Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

672 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: 672 | Ratings: 1,266
Photo of JDV
2.18/5  rDev -47.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

'05 bottle shared by chadspivey
Pours a clear copper color with light offwhite head. Very strong fruity, cherry to strawberry candy like smell to it. Reminded me of the hard strawberry candies with the gooey centers. Taste, however is quite mild and bland with some fruity maltiness . Not too offensive, some guazy flavors and super tame, I thought.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
2.23/5  rDev -46.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

The beer pours a nice clear brown/gold color that looks nice with no head and a little lacing. The smell is very light and hard to smell very well, but there's a slight hoppiness to it, but the hops flavor/aroma has morphed almost into a metallic flavor. The mouthfeel isn't so great, it's a little offensive. Overall I wouldn't try this ever again, not great.

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Photo of TMoney2591
2.4/5  rDev -42.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Served in a Sweetwater mini-snifter.

2007 vintage. I've long eyed this boxed bottle, and now I finally get to try some of the innards. It pours a lightly-brackish sunset amber topped by a minor bit of khaki foam. The nose comprises red apple skin, sweet caramel, and perfume-y flowers. The taste is an unpleasant melange of honey, cerumen and light biscuit. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, I'm not sure if the age somehow got to this one early or something, but either way it did not sit well with my tongue. It actually hurt a little to drink at times...

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Photo of WhiteOak
2.47/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Fullers 2009 Vintage Ale Lt. Ed. Bottle No. 148180
G- INAO Tasting Glass, to try to coax a smell out of this uncooperative brew.

A- Coarse-bubbled head. Light copper-amber.

S- Dead nose. The only aroma detectable is a touch of sulfur-metallic hints. This beer disappointingly smells like nothing more inviting than London Public tap water.

T- Simple slightly sweet malt flavor. Touch of toffee.

The complete lack of aroma and one dimensional flavor of this beer were disppointments, and I don't consider it worthy of the special packaging.

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Photo of TheHammer
2.57/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This is the 2008 version, bottle #04631. Now my brother tried this and said he wasn't impressed. Thought I'd give it a go, since I have the 2009 bottle sitting in the cellar.

Apperance: A body cloudy orange which has some minor carbonation and a single finger of creamy head. The isn't very much in the way of lacing and the retention is a bit better then average.

Smell: The dominating scent of brandy with touches of apricots really make their presence known as the muted background of tea, toffee malt and a slight touch of floral hops struggle to overcome it. Didn't take much warming to come out though.

Taste: My brother in this case hit the nail on the head. This beer tastes like someone took an English ale and mixed Brandy into it. The beginning has the fainest taste of apricots, dominated by a strong brandy/alcohol presence. The malt then tries to make an appearance but is crushed by a spirit like flavor whose potency is increased by the floral hops at the end.

Mouthfeel: Very bitter aftertaste that lingers for far too long, and frankly is somewhat reminiscent of solvent. The transitioning is also weak, because the Brandy taste destroys any other flavors. Carbonation is alright though.

Drinkability: Surprisingly refreshing, but it is giving me a little bit of heartburn, which I'm blaming on the high alcohol content. I wouldn't call it a smooth drinker, and is far too "snooty" in taste to pound back.

Final Thoughts: If you are a fan of brandy, maybe this will be your cup of tea. I however found this beer to be quite a disappointment. I'm not looking forward to that bottle of 2009. Maybe if I let it sit for a year I can trade it away later, because I really would not want to have this beer again.

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Photo of cjgator3
2.6/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

2006 vintage, # 89117

Comes in a classy red box. Poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark amber/brown with a small fizzy head that quickly disappears. The aroma is sweet malt and dark fruits that is almost unpleasantly metallic and alcoholic. The taste is malty with some caramel and a dry, spicy and boozy finish from the alcohol. This one definitely needs some aging. I found it to be rather harsh and unpleasant when consumed fresh and I struggled to finish the whole thing.

