Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale
Liked This Beer
4.19 w/ 1,283 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

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Ratings: 1,283 |  Reviews: 678
Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.54/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle, 2008 vintage, bottle number 149239. Pours a translucent golden-amber with about a half inch of khaki-colored head. Smells great, with sweet fruit (raisin, grape, apple), nut, toffee, chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla... Toffee, caramel, brown sugar, dark chocolate, chocolate, nut, date, fig, raisin. Full-bodied bordering on viscous with moderate carbonation, combined with just a touch of alcohol warming makes this a sipper for sure, but super complex and balanced. Delicious, well worth the price. I'd love to see what this beer tastes like in a few years...

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Photo of nighthawk
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage with bottle number and best-by date (only a legal requirement) on the classy accompanying box. Tasted from a snifter.

Pours a beautifully clear ruby with orange hues, giving it just a bit of an amber tone to it. Head is off-white, two fingers on initial pour, setting to a thin haze that leaves just a little bit of lacing.

Lots of dark fruit (raisin and plum) on the nose, with toast and caramel. Just a touch of smoky sourness. Not leaping from the glass, but it's nice, and feels pulled together.

Hugely malty body on this one, raisin, currant, plum, caramel, toast, leather and alcohol. Hops are a lightly bitter and grassy afternote on the finish. Middle has a yeasty character to it. Some vinous notes as the beer warms. I like the progression this beer makes over the palate.

Mouthfeel is medium, slickly carbonated with a mildly syrupy, sticky feel as it coats the mouth. Seems to taper to a light body as I swallow.

Given the abv, this is very pleasant on the palate; while alcohol can be tasted, it's not burning you up. A very well-crafted beer, stately from the bottle's appearance to the final sip, it feels well pulled-together, even when intended for a bit of age. I have one in the cellar, and will let it sit for a few years before cracking it.

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Photo of WeedKing4
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 500ml classy bottle pours a clear dark amber colour with a little carbination on a careful pour. The taste is of dark malts and sweet dark fruits with a mild hop touch. Very smooth with a sweet taste added to the end of it. The 8.5 abv% is very well hidden. This was my first Old Ale and it was quite interesting. A very solid beverage overall.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Chilled 2008 vintage into a glass. Part of my ongoing "clear out my damn cellar" obsession.

A: Pours a clear amber color with honey tint when held to the light. A vigorous upturn yields 1.5" of cream-colored fluffy head. Retention is moderate and lacing is light.

S: Toast, butterscotch, green apples, leather, and yeast.

T: Same as the nose, but toast is surprisingly light; it manifests itself more in the aftertaste. The primary flavor is butterscotch accentuated with light green apples. There is a leathery and yeasty bent in the mid-taste, which pays homage to the old ale style. The finish sees a mild herbal hop element, but it's so restrained (even for a year-old beverage) that I wonder how this beer is going to hold up for future years. It's already pretty sweet.

M: Light-medium bodied, perhaps due to the carbonation; it certainly doesn't sit thickly on the palate. I'm not sure how it's going to improve with age in this respect.

D: This is an interesting beverage; I'm tempted to seek out an older one to find out how it does after a few years. But if it weren't for the fact that we're told to age it, I wouldn't immediately get that idea from tasting this brew. It has no overt alcohol tones, and it's pretty well-integrated already.

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

500ml bottle poured into a goblet. 2008 vintage, bottle 122188.

A: Medium orange body. Not much of a head. No lacing.

S: Caramel and some citrus.

T: Strong maltiness. Some orangey citrus. Also a bit of spiciness.

M: Medium-bodied, a hint of syrupiness.

D: A decent strong ale. It didn't particularly move me one way or another, though.

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Photo of juhl31
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

have to give some love to dan for saving and sharing this bottle of '04. at the time it was the oldest beer that i had ever drank.

-dark gold with a fine white head for the age

-sweet and brandy smelling with some malts up in there

-very malty and really smooth. alcohol taste in there too.

-very smooth again and a nice alcohol warmth to it

-awesome shared and aged beer

*also had an '07 to compare

3.5 - golden amber with a touch of foggyness but not too much. good white head with lacing

4 - smells sweat with faint hops. apples a bit

4 - really sweet with some spiciness in there

4 - it was fine. little weirdness on the back end

3.5 - wasnt bad, but theyve definitely done better

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Photo of BillyBoysPie
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the bottle at Aufsturtz in Berlin. 2007 vintage drank in 2009.

Dark brown with an inch of tan head. Very dark, lots of lacing.

Smells of rich caramel, golden raisins, and cinnamon. Alcohol is perceptible.

Sweet golden raisins and dried golden delicious apples dominate, with sweet butterscotch and cinnamon balancing against the alcohol. Very, very rich, but quite desirable.

Dense, alcoholic and heavy mouthfeel. But, good and well balanced.

