Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

670 Reviews
Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale

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

Style: 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%.

Added by Murph on 02-20-2002

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Reviews: 670 | Ratings: 1,260
Photo of hustlesworth
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage no. 084075

A- there's nothin like that fizz when you pour a bottle conditioned beer. The head on this one rivals the beauty of any dubbel or BSDA- it's buttercream colored and bubbly and lacey and is a masterpiece floating atop this splendiforous murky burnt orange rusty colored ale.

S- imagine Fullers ESB on meth, with more pronounced toffee type aromas and lighter on the chocolatey 'darker' ones. Every type of caramel and praline, milk chocolate, toffee, butterscotch, hazelnut, raisin, date, fig, almost burnt cookies, earthy notes of pipe tobacco and leather, mineral water, and sandalwood.

T- the first thing i notice is a ridiculously concentrated flavor of toffee and deeply toasted marshmallow, leading into sweet nuttiness and caramel and a balancing earthy dark woodsy bitterness. This is an extraordinary ale. Compared to the flavor, the aroma now seems to lean on the fruity side, but the taste of melon and pineapple alcohol are prevalent, adding a fine layer of softly sophisticated heat, like chocolate with just a tiny bit of chili pepper. Fig, date, prune and black grape skin take on darker, more caramelized tones here as they would after being doused with cognac and cooked into a reduction sauce. A bit of peppery spice bounces around in the finish with lingering tea like very mellow bitterness thanks to masterful use of hops and careful aging.

MF- cream on cream on cream. Cream city, bitch. When I think of bottle conditioned perfection, I naturally think Belgian. Well, first I think quad and then I think Belgian. Anyway, it's because of what happens to the beer inside that bottle. It's zippy, natural, fresh, and sometimes surprising. Thats one end of the spectrum- this old ale showcases the other softer end which for me, often goes unappreciated. Delicate yet noticeable. Mild mannered but authoritative, enhancing the obvious generosity and quality of ingredients in such a way that it somehow (and it may be the yeast manipulating me here) seems an extension of the figurative creaminess itself, as perhaps a swashbuckler's rapier would be an extension of his own arm. Or for you beer geeks out there, darth vader's red phallic light saber. Either way, there's a seamless, streamlined melding from bubbles to body and I'd give it a 6 if I could.

D- expletives should be used here. This one hasn't even reached its 'peak' (which the brewery states is 3-4 years of aging) yet it is perfect to me after only two. I hold much delight in knowing that I can grab a couple more bottles of the 2010 to lay down for a few more years. This is a commanding beer, fit for celebration and commencement, and when we cross paths again it won't be used for amusement on a boring Tuesday night.

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Photo of TastyTaste
5/5  rDev +19.9%
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.

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Photo of nohops4me
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm no official beer rater, I just have some favorite tastes. So my comments here are not on the technical side. However, this past Christmas, I opened and shared a bottle of Fuller's Vintage Ale from 1999 and DAMN was that tasty. 15 years out and still kickin'.

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Photo of josanguapo
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From lacasadelacerveza. Un Teku glass. Playing Grim Fandango Remastered. The very definition of a balanced beer. Everything is well executed here, and after each sip you're yearning for more. High ABV well hidden

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Photo of Pavlovian_Programming
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So some friends cracked open a ten year old or so one of these. I forget what year it was exactly, but it was undoubtedly the best beer I've ever had. It had a flavour like nothing I had tried before and I really wish I could describe it better. The box had disintegrated from age, but the beer inside was fine. This experience inspired me to grab a 2015 bottle, and I'll be bringing it to my mates cellar shortly.

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Photo of bobhits
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm giving this beer a perfect score based on the 2004. I've had 3 bottles of 2004 and a bottle of 2005 and 2006. The 2005 and 2006 are like completely differnt beers. I REALLY REALLY question beefadvocates revewing this beer as just vintage ale and not review each year differntly. If the differnce in the 2005 and 06 is almost completely a result of age then I truly am impressed.

The 2004 has this AMAZING cherry sweetness with a perfect balance of hops and malts coming in after that nice cherry start. The finish is smooth. The color is a redist color with a nice white head. The smell is of course a nice citric smell with a good bit of cherry.

This is simple a perfect brew when aged (or at least the 2004 is). I am giving the againing all the credit for the 2004 in this score. This beer apperntly HAS to be aged at least 3 years. I really mean this. Don't even DARE drink this until it's been aged this long. The 05 and 06 were simply not in the same league.

