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Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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663 Reviews
Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale

Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
United Kingdom (England)

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: 663 | Ratings: 1,233
Photo of oberon
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2005 vintage bottle #49597,poured a deep rich copper with some burnt orange tint with a short lasting one finger white head.Aromas of brown sugar and orange marmalade with a hint of caramel,sweet but very pleasingly sweet dark sweet cherries dipped in brandy,brown suger and caramel dominate with just a hint of leafy herbal hop in the finish.The alcohol is a little raw but this bottle is pretty new would love to cellar one and likely will.The 2001 vintage is one of my alltime favorite beers, give this some time and it could reach its standards I believe.

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Photo of Cwrw
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2005, coming in the attractive red Scotch-style box with the cream-coloured label showing the Fuller's symbol. The back of the box tells more about the 2005 edition. Such attractive packaging, and the bottle I carefully pulled out was No. 28149. The cap is covered with a thin strand of taped-label saying "Limited Edition." Definitely in for something special here--I have wanted to try this beer for a long while. Vintage Ale poured into my glass leaving a good solid tapioca-coloured head, creamy and settling at about 2cm. Islands of lacing clung nicely to the glass. The beer itself is a dark tawny brown-red, and quite clear. Dark honey, with hints or ruby or even light cherry colouration. The aroma is a lovely rum/dark fruit combination, not overpowering, but creamy and balanced. Nice sugar in the form of mollasses and brown sugar, maple syrup and sweet sherry. Figs, celery, black licorice, oak or fresh pine, milk chocolate and raisins. The sweetness is deliciously appetising. The hopping is detectable in the wood notes and lovely tickling sensation the beer gives to the nose. Other notes of cinnamon, black currants, prunes, and a little vanilla. Wonderfully sweet but not cloying aroma for this Old Ale. The taste up-front is powerfully resin-like and sugary. Brown sugar definitely at first, followed by sweet port alcohol warmth, and finishing with a sugary but dry feeling, akin to homemade honey. The body is felt heavily in the middle and even more in the finish: a great chewy and malty viscous tasting brew. More wood tastes in the middle, strong reminiscent of maple syrup and mollasses. Wonderful hop complexity, adding a spicy bittering to the palate. Cherries and nuts in the finish. Sweet all the way through, just as it should be. The gravity can be tasted throughout too, adding some astringent characteristics that warm the mouth and stomach quickly. The long aftertaste has a sweet-bread feel, like cinnamon buns or brown sugar and pecan bread. The more the beer warms, the more the phenols appear in the aroma and the taste. More caramel and honey-style malting as it warms too, like fresh baked bread, or scones with clotted cream and jam. Even sweet whiskey flavours are to be found in here, and definite sherry notes. A wonderful winter sipper. The mouthfeel is heavy, the body full. Low carbonation, syrupy feel. Yet drinkability remains high: there is no off-flavour or overdone meatiness to limit it. I had to try one bottle fresh, but I highly anticipate cracking the other 3 I cellared in a couple of years. Delectable beer. I hope it ages well, and I would love to try some older vintages of the stuff. It went well with double-creme brie, and also havarti cheese. The sharpness of blue cheese seemed to overdo the sweet maltiness though.

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Photo of twelvsies
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2004. This one isn't nearly as good as the 1998 I had a few weeks ago. I guess that goes without saying, but I was curious so I had to try. This isn't a bad beer by any means, it's just very young and active whereas the 1998 is mellow in every way. This is a great beer to show people what aging really can do.
It's got the same ruby red hue to it as the older versions, but there's more noticable carbonation in little bubbles throughout the beer. Smells of fruity malts and alcohol, with some more fruity esters floating around. Taste is big cherries right up front, with the same fruityness as in the scent, with still a big kick of alcohol and and yeasty, toffeeish taste. Good, but since I see where this beer can go it needs a little time to settle. The biggest difference was that the mouthfeel was nowhere near as pillowy and smooth as the 98. I'm definately going to try to stockpile these and see what happens.

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Photo of sinistermadman
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 edition. Pours a frosty amber with slight carbonation and head. Smell is of caramel, sugar, and toffee.