Excellent beer, worth trying. I'm seeking out a few others to compare with this one date wise.

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Photo of Docer
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed a 2008 bottle... great price!

- Dark semi-cloudy copper penny.. mild creamy butterscotch head...

- Huge sweet caramel malt profile... sweet caramel... bit of a buttery nose... light bittering hop, pine... toffee....

- Rich malt profile... sweet brown sugar, toffee... bittering hop.... rich fig...

- sticky, slightly dry... overall a bit chewy and sweet sticky...

- Overall a very decent brew.. but also slightly overrated...

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Photo of BeelzeBrew
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Recieved via trade, thanks to ColdMeat, I was able enjoy bottle number 80,753 From the 2005 batch. Consumed in 2009, this bottle was aged for 4 years.

A: Deep, dark and cloudy mahogany... So cloudy, in fact, that you can't see through it. When held to light, it looks like a dark apple cider with the red hues and cloudiness blending together.

S: The only thing that stands out in the scent is the apparent alcohol volume, along with bread-like malts and very minuscule hop content. Dark fruits enter the nose, with a woody, oak-like aroma.

T: Dark, sweet fruits enter the palate immediately and are accompanied by a buscuity, bread-like malty flavor. The sweetness certainly wins the battle of dominance for taste. There is much woodiness to this beer, along with the alcohol content, which makes for a nice bourbon-like flavor. The aftertaste also reminds me of bourbon with the oaky woodiness lingering pleasantly along with the alcoholic warmness.

M&D: Perfect carbonation make the mouthfeel nice, but the alcohol limits the drinkability of this beer... Not that I couldn't easily drink a few of these in one session ( if only!)


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Photo of joozyboozy
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

this is the 2008 edition, it has been aged for about a year and a half

the smell is very nice. sweet and malts, abit of fruity raisen smell,

the taste is pretty much the same. very smooth, buiscuty, dried fruits like raisens or dates. and there is an interesting hoppyness to it. very complex but balanced at the same time

the mouthfeel is smooth and a bit creamy.

its a drinkable beer for the alcohol level it has

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Photo of JRed
3.42/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours an orange, caramel hue. A sweet butterscotch, woody flavor with some light fruit notes in the aroma. A dull taste of wood, molasses, unsweetened butterscotch, bitter oranges. The aftertaste is a dull, orange rind off flavor with tang that doesn't sit well with my palate. Light in body with little to no carbonation. This syrup, caramelized ale doesn't stand out among the rest of the pack.

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Photo of DerBayer
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The colour and smell is closely akin to Barleywine but the taste is nothing like it although there are similarities. The hop bitterness and spice is however much more pronounced and there is agrainyness as if of Wheat.

The mouthfeel is rich and smooth and creamy and the beer goes down atreat

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Photo of matjack85
4.6/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer comes with a classy looking label on a classy looking bottle, all inside a classy looking gift box. If they gave awards for packaging, this beer would win the gold medal. Fuller's has been turning out these vintage ales since 1998. The bottle I am reviewing here is bottle # 107130 from their 2008 vintage.

The beer pours out a mildly hazed caramel color that produces a 2 finger fluffy tan head that lasted quite awhile and left some moderate lacing on the glass.

The smell was like opening a box of Raisin Bran. Big raisin fruitiness along with caramel malt and a whiff of warming alcohol blend together to give this a pleasant smell.

The taste was fantastic. Not only did it have a good caramel malt backbone to it along with the fruit juiciness of raisins, but I was also picking up some kind of bourbon flavor and some orange-like hoppiness as well. Lots of good stuff in here.

The carbonation level was held to a moderately low level so as not to get in the way of its smoothness, which also let the alcohol do its warming thing in the finish. A very complex, full bodied beer with a creamy mouthfeel.

I've liked all the Fuller's vintage ales that I've tried so far, but this 2008 batch may replace the 2004 as my favorite one to date. This is really delicious! I could drink more of these if it wasn't for the high 8.5% abv and the large size of the bottle to start with. I have also tried the 2010 vintage and found it to be a bit sweeter with lots of toffee flavor, but otherwise similar to the other vintages.

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Photo of NorCalYeti
3.3/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

taste- malty, bitter, slight fruit

color- orange amber

clarity- clear

smell- soft sweet alcoholic malt

body- medium-full

appearance- medium color, off-white head

overall impression- good beer. drinkable, not my preference in a bottle conditioned beer

notes- this review is for a 2000 vintage tasted in 2004

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Photo of dstc
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky orange/brown color. Nice light tan head falls to just about nothing. Thin lace.

Mild malt nose. To be honest I'm not getting much else.

Wow, very sweet malt flavor. Hints of honey and butter. Mild, smooth and delicious.

Medium to full bodied in the mouth. Very smooth, low carbonation. Higher alcohol and a slight bite.

