Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale
1,303 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: 1,303 |  Reviews: 685
Photo of Trizzle
4.31/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage, bottle #034431.

Beatuiful, clear, red amber body. Magic. Smallish head, fades a touch quickly but re-appears with some agitation. A ring of foam lingers at the edges and laces a touch on my red wine glass.

The nose on this thing is awesome. Complex sweet fruits, sultanas and figs, some ginger, brown sugar, earth and alcohol.

Where to start... Sweet muscovado sugar, more christmas fruits, some ginger-esque tang and honey then filled out with cereal malts. Some warming alcohol - no real attempt to hide it - but not harsh or distracting. Mashed grain, lactose sugars, some toasty darker malts and dry-ish hops help to balance any cloying sweetness.

Medium body and carbonation, silky and smooth through the gob and down the gullet (8.5% ABV...), not harsh at all.

A sipper that I could easily do 2 or 3 of. A class act.

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Photo of Sallerj
3.96/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a 2008 bottle, consumed 2/10. This is a cloudy orange-brown beer with a caramel and raisin smell. It has a rich caramel, cherry, vanilla, and dark fruit flavor, with a lingering, toasty, bittersweet finish. It's full bodied and sweet, without being sticky. I'm curious how this one ages.

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Photo of emerge077
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 edition.

Into a balloon wine glass, this pours very dark, with a deep attractive ruby glint in the light. Sticky lacing all around, that seems to remain for the duration of the glass.

Aroma is a bit sweet and floral with cola spices and a backing of dried fruits, particularly citrus, some apricot. A bit of mustiness reflects it's 5 years of age.

Sweet and a bit oxidized, it feels creamy with some mild bitterness from the residual Fuggles still kicking around. Fairly fruity and vinous. Full bodied sipper. Don't think i'd age it for this long in the future, i'm getting tired of old-tasting beer. It's mellowed a bit, but I could imagine that the apricot & floral notes would have been more vibrant in days past.

2007 in 2017: thanks Ben!
Drier and nutty than I remember, with an oxidized sherry note.

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Photo of brownbeer
3.9/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage consumed 1-31-10

Poured into an imperial pint. It's murky, and has a rusty orange color and doesn't really have much head.

Sweet, congac-like nose with maple, fig, nuts, caramel, and raisin. Like an old/stock ale.

Almost has a little funkiness in the nose and taste. Brown sugar, honey, apple, and subtle flowery hops make up some of the complex taste. The alcohol shows quite a bit at first but quickly mellows. Low carbonation makes the body seem thicker and that adds to the richness.

Worth trying, i'm not 100% sold though.

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Photo of TheHammer
2.57/5  rDev -38.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This is the 2008 version, bottle #04631. Now my brother tried this and said he wasn't impressed. Thought I'd give it a go, since I have the 2009 bottle sitting in the cellar.

Apperance: A body cloudy orange which has some minor carbonation and a single finger of creamy head. The isn't very much in the way of lacing and the retention is a bit better then average.

Smell: The dominating scent of brandy with touches of apricots really make their presence known as the muted background of tea, toffee malt and a slight touch of floral hops struggle to overcome it. Didn't take much warming to come out though.

Taste: My brother in this case hit the nail on the head. This beer tastes like someone took an English ale and mixed Brandy into it. The beginning has the fainest taste of apricots, dominated by a strong brandy/alcohol presence. The malt then tries to make an appearance but is crushed by a spirit like flavor whose potency is increased by the floral hops at the end.

Mouthfeel: Very bitter aftertaste that lingers for far too long, and frankly is somewhat reminiscent of solvent. The transitioning is also weak, because the Brandy taste destroys any other flavors. Carbonation is alright though.

Drinkability: Surprisingly refreshing, but it is giving me a little bit of heartburn, which I'm blaming on the high alcohol content. I wouldn't call it a smooth drinker, and is far too "snooty" in taste to pound back.

