Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale
1,300 Ratings
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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Ratings: 1,300 |  Reviews: 683
Photo of hotstuff
3.23/5  rDev -22.9%
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 TheDM
3.56/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The bottle was numbered No. 02245. Nice hoppy aroma. When poured, it yielded a medium head of medium sized white bubbles and a golden brown transparent color. As the head receded, it left behind a nice lacing that slowly followed the head down the side of the glass. This brew has an initial bite that lasts through the taste and well into the aftertaste. Not as smooth as I like. But I bet after a while I will feel the alcohol content in this brew.

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Photo of jcalabre
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Originally sampled on 14 September 2002. Bottle #73824. Lots of malt, yeast & fruitiness greets your palate when you start enjoy this baby. Thick, creamy carmelly, delicious.. What else can I say? I really enjoyed this. I should note that the aroma was a bit yeasty.

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Photo of aracauna
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the best of the three vintages I've had of Fuller's Vintage Ale. The 1999 may have been past it's peak perhaps and the 2001 struck me as too bitter and alcoholic for a good balance. This however, was excellent. Very fruity and malty body balances the alcholic flavors and aroma and the bittering hops peak through only enough to prevent the malts from running away with the flavor. Considering the 1999, this beer has perhaps peaked and probably should be consumed soon. The appearance could use a more lively head, but who cares when the flavor is this good.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.6/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Although the label reads "Best before end 2003", it's my belief after enjoying it over the last two years that it's just come into its prime. I've really grown to enjoy this ale in the past year! And I'd suggest that although it probably won't improve any further, it should hold well for at least another year or two. Stored undisturbed and served at cellar temperature, it's crystal clear. When held to the light it's a very nice amber-copper, but it takes on a more interesting ruby cast when sitting on the bar. The initially foamy head slowly drops to a thin but creamy surface covering. The head retention is excellent and it leaves really nice lace through most of the Imperial pint. The nose displays a softly sweet and fruity (soft strawberry) malt that's laced with gentle alcohol. It's full bodied and creamy in the mouth with a fine and moderate natural carbonation from bottle conditioning. The flavor delivers a rich, fruity malt upfront with a touch of blackberry and dark fruit skins; and across the middle a note of licorice appears due to a combination of sweet malt, grassy/floral hop flavors, and spicy alcohol. A firm hop bitterness appears leading into the swallow, followed by emerging notes of caramel and vanilla in the finish. Quite nicely balanced and somewhat complex! An exceptionally nice beer to casually enjoy in a relaxing atmosphere... ...a softened leather high-back chair, a softly glowing fireplace, and a well-worn copy of Moby Dick come to mind! An ale well worthy of the "Vintage" name.

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Photo of marc77
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

