Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

1,271 Ratings
Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale

Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
England, United Kingdom

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Winter

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

Added by Murph on 02-20-2002

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,271 |  Reviews: 673
Photo of Snow81
4.95/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Clear amber haze

Head: Creamy tan head

Smell: nutty with some caramel or toffee and a little heat

Taste: Rich sticky malts with a little heat and a hint of hops on the back

Weight: Medium to heavy body with a medium carbonation

Finish: Light nut with caramel and a hint of heat with a nice stickiness on the lips

 329 characters

Photo of foogerd
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 Vintage.

A- Muddy orange/dark brown colored body, small off white head.

S- Sweet apple juice with young fresh raisins, pears and plums, very faint toffee.

T- Caramel and toffee with fig and raisins, hops make a presence giving a slight bitter balance to this mostly really sweet tasty brew.

M- Ample carbonation, wet slick feel.

O- Really a favorite Old Ale of mine, this was an excellent vintage the alcohol is nearly muted giving you the ability to really dive into the deliciousness of this brew. Seek this one out.

 529 characters

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

Vintage 2007-No. 121210

The 2007 release of Vintage Ale is copper in color. A little haze clouds the scene, but backlighting reveals nice orange highlights. A cream colored head tops it off. It stands about a finger tall, and is slow to recede. Lacing was sticky and moderate.

The nose is good, despite falling a little short in the strength department. Caramel and toasted malts are noted initially. Smells sweet. Probably a little sweeter than I'd like. Dark fruits are rather prominent. Smells like fig and raisin to me. There's definitely a whiskey scent in the house. It's not very strong, and complements the other scents well. Alcohol is a little noticeable, but doesn't smell overly strong. Smells good, but would benefit from a little more strength.

The flavor is quite good. It performs better than the nose. Enough to trigger a score bump. Caramel and toasted malts are the base. It is a little sweet, but not as much as the nose suggests. Dark fruit flavors of raisin and fig are noted, but are subtle and secondary. There is definitely a whiskey flavor, but is complementary and plays that role very well. An herbal tobacco flavor adds nice depth. I don't know how hoppy this is out of the gate, but there are definitely some remnants. Tastes like some form of English or Noble hops. Alcohol is pretty well buried. Finishes herbal and dry with a touch of whiskey.

Vintage Ale has a medium body. Carbonation is mid-range, but works nicely. It is smooth and easy drinking. It's definitely tasty, and I wouldn't mind going for another. Good stuff.

I've had this bottle of Fuller's Vintage Ale for over three years, and it is certainly drinking fine at the moment. Since I haven't had a fresh bottle, I can't really compare. Suffice it to say it ages nicely. I've grown to like English Old Ales quite a bit, and Fuller's Vintage Ale is definitely a fine example. It has a ton of flavor and character, and ages extremely well. Grab a few bottles and put them back. It's more than worth it.

 2,004 characters

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

2010 Vintage - sampled 23/03/11.

A gradient of chestnut, auburn and gold tones disseminate to make a gloriously rich and resplendent tawny coloured beer that more than lives up to the grandeur of its packaging. The highlights are irradiant and glossy, made possible by an immaculate clarity, and make it look as though the beer has a fresh coat of lacquer. Off-white foam skims the top.

The bouquet is rich and sensually smoothing, such that I have my nose seemingly permanently pressed up against the glass, like a child peering through at a department store's Christmas display. The aroma, which showcases fruity ale yeast esters, alcohol warmth and sticky toffee pudding-like malts, is glazed in a brandied citrus reduction.

A slight sherry taste blends with flavours of honeycomb toffee, wildflower honey, toasted bread and figgy pudding before parting ways to a soundtrack of spicy, earthy hops and brandied, caramelized oranges. Bruised plum and pear are aroused in the finish as is a brief spritz of lemon, floral and grassy hoppiness and a candied, caramelly fruitiness.

