Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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662 Reviews
Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale

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

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: 662 | Ratings: 1,227
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Photo of mikeys01
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a beautiful numbered generouslysized 18.6oz brown bottle, the bottle is indeed sealed witha paper seal as would be a good port. The box was a nice touch as well, and a fairly intelligent feature to prevent excess light from entering the bottle. Pours out of the bottle with plenty of carbonation and a frothy head that dissipates quickly. Color is a slightly toasted amber with flashes of red when held to the light, very good clarity. Aroma is swollen with aged fruit, smooth alcohol, and sweet malt. Taste is oh so smooth and tasty with each flavor playing well with the others, fermented raisins and figs blending with a sweet caramel malt and just a bit of the characteristic mustiness you expect in a vintage ale. Alcohol is very subdued, almost encouraging you to drink the whole large bottle in one sitting, though its probably best shared or saved for a couple nights enjoyment. Hops play in just a bit to add a bit of citrus flavor and only a bit of bitterness. Finish is smooth with hints of oak and vanilla left on your breath..mmm.

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Photo of Mangus
4.63/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Can I cry? Can I shed tears of happiness?

What a beautiful ale this is. Gorgeous copper, honey color with a nice off-white head that just sort of hangs out and sits there. This thing screams quality.

Wonderful aromas of sweet malt, honey, fruity apples, maybe some raisins in there too, I don't know, I don't friggin' care, I just want to taste this gift from the Gods.

The gates of heaven open and surround me as the warm alchoholy, malty, earthy, sweet honey fruit elixer slides down my throat. Damn I only have one case.

Excuse me while I get a kleenex.


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Photo of sulldaddy
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My bottle says best before end of 2003, well after sampling, I think this is best right now!!
The beer pours a reddish amber color, very clear. I get a small off-white head to foam up about 1 cm and then it fades to a surface layer throughout my sampling.
WOW! Nice complex aroma on this brew. I get rich caramel malt mixed with a nice batch of fruit, grapes, raisins, and plums are prevelant. No real hop presence to be found.
FIrst sip gives me a very fine soft carbonation and average body, a slight syrupy texture is present also.
Flavor is similar to the nose. I get sweet caramel up front followed by plums and raisins and then a finish with some alcohol warming in my throat. This is a very smooth beer and goes down easily. WIsh I had some more of these I recommend you find some too!

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Photo of CharlesRiver
4.11/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

No: 45695 from 1999. I have had this beer in my cellar for about 2 years now and think the time is right. It came in the wooden caged set of three including years 99, 00 & 01. What a pleasure it is to "pop the top" on this beer. From the wood, to the box, to the seal and finally the cap, this is cool.

The smell is typical English barley wine/strong ale. VERY sweet with tons of layers coming at you. Pours a cloudy, reddish-brown with a small head that doesn't last. After the first sip, it reminds me of a "light" JW Lees. Much easier drinking with much less alcohol coming through. Raisins, dates, figs, earthy crust and many other notes come through. Very smooth yet still has that warming feeling.

I love this beer but do not feel that it can improve any more with age. Just my opinion though.

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

18.6oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep orange-brown color with two fingers of head. There is lots of lace left on the glass. The smell is fairly sweet with malty and fruity aromas. A little bit of grapes and caramel in there. The taste starts sweet, but gets really tart right after. It's only tart until it warms up good, then it smooths out wonderfully. The finish is fairly smooth and malty, just a little bit of hops. The mouthfeel is fairly thick and heavy. The drinkability lacks a little due to the 8.5% really showing. Drink this one now, it's prime!

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Photo of hollicetales
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

definitly get enough bang out of your buck for this one, just the amazing fluffy biscuit head alone is worth the pittance. This pours a nice golden almost coppery yellow, it has a great spreading mouth feel....and slides over the palatte with just enough kick. A good balance of fruitness and toffee with almost carmelly note with just the right touch of sweetness....hope to try some of the older vintages.

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Photo of Winter
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle # 57449. Pours a hazed tawny amber with a creamy khaki colored head. Aroma consists of raisins, sweet caramel malt, alcohol and a hint of toffee underneath. Smooth full-bodied mouthfeel. Initial flavors of caramel malt and rum-soaked raisins. A pleasant hop bitterness reveals itself midway through to cut through some of the sweetness as the flavor grows in complexity. Some mineral or hard water taste arrives at this point also. Flavors turn smokey toward the back, in addition to the presence of alcoholic vapors. Lingering spiciness in combination with vanilla round out the sweet dry finish.

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Photo of Nytemare
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle number 05845. Poured a nice reddish copper color with virtually no head and little carbonation. Had a malty nose with a fruity sweetness coming throught predominately. Smelled sweeter than I expected. Tasted malty first with a fruity sweetness quickly moving in. Followed by a light hops bitteness into the finish. Not bad. Really would have liked to have tried this fresher, but I only have one bottle and the liquor store only had 2000's left when I bought it. They still have several 2000's marked down to try and move 'em. Not sure I want to buy them. Quite a smooth mouthfeel. Very smooth in fact. I'm sure it would have had better drinkability than it did for me if I was really wanting it. Problem was, I was really looking for something more on the crisp and light side, I just didn't have any of that. Went to the store today and got some. All in all, pretty good, just didn't hit the spot for me. Lookin' for 2003's to come into my area so I can buy a couple of bottles and try it fresh and aged.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
93 out of 100 based on 662 ratings.
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