Has a light mouthfeel and minimal carbonation. taste is of caramel malts and sugar. Taste is quite good, although the palate presence is a bit lacking. A solid brew, but not what I was expecting.

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Photo of Zorro
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 vintage, bottle #69408.

Pours a clear very deeply bronze colored ale with even a decent head despite the alcohol level.

Smell is very spicy and very full of herbal hop scents. Chocolate and cinnamon aromas are nicely strong. Scents of vanilla, cherry, grapes, plums, brown sugar and raisin are carried on the alcohol fumes. Lesser scents are tobacco and leather aromas.

The taste is very malty and full with a good solid herbal bitterness on the back end for a start. Pleasantly warming to the stomach. As this gets warmer more and more complexity comes out. After the initial taste this becomes mildly sweet and caramel and brown sugar flavor become stronger. There is a good long lasting hops after taste to this that is very herbal almost medicine like. Good flavor but it isn't as good as the smell.

Mouthfeel is good and full almost syrup.

Nicely drinkable but at it's price I won't be doing that on a regular basis. Tasty and very aromatic this is an ale you should try.

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Photo of Brent
3.58/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2004 vintage, still seems a bit young with room to develop. Poured a surprisingly bright cola amber for a bottle conditioned beer. Brown sugar, sweet malt and a rather cutting alcohol edge. Finished with the barest touch of vinious tannin. An old school old ale that I'd like to see a bit more age on and see what happens.

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Photo of Phatz
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had a 2004 vintage # 75579 The presentation is fantastic in this beautiful collectors box and inside is a unique 18.6 oz brown pint bottle. It looked very light while pouring, but it sits in the glass at a coppery transparent color. Huge head! I got like four fingers of head in my oversized Victory pint glass. Significant lacing. It has a great smell of gentle port. Hint of sweet fruit like a tangerine, then grapes. As it warmed the smell got to a darker fruit like raisins or figs. It makes me think of wine. (?) The taste is fantastic but pretty straight foreword. Extremely malty flavor with hints of dark fruit, and gentle on the taste buds. It is so soft on the taste bud I can't imagine anyone saying it tastes bad; even if it is not there preference. The mouthfeel is amazing (so much so I consider it a highlight of this beer). If I had not poured it myself I'd have thought it was on-cask. It is the creamiest feel. This is full bodied but light and frothy. One of the most gentle creamy mouthfeels I have ever experienced. Each sip you just want to last forever; it just feels right! It is fantastically drinkable. It’s so pleasant in the mouth that I would anticipate the next the next sip; yet it is a beer that can't be rushed. It is too pleasant to rush through. In other words it is worth the money. Someone complained it was $6 a bottle. I only wish I lived in that state. In PA its $9 a bottle and WELL worth the money.
In fact I went back and bought three more to age for another year.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of bruachan
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage has been sitting in my basement for awhile. #91902 (not sure why i'm compelled to post that. seems relevent). i stupidly tried to fit the whole bottle in my pint glass, which of course was always an impossibility, so the head didn't have much room to roam, but it did well. not exactly billowy, but tight and persistent

during the pour all i could think of was how much like wine this smelled, but i don't seem to get it from the beer in my glass. rich malt aroma, toffee. toffee flavors follow, with nutty and slight dried cherry notes

the color is very similar to that of the mad elf i just tried. clear red, but with a more coppery tinge. after the initial pour, not much visible carbonation but still a fairly spritzy feel

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Photo of Popsinc
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage Ale 2005, bottle #10606

It's 8pm, -8 degrees celcius & there's 10 cm of snow of the ground in Barrie....i'm very glad that i chose this beer tonight.

Pours deep amber with a nice foamy off-white head. A lighty spiced nose with hoppy notes and a pinch of fruit. The taste is gentley sweet with hop traces. A nice sponge toffee characteristic is here and lingers nicely. Mild spice, maybe some orange zest as well. Medium bodied. A nice chewiness to the beer brought on by the sweet caramel & molasses and alcohol kick. Warm, sweetn spicey finish with a mild hop trace. This is the perfect beer for a winter eveing. A nice sipper. Great alcohol warmth on the finish. Good complexity. I enjoyed it thuroughly.

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Photo of BDTyre
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No difference in score from my last review. Thiis bottle, # 47498 has been aged for about a year. Please see my last review....