A note on aging: I've been cellaring Fuller's Vintage Ale since 2004 and have tried vintages as old as 2001 - all with mixed results. Some have aged gracefully, others were decidedly past their prime. I've found no consistency regarding either vintage or time cellared. I can find no rhyme or reason in it. As with aging any beer, it's not an exact science...

That being said, Fuller's Vintage Ale is a safer bet than most. It doesn't have the thickest maltiness in the world but the alcohol presence is well integrated, as is a perceptible hop profile, and even in my least favorable experiences the beer was drinkable and appreciably flavoured. Besides that, it's a wonderful tradition (and aesthetic addition to the cellar).

I'll go on record as saying that there may be no beer better suited to cold early winter evenings by the fireplace, or by the Christmas tree, or at the dinner table with a roast bird coming out the oven. Fuller's Vintage Ale should be considered one of the beer world's most cherished traditions; it's one that I gleefully anticipate every year and will continue to.

 2,183 characters

Photo of Chico1985
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 vintage, bottle no. 126617. 500ml bottle in a classy red box, complete with a small paper inside describing past vintages. A little over 3 years old at this point.

Pours a mostly translucent straight up amber, I was expecting a muddy, black beer. A nice full off-white head retains well and leaves good lacing.

Smell is a mix of fruit (figs and bananas come to mind), tobacco, molasses, and maybe slight oxidation. Pretty enticing.

Taste at first is a bit of a letdown after the scent, but some warming helps alot. Sweet dark fruits and molasses make up most of the flavor, more caramel and toasty malts come into play later on, somewhat similar tastes to red wine and rum. A little bitterness from the hops but no flavors from them are noticeable.

Very nice mouthfeel, good balance and carbonation, especially for a beer with some age on it. Pretty much no alcohol bite.

Definitely improved with some warmth. Apparently this beer is at it's peak right now, and I believe it. I will be buying another 2007 to lay down for a few more years though.

 1,057 characters

Photo of xodin
4.57/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage (The 2007 and 2008 vintages I've tried would get a slightly higher rating, perhaps even an overall 5)

Pours a crisp reddish mahogany with a thick creamy head that lingers after the pour. Wonderful aromas of sweet malt and rich caramel that you just can't get enough of. Moderately full in the mouth, chewy, with some moderate complexity, and slightly peppery alcohol notes. The chewy, caramel flavor and complexity increase as it ages, while the peppery/warming alcohol flavor mellows out. The brew is sweet and creamy through the swallow with a peppery, warming finish.

Very good brew, one of my personal favorites. I recommend getting a couple bottles every vintage; one to try now, one to keep for later.

 722 characters

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

Two reviews- 2005 and 2011. Scores are for 2011.

2011 Vintage (Drank Nov 24, 2011)

Reviewing this again to see how it compares to the six year old bottle had earlier this year.

Beer is a little lighter in colour.

Smell is not as remarkable. Still very good, and some of the same fruit scents, but it doesn't have the richness that the 2005 had. Some grassy hop scents are present which I didn't get on the 2005. This is nice, but the 2005 was incredible.

While the smell is not as good, the taste is far better in this bottle. Nice rich maltiness, strong caramel and toffee flavours, with some dark fruit flavours- some raisin. Hops are light but present. Some wood flavours. Nice stuff.

Full bodied, very mild carbonation. A little sticky.

Overall, much more pleasant than the 2005, which may have been too old or poorly stored. The changes in the beer over that period are pretty remarkable. I imagine there is a nice in between time that would be fantastic.

2005 Vintage (Drank March 15, 2011).

Pours a dark toffee colour, with about two fingers of just-off white head.

Smell is wonderful. Reminiscent of a red wine- lots of raisin, cherry, and booze. Actually, much more like port than simple red wine. Very strong.

The taste, unfortunately, does not live up to the nose. Not nearly as complex or deep. The raisin and cherry flavours are present but greatly subdued, and the finish dries out the mouth, as if there are tannins present. Very sweet. Some caramel flavour as well. Alcohol is quite noticeable, especially at the end.

