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Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale
BA SCORE
4.19/5
Exceptional
1,287 Ratings
Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
England, United Kingdom
fullers.co.uk

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

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#1,208
Reviews:
680
Ratings:
1,287
pDev:
10.74%
Bros Score:
4.32
 
 
Wants:
119
Gots:
311
Trade:
10
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,287 |  Reviews: 680
Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
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).

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: no head to speak of. Amber and murky.

S: sweet, grassy, piney and green apple.

T: lots of raisin. Honey and malty.the taste is dull ad a little too much alcohol in the flavor.

M: medium body, moderate carbonation. A little syrupy.

Overall: you need to drink this one down to appreciate it.

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Photo of Texasfan549
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of jaydoc
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage.

Bottle # 123290.

Best before end 2015.

Pours a hazy dark orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, fruit, and some slight hop aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel and hop flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp but slightly medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer this fresh but I would be curious to see what some age does to this one.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

a real neat beer, 2011 edition enjoyed late 2014, so the time is now! hazy copper colored liquid with some viscosity, and still a nice off white head, but it fades pretty fast. a nose of caramel, biscuits, dried apricots, english ale yeast, and slight but not offensive oxidation. the alcohol cuts the malt sweetness, and there is some nice depth to this between the yeast and the layered sweet grain. barley at its finest, lots of body, excellent carbonation, butterscotch, toffee, golden raisin, and bittering hops are all there. the flavors have become really well integrated over time, i can only imagine an intense and moderately disjointed beverage fresh, but the time has made it nice. i dont taste much alcohol here, but i get an apple wine sort of flavor and warming thing late. great beer overall, if you like the patient english stuff this is not to be missed.

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Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of Knapp85
4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 Edition opened in 2009, bottle #114182. The beer poured out as a copper color with a nice creamy looking head on it. The lacing was pretty nice for this beer, I wasn't really expecting that too much. The smell of the beer had some grainy malt aroma with some hops in the mix. The taste was semi-sweet like they might have added some brown sugar to it or caramel maybe. The taste was very good from start to finish though. The mouthfeel of the beer was very nice as well, it was smooth but had a decent amount of carbonation in it. Overall this beer was way better than any other Fuller's brew that I've tried. Well worthy trying if you find some!

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Photo of nmann08
4.75/5  rDev +13.4%

Photo of t0rin0
2.75/5  rDev -34.4%

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.94/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of metter98
4.06/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy orange amber in color. It poured with a short off white head that died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of toffee are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and also has additional flavors of caramel and toffee and hints of vanilla. No alcohol is perceptible.
M: It feels a bit more than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer has an interesting mix of flavors that improve and become a little more complex as the beer warms up.

Note: 2012 vintage, No. 102325

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2004: Sampled on 10/22/09:

This beer really holds up great. Even with five years bottle conditioning, the hop profile still gives a bitter balance and an earthy, herbal complexity. Delicate caramels and brown sugars are well melded with hardly a trace of oxidation. Pleasantly cool (minty) and with a creamy, powdery finish.

Vintage 2006: Sampled on 03/22/07:

Certainly agree with the recommendation to lay this beer down for a few years. This beer promises greatness with syrupy sweet amber malts and a soft hop presence. Complexity results from the sweet malts, bready, yeasty flavors and textures. While compounded harshly with strong alcohols, this beer will prove to melt and improve greatly with a little age. I look forward to editing this review and rating when this beer matures properly.

 808 characters

Photo of biboergosum
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, 2008 version (#57532), into my University of Alberta beer stein.

This beer pours a hazy, medium copper amber colour, with two fat fingers of aggressively foamy, and somewhat sudsy off-white head, which leaves some nice rainforest canopy lace around the glass as it slowly recedes.

It smells of sweet caramel malt, hard toffee, dried orange rind, apple flesh, musty cellar, and some faint floral, earthy hops. The taste is big bready malt sweetness up front - caramel, butterscotch, raisins - which dries out very quickly under a strong noble hop surge, the alcohol chipping in its share. I can't help but notice the slow, subtle furtherance of that old musty, woody essence - it's like this beer sopped up the air under the old stairs in my parents' house. It isn't overpowering or even off-putting, just a different companion than I'm used to for the big buttery caramel malt.