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Photo of nasty15108
4.99/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 1pt .9oz bottle (2006 / #75323) into a stemless red wine glass.

A - Poured a cloudy brown with ruby red edges and a slightly soapy head.

S - Heavy malt character with hints of dark ripe fruit and butterscotch.

T - Malty biscuit flavor with hints of butterscotch. Alcohol comes through in the end but doesn't over power.

MF - probably one of the best beer I have ever tasted. All beers should taste like this one! An absolute classic!

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.98/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Fuller's Vintage Ale (2009) has a thin, cream-colored head, a murky, orange-brown-copper, sort of brilliant appearance (under light), not much lacing, and no visible bubble streams. The aroma is of deep, strong, sweet, syrupy, moldy, ironized, pithy, fruity, bready malt, and the flavor is of all that, with pale fruit, nougat, cream cheese, relatively mild hop bitterness, red dirt, butter, caramalized sugar, toffee, caramel topping on vanilla soft serve, bread crust, flaky pie crust, and a slight celery. Mouthfeel is heavy, and Fuller's Vintage Ale (2009) finishes wet and ultra-rich. Overall, this is good at the highest estate. Almost perfect, in every way.


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Photo of BadRockBeer
4.97/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Serving Type Sampled: One pint brown crown top bottle. Sealed with a ribbon reading “Limited Edition 2004” The bottle is number 74435 of 95000. Packaged in a dainty maroon box. Very proper looking. Served at cellar temperature.

Appearance: Pours burnt amber in color with slight chill haze. Very little head that quickly turned into a nice lace which eventually diminished as well.

Smell: Reeks of sherry, malts and dry fruity esters. The nose defiantly fits the style. -Pleasant

Taste: Smooth wonderful maltiness right up front. Followed by a rush of dried fruits, I taste hints of prune or raisins. As I mentioned in the nose maybe a sweet sherry of the finest make of course. The presents of the goldings are not so apparent. I detect a slight bitterness, but could not point out the hops. The finish is all about the warming alcohol, not overbearing but obvious. The aftertaste leaves you pondering with lovely complex caramel malt. Wow!

Mouthfeel: Medium in body, kind of on the thin side. Alcohol warmth is evident and pleasing. Carbonation is very soft making this a nice creamy ale.

Drinkability: This ale is very authoritative. It demands that you sit down and enjoy it slowly, every last drop. Reminds me of a younger barley wine. Very enjoyable and satisfying. This is a true English master piece.

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Photo of PatrickJR
4.97/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Celebrating my 600th review!

Poured from a 16.9 oz bottle into oversized snifter.

2005 Vintage, bottle number 49848. Fullers recommends 3-4 years, and fellow BA's have also remarked at howwell the 05 is drinking right now; I am priveleged to enjoy such a beer at such a time.

A - Somewhere between a light-ish cola color and a very dark gold. Very murky but with some light coming through on the edges. A surprisingly thick half inch, off white head rises with great retention considering age. Minimal lacing.

S - Where to start? The aroma is almost life changing; I'd give it a 6 if I could. An immediate smell of apples, berries, and raisins fills the top half of the snifter. Caramel and toffee add another layer to the fruit giving the impression that a decadent dessert is baking a nearby oven. A seemingly endless number of other aromas jump in and out of the fray including vanilla, molasses, cherries, sweet/baking spices, and licorice. Just a hint of papery oxidation peeks out also.

T - A very nice translation of the aroma. Moderate to high sweetness with lots of caramel and toffee flavors, backed with just a touch of molasses. Dark bread lurks persistently in the background as the brew progresses into deep fruit flavors. There's a major apple and pear overtone, but the massive dark fruits are nothing to ignore. The most noticable flavor is raisin, rounded out with prunes and overripe currants with licorice creeping in on the edges. Fruit flavors develop into a sherry-like character with slight oxidation. Small notes of vanilla and honey work their way into the vinous character. The sherry notes lead into vague wood flavors and a noticable alcohol presence but just enough to help dry things out a bit. Mild bitterness follows with a touch of brine character, though the beer still finishes medium-sweet. Aftertaste is full of sweet malt and spice.

M - Medium to full bodied with soft, tight carbonation. Extremely smooth. Though not as thick as I might've expected, it works very well with the flavors without turning into a syurpy sludge.

D - Fantastic. Though I've had a lot of great beers during the journey, this is truly in the upper eschelon. Infinitely complex aromas and flavors make this a tough one to beat. I hope to be able to sample various vintages at various ages. I do wish I had more, but it looks like this might be a once in a lifetime beer for me. Such a thing is not meant to last!