Final Thoughts: If you are a fan of brandy, maybe this will be your cup of tea. I however found this beer to be quite a disappointment. I'm not looking forward to that bottle of 2009. Maybe if I let it sit for a year I can trade it away later, because I really would not want to have this beer again.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.46/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2007 Vintage, bottle #122505. I've had this for more than one year, and the $6.99 pricetag is still attached to the box. Served slightly cool, on to the beer:

Great color. Shiny paleish orannge with hues of yellow. Small carbonation bubbles rise slowly through the body. The soapy head on top is holidng up well, and it settles to a "double layer" of creamy texture. Great amount fo lacing it leaves. Its aroma is somewhat subtle. Honey, pale malt sweetness, and biscuit notes are evident. A touch of hops sneaks in.

Good things at first sip. Bready sweet malt base mixed with honey. Apples are hinted. Little bits of hop resin grab your attention, breaking up the otherweise sweetish flavor. Hmmm....there are notes of white grapes too. The flavor reminds me of Golden Pride. Very smooth and mild in the mouth. You don't even feel the carbonation hitting your tongue, yet it isn't flat. The alcohol is nowhere to be felt in the mouth, btu as the beer goes down the hatch, you feel a good, warming sensation in your chest.

Very interesting ale. It's got a mind of its own!! Yet it remains easy to approach for anyone. Go get a few bottles and start aging some now.

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Photo of cavedave
4.48/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Cellar temp. in a Unibroue tulip. 2005 vintage

The ruby-amber, cloudy appearance of this old ale is spectacular. Thick, shimmery, very much alive-looking, it is topped by a half inch of beige foam that settles to an active cap and persistent ring.

Very full smell of brandy, rounded yeast notes, toasty grain and light caramel, gentle floral and bitter hop notes, and a general ripe fruitiness that rounds the bouquet into a complex and luscious aroma.

Fresh, the taste of this was all over the place, lots of flavor, a bit unbalanced, not blended, and even a tad harsh. Now? The cellar has been good to this baby. I am reminded of the line, "I love it when a plan comes together." The plan of John Keeling, Fuller's brewmaster, has definitely come together. How to describe this? Dark sugar, slightly tart yeast, muted hop goodness, fruity tones, and a myriad undernotes my palate is incapable of describing in words. It is a masterpiece of flavor collaboration, creamy on the tongue, blended, with a long finish that is juicy and satisfying. These words do poor justice for this beer, but the words luscious and delicious are descriptives the taste of this demands. It is art in a bottle.

Very light in the mouth for a big beer, creamy, refreshing, not a lot of cling, but the flavor that remains in mouth is superb, clean, and unique.

I could sip this beer until snakes evolve legs, it is that drinkable of an old ale. Can't imagine a better drinking old ale than properly cellared Fuller's Vintage.

Impression: Fuller's Vintage is a necessary and enjoyable step along the way to fully appreciating the beauty of fine beer.

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Photo of ejeffer11
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 vintage stored at cellar temp since purchase. served at cellar temp.

slow pour into a brooklyn sifter producing a very frothy white head. good lacing on the glass as the beer is swirled a few times. Appearance is lighter than expected. When I have had this in the past, I assumed it was a little darker, but this is the first time I've really looked this closely at the beer. Clogged sinuses, so the smell is a little dulled, but certainly pleasent from what i can tell. At 8.5%, you certainly can taste the alcohol, but it is not too overpowering. I do get a lttle butterscotch, which is evident in the 1845 as well and a little sweetness that typically goes with a beer of this style and alcohol content. Overall the taste works well, although there is some bitterness that makes this just a little off. Mouthfeel is pleasent as the beer has retained a little head all the way through which i think enhances the drinking experience. Drinkability improves with each degree the beer warms. This certainly deserves to be consumed closer to room temperature as I am enjoying it more and more.

Having had this beer many times, I agree with fullers that it certainly improves with age. I could see this being fine for another few years. Fullers is certainly a world class brewery that makes a number of great beers. This is no exception.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 pt. 0.9 oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2008 Vintage. No. 111763 "Paper sealed" cap. 8.5% ABV, Best by end 2011.

