Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
670 Reviews
Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale
BEER INFO

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

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
First released in 1997, Fuller's Vintage Ale is brewed in limited batches with each bottle being numbered. It can be enjoyed immediately, or Fuller's recommends laying the beer down to enjoy when it peaks in 3 to 4 years and consume at cellar temperature. And though it's released each year as a separate vintage, BA has been informed that the recipe is only slightly tweaked from year to year, while the ABV remains at 8.5%.

Added by Murph on 02-20-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
670
Ratings:
1,261
Avg:
4.17
pDev:
10.79%
 
 
Wants:
119
Gots:
305
For Trade:
10
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 670 | Ratings: 1,261
Photo of EPseja
3.92/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Shared this red-boxed Vintage Ale with two BA buddies of mine. Served in a pint glass at about cellar temperature.

Appearance: This one poured out bright copper with a light tan head that stayed for awhile before thinning out without disappearing. Pretty, but understated.

Smell: Slight latex paint smell up front (but not unpleasant in the least!), lavender, slight honey sweetness from the malts. My friends mentioned old leather but I couldn't discern it. All scents were well blended, and there were others that I couldn't pick out from the amalgamation. Quite unqiue and intriguing.

Taste: The first thing that came to mind for me was a wintertime fireplace. Slight maltiness, a hint of hops, a hint of smokiness - very smooth with the intricacies of a good scotch. I suspect that this would improve considerably with age. For 8.5%, the alcohol is well disguised and takes a back seat - even to the other mellow flavors. Slight warmth in the finish without overtly revealing the alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and well rounded. Carbonation is decent. Pleasant, but not very noteworthy.

Drinkability: The fact that everything about this beer is so mellow makes you want to keep sipping to try and peg down the flavors.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that this beer will improve with age. Be sure to serve this one a cellar temperature and a wide-mouthed glass to allow the subtle bouquet to open up!

 1,421 characters

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

No. 73058: I know this one is a little young to try, but I had to at least try one before putting some aside. It poured a very dark reddish amber color and formed a foamy white head that left circular lace as it subsided. A small amount of carbonation is present. An aroma of malt, plums, chocolate, red wine and a hint of alcohol. The flavor was of malt, caramel, some light candy taste. The finish was silky and slightly sweet.

 429 characters

Photo of gentlebubbles
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle-conditioned. No. 19154 of 30,000. "Best by end 2004". Okay, here we go.

Ambrosial scent of sherry and hazelnut and alcohol, verging even on varnish but in a wonderful way. Sweet caramel emerges as it warms.

Clear caramel color with ruby and amber highlights that glows like a polished apple before a light. Low amber-tinged head of densely packed tiny bubbles.

Intense caramel flavors made sticky with pine resin and chewy with nuttiness. It's exactly the caramel and pine I love so much in People's Pint ESB, but this is a little easier to get hold of. Alcohol opens out into a winey finish, giving you fair warning of what's coming. More hazelnut and vanilla emerge as it warms and I keep sipping. I don't exactly taste wood, but if someone told me it was aged on wood, I'd believe it.

Incredibly fine carbonation that's a bit too sharp for me at first.

Definitely want to get more of this, and see what a bit more time does to it.

 957 characters

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer (the 2004 edition) went really fast at the LCBO, I was lucky to get the two bottles I did.

It pours a deep copper. Its a little lighter than the other vintages Ive tried but Its not 'Golden' like the label says. The head is big, craggy and long lasting. It leaves a trail of light tan lace behind. The aroma is of layers of thick malts with an excellent Goldings aroma and a spicey alcohol kick. It smells almost like the Fuller's ESB, only super stong. Also hoppier on the nose than other vintages.

The taste is very rich and heavy on the alcohol. I suppose this bottle might be a bit 'young' . There are some ripe plum flavors, fruity esters and doughy flavors. The hops are very noticeable though not so much in their bittering potential. The plums and dark fruits blend well with the alcohol to make a nice warming sensation. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy, very nice with fine carbonation bubbles.