Mouthfeel is unfortunately thin, almost watery. Little carbonation.

This is not a very drinkable beer. The alcohol hits hard, much more so than many beers that are actually stronger. Combined with the watery taste and mouth-drying effects, it does not go down quickly. I would prefer to simply sniff it for hours. Oh well. Perhaps this one is just too old!

 1,908 characters

Photo of bpalfrey10
3.83/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 vintage

A: deep reddish copper in color, small fast-disappearing tan head, excellent clarity
S: a powerful aroma, definitely some alcohol in the nose,
T: heavy alcohol up front and prominent alcohol burn afterward. tastes of dark crystal malts, molasses, maybe some licorice. very enjoyable.
M: pretty high carbonation, relatively thick mouthfeel.
D: wouldn't want to drink more than one of these in a row because of the alcohol content, but still drinkable for the style.

 479 characters

Photo of bucklemyshoe
4.07/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle at 55 degrees into a mug. Bottle #110976.

A: It pours a deep amber color with a finger of short-lived, cream-colored head that has decent lacing.

S: Strong caramel, sweet fruits, biscuit malts, and some nuttiness.

T: Sweet dark fruits, burnt sugar, caramel, toffee, and hazelnuts.

M: The body is medium-thick with low to medium carbonation, and a little stickiness.

D: This is very good and strikingly similar to Sam Smith Yorkshire Stingo.

 459 characters

Photo of sprucetip
4.17/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From notes. Good clarity, medium amber, short lived fizzy off-white head, no lacing. But it's a good looking brew, all things considered.

Rich and sweet caramel malty notes blending and balancing very well with floral and tropical fruity hops. Boozy smell and feel is moderately strong, but not a defect, and I suspect it will mellow with time.

Lightly grainy and caramel mlaty sweet briefly before grassy and mildly bitter hops kick in. It dries out a bit for the finish.

Good carbonation, moderately rich medium body, with a clean and slightly dry finish.

Smooth, tasty, balanced, and fairly complex. Good beer now, but also a cellar candidate that could become even better.

 681 characters

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

Vintage 1999 (the score is for that one):
Bottle no. 21166, 550 ml, at Plan B, Copenhagen, august 2005. Cloudy chestnut colour, moderate head. Vinous aroma, raisins, oak. The flavour is very full and rich, old port or madeira, plenty of oak, hoppy and oaky aftertaste. Clearly a top notch beer.

Vintage 2005: Sampled bottle, RBNAG 2007 in Grimstad. ABV was 8.5%. Bottle No. 32089. Reddish amber colour. Pleasant vinous, raisiny and oaky aroma. Oaky, sweet and raisiny flavour. Very nice.

Vintage 2006: Sampled bottle, RBNAG 2007 in Grimstad. ABV was 8.5%. Bottle no. 32629. Amber colour. Slightly less sweet and aromatic than the 2005 vintage. There was also a more hoppy finish in this one.

 696 characters

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

2007 bottle. Reviewed 2/8/11. Tulip glass.

A- Clear medium to dark orange with red highlights. Active carbonation streams. Poured with 1/2" head that faded quickly to a small ring around the edge. Some gunky maroon sediment was present on the inside of the cap and around the top edge of the bottle.

S- Distinctly molasses at first. Alcohol, brown bread, faint sugar.

T- Molasses again at first. Sugar, sweet dark fruits - figs/raisins/prunes, toffee, grain and brown bread.

M- Medium. Syrupy smooth with a healthy amount of fine carbonation.

D- Not cloyingly sweet, but still very sweet. Still has a nice amount of carbonation at this point. The molasses notes faded as it warmed up more to allow the fruity, syrupy sweetness to shine.

 741 characters

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

Look: Creamy egg shell head over hazy dark amber beer

Smell: Sweet corn and dry grass

Taste: Silk mouthfeel layers on butterscotch hops, carmel malted orange peel and a slightly bitter alcohol bite at the end. The sweetness and boozy bite are to be expected from a brew that packs in 8.5% alcohol.