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Photo of BeerManDan
4.97/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

By far, the best beer from Fuller's. It poured a nice copper orange/brown and the foam was light brown. The smell had a sweet fruity aroma, with a hint of a malty nature. The taste was out of this world. It had a sweet fruity flavor and the sweet/bitterness with the complex aroma and flavor just set this ale into a different world. Now, I can enjoy two of Fuller's strong ales, the other being Fuller's "1845". This is one of my top beers and I will stock up on it before my store sells out.

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Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.95/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2001, sampled Nov. 11 2006.

Despite being 5 years old, this beer produces an effervescent carbonation that races through a clear dark maple-syrupy amber beer to form a modest two-fingers of rich khaki head. It leaves a sticky, fragmented lace.

The smell is absolutly mouth-watering. Fruity hops, raisin, nut, cranberry, dark cherry, and yes, even the aroma of fresh pound-cake, form a chorus that wafts out of the glass without even a suggestion of alcohol. As the beer warms a yeasty aroma becomes apparent.

Upon sipping I am struck first by a sweet, rich, nutty, maltiness that is soon lifted off the palate by a combination of carbonation and very soft but fully-present fruity and earthy English hops. They introduce yeasty esters of dark fruit for a bit before a warming alcohol gently creeps in and calms all the layers of flavor on top of a woody scotch character. The aftertase is a delightful vapory perfume. Cordial and berry notes emerge with continued quaffing and amazingly the more I drink this beer the more cohesive and smooth it seems to get. It is very tempting to waste the precious elixer by gulping it.

Mouthfeel is light and gives up an inital soft billow of lifting carbonation before going totally still in the mouth. This beer surpasses and defys my expectations of the style. How ironic that my highest rated-beer may be in my least-favorite style. It is complex and boldly falvorful while amazingly light and drinkable. Yes, it would go very well with a light cigar, but if you have an aged bottle of this, I don't suggest adulterating the experience.

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Photo of Snow81
4.95/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Clear amber haze

Head: Creamy tan head

Smell: nutty with some caramel or toffee and a little heat

Taste: Rich sticky malts with a little heat and a hint of hops on the back

Weight: Medium to heavy body with a medium carbonation

Finish: Light nut with caramel and a hint of heat with a nice stickiness on the lips

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Photo of Benny_Efkola
4.93/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had a 2007 vintage that I had stored in my cellar for 8years! Cracked it open in October 2015 and , well, it's as if I had poured a rainbow from the anus of a unicorn! Just pure magic juice!

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Photo of Schimms
4.93/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2015 Bottle
No. 132876

L: Into a tulip glass: pours a reddish orange with big frothy white head close to an inch and a half. Great lacing up front - gone by the end.

S: Sweet malt, caramel, minimal hops.

T: Sweet, as promised. Juicy raisin up front. Mmmm...Fuller's biscuit flavor - subtle - makes an appearance at the end of the taste; liquid bread. God, I love Fuller's biscuity flavor.

F: Light carbonation. Smooth. Medium to full body. Leaves my tongue slightly dry.

O: A superb ale. I could drink this every day for the rest of my life.

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Photo of TempeBeerMan
4.92/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2008 Vintage. Bottle # 113086. Poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a murky ruby-brown with a just over a one-finger fluffy off-white head. Yup, not "cloudy"...murky. Has some lacing, but it and the head fades to nothing as the beer warms.

S - Wow. Strong aroma of toffee, butterscotch, dark fruits, earthy hops, and spicy booze. One of the best beers I have ever had the pleasure of smelling. I just kept smelling it before each sip.

T - Describing the incredibly complex and delicious mix of flavors presented here is challenging, but I will give it a go. Rich, hearty flavors of toffee, fig, butterscotch, fig, date, raisin, maple, caramel, overripe currants, cherry pipe tobacco, mint, anise, and clean grain alcohol. Musty leafy and funky hops carry the finish and offer a deliciously offsetting taste. A hint of non-metallic mineral (gypsum?) in the aftertaste. Delicious.

M - Full bodied, with low carbonation. Smooth, but abv also prickles the tongue a little. Just a hint of syrupyness as it warms. Suits the style extremely well.

O - One of the best beers I have ever had. Simply superb. Love the richness and complexity of the flavors. The fact that there is a store near me that has six more dusty boxes of this fills me with glee, and I will be restocking!

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Photo of Offa
4.9/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is wonderful stuff, rich, complex, smooth.