This has mellowed considerably. Still a scotch ale feeling to it, but much smoother and no alcohol feeling. Good amber brown appearance with an ever so slight off-white head.

Tastes malty, with winey and whisky hints. Hops not easily detectable. The taste is mellow and smooth. Not your typical ale. An enjoyable brew, fit for sipping on a quiet winter's evening.

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Photo of ypsifly
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage, bottle # 84475. Served in an imperial pint glass.

Dark but clear copper with a tall head that is off white. Strong retention, globs of lace.

Wonderful aromas of dark ripe fruits such as cherries and plums, slightly toasty malts and a hint of earthy to bread like yeast. Rather simple, but it all comes together so well.

The taste is very malty upfront, but it gives way to some of the fruits that are now showing signs of being soaked in alcohol. Nice bitter finish that is a bit vinous with a pinch of sugar and a warming alcohol sensation. Very, very nice!

Full mouth that wants to be chewy oil but is swept clean by the hops and active carbonation. One of the most drinkable OAs out there.

The only odd characteristic of this beer is its appearance. I'm used to OAs looking rather flat without much head to speak of, let alone one that's still a few centimeters high halfway through the glass. However, I like beers with strong retention and lacing. Good stuff. Get some and stash it away...it can only get better.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2000 vintage. This brew pours a murky brown color with amber hues around the edges. The head is mammoth and white. Lacing is thorough. The aroma screams that this brew is big. Hoppy, piney, malty. The taste is a lot more balanced than the aroma led me to believe it would be. The sip has a pronounced malt backbone, while hops break through in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is full bodied with good carbonation. Overall, this is a very good brew.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage. The brew pours a nice amber color with a small head that falls to a very light coating over the beer. The nose is deep raisin and fig with a very thick brown sugar sweetness and a bit of alcohol as well. I like it. Flavor is very much more smooth than the nose would indicate. The brown sugar and raisin flavor meld really well together. Incredible balance. The feel is thick with a light carbonation. Very nice on the tongue. I really like the beer. The nose is a touch too strong on the alcohol, but it is nothing to set back my feelings of it. This is deceptively drinkable. Well crafted beer.

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Photo of clvand0
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1999 Vintage. This one pours a dark amber color with a small head that falls fast and doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. The aroma has a lot of raisin and fruit and some alcohol. Smells pretty good. The flavor is awesome. So much smoother than expected. Lots of great fruit flavors with just a touch of alcohol. Very nice. The mouthfeel is on the heavy end of moderate and the drinkability is great.

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Photo of rocketmotor
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

2004 Vintage, bottle number 82121.

Pours a nice translucent, burnt orange color. Not much head, but my wife cleaned my glass, maybe not clean enough, no lacing present.

Has a great woody, spicy aroma, also smell yeast and rich, dark bread. Wonderful carmel, malt flavor with nice, spicy hop zing. The alcohol comes through a bit too strong on the finish. Can pick up a bit of raison too. Has a great mouthfeel. I usually prefer more carbonated beers, but this thick, chewy beer is great! Really coats your mouth well.

Drinkability, when I started off, I thought I could drink a few of these. Now that I'm half-way through the beer, one is enough. The alcohol flavor comes on a bit too strong here, and I'm used to drinking Imperial IPA beers frequently.

I have one other bottle that I will keep for some years. Should be interesting to compare notes with my future tasting.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.7/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had to break this out tonight as I've heard some rumblings that this is the prime time to drink this 2000 vintage. And what better time than a college football game that features two top five teams, Texas vs Ohio St.

Decent presentation in a oversized wine glass. beautiful frothy white head that recedes in uniform to a thin lazy fading froth ending in nothing. Copper color that is hard to see through. Bottle fermentation for 5 years may have jacked this baby up because I can smell the alcohol and it is welcomed. Prune, plumb, caramel smell comes through strongest. yeast. Tasted mellow dude. Just a layed back deep, rich easy drinking 8.5 abv (at bottling)....frickin sweeet....it did lack lacing and head retention but who cares the quality is in the taste. Even a little zing at the end to battle the caramel finish that is saucey.