# 24139. "Best before end 2001" Turbid tawny dark bronze hue, topped by an ivory white, large bubbled head that manages sporadic foam trails. Waft of alcoholic, bourbon soaked figs hits the nose upfront, then tapers to allow deeply toffeeish and bready, lightly biscuit dark caramel and basemalt to provide contrast. As the beer breathes, brighter notes of strawberry like esters and mellow diacetyl form a berry and cream impression. Hint of cardboard like oxidation dulls the aroma slightly, preventing excellence. Mellow, rounded caramel sweetness upfront seemlessly leads into a combination of faded, but well integrated hop bitterness and diacetyl. Judicious fruitiness surfaces timidly mid palate, being comprised of mild plum and sugar concentrated dried prunes. Alcohol creeps in late, adding a pseudosweet licorice suggestion late when combined with the dark fruit character. Moderate bodied, with a creamy smooth, well calcuated mouthfeel and attenuation. Finishes with bready sweetness and slight butterscotch fading slowly. Vintage Ale 1998, although perhaps past its prime, still possesses depth of character most worthy of a taste. A bit faded esterwise and in hop bitterness and thus well skewed towards malt sweetness. Interestingly enough, its diminished overall character from the ample aging leaves it reminescent of a fresh Young's Old Nick. Nonetheless a very enjoyable brew. Big thanks to Jaybeerman for the bottle!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Color is a bright ruby red, head is an actively bubbly, lacey off-white, and swiftly dissipating. Aroma: huge with fruit! Bam! Boom! Strawberry Jam + booze all up in your nose, brother! Actually, more along the way of cherries and grapes, but very ripe, strong and powerful! Definitely the nose of a barleywine, and already I'm thoroughly impressed! (This ale hasn't exactly been cellared, merely waiting in a store's cooler all the while, for me to rescue it! )
Whoosh! Hoo, daddy! A large charge on the palate, a big deposit of hops and flavor and alcohol! Yessir, she's my baby, nossir, don't mean maybe!
Nice balance, malt sticks up for itself quite nicely, and provides sufficient backdrop for all this hoppy flavor and booze.
Fruity flavor continues, as does our friend Mr. Liquor, and my head is swimmin' already, and all it knows how to do is doggy paddle, but that does the trick.
It's "only" 8.5% and I feel blasted at all sides. This is rich, delightful, delicious stuff! Bottle #53,187 out of 85,000.
Bright, and deep, and plummy, but cherry, sweet and dark,
what a nice ale. Mmmmm...I'll say it again,...Mmmmm!!!!!

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Photo of Mark
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle #68225 This was my first aged ale if I remember correctly, a new frontier if you will. Poured a beautiful clear copper color, head was perfect and the lace coated the glass solidly. Off to a great start. Aroma was slightly sweet and strongly of stewed fruit. Taste was very port like, with aforementioned stewed fruit notes. Plums, Strawberries? Thick mouthfeel adds to the ambience. in my opinion I had this under the perfect circumstances. It's cold and rainy outside, Suzanne had the fireplace going, and we were having dinner. Went well with dinner though this might be even better as a nightcap. I didn't rate it much above average on drinkability because a sipping ale is not my favorite style, and this bad boy checks in at almost 9%. This is a very complex well made beer and one that might grow on me more if I had it regularly. Seeing it's from Fullers seals the deal. Very nice.

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Photo of mzwolinski
3.08/5  rDev -26.5%
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 Suds
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This bottle was a gift from a good beer-drinking buddy of mine. What a terriffic present! The beer was phenomenal.
Bottle # 55824. Poured a chesnut color with a bulbous, rocky, and very stable head. Aroma is at once both intensly hoppy and sweet. Strong alcohol arma is there as well. The taste is a full and unrelenting mix of grist-like sweet maltiness and british hops. Woody and maybe a little oily....and a nice bacground of alcohol. Creamy and suprisingly smooth too. This is one outstanding beer!

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Photo of Bruiser81
4.77/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was bottle number 58484.

This brew poured a very deep amber color with a massive cream colored head that reduced down to about a quarter of an inch. The head was rocky and uneven, what a great looking beer. The aroma was very strong and complex. At first I thought this beer smelled fruity almost wine like but as it warmed it changed quite a bit. It took on a more of a roasted malt and carmel aroma with a definite whiff of alcohol spices. The aroma was not the only complex part about this beer, the taste was deep and complex as well. At first sip the first thing that jumped out was a sweet malt taste, not a sugar sweet though. The middle is of roasted malts and the carmel which I noticed in the aroma. The finish has the perfect balance with a little bit of floral hop bitterness, which complements the malty front very well. There is also hints of a buttery taste as well as a little bit of spicy alcohol but not too much. As I said a very complex beer. The mouthfeel is full and silky smooth, although it feels a little sharp against the back of the throat. This brew hides the 8.5 abv very well. Thanks to a friend this is the first brew I've had that has been conditioned for over a year. This was a very excellent brew and I would definitely drink again assuming I could find it.