A - This vintage pours a hazy brown amber brown orange color like a dirty dried apricot. A cream-colored head pops up to fall back down to a ring and patches of bubbles floating around.

S - The aroma is very faint. Quick, deep whiffs allow for light malts and a low fruity nose to be picked up. A hearty swirl releases more fruity notes with phenol alcohol. The aroma is good, what's there anyway, but it's incredibly low.

T - The flavor seems to have mellowed considerably over the course of a year or so. It's very subtle. Lightly toasted malts with a low phenol alcohol and a very slight kiss of hops that give the finish a floral hint.

M - Smooth and soft with a medium body, the '08 goes down easily with a well-balanced light carbonation tingle to the finish.

D - Light everything here; flavor, aroma, feel. It makes for a drinkable old ale. Well crafted but I'd hope the fresher bottles would have had a bit more life to them aroma and flavor-wise.

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Photo of WhiteOak
2.47/5  rDev -41.1%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Fullers 2009 Vintage Ale Lt. Ed. Bottle No. 148180
G- INAO Tasting Glass, to try to coax a smell out of this uncooperative brew.

A- Coarse-bubbled head. Light copper-amber.

S- Dead nose. The only aroma detectable is a touch of sulfur-metallic hints. This beer disappointingly smells like nothing more inviting than London Public tap water.

T- Simple slightly sweet malt flavor. Touch of toffee.

The complete lack of aroma and one dimensional flavor of this beer were disppointments, and I don't consider it worthy of the special packaging.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
2.97/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I have been looking forward to this beer for quite a while. I couldn't crack it 'til at least 2010 though.

A – Like iced tea, cloudy, with an orange-brownish hue, and a smallish tan head

S – Real buttery, with toffee and caramel dominating and a muted hop aroma, grassy and vaguely earthy.

T – Too sweet, caramelly and unexciting. There is also a horrendous green tea aftertaste, coupled with the lack of wood or cognac or 'old', booo!!! I am bitterly disappointed. I looked forward to it so… And I don’t feel like it could get better with age.

M – Fuller’s ESB.

D – Never again 2008!!! I hated almost everything about the year 2008, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this sheisty beer. What a waste of $8! I could've bought a million superior beers at $8 a bottle.

Overall, I would say this is one of the most disappointing beers I've ever had. It is certainly not the worst, it really isn't even bad, but I'd drink Bud Light over this as a protest.

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Photo of jhall00
3.81/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 Vintage
not really vintage as of January 2010

A- clear amber beer with nice head. Head turns into nice white lace. Surprisingly carbonated

S - faint sweet floral aroma

T- light caramel malt. Sweet with stronger floral and raisins. Underlying bittering hops apparent.

M- full bodied and medium carbonation

D- Very smooth and drinkable

This beer will be interesting in 3-5 years.

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

2009 Edition.

A: The pour is clear copper with a large white even head that dissipates into nice lacings.

S: English floral hops. Caramell malt. Dark dried fruits.

T: Sweet caramell malt, a hint of dark dried fruits (I guess this part will evolve if cellared). Nice floral touch; bitter and floral in great combination.

M: Full body and medium carbonation (the carb. will probably fade when cellared). Sweet and faint bitter aftertaste, meduim-long. Alcoholic and wamring feeling.

D: A very nice beer at this point, but give it a couple of years properly cellared - I think it will evolve into a great beer.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of ericandersnavy.

2004 vintage. Pours light brown with a white head. Aroma is caramel, brown sugar and some slight tartness. Flavor is similar with caramel malt, raisins, brown sugar and some alcohol. Medium, very creamy mouthfeel.

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Photo of ImusBeer
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I gave this one the highest drinkablilty since I couldn't even detect the alcohol until after I had finished and I couldn't walk straight. Very smooth the only thing I could say negitive is it is a bit too sweet.