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

Vintage 2000

Bottle# 43816 with a best before date of end of 2003. Pours out a dark reddish brown with a decent sized frothy head. Some sticky rings of lace were left clinging to the glass. Sweet dark ripe fruit was strong in the aroma with plums and figs. Some caramel malt and a bit of musty earth. Figs, raisins and plenty more fruits kick of the taste before a bit of alcohol and molasses come in to play. There are some nice malt complexities going on as well. Light alcohol burn with a bit of earthiness and some fruit on the finish. Mouthfeel is a bit sticky sweet with a great thickness. A bit warming from the alcohol too. Really smooth and easy drinking stuff even if it is more of a sipper. For supposedly being 2 years past the best by date this is fantastic.

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Photo of tjthresh
3.86/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Big, big, big malt aroma. Crystal clear with an off white head. Very pretty beer. Again big malt flavor with a touch of bitterness. There are some flavor hops in the middle that I don’t care for. Very nice palate. Fuller bodied. Maybe a touch too much carbonation. This is by far the best Fuller’s beer I have ever drank.

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Photo of dgallina
4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, forgot to record the number or best-before date.

Pours a sparkling dark brown with ruby edges. Decent head of chunky off-white foam and quite a lot of moderately sticky lace. Strongly malty smells. Loads of the usual biscuit-like Fuller's yeast plus caramel malts and dark, fruity alcohol. Tastes much like the smell. Toasty and slightly smoky malts up front, with a chewy biscuit-like middle and very strong rum-like alcohol finish. Chewy and lightly carbonated body.

A bit boozy, but still tasty for an old strong ale. The house yeast and malt profile work better in the 1845 in my opinion.

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Photo of Gusler
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

“Bottle #76157”: The beer dispenses from the 500ml brown bottle a translucent deep amber to copper color with the head average in size, the texture semi-creamy and the color a winsome light tan and after its demise the residual lace a concealing sheet upon the glass. Nose is deep malt, sweet, hints of caramel, and oh yes “Alcohol” and the start delectable in its sweetness and the grain profile adequate, the top is middling in its feel. Finish scrumptious in its hop presence, moderately carbonated and a very dry long lasting aftertaste, the first new vintage in a few years at least for me.

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Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
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 Naerhu
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

No. 87866
A - Beautiful red amber body with no visible carbonation and thin off-white head.
S - Great spicy hops, fresh aroma with rich caramel maltiness
T - Big initial bitterness, which quickly fades. medium maltiness that starts as caramel, then fades into tabacco and finally port wine.
M - This wine is lacking in richness and body, thought the fine carbonation and well integrated alcohol was enjoyable.
D - No desire to have this again, and almost forgot to drink the last half of pint before going to sleep.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle No: 41526

Bottle says "Best Before End 2003." Hope I didn't wait to long.

Fiery scarlet red appearance. Clarity is good. Head is beige, hefty and long-lasting. Lace is bountiful. This smells of toffee, caramelized raisins and vanilla nougat. Excellent aroma. Flavor is kind of sharp and dry. The bulk of this beer is all about the caramel and toffee flavor wheels. Also nuances of cedar. Alcohol is nearly absent. Dry, woody finish. Mouthfeel is appropriately prickly with carbonation. Body about light-medium. Good stuff, but I think I may have waited a titch too long.

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Photo of kbub6f
4.04/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I get about a centimeter of yellowy-cream head: lots of bubbles floating on a dense base. The beer itself is clearish and copper-brown. Quite dark. The nose is a sweet and fruity liqueur. Port-like, too. Mmmmm. Fruity and malty in front. It turns thick, smooth, buttery, malty and slick. And then there's alcohol, loads of cherries (?) and a good, tangy, British bitterness. Excellent: a slick, buttery, fruity malt monster. Big alcohol kick.

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.56/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beautifully thick, creamy head. Nice amber-brown color. Hops on the nose with some barleywine smells as well. You can still pick out the hops in the taste, which is impressive after all these years. Nice barleywine taste. Mellow, but deep. Smooth as silk. I think this one may be a little bit past its peak. Still well worth getting and consuming if you still have any around.

Do you really care what the bottle number is?

Edit: This review was of the 2000 vintage.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.17 out of 5 based on 1,233 ratings.
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