remains long on the palate.

Had the 2005 edition fresh and it was a nice scotch taste, easy drink.
2006 edition showed hoppiness out front, drunk 1/3 year into release, then malt and vintage scotchiness.
Had the 2006 a year later and good soapy head but off-taste. Had it at end of 2008 and it was rich, with dried apricot, a citrus hoppy aroma, and lacey white. Had the 2006 five years later and a sweetish blend with a richer malt complexity in the finish. Still barleywinish.
The 2007 edition tasted like a young barleywine/old ale, with drying hops from beginning to end, some carmel malt secondary.
The 2008 was not astringent. Promises of a good old ale.
The 2009 was a well done old ale. Mild fruit, carmel gave it an above average mouthfeel. Not sweet, and most drinkable.
The 2010 was a good rich malting, with promise for ageing.
The 2012 was a rich maltiness, with citrus hop finish (had in '14).

May 13, 2005
Photo of T100Mark
T100Mark from California

4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 Vintage Ale (bottle # 131446). A Euro Bomber (16.9 ounces) poured into Imperial pint/nonic glass (I felt like "going for it").

Appearance - Beautiful copper color. A little bit hazy. Mondo head! Big stickage! A sight to behold.

Smell - Big malt! Sweet. Tart. Spicy. Hoppy.

Taste - Big malt! Sweet. Tart (black licorice). Hoppy. A touch spicy. A bit herbal. Alcohol. There's a lot going on here.

Mouth - Slick.

Overall - A British Bitter with the volume turned up to 11! Very tasty! Awfully pricey! A beer for special occasions.

May 14, 2016
Photo of dogboy
dogboy from Canada (AB)

4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Paid $9.50 Canadian for a bottle of this from my local liquor store. Worth every penny and made me wish I could afford more. Poured a gorgeous deep red/brown and went down way too easy for a beer of this strength.

Fuller brew some of the best examples of English ale and this has to be their best offering. Makes me wish I still lived down the road from the brewery...

Feb 28, 2007
Photo of nmann08
nmann08 from Virginia

4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

Dec 14, 2011
Photo of phaedrusovchaos
phaedrusovchaos from Romania

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Mar 12, 2012
Photo of drjman

4/5  rDev -5.2%

May 30, 2012
Photo of ElviraS
ElviraS from Estonia

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Koht ( Tallinn, Estonia)

Aug 30, 2014
Photo of KarlHungus
KarlHungus from Minnesota

4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2000 vintage. This brew pours a murky brown color with amber hues around the edges. The head is mammoth and white. Lacing is thorough. The aroma screams that this brew is big. Hoppy, piney, malty. The taste is a lot more balanced than the aroma led me to believe it would be. The sip has a pronounced malt backbone, while hops break through in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is full bodied with good carbonation. Overall, this is a very good brew.

Nov 01, 2005
Photo of Proteus93
Proteus93 from Virginia

4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

04-24-2008 review

A 2004 vintage, #85237 of a 95000 bottle run. It states 'best before end of 2007,' but that's just because they "are obliged to say that." This year is listed as being from 'the finest Goldings hops, floor malted Maris Otter barley, and their unique yeast'

A: Aside from the presentation of the bottle in the box, which is very nice, the brew pours a nice deep golden - almost a new penny copper. A light, beachsand head rests on top.

S: Quite intense and rich... the aroma wafted from the bottle quite a ways upon opening. Very ripe banana, like a banana bread. Some spiciness, cinnamon comes to mind. A bit of a perfume-like aroma (like gin) with a little kick of alcohol heat on the back again.

T: The same gin-like flavours noted in the aroma, thrown together with a mellow malt sweetness. Full and very assertive flavours, finished with a warming, noticable alcohol.

M: Quite smooth... the carbonation has calmed substantially, as it will, but it has held on to enough to give some substance. Perhaps not quite silky, but very smooth and very nice.

D: While it's not an enormous alcohol content, it's still on the bigger side, and doesn't really hide that. More like a premium liquor than an ale, this is a mellow sipper. Quite nice and worth the $7-something.


05-17-2008 review

Adding a review of the 2005 vintage.

A: This one has much more ruby colouring to it, on the brown side. A whiter, and a little more fizzy - though still reasonably creamy head.

S: Some tart fruit aromas, some spiciness, a warm sweet scent under it.

T: The flavours of the 2005 are far more subtle and well balanced when compared to the 2004. Some earthiness and spiciness - though not a boozy alcohol. I would up this one to 4.5 for the 2005 vintage. Very nice.

M: similar mouthfeel to the 2004, without the boozy aftertaste. Nice and smooth.

D: Again, similar to the 2004... nice to sip at. Enjoy on a quiet evening, perhaps with some fine cheeses.

Apr 24, 2008
Photo of Bandi
Bandi from New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev -11.1%

Jun 29, 2014
Photo of madelf66
madelf66 from Pennsylvania

4.46/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dec 12, 2015
Photo of theopholis
theopholis from California

4.85/5  rDev +14.9%
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.

Nov 30, 2006
Photo of bobsy
bobsy from Canada (ON)

4.07/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle from the LCBO. Golden body with a rapidly dissipating white head. Caramel malts, wood and grass on the nose. Very nice mouthfeel - smooth with a good level of carbonation. The taste is a symphony of caramel, honey, spices and berries, but seems to be lacking something that would push it over the edge into a masterpiece. I’m sure a few years in a cellar would work wonders for this.

Jan 12, 2008
Photo of rturn2
rturn2 from Georgia

4.73/5  rDev +12.1%

Nov 18, 2014
Photo of fionn13
fionn13 from Ireland

4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

Jun 03, 2012
Photo of R_Kole
R_Kole from Canada (AB)

5/5  rDev +18.5%

Nov 01, 2014
Vintage Ale from Fuller's
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 1362 ratings