I just had, in Oct 08, the 2006 vintage, bottle 87778.

Deep ruby red with hints of brownish-amber, it has a small-medium pale tan head, creamy and dense, very slowly shrinking to a thin top that itself eventually disappears to foamy ring and wisps. It leaves a little lace, but not permanently.

The aroma is a little subdued but wonderfully complex. It immediately has a lot of fruit and spice, stewed fermented plums and apples with some dried fig, whole wheat bread and toasted crust, cane syrup and brown sugar. The bread-crust elements slowly weaken to barely perceptible with plum wine becoming noticeable.

The taste is stronger and very complex, rich, and satisfying. It has a lot of fruit and spice up front, with port, caramelized stewed fruit, a hint of anise, a hint of pekmez (Turkish fruit "molasses"), a hint of a nice aged rum. It's thick and "chewy" but lively and zesty. Though sweet, it beautifully develops into a zesty, spicey-bitter finish. Alcohol is noticeable, barely, in the warmth, etc. It is amazingly smooth considering the flavours and strength.

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Photo of pbrian
4.88/5  rDev +17%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Everthing about this beer smacks of quality, from the beautiful big bottle to the thin tan head that remains in your glass after the experience is over. Simply delightful.

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Photo of doubleipa
4.88/5  rDev +17%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I put 8 of these away back in 2004 and this is the first one I've had. Why did I wait so long. This is an incredible beer. Heavy malt, toasted, nutty, light yeast, dough tawny port, nutmeg aromas. Nice frothy head. Mostly clear, but a littel opaque, reddish-brown color. Lots of dark fruit in the taste.

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Photo of theopholis
4.85/5  rDev +16.3%
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.

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Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
4.85/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I cannot believe that I was even fortunate enough to find a few of these at my favorite store in Milwaukee! I have to admit that I had very very high expectations going into this beer, so I could have been easily disappointed. Needless to say, it was quite opposite of disappointment. This is probably the best smelling beer that I have ever come across. There was a very nice light head with heavy lacing. This was a 2000 vintage and I sampled it 1/23/04 so it was nice and conditioned. The taste is somewhat sweet and the flavors spread across the entire palette. I would love to get my hands on some older vintages. If you have the fortunate opportunity to find one of these, you would be foolish to pass it up. This is one great beer!

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Photo of titty_mcbitty
4.84/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This ale pours a beautiful burnt sienna. Not much a head until the second pour.

Licorice and sweetness is what I get from the aroma. Some malt and hazelnut.

The taste is wonderful - licorice, burnt caramel, nuts and raisins, cherries, and rum. There's more flavor that I can't even put my thumb on.

Goes down very smoothly. Light thickness and a coating flavor. Slightly viscous.

This is now one of the best beers I've had; at least for the style. In my opinion, this is a 100 rated beer.

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Photo of bluegrassbrew
4.82/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage, bottle # 85725

Pours a very clear ruby red with a solid white head that settles to a nice lace.

Wow! I don't even have to try to get the nose off this one, it reached up and popped me in the face. Smells sweet, grapes and other fruit with maybe a bit of peppermint.

Taste is amazing! Right of the bat, strawberry jelly and grapes, cream and biscuits. Huh, sounds like a fantastic breakfast spread. Alcohol is only noticable after significant warming. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Slightly dry in the finish with a touch of bitterness. One the best brews I've had to date. I'm interested to see how the other vintages compare.

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Photo of divineaudio
4.82/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

imperial pint into a tulip glass. 2007 edition, bottle number 143547. the presentation of this beer is impeccable.

color is a hazy, dark reddish orange. a dense, two finger, tan head rises to the occasion and settles back to a thin cap. leaves a nice bit of leggy lacing down the sides of the glass.

smells of apricot, cherry, a little biscuity and a little musty. slight hop oil aroma and a bit of alcohol presence. i could sit and sniff this for hours.

taste is amazingly smooth and complex. toasted and carmel malts hit the tongue first followed by a warming bit of alcohol. some bready and fruity notes pop up and mingle with the hops before fading into a spicy, syrupy finish. very luxurious.

fuller side of a medium body with enough carbonation to compensate for the syrupy qualities. very, very smooth. really feels more like drinking a fine port or sherry than beer.

very drinkable, but this is definitely a beer to be sipped and savored. so good that i almost feel bad drinking it. ages very well, and you can bet i'll be saving my 08 and 09 versions for quite a while.

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Photo of dogboy
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
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...

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.17 out of 5 based on 1,260 ratings.
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