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Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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665 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: 665 | Ratings: 1,240
Photo of Canada_Dan
3.87/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed on the honeymoon in Lake Bled, Slovenia. From the tasting notes: Smells like an old imperial ipa, hops faded and toastiness dominant. The caramel and vanilla really shines tho

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Note: 2012 Vintage, No. 129489

A: Pours a lightly hazy orangish amber in color with light to moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising slowly from the bottom of the glass and hints of ruby red highlights. The beer had a half finger tall foamy beige head that reduces to a medium thick film covering the entire surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of toffee malts with a moderate amount of sweetness followed by a hint of green apple and just a hint of herbal hops.

T: Upfront there is a moderate to strong flavor of caramel + toffee malts and a very light hint of light fruit (green apple). That is followed by a light flavor of herbal + grassy hops which imparts a light amount of bitterness which does not linger for long.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: Alcohol is extremely well hidden and this beer is very drinkable in a style that I usually consider slow sippers. Beer becomes a little more complex in flavor + aroma as the beer warms.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.17/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a clear dark amber color with a thin off-white head. Looks really still and dead in the glass, but this is a 2008 bottle, so that may be to be expected.

S: Kind of a strange mix of things going on here, but it's really nice. Syrupy caramel and maybe a touch of molasses, lots of dark fruit (raisin, fig syrup and maybe a little prune), toffee and a little tickle of booze. It almost smells like it was aged in sherry or rum barrels.

T: A light trace of caramel and honey-soaked malt, then some rum raisin, toffee and prune. Finishes with some molasses, brown sugar and a trace of tobacco. Mouthfeel is a touch light, but I don't feel like it hurts here too much. Says to drink by 2011, but this doesn't taste over the hill at all. Very nice.

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Photo of pagriley
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage
Murky orange with a thin lacing of foam on surface and no head. thick viscous legs
Dried apricots and maraschino cherries. a touch of sharpness tells you this is old.
Lighter than I was expecting - oxidized with malt sweetness. Dried fruits and sherry
A touch prickly but a few swirls knocked that down. Lighter bodied, but still full and creamy

Overall a very interesting beer - very enjoyable ,but not for an old ale novice

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Photo of IckyT2012
4.07/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014: Full of raisins with a little bitter bite on the finish. 3.94
2012: Richer smell, fuller body, but the flavor isn't much different from the newer bottle. 3.99
2009: Hard to believe this one is 6 years old. It actually tastes a bit watered down, instead of stronger. It does go down a bit creamier. The bite is completely gone. The raisin flavor is nearly gone, and a touch of cognac and honey is added. Very smooth, but not as impressive a flavor as I had expected. 4.07
Fun experiment. Thanks for the recommendation to age it, but I won't be devoting cellar space to this in the future.

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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 mnredsoxfan69
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 - Magnificent! Pours an intriguing dark amber with a long lasting, two finger, ivory head, leaving long, sticky legs and lacing as it's consumed. The aroma is rich caramel and light stone fruit. The taste is more caramel, bitter marmalade and a little bit of booze. Hops? What are those? Silky on the palate with a medium body and a warming alcohol burn. Excellent. I'll be buying more and cellaring it.

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Photo of Marius
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2006 (opened in 2015)
Pours a chestnut red ale, with some foam that dissipates quite soon, which is only normal after 9 years of ageing.
The smell is quite rich, with caramel sweetness and a very strong brandy feel up front, followed by dried fruit (figs and raisins) and a hint of alcohol.
Smooth texture with light carbonation, warm to the feel, it tastes like caramel, toffee and dried nuts, and also figs and brandy. The finish and after-taste are slightly bitter. The alcohol is perfectly incorporated in this ale - it's present in the smell as well as taste, and feels like it belongs.

Vintage 2013 (opened in 2015)
Caramel, malted sugars, faint cognac/bourbon aromas and alcohol. Very smooth mouthfeel. As the previous versions, it doesn’t disappoint. However, it is lacking the complexity and rich flavours of previous versions.

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Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Brilliant dark amber, frothy off-white persistent head, alcoholic, winey, malty sweetness, caramel, fruit, grapes, peppery, full bodied, medium low carbonation, creamy, no astringency.

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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 samtrillo
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Vintage 2012 found at Vendome on Ventura in LA.

Pours an opaque golden amber with a white head that fades to a quarter finger main stay.

Smells of sweet caramel malt with candied figs and golden raisins. Somehow I can tell it'd not going to be as intense as a barleywine.

A sweet and fruity caramel malt taste with golden raisins and fig in the background.

The mouthfeel is quite nice. Thick and substantial but not syrupy or coating. Could not guess what ABV% this was. One of the best parts was the creamy feel.

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Photo of captaincoffee
4.26/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This was the 2010. Purchased at Fuller's Brewery along with a few others. Poured amber brown with cream head. Was a little more carbonated than expected. Sweet caramel malts on the nose with just a whiff of that of that old ale funk. Really full mouthfeel with lots of mincemeat/stonefruit and dark malt. Really surprised at the flavor at "only" 8.5%. Tastes like an even bigger beer. Well done. Will taste the other 2010 I have in a couple years to see how it changes further.