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Photo of jujubeast6000
2.82/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 12/16/2008 (2006 bottle #77764):

Pours a reddish brownish color body. Clearish, with an okay sized white head, but soon diminishing. Dark fruit aroma, fig, raisin. Some mustiness, and a little alcohol too. Cherry too. Some hops balance the nose, but not a lot. Not a very strong aroma. Some coffee/toffee tastes. Muted taste, some fig taste. Some dark cherry. But there's not much flavor present. Okay mouthfeel, carbonated. This one might not have aged as well in my fridge.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
2.9/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I tried this at the Hopleaf in Chicago and didn't like it. Kind of against the grain as this is a highly rated beer but I know what I don't like.

To start with it was low in carbonation. The aroma was malty sweet with no hops, and smelled like a cross between sherry and cough syrup. There were lots of flavors (caramel, figs, a little bit of cherry or almond), but honestly the overall impression was cough syrup.

I won't try it again anytime soon.

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Photo of joehiatt
2.95/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 1.5

Bottle #122117 of 145000 of 2008. Drunk March 2010.

Appearance: Gorgeous, in all respects. The bottling and packaging is unique, the bottle itself is enviable, and it only gets better once poured. The color is a rich, though light copper, the head is clean ivory with fine bubbles, though no lacing as one would expect on a bottle-conditioned ale. The beer is slightly hazy despite careful pouring (at refrigerator temps) though this chill haze dissipates with warming.

Smell: Alcohol dominates. Toffee and Raisins present. Reminiscent of a whiskey. Some vanilla as well.

Taste: Grows on you. If you aren't expecting, which you won't be, comes as something of a shock. Quite sweet, though not cloying. Back-of-the-throat burn do to alcohol, perhaps. Again, in this way reminiscent of whiskey. A little unbalanced. Maybe more than a little.

Mouthfeel: Great. The saving grace of this beer. Excellent carbonation predominantly; allows it it be sweet with out being cloying and heavy yet still refreshing.

Drinkability: Poor. Harsh aftertaste and strong, unmatched flavors made one bottle between two certainly enough to satisfy.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
2.97/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I have been looking forward to this beer for quite a while. I couldn't crack it 'til at least 2010 though.

A – Like iced tea, cloudy, with an orange-brownish hue, and a smallish tan head

S – Real buttery, with toffee and caramel dominating and a muted hop aroma, grassy and vaguely earthy.

T – Too sweet, caramelly and unexciting. There is also a horrendous green tea aftertaste, coupled with the lack of wood or cognac or 'old', booo!!! I am bitterly disappointed. I looked forward to it so… And I don’t feel like it could get better with age.

M – Fuller’s ESB.

D – Never again 2008!!! I hated almost everything about the year 2008, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this sheisty beer. What a waste of $8! I could've bought a million superior beers at $8 a bottle.

Overall, I would say this is one of the most disappointing beers I've ever had. It is certainly not the worst, it really isn't even bad, but I'd drink Bud Light over this as a protest.

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Photo of mzwolinski
3.08/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very attractive amber in color with a thin, white head which, alas, poops out pretty quick. Aroma is dominated by sweet caramel malt and a strong scent of alcohol. Alcohol hits you right up front in the taste, too, followed by a fruity, pear-like malt sweetness, and finally a rather grassy hop finish. Alcohol taste is present pretty much throughout the sip, and a bit too strong for the flavor of the beer. The other flavors seem a bit unbalanced as well -- the malt and hops just don't seem to "fit" together very well. Mouthfeel is full and coating, which adds to the medicinal effect created by the over-strong alcohol flavor. I could understand these problems if this were a new beer, but this has been aging for a while. I can't see myself having another.

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Photo of bditty187
3.09/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2004 Vintage; bottle #90477

Served at cellar temperature.

It pours a wonderful bright crimson in hue; perfectly ruby when backlight. I also notice how strikingly clear the fluid is; in other words no yeast. I thought Vintage Ale wasn’t filter, clearly (ha! what a pun) I was misinformed. Off-white head, at the apex the foam was almost two fingers tall. Head retention was excellent, a soapy cap lasted the entire consumption. Subsequent lacing was spotty but noticeable. Overall, the appearance is excellent.