My full review is here: http://whatareyoudrinking.net/2010/07/fullers-vintage-ale-my-magic-carpet-ride-to-london/

 416 characters

Photo of rarbring
3.92/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours in a light copper amber tone, a large off-white head that settle's slowly leaving good lacing. The beer has curtains.

The smell is full of sweet dried fruits, raisins, dates, marzipan and vinous sherry-like tones.

The taste has sweet raw sugar tones upfront, some dried fruits but also fruity acidity, rhubarbs and much bitter lemon peel.

Low carbonation, smooth and syrup-like, a very dry finish.

Bottle 074216. Slightly tilting to the bitter side, a few years storage should give more balance.

 505 characters

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

Rating a 2005 bottle tonight. Slightly oxidised,more of a malt caramel bomb than spicy fruity beer it was when younger. Just for the fun of it I will rate and change the numbers each time. Having this on cask in 2007 at the Raven in Bath was pretty special.

Rating a 2007 bottle tonight. Slightly oxidised,more of a malt caramel bomb than spicy fruity beer it was when younger. I don't think I am going to age these anymore.

 425 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.17/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 2008 vintage bottle no. 149378. Sampled on January 1, 2011. The pour is a good looking amber-copper with a bit of a haze and a half-inch soft, silky head. The aroma sports a hard liquor nose from a barrel...maybe bourbon. Caramel sweetness and apricot accompany the barrel. The body is smooth and above medium. The taste also brings out a caramel, toffee sweetness with a dose of alcohol on the backside. This sat on my shelf for a year and I opened it to ring in 2011.

 474 characters

Photo of mattipt
3.88/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage (I know, not much of a vintage!), bottle # 7846.

A - Medium golden brown colour, good strong head.

S - There's an obvious maltiness to it but the fruity hops are able to cut through nicely. Balanced.

T - Strong! At this stage it tastes a little harsh due to the high alcohol content. I can imagine it mellowing over time. Subtly sweet.

M - Quite strongly carbonated but feels right in the mouth.

D - A good drink but perhaps note quite ready yet as it feels a little alcoholic. I personally prefer Brakspear's Triple (which isn't really marketed for maturation but which improves greatly with age) but this is a strong contender and an excellent example of a nice vintage ale with lots of potential for maturation.

 733 characters

Photo of mrnobody
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Comparative tasting of 2009 and 2010 vintages. 500 ml bottles poured into Duvel tulips.

2010/2009 - Pours a hazy amber with one finger of off-white head. The 2010 has better retention and lacing.

2010 - Smells of fruit, cherry, booze, caramel.
2009 - The aroma is substantially different, smoother and more integrated, very caramel-y.

2010 - Tastes of sweet malt, fresh hops, fairly boozy.
2009 - The hops have definitely retreated as has the heat.

2010 - The mouthfeel is very creamy, the carbonation is fairly lively.
2009 - This is a little stickier and more subdued.

2010 - The drinkability is quite high: very tasty but a little hot.
2009 - Good although the sweetness may limit consumption.

I'm wondering if my current plan to buy 6 each year and drink one each year (aging them up to 5 years) is a good idea. I quite prefer the current year fresh and am not convinced I will prefer them later.

 929 characters

Photo of dauss
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 500ml glass bottle with raised lettering about when Fuller's was established. Paper "seal" over the lid, 2004 Limited Edition. This is bottle No. 00818 of 95,000. Fuller's says that the beer is in it's prime after 2-3 years in the cellar, but 2 days from 2011, and I hope it hasn't gone too far past it's prime.

Appearance: Very dull amber brown color. The clarity is poor with a lot of haze. A small white tan head barely forms and fades very quickly.

Aroma: Definite aroma of figs and cherry. The malt sweetness shines through briefly before notes of brandy and raisins. Really haven't smelled a beer this estery in a while.