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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 HattedClassic
4.21/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 2012

The beer pours a nice light tan and foamy head that dissipates very quickly. The beer itself is a very cloudy deep amber, The beer is not so much opaque as there is clearly some sediment in the beer creating a nice cloud look. The color is a very dark amber that is very close to being brown but still has some visible orange notes.

The beer smell is fairly malty and hoppy at the same time. The malt notes really come out strong with a nice caramel and fruity smell to it. The smell also has a slight hop tinge to it that makes it even fruitier. The fruit notes tend be of a darker and sweeter variety such as figs, dates, and raisins.

The beer taste is a bit more hoppier than the smell but retains most of the characteristics from the smell. The taste also has the dark fruit notes but the hopes and even the barley are stronger. The hops add a bitter back to the strong fruit flavor while the barley add an interesting note to it.

The mouthfeel is extremely smooth even with the little bit of carbonation. The beer is heavy bodied but it goes down rather quickly.

Overall, a pretty good beer and worth getting when you can. I would highly advise to get two in order to age one since the notes taste like it will become even richer with a bit more aging.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.7/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage..thanks to Andrew for the opportunity.

Smells of vanilla and brown sugar along with melted caramel.

Taste follws suit, some faded hops along the finish as well...body is medium, carbonation is mild, and oxidation is evident.

I dig old ales and this is a fun beer...really should pick up a fresher bottle

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.49/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thoroughly enjoyed from the 2008 bottle, this fine old ale pours a brownish amber with a solid light tan head that lingers on as a thin pooling foam and spotty lacing. Nose of figs, dates, dark plums, and brown sugars. Flavors are excellent for it's age with figs and dates being rounded out with a subtle light hop character that lightly rests on the back. Rich and flavorful, fruit esters continue through to the aftertaste with simmering alcohol heat. THIS is fantastic. Ale is silky smooth, yet viscous, finishing sweet and delicious. A barely wine lovers dream. An A PLUS in my book, and one of the best around. Worth buying 2 bottles, one to drink, and one to lay down.


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Photo of JMS1512
4.21/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Fuller’s Vintage 2014, bottle #136346

Poured forcefully into a Duvel snifter

Sight: Great Odin’s Raven, that’s a ruby red beer. When held up to the light, the burnished brown gives off dark cherry highlights and sits under a thick tan cushion (think J-Lo’s assets). Bubbles make their way to the top of the glass from down below. Lacing has not appeared, since I’m taking sips often.

Smell: Sweet malt and fig/raisin. I don’t get any hops in the aroma, but I’ve read that’s not at all uncommon from old ales. Sort of reminds me of an English barleywine.

Taste: Wow. Malty goodness, more fig and or raisin. Just a hint of hop bitterness on the finish. Sweetness greets you in the front, perhaps a bit of caramel or butterscotch. After a few minutes in, I can better taste the drying effect of the hops. The back of the bottle states Fuller’s used three hop varieties: Goldings, Liberty, and Cascade. The first for bitterness, the second and third for zest. Well said.

Feel: Coating and oily. There’s a very slight fizz to it, so low levels of carbonation. Fine by me. I’d say a medium-plus body.

Overall: I truly enjoyed this, and the fact that it’s bottle-conditioned at will reach its peak in 3-4 years screams to me that I should grab one more, for that express purpose. Keep it up, Fuller’s, I doff my hat to you.

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Photo of kevinlater
3.8/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml boxed bottle into oversized wine glass. 2014 vintage, brewed with liberty and cascade hops

a: very clear deep orange or amber hue. a finger of tan head

s: sweet toffee, floral aromas, grapefruit, orange peel, berry fruits

t: follows the nose, but much more subdued. very soft flavour profile. has the aforementioned flavours but everything is mellow. brown sugar up front, followed by the floral and citrus notes from the hops, with herbal touches here and there. ends with a mild bitterness and a bit of a sour quality

m: medium-bodied, nearly non-existent carbonation

o: a nice ale, kind of like a mild barleywine. nothing spectacular but it's tasty

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Photo of chogm54
4.24/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 Vintage. Bottle number 033589. Couldn't wait until the BB date of 2023 to give it a go.

L - pours a thin white head, auburn colour, clear (although the bottle label recommends to pour carefully, on the account of bottle conditioning - I just poured all into a pint).

S - Aroma of sherry, honey, berries, roasted bready malts - almost like xmas pudding.

T - strong flavour roasted malts, with a supporting act of dark bread, dark fruits (plums, currants). Overall sweet, with a nice bitter finish (and a touch of orange at the end).

F - heavy with a thick slick texture, low carbonation, quite boozy alcohol hit.

O - brilliant, if a little strong in the alcohol tastes. Maybe I should have cellared it for another couple of years.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.8/5  rDev -8.9%
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 Subliminal64
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2014
No. 067160
Drank December 26, 2014

Although Fullers recommends waiting 3-4 years to consume, I could not resist. I figured if it was good, I would simply purchase another (or 2) and have them age appropriately.