Disappointing nose. Buttery notes in the distance, kind of fruity and sort of malty. I can’t detect a trace of the 8.5% ABV. The nose is shockingly lame; no complexity, no invitation to take a sip. I am baffled by the overall lack of aroma. Average... at best.

The palate is nominally livelier than the nose, for what that is worth. Moderately malty, sort of sweet with some fruitiness and a kiss of bitterness; sadly there are also metal undercurrents. The aftertaste is a condensed version of the palate; it packs a little life but some odd “moldy” jam fruitiness. Really there isn’t much going on here, there are no attributes that standout enough for me to say I can taste them individually. I feel like a rookie writing this review but, hey, there is just nothing to say.

Medium in body, low carbonation; the mouthfeel is noticeably thin and uneventful.

Overall, this is beer is quite average. How can 1845 rock so much while Vintage Ale is so lame? Is my bottle “old?” Mistreated? I have kept it in my cellar for a couple years but I fail to remember where I purchased it; Missouri I would guess. I am quite bummed but if I see another bottle I might considered trying it again as Fullers is an excellent brewery and this beer seems out of character for them.

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Photo of Angela1956
3.14/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Sparse head, off-white, diminishing. Fair lacing. Clear body with lightly cloudy particles. Amber/tawny color. Average malt aroma with a hay/straw and nutty smell. Heavy yeast smell. Medium body, thin texture, average carbonation. Moderately sweet, light acidity, heavy bitterness.

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Photo of nick76
3.15/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Year 2008. The aroma is rich and sweet with malt, caramel, light fruit, alcohol, lemon, and vanilla. The appearance is amber with a small but foamy head. The flavor is like the aroma but very alcoholic even for a beer at 8.5%. The palate is a little thin but OK. The aftertaste is soapy. Even though this beer has some good qualities the whole is not better than the sum of the parts.

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Photo of hotstuff
3.23/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle #02245. This beer poured a medium sized head with medium sized bubbles. The body was clear and the hue of this beer was brown. There was good lacing on the sides of my glass. The nose was hoppy and it had a bitter aftertaste to it. This beer was just so-so in my opinion.

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Photo of jamie2dope
3.23/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a vintage 2004 bottle. Number on the label says that it is bottle number 89505. Poured into a sniffer a honey color with reddish hues. Head was large at first, but soon became smaller, with good retention. The aroma held plenty of alcohol, and a backing of fruit and chocolate. Flavor had some husky grains, followed by fruit, and then ending with a sort of bitter, taste bud numbing effect. Mouthfeel was relatively medium, with a hint of carbonation. Drinkable? Yes, but one was more than enough for me. The last time I had this it was a new bottle, so I honestly can't remember the differences brought on by age. I might see myself picking this vintage year up again and putting it in the basement for a few more years to mature. Cheers

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Photo of 303beer
3.24/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a copperish amber. Little head. Strong yeast nose. Wow lots of flavors in it. You can get some hops out of it but it is sweet primarily. Don't think I like it ad much as other beers by this company just to sweet for me

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Photo of claytong
3.25/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

had a 2009 last night. enjoy the style, had mediocre to high expectations especially from the price.

appearance - almost a 4 but just was too lifeless, blood red in color, beautiful color, like no beer i have seen, but also made me think this wasnt going to taste like beer. no head or lacing until stirred and poured in the last bit then got a half inch head that died within a couple seconds and left no trace

smell - cherry and sherry, not much else, smelt sour at first opening and after pour smelt very sweet

taste - cherry and sherry and nothing else. overly sweet, and i love sweet beers. a tiny bit of cough medicine from the overly sweetness and syrup like feel

mouthfeel - syrup, odd body, medium i guess

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Photo of setexascustoms
3.25/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2010 Vintage poured into a wine glass.

A- Deep amber, almost a maple color, not much head to speak of (very gentle pour). Little lacing, and what was there didn't have much stick.

S- Sweet malts with dark fruit, raisins and booze.

T- Again very sweet, almost cloying to me. Some raisin and some maple flavor. No real bitterness to speak of, I'm having a hard time find any hop flavors. To me, not very balanced. It reminded me of some mead my wife and I were given for our wedding, but with maple replacing the honey. Also some warming booze, this beer seems to do nothing to hide the 8.5% ABV.