This was a nice beer for sure, very complex in the malt department. I think its only drawback was a slightly brash alcohol note. It could use some cellaring. Still a great beer.

The taste is

 1,119 characters

Photo of fandgale
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Comes in a red box Fuller’s Vintage Ale popping the top comes to a light fizz the smell of malt some hops .
The pour, in a small glass 330 ml is just right nice small head again malt and some hops with a amber color .

Taste is hops at first then malt very smooth not dry some alcohol that goes down the side of the tongue. Nice
This vintage ale will cellar well .plan on 2 or 3 away for next fall.

 406 characters

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

Dulled, gel-like amber brew. Thick, maple-ish scents. Liquid caramels. Whew. Intense nose. Equally intense flavor. Strong from the get go, there's a big load of alcohol and a truckload of caramel and brown sugar. Very sweet up front. A mild herbal/grassy bitterness takes hold and grows a bit to a huskier astringency through the finish.

I don't know what this was like in 2001, but it's a hell of an old ale now. Well-balanced and just hoppy enough despite an assertive maltiness. Cakey and viscous. As you settle into this, you just begin to feel what kicking back and drinking a nice old ale should feel like. It drizzles down the throat, coating as it goes, and giving warmth. The sweetness lingers past the finish. Very good beer.

 738 characters

Photo of TripelJ
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Now Quaffing: Fuller's Vintage Ale 2001 no. 11920 1pt. 2.6 oz.

Pours a clear, deep mahogany with a nice sticky, white head that leaves a nice lacing down the snifter. Appearance will likely be a little cloudier when I decant the rest of the bottle and the yeast deposit at the bottom. Aroma is vinous and candy sweet with some light alcoholic phenols. The taste is a subtle display of acidic and sweet fruitiness with a spicy alcoholic finish in a nice full creamy broth of a base. The sweetness is reminiscent of Belgium and its brewers remarkable ability to blur the lines between beer and wine. The mouthfeel is full, lucious, slick and creamy, which makes for a most addictive imbibing experience. Overall, a fantastic brew, I will certainly seek out other vintage offerings from this brewery.

 800 characters

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

Beautifully boxed, numbered, this was no.51498, served at room temp.

Pours with a deep amber body, slight reddish hues, fairly creamy tan head, some retention, quite a bit of lacing

Smell, lovely warming alcohol coming off, slight hint of toffee and caramel, some esters, slightly nutty

Taste, the first flavour is the alcohol warming, cinnamon and cloves, creamy mouthfeel, some alcohol on the finish once again, some hop bitterness also

This is great stuff....and it can only get better with age

---

500ml bottle, boxed and numbered. 2007 vintage

Served very slightly chilled to take it down to roughly cellar temp in a Dobbelen tulip

Pours with a rich sticky dark coppery hued body. Puffy off white head with fair retention, about a centimetre thick soon settling to a fine whisp. Some small bubbles of lacing up and down the sides of the glass

Smell, rich brandy soaked fruits, a little hint of sticky almost floral maderia character. A hint of port and chinese five spice. Sugary alcoholic tinged malt, raisins soaking in a rich burgandy or merlot, some cinnamon and nutmeg on the finish

Taste, initially a slightly fizzy crisp english hop bite followed by some musty dryness from the malt. Some toffee and cigar tobacco notes, a little bit of old leather also. Some noticable alcohol on the finish too along with a quinine like bitterness

A bit disappointing to be honest. Previous years have had a much bolder and fuller flavour and aroma. This is pretty short lived on the palette for a beer of its apparent complexity and abv. It will be interesting to see if age can put some much needed depth into this.

 1,625 characters

Photo of tatterdash
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very interested and excited about trying this, heard good things. Comes in a box and a nice paper-sealed bottle. Pours a dark amber with thick off-white head that laces very well. Aroma of toffee and an earthy red wine-like smell. Taste was a very rich caramel and toffee with hoppy middle with some fruit, and a pleasent roasted finish. Mouthfeel was smooth and alcohol was well-hidden at first but revealed itself as it warmed. This is a very good ale and is the first old ale that I have tried. Not something I would like to have a lot of in one sitting though.