Great sipping brew. Can't wait to try it aged (but I guess I'll have to). I can sit and sip this all night.

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Photo of TeeCee
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Quick Review - rich glass of goodness!

I poured this beer in a UK pint glass that I've been using a lot lately. The extra space let's me get more of the beer in a single poor.

Appearance - slightly hazy and of the color of a good glass of iced tea: that orangey amber look. The head poors tall and tan but dissipates moderatey, leaving little behind on the glass.

Smell - there's that slightly rotten fruit smell that a little of goes a long way. There's just a little here.

Taste - smooth, rich beer. A nice balance of malt with some bitterness in there. Not really balanced, but not sickly sweet. I've had other beers that have ried to do this but have overdone it. I think this one's done right. I know it's done right for me.

Mouthfeel - a definite full on medium. I'm thinking the 8.5% is keeping things from being a foamy mouthful.

Sessionability - not really. Great beer, but you're not going to handle a lot of these.

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Photo of Trappissed
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage:

Smell initially reminded me of a BSPA. Just more malty. Almost a cider-like aroma with some alcoholic presence. Maybe even a little grape juice. Taste is very sweet and malty, but I am also getting some of that yeast that I got in the nose. Also some bready notes in the smell and the taste.

Raisins; and some of that cider/grape juice I got in that aroma. Somewhat cloying sweetness to be honest, but still very enjoyable and unique. Became smoother as it warmed. An addition of toffee, caramel, and other sweet candies. I have one to cellar for a couple years though, so we'll see how that turns out.

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Photo of beveritt
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a 1pt 09. fl. oz. brown bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Label is simple, showing the Fuller's coat and the name. 2008 vintage, No 146,666. Paper tab over the crown cap.

Appearance: Pours with 2 fingers of medium tan head. This settles, leaving an thin, incomplete coating of foam. The beer itself is a honey amber and perfectly clear.

Smell: Very sweet malt with hints of strawberry and apricot.

Taste: Sweet malt upfront, with strong flavors of butterscotch and maple syrup. Ever so slight bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Average carbonation level. Body is very good.

Drinkability: A nice drink to sip, maybe a little sweet after having an entire bottle. Very interested to see what this is like in a few year.s

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Photo of erz316
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From the 2008 Vintage, bottle no 106089, reviewed in 2008

A - the bottle pours a deep amber with an off white head of 1.5 fingers depth. no real lacing, though there is one single stubborn layer around the top of my pint glass.

S - the smell of alcohol comes first to me, then comes the scent of raisins. If I choose to look for it the malts come out.

T - a big malt body in this beer; the bitterness of the hops is the second most noticeable thing here the presence of alcohol only really affects the back of the palate, when I swallow.

MF&D - having just opened the bottle with no aging it is very drinkable, not too thick but not watery; I should run out and get another to store in the basement.


Got a new bottle, No.57903, 2005 vintage. poured into conical pint glass.

A - colour is a ruddy dark orange with a hazy body and minimal head, which is a tan colour. the body colour looks like a strong brewed irish breakfast tea, it almost borders on the colour of a turbid brown. good lacing as well

S - subtle fruity notes with some hint of a spiciness. a light smelling beer, but even when quite chilled, it smells very intriguing. the malts are definitely most noticeable, some caramel; the best part of this is the very ripened fruits, maybe a bit like wine, but something very sweet.

T - Wow, that beer is definitely meant to be aged. the taste is much more complex, and has evolved into something quite worthy of a limited edition marking. initial tastes are those very noticeable hops, which convey a light bitterness, some fruity esters which blend well with the inherent sweetness of the malts, and a pinch of coco powder and a drizzle of caramel, maybe a light nuttiness with some alcohol. this is a very complex and exceptional ale, I wish I had the willpower to keep aging it! the finish is amazing: the fruitiness and the hops come to full bloom, and butterscotch makes its way into the mix somehow. the finish and aftertaste are both very sweet for an old ale. the end of the finish contains some light medium-dry alcohol mixed in with this fresh, almost grassy hop character. the aftertaste is an obvious malty sweetness, but also some sort of a bready or musty flavour coming from the yeast, a slight slight hop presence is notable, but really not that much. the booze in the beer is certainly noticeable after drinking about half the bottle. the only real problem is that the brew is too sweet for me.

MF&D - the beer is completely creamy, and the perfect body for an old ale. the body is really perfect on this guy, and the carbonation is just right for the style; the only complaints I have are that the carbonation makes the inherent sweetness of the beer a bit too much.

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Photo of soulgrowl
3.81/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2009 edition, sampled fresh on cask.