The carbonation is quite low, manifesting in just a mild frothiness throughout, the body a sturdy medium weight, creamy, rounded, and solidly smooth. It finishes fairly dry, the malt turning crackery, and the alcohol making itself clearly known, gently rendered as it may be.

A pleasantly warming vintage ale, the 'old' character meshing well with the rest. Given the decent balance but slightly out of whack alcohol warming, I'm looking forward to seeing what a few years in the bottle have done to a couple of the earlier vintages of this that I've been saving, as they were big hits when I brought them to the office Christmas parties at the time.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.43/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2010 vintage 1 pint .9 fl oz brown glass bottle with papered-over branded black pressure cap and classy understated label art acquired at me local bottle shop (they just had 2010 vintage lying about in 2013) and served into a Glenmorangie whisky taster in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Bottle No 122366. 8.5% ABV confirmed. Brewed with Golding and Fuggle hops. Dry-hopped with Golding and Target hops. "Best before end 2013." Perfect! I believe Fuller's maintains that this peaks at 3 years as well.

Served chilled, but not cold, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured carefully per the label's instructions.

Good carbonation hiss as it's opened.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a half finger wide head of white/light khaki colour. Decent creaminess and thickness. Nice complexion. Head retention isn't bad considering the beer's age and high ABV - about 2 minutes. Some inconsistent spotty lacing clings to the sides of the glass when the glass is tilted, but little forms naturally as the head recedes.

Body colour is a clear translucent orange-copper of superb vibrance. No yeast particles/sediment are visible.

It's a nice appearance for an old ale and I'm looking forward to trying it. Nothing about the appearance reveals its age or suggests it's gone downhill. Not unique or special, but certainly attractive.

Sm: Has a light toasted malt character accompanied by some toffee as well as bursts of fruity esters: orange, pineapple, mango, and other tropical fruits which are too vague to identify. I'm surprised at the notable hop presence - both because of the style and because of the beer's age. Ripe orchard peach surfaces as it warms a bit. Honey. Very attractive sweet nectary notes. It's got a good malty sweetness and plenty of juicy fruits. I also pick up some white raisin and mellow berries.

It's quite clean; no yeast character is detectable. Alcohol is well concealed.

Overall, I'm really looking forward to trying this. The fruit notes are a definite highlight. It's also just a bit acidic, which accentuates the fruit. An inviting aroma of average strength.

T: It's got a marshmallow, toffee, light caramel, and vaguely toasty core with gorgeous balance. The fruity juiciness really comes in just before the climax, adding nuanced notes of peach, sticky pineapple, mango, and even a hint of passionfruit. White raisin. The hops have matured nicely with age, complementing the malts with unobtrusive fruity and faintly floral notes. The marshmallow is lovely, and was unexpected. I pick up some depleted orange jam notes and green apple as it warms. Some sherry too. Also a bit of butterscotch. There's plenty of rich English malt character here which is lovely. Refined and tasty, but perhaps not as approachable as other old ales. I like that it really commits to its distinguished English character, but that comes at the expense of accessibility and perhaps even balance. I can see where oxidation will actually complement this flavour profile rather than damage it.

It's an extremely cohesive build for an old ale, but not quite a gestalt one. Balanced and refined. There's plenty of complexity here, and even some intriguing nuance. But it could be far more intricate and subtle. Age has done it well and I'd be curious to try this fresh. Above average depth of flavour. Average intensity and duration of flavour.

The marshmallow is the standout note for me.

Hides its ABV well.

Mf: Decadently smooth and wet. Very rich. It's a rather refined texture which keeps it simple and stays out of the way of the flavour profile. In so doing, it complements the taste well and succeeds at facilitating full delivery of the complex flavours. A bit acidic, which is a nice characteristic in an old ale. Medium-bodied. Aptly thick. A biteen buttery. Has some alcohol-induced warmth, which is light enough that it just seems to complement the beer, and makes it a comforting winter sipper.