 564 characters

Photo of ChrisBowers
3.78/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber/ruby color from a 16.9oz bottle. Slightly fruity aroma with notes of alcohol, malt and perhaps some whisky. Taste is ripe fruit, creamy, slight whisky/tawny port notes. Some hops in the end. Very enjoyable brew. Not quite up to standards of Hardeys or JW Lees but quite a nice beer. Extra points for sophisticated packaging.

 343 characters

Photo of SeanChouffe
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

An amber color, hazy, with orange highlights. A tawny colored head with low retention. Aroma is of oak, tartness, malt, alcohol and hops. Flavor is surprisingly muted; a sweet start, whisky notes and a dry, lightly tart, finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy with low effervescence. I had some high expectations about this beer. Not a bad brew, but really lacking in character.

 385 characters

Photo of shapudding
3.75/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle #36146
Poured out a nice amber, unclear and with a quickly dissapating head that left only a dusting and bit of creamy bubbles in the corner of the glasses. Nice fruity aroma, grapes and raspberries. Peppery spice with a bit of dougheyness in there too. The carbination is just right in here, not too much. The mouthfeel is very nice, almost chewy. Good flavors, malty and caramel sweetness, bit of hoppy bite in there, not much. The sweetness is very prominant, which makes it more of a sipper than a session.

 518 characters

Photo of ManekiNeko
3.74/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served slightly chilled in a Rapscallion goblet.

Appearance: Clear ruby with hints of orange topped by a weak offwhite head that dissipates rather quickly to a film of bubbles. Little splotches of foam left on the glass.

Smell: Alcohol undergirds the nose here, supporting caramel, honey, and golden raisins. Not overly or overtly hoppy.

Taste: Again, booze plays a major role. Sweet caramel and fruit fig with a warming glow of booze on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Initially warming, closely followed by a drying sensation.

Drinkability: Scotch meets beer. Take your time with this: very boozy, almost unpleasantly so.

 629 characters

Photo of Fish113d
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Even as I opened this treasure, the head came shooting out of the top of the bottle, and no I didn't shake it! Pouring into a snifter, it turned out to be a dark chestnut/slightly amber color w/ beautiful lacing clinging to the sides of the glass. The head slowly dissipated to very little left. Wow! As I sniffed my snifter (hehe), I can get a very fruity scent from it, maybe plums or grapes even. I can tell by smell that this is going to be a palette-killer!

Tasting it, I can sense the fruitiness, which is very creamy at first as well. I also can taste the hops on the finish. It is very sugary on the finish, and is very nice! The alcohol burn left is insane!!! Figure this beer is 4 years old, so I would expect a little alcohol finish, but Wow, does it stick around. Mouthfeel is good. It starts out to seem as though it is going very heavy and creamy, but then the alcohol burns it off a bit. Overall, this is a very nice beer, and I recommend it to everyone!

 973 characters

Photo of Crosling
3.57/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Sampled at the White Horse in London, England.

Glowing Orange.

Enticing aroma. Notes of grapefruit, lemon, apricot, vanilla and caramel.

Full-bodied and flavorful but hot down the throat and the cloying syrupy sweetness was just too much. Notes of apricot, tea, tangerine, wood and orange. The hops were nice and sought to balance but failed.

 351 characters

Photo of Rastacouere
4.67/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep brownish body. Nice off-white head 1 inch-tall despite being 5 yr old. Honest long-lasting film. Big malty aroma although not as expressive as I expected. Brown sugar, chocolate, bready yeast, nuts, caramel, dark fruits... This is a nice cake! Of course very sweet on the tongue. Very complex malt flavors. One sip, you taste mostly the caramelic and brown sugar aspects while the next one will reveal its chocolatey, toffee and almondish secrets. Dark fruits are felt, but hard to put words on. Vinous at times, clovey at others. Extremely complex and enjoyable english ale. Very smoky peat finish. Hops are very subdued which appears to be fine as I assume this has gotten very mellow and round over the years. Moderate amount of carbonation which is a shock considering it’s 5 yr old and most aged beers I’ve had lost had lost a lot of body after 3-4 years. Very soft and creamy full body. Never cloying and has proved to be love-worthy for anyone. Unique age resistance. This is truly a beer that you want to sit back and admire. Looking forward to the next sampling. Props to JPDipso for the bottle.