Taste: Lightly carbonated and malt dominated. All notes of any hops are gone, now just very malty, caramel sweetness, more raisins and prunes, and finished light with a very smooth alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a thin finish. The carbonation level is very low, not sure if it is due to the age of the bottle or just the way the beer was produced.

Notes: I wish I had drank this about 3-4 years ago. The age is just too great and there are no more hops to balance out the malt sweetness. Although the malt flavor is complex, it does get slightly cloying sweet without a bitterness to complement the malt profile. The aroma is outstanding, and I wish it tasted and looked as good as it smelled.

 1,356 characters

Photo of FLBeerGuy
3.88/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 Vintage, #117970

Pours a translucent, copper color with a very thin white head. Even aggressively pouring at the end, failed to produce more than a pin size head. The very thin head does leave a small amount of lacing, however. Almost looks like a fine spirit sitting in my CCB snifer.

Nose is toffee, bready malt, some sweetness and alcohol.

Taste is malty, bready, some caramel sweetness, toffee and alcohol warming. Some dark fruit comes through as it warms

Mouth feel is slightly creamy, low carbonation.

Alcohol is pretty strong on this one when it is cold. It does fade with some dark fruits coming through as it warms. I think putting some age on this one would improve it. It's recommended this one be laid down for 3-4 years and served at cellar temperature.

 778 characters

Photo of paxkey
4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010. love the raised writing on the bottle.
bottle No. 63522 of 125000.

poured into a Duvel tulip.lots of carbonation. two finger off white head. slightly cloudy orange beer. lots of sticky lacing

the aroma is bready. slightly smoky with cherry notes. definitely picking up cherry. very prominent cherry with slight alcohol under that. almost a jammy smell.

delicious bitterness. very slight alchohol taste. beautiful stuff.

an amazing brew which has great cellaring potential. drink some now and save more for later.

 523 characters

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

2009 Vintage #114908

Thanks to Dom for picking this up for me while in London. Clear copper-reddish pour with a one finger creamy head that fades pretty quickly with decent lacing. The earthy nose is somewhat subdued with hints of sweet caramel malt, toffee and a touch of dark fruit, specifically rasins in the background. It pretty much tastes like it smells. Lots of biscuity, caramel malt and fruitiness with just a touch of tang from the alcohol. Also getting hints of tea, brown sugar, and rasins. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel with just a touch of bitterness. Slight warming from the alcohol makes this a sipper, but pretty drinkable overall. I'm a huge fan of Fuller's and probably raised my expectations of this beer a bit too much. It's a good solid beer, but slightly disappointing.

 792 characters

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

2009 bottle

A-Dark honey colored. Cream colored head that quickly disappears

S-Very strong grape flavor with a lot of alcohol. Possibly a high quality whiskey in there as well with some caramel

T-Hits with a strong blast of barley and caramel and ends with a very pronounced caramelized sugar sweetness.

M-medium to carbonation with a slightly dry finish. Its a very sharp feel due to the ABV i believe.

D-the taste stays. its a fun beer to drink but one bottle is enough for me!

 484 characters

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

This was a 2008 bottle.

Poured a copperish amber with large head and nice lacing.

The smell is faint but of raisins and a little malt.

The taste is fairly complex and I wish I tried this bottle in 08 when it was fresh. It tastes of smooth malt (cant pick up on any specific kind) and a slight spiciness. The taste in mostly of alcohol but in a good way.

I think I might get another bottle and let it age for another year or two just for fun considering it was under $10

 473 characters

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage # 144866

A very dark amber with an orange hue and a quick to form head which is gone pretty fast.

The aroma had a unique and hefty malt, toffee and caramel and earthy tang from the hops.

A very complex malt flavor,sweet and thick hefty toffee and balanced with tangy, zesty hearty flavored hops and a nice warming heat. a strange mix and balance of flavor's but it works well in a unique way.

The feel is full and heavy, zesty in the middle, slightly peppery and warming, finishing malty slick.

Seems young, and it is an old ale so i can really imagine this one to age very well.

 602 characters

Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.17 out of 5 based on 1,271 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Learn More