Not too sticky or chewy. Not oily, astringent, harsh, boozy, gushed, rough, or hot.

Dr: It's a refined sipper for the distinguished drinker. It sips real well out of a whisky tumbler. I haven't tried it fresh, but I'd like to, and the marshmallow note alone reveals this beer develops very well with age. I'd really like to try a 1-5 year vertical of this stuff. For now, my recommendation is in concordance with Fuller's - it peaks at 3 years. While it's not for the newcomer, this old ale is a fine example of a good English approach to the style and while I won't be putting any down to cellar meself, it's a beer I'd definitely recommend my friends try at least once. Certainly a classic, but not a world-class offering. I think with time and palate development, I'll come to appreciate this more and more, but constructively it's a bit overhopped and lacks the intricacy of superior beers in the style. I hope to update this review when I've tried other vintages.

B-

 4,955 characters

Photo of dmorgan310
4.14/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of emerge077
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 edition.

Into a balloon wine glass, this pours very dark, with a deep attractive ruby glint in the light. Sticky lacing all around, that seems to remain for the duration of the glass.

Aroma is a bit sweet and floral with cola spices and a backing of dried fruits, particularly citrus, some apricot. A bit of mustiness reflects it's 5 years of age.

Sweet and a bit oxidized, it feels creamy with some mild bitterness from the residual Fuggles still kicking around. Fairly fruity and vinous. Full bodied sipper. Don't think i'd age it for this long in the future, i'm getting tired of old-tasting beer. It's mellowed a bit, but I could imagine that the apricot & floral notes would have been more vibrant in days past.

2007 in 2017: thanks Ben!
Drier and nutty than I remember, with an oxidized sherry note.

 816 characters

Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of oline73
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass, this bottle was from the 2010 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with a slight reddish hue. There is a half finger of off white head that goes away rather quickly.

Smell: Sweet and rather malty, I'm getting caramel and some fruity notes. Dark fruits and some mild grapes.

Taste: Sweet, but not quite as sweet as the smell. Malty, lots of caramel and some grape notes. Also getting some dark fruits, raisins and figs. The finish has some alcohol and more sweet malt flavors.

Mouthfeel: The body is just on the thick side of medium with tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I didn't know much about this one going in, but I was quite happy with it. A very nice after dinner beer.

 747 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle (Vintage 2000 - drank in 2005): Poured a deep clear brown color ale with a medium off-white bubbly head with average retention. Aroma of figs and dry raisins is quite enjoyable. Taste is also dominated by the figs and the dry raisins with some strong malt. What I thought was surprising what the piney and citrusy ending courtesy of too many hops IMHO for this type of beer. Body is above average but could be more consistent and carbonation is also above average. Good but I would say not as good as the previous vintage years I had the luck of drinking.

Bottle (Vintage 2012 - drank in 2013): Poured a copper color ale with a medium size foamy head with OK retention. Aroma consists of residual sugars with some dry caramel and minimal hoppy notes. Taste is also dominated by some residual sugars with quite a bit of dry caramel malt with weird grainy notes. Hops presence is kept at a low level. Body is about average with good carbonation and no alcohol is easily detectable. I usually like to give a year to the Vintage for the malt to balanced itself out and take out some of the hops presence. Seems like it wasn’t a good idea with the 2012 vintage since it tasted like a really old beer already.

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Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 Bottle No. 137247

A - Poured out a clear, caramel color (looked like a dopplebock) with a foamy, bubbly, tan, two-finger head. It left soapy trails of lace.

S - It smelled very sweet. Great malty and biscuity aromas.

T - It had a bitter spiciness with a very sweet, maltiness. Nice earthy hops.

M - It was soft, smooth and creamy. A medium-bodied beer with a warm alcohol presence.

D - This is a very good ole ale. Very sweet and delicious.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 4.19 out of 5 with 1,287 ratings
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