 1,111 characters

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

The last of my notes from my vertical Vintage Ale tasting (on 7/6/04). Pours a medium-white head, with a nicely cloudy orange-brown color. The smell is sweet - honey and molasses. The taste is similar, but I also got lemon and sherry notes.

A lingering, pleasantly bitter hop aftertaste stuck around (in my mouth, and obviously in the bottle after 3 years!), making this really easy to drink and well-balanced.

So far, my favorite Fuller's beer in bottle.

 461 characters

Photo of lou91
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1998 Vintage –Bottle 18602. I must admit I was skeptical about this one given the fancy box and presentation. Boy was I wrong. It poured alive with lively carbonation, nice thick head and a subtle sweet nose. Clear –translucent amber color. The big winner here is the taste. Rich, malty lasting flavors with great depth. The hops play a minor role giving a great bitter flavor and a crispness to counter to malty sweetness. The beer is so smooth and well-balanced and I am not sure how much is due to the aging process but it was clearly made to last.

 553 characters

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

A dark chestnut coloured brew with a nice off-white head that sticks around for a while. The aroma on this puppy is great. A lovely blend of dark fruits, pudding, bread, alcohol, medicinal hops, and sweet, sweet malts. The taste is very malty, a bit boozy,a nd very barleywine like. The hops are a little subdues for my liking, but this is a traditional English barleywine here, so I can't fault them for that! The mouthfeel is a bit thin for my liking, but the drinkability for this 8.5% nectar is quite awesome! Great stuff!

 526 characters

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.78/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A unique one-off FULLER’S custom statuesque 1 pint 2.6 oz. brown bottle ~suitable for framing~ that is topped off with a vintage 2000 bottle cap shrouding seal. Plenty of descriptive ho-hum wrinting from the illegible signature of the brewmaster on the back label. The front has No: 35758 imprint.

Deep ruby orange hazy pour with a spumescent khaki one finger tall head that quickly dissolves to a thin coating after an aggressive pour into me gold rimmed pilsner. A second pour released a totally clingy coating that didn’t quit, and clear pour that lost carbonation after she warmed up.

Estery bouquet with nutmeg, then spicy pepper and yeast. Bottle conditioned but not a big aromatic offering. As she warms, some over ripe bananas and cinnamon begin to rise.

Tons of esters and awl-kee-hawl flavors. This has aged into a virtual barley wine, with a bit less bite, like a smooth BWSA. Even me burps are banana-like. Bready notes that leave cloying aftertaste of caramely malts, celery and dry acidic sizzle. Thank goodness that there was plenty of this beer to drink because an entire cool to warm spectrum lasted throughout the drink. A warmed up swirl just blasts out with awl-kee-hawl scents.

There is an interesting combination of high ABV foaminess that turns into a smoothness in the finish, but the drinkability is limited due to, oh, I don’t know, butt-kickin’ ABV?

Last swigs: Some sips creep up like Ruination IPA and then reminders of my most fortunate experience with Flying Fish’s Big Fish. This is an overly matured ager that was begging to be taken home. Gee, it followed me home..can I keep her? $7 a bottle? Ya gotta be kiddin’ me. Kind of an unusual review because there is no more FULLER'S source left to review. What it was, is what it is, what it always shall be.

Beer is good. Happy aged beering.