Dark brown amber-maple syrup color with just a few beige bubbles on top. Lovely, refined aroma of caramel, brown sugar, toast and burnt marshmallows, cotton candy and nectarine. Smooth and fruity with notes of meringue, orange, lemon, and rum. Very tropical, in a way, like a proper mai tai infused with zesty hops. Sweet but balanced by a kick of alcohol and hops, quick in the finish with lingering malt syrup flavor. A fine digestif.

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

Very rich color...dark amber with some reddish hue to it. Rich tan haed receeds living a tan ring and cap. Chill haze to it...no floaters even after sitting in my cellar for a while.

Rich raisin/fig like aroma with a hint of the alcohol content.

Rich and creamy. Big wave of sweet malts that match the aroma nicely. Hop bitterness and a bit of a bite from the 8.5% ABV Some rum raisin notes aftertaste combined with more hop. Very nice balance.

Almost heavy in body. Thick, and chewy.

Nice flavours, a definite must for the winter night/fireside sipper crowd.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, 2008 version (#57532), into my University of Alberta beer stein.

This beer pours a hazy, medium copper amber colour, with two fat fingers of aggressively foamy, and somewhat sudsy off-white head, which leaves some nice rainforest canopy lace around the glass as it slowly recedes.

It smells of sweet caramel malt, hard toffee, dried orange rind, apple flesh, musty cellar, and some faint floral, earthy hops. The taste is big bready malt sweetness up front - caramel, butterscotch, raisins - which dries out very quickly under a strong noble hop surge, the alcohol chipping in its share. I can't help but notice the slow, subtle furtherance of that old musty, woody essence - it's like this beer sopped up the air under the old stairs in my parents' house. It isn't overpowering or even off-putting, just a different companion than I'm used to for the big buttery caramel malt.

The carbonation is quite low, manifesting in just a mild frothiness throughout, the body a sturdy medium weight, creamy, rounded, and solidly smooth. It finishes fairly dry, the malt turning crackery, and the alcohol making itself clearly known, gently rendered as it may be.

A pleasantly warming vintage ale, the 'old' character meshing well with the rest. Given the decent balance but slightly out of whack alcohol warming, I'm looking forward to seeing what a few years in the bottle have done to a couple of the earlier vintages of this that I've been saving, as they were big hits when I brought them to the office Christmas parties at the time.

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Photo of theboozecruise
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 16.9 oz. bottle... 2008 vintage.

Poured a cloudy amber color... reddish tones to it. A decent creamy head.

Smells of malt primarily, but the hops are there too. Also some caramel maybe.. it's quite nice.

No real surprises in the taste, mostly just follows through on the aroma. It's delicious though, feels great on the palate. A hint of honey shows up on the aftertaste, well balanced sip of beer for sure.

The alcohol presence is very muted in this one, can't tell at all from the taste that it's over 8% abv. I could definitely go for another right now.

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Photo of bmwats
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 50 cl bottle into a snifter.

A: Dark amber color. Pours into a half finger, foamy, off-white head. Quickly dissipates leaving some bubbly carbonation. Bubbles pop and burst as the head completes disintegrates. A little spotty lacing quickly retreats back into the body of the brew.

S: Sweet syrupy malt, some light hops, butterscotch, molasses, peat, and some subtle floral undertones.

T: Deep roasted malt. Bitter, but not overpowering hops. A soft peaty flavor. Just a hint of sweetness to balance it all out. Strong alcohol taste.

M: A full palette coating brew. The aromas fill the nose as you drink. The pungent hoppy flavor really sticks around. Robust with a dry finish.

D: Very good beer to sit and savor.

Solid appearance. Great nose full of many different components that seem to compliment each other, and balance each other out. Full flavor. Not as complex as the nose lets on, but great balance between the malt, and hops. Overall, this is a great quaff.

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Photo of jbphoto88
3.38/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 Bottle of Vintage Ale, aged a couple of years but still before the "suggested" best by 2010 date. Pours a deep orange garnet and is slightly hazed. The head is sticky, off white and falls slowly to a medium thin level of bubbles.

The nose is unimpressive. Toasty malts and a boozy caramel, toffee.

Taste is good but not great. I am greeted with a sweet malt flavor that transitions to a gritty grain and caramelized sugar. The background is earthy and woody but not to the point of tasting like a barrel aged product. It's a flavor that is more obstructive and kind of musty then pleasant. A light everclear soaked malt ball finish me off leaving a nice warmth in my throat.

Bittered extremely well and balanced by a nice smooth, creamy characteristic. To me this is the best part of the beer. I enjoy the acidic nature of it offset by the smoothness. I don't love the mature flavors, I would imagine that it's better fresher but the mellowed mouthfeel is worth the few years. My bottle number is 140,956 out 150K. Maybe these last 10,000 are the bottom of the barrel and not the best offering. I will have to look for a fresh bottle to compare because this one frankly is a disappointment.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 88.2% out of 100 with 1,283 ratings
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