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Photo of Quaffer
4.68/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

18.6 oz. Bottle
No. 58489

Appearance: This was a very nice deep amber beer that showed hues of red within its depths. The light tan head was gigantic, raising up higher than four fingers. And I was being careful! It was pretty dense and settled down very slowly. Tons of lace was left on the glass, very thick and chunky in areas. A decent amount of foam stuck around for the entire drink.

Smell: Besides my pint, I poured a portion of this beer into a snifter. From the snifter, there were heavy aromas of raisins and plums, combined with a very strong alcohol smell. From my pint glass, the aroma was slightly sweet with thick malt smells and a whiff of green apple.

Mouthfeel: A great, full-bodied feel that was smooth to the point of being silky. Almost felt like butter at times.

Taste: I had put this beer in the fridge the day before, but let it warm up a long time before I drank it. I literally said, "Wow" out loud after my first drink of this beer. Hell, I think I said it after the first dozen drinks. The flavors were very big. Up front was a huge flavor of caramel, just like I was chomping on a Brach's. There were very chewy malt flavors dancing along the sides of my tongue after that. Then slowly, a bitterness arose that kept lingering well into the aftertaste. The alcohol was very evident in the flavor also, and it gave this beer a nice warming effect after awhile.

I was skeptical of this beer before I tried it. Don't get me wrong, I think Fuller's is a great brewery. But there is something about "vintage ale" in numbered bottles that cost $8.00 that sets that voice inside by head to screaming "Gimmick!" I've always had suspicions that that voice is wrong a lot (Like "No, Sean, don't drink that shot that the stranger gave you" or "No, Sean, don't set THAT on fire" or "No, Sean, shaving your eyebrows is not a good idea"), but now I have the proof! This is a fantastic brew, worthy of any special occasion, like Thursdays.

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Photo of HopheadEd
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This ale pours a reddish/orange hue with an excellent head that holds very well, leaves ample lacing, and eventually settles to 1/4 inch collar. The aroma is all malt, caramel, sweet and slightly candyish. First taste is all malt, a little alcohol twinge and a tart finish. A little short in the mouthfeel, dry, but not very hoppy. More of a Strong ale than a Barleywine, but good nontheless. No presentation box, but a #45368 number on the bottle.

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Photo of Jason
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: No: 20845 of 85000. 18.6 oz brown Victorian pint bottle. The bottle is perfect for keeping the dregs at bay and the pint glass clear. Presented in a collectors box, the bottle is also adorned as if it were a fine bottle of Port, all the way down to the labeling and the thin paper strip which crosses the crown.

Appearance: Rich reddish amber brew with a slight chill haze, wonderful lace that floats on top. The haze goes away as the brew reaches cellar temp.

Smell: Creamy with a figgy or raisin fruity aroma, touch of dry malt and estery alcohol in the nose also.

Taste & Mouthfeel : Creamy and smooth with a big malty body, a figgy / pruney like fruit flavour is the front of the malt sweetness which lingers on forever. Hop bitterness has held together well after 4+ years ... spot on for balance and still a decent amount of flavour left. Lovely chewy mouth feel throughout with a good amount of body even in the finish. Alcohol is quite evident ... esters are lively yet are kept at a minimum. The finish has a complex intertwined hop and malt flavour for a perfect end.

Drinkability & Notes: Wow ... a masterpiece in a bottle! Aged to perfection and worth the $6-$7 a bottle. Its flavours have peaked but may not fall to a lesser beer even a year or more of cellaring. Easy to drink with very little aged flavour and no signs of oxidation.

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Photo of Realale
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle # 13927

Pours a gorgeous light mahogany. Beautiful, tight slightly off white head piles up to almost an inch. Slowly settles to an incomplete cap, leaving nice lacing.

Nose is rich, almost cakey malt. Some winey notes, and lots of subtle fruitiness. Palate disappoints a bit as the malt really takes over, and the complexity decreases some. Just a touch monolithic. There is nice bitterness to try to balance, as well as a nice chalky mineral component. The finish is a bit short - perhaps this one is a bit over the hill.