Poured out of a 16.9 oz bottle in a nice box. It was serial numbered. It was a rich amber color very clear with an off white head, not very much head though.

The aroma of raisins and sweet honey dominate the nose. The taste is almost identical with sweet honey and raisins.

Inside the mouth it is VERY smooth with a syrupy feel and a slight bitterness at the finish.

I shared this with my brother and the dude behind the bar (I'm nice that way) and even at about $14 a pop I think I'll be looking for this at a store somewhere.
D: a real treat

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been sitting on this for a while.. I'm sure I bought it at the COOP, but can't even remotely remember the price.. Poured into my Delirium goblet.

half the bottle produced a great 1" head.. fantastic lacing and retention.. nice cap.. the brew is crystal clear deep orange verging on amber.

vinous nose.. slightly acetic .. black currants and golden raisins .. reminds me alot of tawny port.

Flavor has leather and cigar wrapper.. not as fruity as the nose suggests.. very elegant.. caramel and lite toffee.. I am having a really hard time describing this one.. very rich but not overdone and it has an element of slightly sour that makes me think of English BW's.. a bit of brown sugar in the finish.. not sweet really, just a component... with the later pour, a bit of smoke arises.. very nice.. this is a great beer... I just wish I had a better vocabulary to describe it.


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

Poured into a sniffer, deep caramel color...cloudy, tanish colored frothy head that dissipates rather quickly. 2008 vintage. Aroma is mildly fruity and heavily boozy, almost like a vodka.
Flavor is very good. Complex, caramel, carbonation, a little creamy...and sweet. Very good beer...especially as it warms up.

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Photo of brewstien82
3.76/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2005 Vintage poured into a Deschutes Brewery reserve series tulip glass

A-Poured a light amber with ruby highlights very clear no chill haze with two fingers of head that fell to a small lacing around the rim , amazing carbonation left for a beer this old.

S-fig pudding, vannila, brown sugar,and sherry a small amount of hop spice lingers underneth the rest along with some oxidation.

T-Sweet sugary malt with a juicy plum and blueberry center with some tasty banna esters falls to a oxadized bitterness in the finish.

M-Medium body moderate carbonation with some bitter astringency on the tongue.

D-Definitly one to drink slowly and savor, alot more oxadized than I was hoping for that muddles some of the other flavors that would be present otherwise, with a beer this old some is to be expected, probably had to do with storage conditions, I would definitly like to try a younger version to compare.

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Photo of TerryW
3.62/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've had a bunch of these over the years and note that I've not yet written about any of them. Have some notes though, so here we go.

What inspired my late review is having cracked open a bottle of the 2007 vintage. Its quite different from what I remember back then - its morphed into something akin to a barley wine in its taste profile and the aroma of the beer is markedly improved. The smell is now very deep, rich and fruity with a subtle alcohol undertone. Very, very appetizing.

Warming to drink, but the alcohol is not overwhelming. Much heavier mouth feel, almost but not quite syrupy. Fruity with a lingering bitter finish. Reminiscent of the Scotch-based Innis & Gunn brew, but not so much of a vanilla flavour. Drink it slow at the front of your mouth. Quite nice.

Look is good. Slightly cloudy amber, good solid head and lots of lace.

A far better beer than when I first cracked it open a couple of years ago. It was rather undistinguished back then, but quite interesting now. This suggests that as your buyingthis brew, you want to cellar away a couple of bottles after sampling it when it is first available.

I've found a bottle of 2005 that I had stashed away. That's next.

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Photo of billyshears
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 Vintage
A-Slight lacing; small head quickly dissipated. Cloudy coffee color
S-Strong smell of raisin, backed up by malts, alcohol.
M- Light carbonation. Medium sticky mouthfeel.
T- Malt, strong raisin/dark fruit taste.
I was a little underwhelmed by the complexity to be honest. I thought it was gonna be a bit more. That being said, I definitely enjoyed it

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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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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 4.19 out of 5 with 1,303 ratings