As soon as you pour this Ale, you know your not dealing with a run of the mill variety. Pours a slightly cloudy copper colour with a good amount of head. It almost seems to be thicker or denser then a standard Ale.

The smell is a little sweet with a fairly significant hop smell.

The taste is a little more complex then a standard Fullers Ale. Its a little sweet, but also has the bitterness of the hops. The mouthfeel is very smooth with a good amount of carbonation.

Overall I enjoyed this beer and will be purchasing again. I wish the hops weren't as pronounced, but possibly after the 4 year "peak" it will be less noticeable. Thats just my personal taste.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 2012

Appearance - The beer poured a golden color with white bubbles lining the sides of the glass.

Smell - The malts stood out in the aroma, but there was also a certain booziness.

Taste - This could pass for a scotch. My initial impression was the maltiness. The malts were accompanied by spicy fruits, caramel, and toffee. The taste was boozy though not hot. I would certainly describe this as a sipper.

Mouthfeel - I did not note as much clinginess as I might like. In like, I thought it was a little thin.

Overall - I need to get another one of these and allow it to sleep in my cellar longer.

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Photo of JamesMN
4.07/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage #130020.

Appearance: Pours a subdued orange/caramel color with an off-white coating of froth on top. Quite cloudy despite sitting undisturbed for several months.

Aroma: The first thing that I noticed were wine-like esters of grape and fermented fruits. Some overripe orange notes as well, perhaps the dry-hops holding up after all this time. Similar to a barleywine.

Taste: With three years of aging under its belt, I wasn't expecting Vintage Ale pack much in the hop department. However, the first thing that hits the palate is some serious hop character. There's a fair amount of bitterness combined with an orangey, lightly earthy hop flavor. I would say there is a lack of balance here -- and that works for it. The amount of hop presence is impressive. Usually hop flavor not only fades but morphs into a somewhat unpleasant array of flavors, that is not the case here. From the start to the finish it's all hops. It is a tad watery to be fair, despite it's moderate 8.5% ABV, but at the same time it doesn't feel as though anything is missing. It's simply very well done. Nice hop bite in the finish and then a quite transition to a slow burn of earthy hops and caramel malt to round out the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Just under medium in body, making it the lightest beer I've ever had aged. About the amount of somewhat prickly carbonation you'd expect from a pale ale. Not really a session option but great drinkability.

Final Thoughts: I'm not sure what I was expecting going in to this one, but Fuller's has seriously impressed me with their bitter and porter offerings. I've got to give it to them here, against all odds the hop flavor lasted more than three years. Makes me wonder how this thing drinks fresh. Would I drink it again? Sure.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage.
Already taking on some oxidation qualities, even a little more towards cardboard than sherry in the aroma. Soft malt that is not very sweet and a bit of an aqueous quality.
Nice looking with a large head for 3 years old. Cloudy orange amber. Dripping lacing.
A nice smooth alcohol flavor and warmth with a semi-sweet malt that moves towards toffee, with a touch of caramelization. Very smooth and soft. Still a touch of hop flavor but not much for bitterness.
Goes does too easily for a beer this size. Smooth and not bursting with flavor, but flavorful and enjoyable.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 2012 drank in 2014

Appearance: This beer pours a deep burnt orange, almost the color of a fall leaf with some brownish hues. A two finger creamy head forms. The head has a tannish color to it. The retention is very strong and a thin tan layer stays on the surface the whole time. As it moves around the glass it leaves behind huge foamy streaks on the glass. It is fairly hazy and almost opaque, but streaks of brightness break through the haze.

Smell: The scent starts off with a few different characteristics. The is a strong graininess to it, hinting at toasted grains and caramelized malts with no signs of roasted malts. Some strong hoppy aromas come through reminiscent of citrus, herbs and some earthiness. Overall the scent is sweet with small amounts of earthy bitterness.

Taste: The taste opens up a very slight hop bite. The taste of the hops is citrus, herbs, and some earthiness. The bitterness is quickly drowned out by a rich sweetness, caramels, toffee, and some dark fruits. The fruitiness varies from raisins to figs. Some maple syrup comes through lightly and mixes with some tobacco. Some booziness is present near the end in the form of rum or possibly brandy.

Mouthfeel: The feel on this one is thick and chewy. There is plenty of sweetness in the flavor but almost none is left behind, eaten up by mostly tobacco and some earthy bitterness. There is a slight syrupy stickiness comes through along with slight alcohol warmth.

Overall: This is easily one of the more influential old ales. It's a must try for anyone who likes the style and a staple in any cellar. The amount of improvement from one year to two is pretty substantial. This would be a fun one to do a large vertical on to see where the peak is. I think at 2+ years it is still moving upward. The balancing with the hops on this one is unlike any old ale I have had before. I look forward to slowly stocking my cellar with these boxes.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.17 out of 5 based on 1,240 ratings.
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