Mouthfeel is great due to the bottle-conditioning - a very fine and refreshing carbonation.

An excellent book at bedtime drink. A very good example of the style.

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Photo of goz
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark-garnet in color, nice creamy head. Sherry, alcohol, and massive fruit aroma bombard the nose. Tastes range from the initial maltiness, to a good fruity taste, slightl alcohol hit, and then lingering flavors of all the above, finally ending with a good little hop kick. Very tasty stuff.

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Photo of AtrumAnimus
4.53/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had the fortune to try this immediately following the 1999 Vintage. We were doing side by side comparisons. This one is so similar in the uniqueness of the other vintages that it to deserves recognition. Again this one sees a fins mixture and balance of Malt and hops. the aroma of hops is - refreshing. Sharp and awake is the feeling from the nose. Just makes you smile. This one still needs some more aging. These peek at 3 years in the bottle. This one was just a tad bit rough. (barely) – but noticeable when compared the 99 side by side. The balance is not yet formed but is close enough to still be a wonderful beer. But as a treasured beer I am saving the last one for next Christmas. The yeast smell is stronger with a sweet alcohol nose surfacing just behind the hops. The malt is still pretty sweet and goes down well too. Beautiful tan head on this one and it just lasts ands lasts and lasts.

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Photo of BeerManDan
4.97/5  rDev +18.6%
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 ADR
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Year 2000. As with all Fuller's Vintages, a cool burgundy presentation box...bottle # 41740...

I would have compared this back-to-back with Fuller's 1998, but I only have one lone bottle of that remaining -- so memory will have to serve. Many of the same appearance and aroma qualities as the 1998, the 2000 has more ragged alcohol edges and biting cinnamon notes in the malt. The hops are pretty big and orchestrate a rougher close combined with too much carbonation and in conjunction with the alcohol. Still, a big and beautiful Barleywine, the next one will get stored for mellowing.

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Photo of maxpower
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Glowing amber color, small white head. Strong alcohol fruity malty aroma, malty sweet and friuty very flavorfull, full body thick full mouthfeel, I bet it would be better with age, I just could not wait, a great brew like always.

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Photo of mickeymac
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle number 64495. The entire presentation is very aesthetically pleasing, from the well-appointed box to the band across the top of the bottle. What's inside (and what really matters) is a pretty reddish-copper beer with a big fluffy head. Carbonation is fairly high. It has a nice aroma of ripe fruit with noticeable hops and a bit of a musky smell. The initial flavor is quite sweet, but the finish is surprisingly dry, an very subtle citrus flavors are detectable. I haven't tried any other Fuller's Vintage and have nothing to compare against, but I really like this one.

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Photo of rastaman
3.5/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

There is no doubt that this is a well respected brew, but it was just too overly sticky for me. Sweet start with a bit of chocolate, port, caramel, and a hint of berries. Bitter sweet finish. Quite big and potent, does demand respect.

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Photo of ZAP
4.36/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark amber/cooperish in color...soft bubbly head but minimal...maltiness on the nose...feels great in the mouth...very, very smooth with a solid but not overwhelming malt backbone....medium bodied...dark fruit(plums) tones on the taste..slight hop bite on the long finish..very very solid..

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Photo of pbrian
4.88/5  rDev +16.5%
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 Murph
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber, almost iced tea like color. Nice bubbly head that sinks down to a strong lace. Chocolate, slight burnt and alcohol aromas. The first taste I get is a hoppy/alcohol bitternes but then the malt kicks in with some burnt chocolate and dark fruits. This is one complex brew. Great mouthfeel. Very smooth and creamy with good carbonation. Overall I would have to say that I really like this beer. Although my experience with the style is limited I ould have to say that this is one kick-ass barley wine.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 4.19 out of 5 with 1,300 ratings