 1,846 characters

Photo of budgood1
3.7/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

bottle # 21572

poured into my fuller's imperial pint glass a cloudy, hazy amber colour with a tight fine head and ample rings of lace. a delicate honeyish aroma...with a myriad of candied fruit flavours wafting about. spice and anise...a bit of sweet malt and spicy hops invade the nose. pretty nice. tastes mostly fruity and yeasty, with hints of mineral water and malt. lots of underlying peppery spiciness, so subtle that it blends in with the bitter hoppiness quite nicely. alcohol detectable on the end of the spice train. malt profile runs the gamut from cocoa to caramel; all spiced with a hearty dose of rum and brandy soaked fruit cake. alcohol definitely there. mouthfeel runs smooth and slick...and a bit flat and uninspired. body is full and filling. aftertaste comes off as sticky and spicy. although a tasty and satiating ale, there is something that won't allow the battling flavours to meld together into a harmonious experience. paired with some spicy meats and cheeses...this might be a perfect accompaniment to a holiday cracker, cheese and smoked meat platter. alone it's an alcohol filled apertif. worth trying.

 1,135 characters

Photo of GreenWBush
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle #: 02153.

Poured into Fuller's London Pride pint glass. A swirlingly beautiful head bubbles up from a roasty light amber nectar. The head is politely large but easily controlled. As the head subsides to a picture-perfect 1", it leaves fish-eyes of lacing before it reaches my lips.

Hops are apparent on the nose in the form of warm and spicy kent goldings. But hop-heads, don't think this is your beer because it is hoppy. No, my friend, we need to take time off the palate-attack and this is the perfect beer to do so. The rich balance of husky beefiness and chewy Maris Otter malts is a celebration of different flavors on the tongue. The yeast character is pleasant and boosts the flavors into a new realm of encapsulation without being funky or buttery.

By the end of the pint, I was left wondering about the ABV. The sweetness catches up with you by the end but doesn't overpower. The earthy hops keep everything from flying into palatal confusion.

The mouthfeel fits this beauty of a beer - it is thick and pleasingly rich.

I also didn't detect the slightly husky corn adjunct generally found in Fuller's offerings.

The full amount of suggested aging did this beauty wonders. I would kill for another properly aged sample.

 1,256 characters

Photo of ElGuapo
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle 53404
Pours somewhat cloudy in a deep amber brown color. It is equipped with a thick covering of off-white head that will sit with you for a while, and it will come right back up with some gentle swirling. The nose is a huge blast of sweet malts. Some nice hops are also present to provide a very nice aroma. It smells so fresh, which is pretty strange for something that is 5 years old.

The body is pretty full, but not all the way there. The carbonation is very mild. The initial flavor is nice and toasty. Malts are absolutely huge, and the backbone is absolutely delicious. Little touches of alcohol are found in the finish, but ever so subtle. The hops provide a bit of balance. This one is earthy and a bit grassy. I can only imagine that this would be a work of art on cask. The drinkability is excellent along with mouthfeel. It is so smooth. It definitely seems like an intensified ESB which is something I like to see. I think that this one may not have made it in the cellar for too much longer, so a big thanks to yen157 for letting me know that it was time to pop this one.

 1,099 characters

Photo of BeerResearcher
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle No; 60097
I drank the 1999 over the holidays and swore to myself I would wait a year until popping this one open...oh well.
It pours a lovely orange-tinted amber with a small but lasting beige head on top and small trails of sticky lace.
Creamy caramel, hops, cut hay and a near perfect rummy alcohol aroma lasts a fair amount of time.
The full and rich malt body has flavors of toffee and rum cake. The hops are in abundance! Citrus and tea-like bitterness are quite noticeable. A slight metallic background adds a welcome additional edginess. The warming alcohol is in total harmony.
The mouthfeel has an almost perfect extra virgin olive oil and buttery finish to it.
It's velvety smooth, with a decadent richness one comes to associate and compare to a fine sherry.
Note to self; Hide the 2001!
Thanks Genaro!

 828 characters

Photo of Doiv
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This stuff will cost a little more than your average bottle of bitter, but it is bloody marvellous. This is as strong as Golden Pride, but with a more wooden, burnished flavour, smoother mouthfeel, a strong, hoppy nose and a good dry finish. Worth absolutely every penny.

 271 characters

Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.17 out of 5 based on 1,261 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.

    Subscribe