M- Full and almost syrupy, very little carbonation.

O- Maybe my palate is not advanced enough, or maybe this doesn't have enough age on it. I have another bottle I'll probably sit on for three of four more years, then I'll revisit this. But I had a hard time finishing a glass. I'm not going to bash the rating too bad because this is my first strong ale, but the cloying sweetness prevented me from finishing this beer.

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Photo of jwhawkins81
3.3/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 Vintage No 84199

Aroma - Sweet light malt with a hint of wine and alcohol.

Appearance - Good light tan head with a trickle of carbonation. Beer was a golden red color.

Taste - Slight oxidation with hints of woody flavors a touches of muted flavors reminiscent of Fuller's 1845. Not sweet nor bitter. Initially I don't think this beer is very complex. Alcohol burn on the back of the throat.

Notes - Its good just nothing special and maybe not worth the wait. Maybe this bottle was a little mistreated before I purchased it temperature wise but not the complex flavors I was expecting and I usually love everything Fuller's puts out.

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Photo of Cresant
3.3/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured this 1 pint .09 oz. heavy brown bottle into a becker. 2004 vintage, bottle stated, "best before end of 2007". Three fingers of creamy, beige head sat atop a dull yet clear amber/golden body.

Smell was strong and aromatic. Dried fruits and mild rum. Brown sugar.

Taste was like sweet fruitcake. Boozy without being overpowering. Vinous. Moist brown bread. Slight caramel flavor. Tangy prunes. Complex and interesting. A bit too heavy in alcohol flavor.

Mouthfeel was smooth and somewhat oily. Mildly carbonated.

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Photo of NorCalYeti
3.3/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

taste- malty, bitter, slight fruit

color- orange amber

clarity- clear

smell- soft sweet alcoholic malt

body- medium-full

appearance- medium color, off-white head

overall impression- good beer. drinkable, not my preference in a bottle conditioned beer

notes- this review is for a 2000 vintage tasted in 2004

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Photo of utopiajane
3.33/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

This is bottle number 117376 from 2012. it is oxidized and that is why the rating is so low. I almost hesitated to do the review but I wanted to show my tasting notes for those who may or may not have had an oxidized beer before.

This pours a hazy orange amber with golden hues. Fat head of tan foam that fell slowly enough and left a thin ring, a film and some lace to look ate. A few bubbles can be seen making their way to the top.

Nose is caramel and orange peel. The orange has some of the freshness still on it and so it's juicy. There's white grape a bit of nutty toffee and an underlying borderline metallic scent. It smells a bit like paper too. There is prune on the nose with a bit of sour and a buttery quality as well. There is also a scent that I would call treacle or a sweet sweetness that I cannot attribute to any fruit.

The drink had a nice bit of juicy fruit on it. The orange, a bit of apricot tartness and the white raisin. The caramel is nutty and rich, the toffee light. It has a cardboard flavor that is always between you and any of that goodness. It's also buttery like popcorn. The metallic undertaste is always there. There was a leafy leathery hop character in the drink that would have been a nice dimension to the flavor. Tart prune.

I would recommend that you try it but this bottle was obviously not what the brewer intended.

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Photo of hopsleeroy
3.35/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 vintage.
A-Cloudy, mysterious beer, alot of carbonation bubbles, caramel amber color
S-Caramel, earthy, biscuity, very malt forward smell
T-Slighty caramel/toffee, biscuity malt, earthy, grassy hops, not really coming together for me
M-Medium to full fairly carbonated, creamy
D-Not sure I want to drink anymore of these

I've had this before but not rated it-This needs to age a little more and I think the taste will smooth out.

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Photo of stinewils24
3.36/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Has a gold, caramel, pumpkin glow to it. It has a wonderful malty, caramel, molasses scent. The taste reminds me of raisins and citrus notes, with bitter and sour hints. The texture is creamy and moderately carbonated.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.17 out of 5 based on 1,266 ratings.
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