Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale
1,308 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: 1,308 |  Reviews: 689
Photo of Riggo
3.87/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

A turbid, deep copper ale with a sturdy beige head with little retention and lacing. Aroma is full of character, heavy with winey fruit--plums, apricots--and deep candy notes of butterscotch and molasses. Earthy elements of smoke/peat and tobacco as well. A gorgeous nose.

On palate, richness and high alcohol are immediately evident. Flavor is rich and malty. Earthy and fruity--orange, plums--but balanced with subtle citrusy hops. Still, this is a heavy, rich, malty brew, which makes for great mouthfeel--lush, full, and silky--but drops drinkability down quite a bit. Not something I am going to rush out and buy again, but impressive nonetheless.

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Photo of BierReise
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle # 58174. Poured a rusty brown and cloudy with a small yet dense and creamy head. A fantastic looking ale. Has a big sweet fruity malt aroma with noticible alcohol. Has a medium body that is quite smooth. Flavor is of strong sweet malt with caramel and fruit. This is an outstanding English ale.

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

I love the beers you come into with low expectations only to find the quality. Syrupy tan head over a sensuous cinnamon body. Candy store nose of caramel and toffee coated nuts, pralines and chocolate coated dried tropical fruits. Big mouth full of bitter honey warm and easy. This beer is like a down comforter on a snow day while a classic 70's movie plays on in the foreground. Relaxing. Vintage.

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Photo of nomad
4.67/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2000 Vintage, Bottle No. 35622:

Poured a hazy light hazelnut color that was amber toned. Had a clumpy head, a smooth wall of slipping lace, a good deal of carbonation surrounding, and occasional fingers of stain.

Smelled of sweet honey, fruity esters, and a scent of butter just melted and beginning to bubble. Strong malted barley (Optic) accents that were hearty but without the sometimes brazen accent of british malt so often found in strong ales and barleywines. Mild woody notes abound, though not as ominous as oak but hearty nonetheless with a tiny taint of alcohol about them.

Taste was of a tempered oak washed over by a glide of mild honey. Tasty alcohol flavors jumped about, warming and nascently spicy, while buttery flavors built up while moving toward the finish. Through out is the body of that Optic malt: sweetish but not, ghostly grainy but barely textured, and with a caramel character of a mild but complex temper - truly outstanding malt. Tasty bitter finish of british hop varieties aged well, slightly green with an oiliness that quickly receded, sliding in to touches of yeast and diacetyl flavors. Complex and slightly chewy, thin-to-moderate mouthfeel, quite tasty.

Great example of strong ale flavors, and a great winter warmer. Very british, and a heady brew because of such a large bottle.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle No. 63315 Sampled Oct. 6, 2003.

This strong ale poured a slightly hazy, reddish amber color with tall, creamy, light tan foam that persisted for a long time and clung to the inside of the glass. The smell was very nice and improved as the sampled warmed to room temperature. The smell was initially slightly sweet, fruity (figs, raisins), malty, and yeasty. The smell got less sweet and more dry as the sample warmed and breathed. The taste was slightly sweet and malty with flavors of fruit (figs and raisins and vinous grapes), and sherry. There was a dry hop bitterness in the finish and the taste of alcohol in the finish and aftertaste. The mouthfeel was smooth and velvety -- light on the tongue. The feeling was warming from the alcohol. The body was medium-full with medium carbonation feel. The aftertaste was dry and hoppy. This was a very excellent ale. A very special brew that aged nicely for 4 years.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.65/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a woody dark amber, topped with a minimal head, mostly a disappearing mist, with a thin ring lining the glass. I'm amazed at the consistency of color with each year. They're all pretty much the exact same color. This one seems the darkest, bit only a miniscule difference, with a touch of mahogany.
Aroma is very smooth and mellowed out. Sweet malty aroma, with plenty of caramel. The malt stands out best in this beer, with the hops subdued and mellowed with some age. Some apparent alcohol, with a slightly woody yeast aroma and mild fruitiness. Mostly fig and currant.
The beer has aged very nicely. Malts stand out prominently throughout the sip, with hops coming in aged and mellow much later than the other two vintages. Still very bitter, but a more refined flavor, with less harshness. A woodsy yeast flavor, with mild estery fruitiness appearing in the middle. Carbonation is even smoother, almost nonexistent in it's mellowness. Full bodied and rich. Alcohol mingles with the hops in the finish, providing a warmth as it's swallowed. Very drinkable and delicious, although the power of it's flavor and the alcohol limits my consumption. I certainly would have a hard time drinking more than one bottle.
Impeccably balanced. A masterpiece of brewer's art, and it's only going to get better. Quite an experience in beer sampling.

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Photo of Hefe
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasted on 8/29/03. Packaged in a classy red box. Bottle # 45063. States best by end of 2002 on back of bottle but I figured what the heck and gave it a shot anyway. Well worth it as far as I'm concerned.

Appearance: Glorious red-gold-tawny hue with a slightly brown head that sticks around.

Smell: How to describe it, toffee, malt, rum, orange, a pleasant flowery hoppiness and just a touch of alcohol.

Taste: Complex, with flavors of dark rum, fig, orange peel, malt, chocolate, and a nice bite from the hops on the finish.

Mothfeel: Rich and creamy, a touch of oiliness.

Drinkability: I can't see knocking back several of these out on the patio when its 97 in the shade, but thats not what it was meant for. As a replacement for your port or cognac with a good cigar, or just as treat to finish up your day with, this gets my vote.


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Photo of beerguy101
4.62/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Medium brown color, medium head. Deep malt aroma, intense malt flavors. Somewhat hoppy. Full flavor, fully rounded mouthfeel. Malts have an aged taste, smoky sort of like a good scotch. Very smooth. Even with a high alcohol content (8.5%) not a noticeable alcohol bite. Finish is smooth and clean. Aftertaste is malty and smoky. A wonderful beer.

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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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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 4.19 out of 5 with 1,308 ratings