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

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Ratings: 1,271 |  Reviews: 672
Photo of tangentrider
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage

A- Light amber beer with a huge amber head; crystal clear; reddish when held to the light

S- caramel and slight spice aromas

T- some alcohol bite, followed by dried fruit (raisin?) and finishing with a malty sweetness and a very slight touch of hop

MF- very smooth, almost silky; low carbonation; beautiful mouthfeel

D- A sit down, kick off your shoes, and sit by the fire beer.

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Photo of michaelgrant1983
4.63/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this brew for super bowl. Great box and all that came with it. This one's a keeper for the shelf. Beer was very full flavored. Only wished I had bought another to let it age longer, as it may have had a smoother feel to it. Tasted a little young, but still amazing.

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

Fullers Vintage ale 2008, bottle #17.698

A - Deep copper with lively carbonation and one one finger bubbly head.

Sm - Sweet, caramel, biscuit and earthy hops.

T - Mmmm. Explosion of flavor! Sweet malty flavors all over. Syrupy with a subtle, but perfect hop presence. Hops add a slight spicyness and balance, excellent!

M - Full bodied with perfect carbonation.

D - This is one damn tasty barleywine. Increadibly easy drinking and satisfying.

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

2008 Vintage, Bottle # 137,553 out of 145,000. Was excited to find this. I spent a semester in London while in college and remember Fuller's well. Their standard bitter has been available in New England for years, but I always felt it didn't quite measure up to what I tasted in London. Probably just a freshness thing.

Freshness not an issue here, of course, thanks to the 8.5% abv. However, I couldn't wait another 3 or 4 years to let this puppy age, had to taste it. May have to grab another bottle for aging...

A: Copper, frothy head at first but recedes relatively quickly, with ample carbonation remaining. High level of clarity.

S: Port-like smell when I put my nose to the freshly opened bottle, but in once poured I'm getting oak and tons & tons of malt. Smells like amber malt extract that was just poured into the brewpot--which would indicate that it fits the standard of "low attenuation" for the Old Ale style. Feint alcohol smell, but barely detectable.

T: Boom! Sweet malty goodness all up in your face, right up front. The sweetness overwhelms the palate at first--it almost stings it's so sweet--but the hops arrive just in time to balance it out. Caramel with a hint of "oakiness" to it, followed by a nice, green hoppy aftertaste. Could this have been wet-hopped? Bottle says Challenger and Northdown hops. Very nice.

M: Intriguing and complex...Sticky, and just thick enough without being too much of a mouthful. Nice body! As mentioned above, the malty sweetness assaults the mouth at first, but the hops linger on the tongue with the stickiness, which makes it balance out almost flawlessly.

D: Wonderfully drinkable if you're accustomed to, or know you enjoy, English ales. The heavy malt character can be a little overwhelming though, so I can't imagine drinking much of this at a time. However, a little aging could change this aspect drastically, so perhaps I'll re-review in a few years.

All in all, a proper, wonderful Old Ale. Cheers!

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

A - Pours a beautiful golden-copper with a good head on it. Retention is only fair, and lacing is mild. Packaging and label are elegant, befitting a special ale.

S - Good, strong malty aroma.

T - Wow! Lots of malt to start, then a high note of hop wings in. Almost like a barleywine in taste and mouthfeel. Quite caramel-y and sweet, but the hops balance out the sweetness ... then the sweetness returns, then more hops... the taste lingers a bit, and the two tastes battle to the finish. The alcohol is hidden at first but becomes a strong note after a few mouthsful.

Though this is a fine-tasting ale, it seems it's not quite integrated. Maybe it will become more so after some aging. I might get another bottle & try cellaring it.

M - Strong and smooth with unobtrusive carbonation and a nice bit of sharpness at the front of the mouth. My only real complaint is it's a little syrupy for my liking.

D - Well, it's a sipper, all right. It's too big a beer to be sessionable (which is probably not what Fuller's was going for anyhow), but would make a nice dessert beer or winter warmer.

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Photo of aforbes10
3.83/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage. Pours a rich amber, lighter than I expected for an old ale and with a yellowy white, 1 inch head. Glistening and clear. Smells of green grass, malt, ethanol. Sweet malty flavor, some hop bitterness. Malts are also laced with red cherries and hot alcohol. Hint of spicy/vegetal hop flavor. Mostly, its a big sticky malt bomb with a touch of fruit but it needs a bit more time on it still i think. Syrupy, heavy mouthfeel. I think this particular bottle was perhaps a little too new. I can see that it has potential, but it isn't really a well-rounded beer at this stage.

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Photo of cracgor
4.74/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is the 2005 aged to 2009...No 41001.

It is a reddish color moderately dark beer with a thin english head. Smells of toffee. Has a great old ale taste characteristic of english beers. Very smooth. Almost syrupy body. Something to enjoy...or celebrate with!

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

This is a 2006 Edition of the Vintage Ale; Bottle 78,889 of 100,000.

A - Reddish amber and a little off clear. Nice head that dissipated quickly.

S - Raisin and fruit with citric notes. The malt and alcohol smell comes through as well.

T - There is sweetness and lots of flavor. Fruit, citric, other complex flavors come through. Flavor linger but in a very enjoyable way.

MF - Very nice and smooth.

D - Strong and robust, but enjoyable and fairly drinkable.

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Photo of beertunes
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is the 05 vintage. Poured into tulip glass. Poured a handsome, deep earthy brown with a thin tan colored head that left minimal lacing. Solid malt aroma that has a touch of sweetness matched with notes of spice and soil. The flavor leaves me speechless. This is what ale tastes like in heaven. Full, smooth body that has the substance of the British Empire. I could spend hours with this beer and not get bored. Those people who say they don't like British style Ales are fools. A true classic for the ages.

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

2007. "Limited Edition Tenth Anniversary"

Unlike all other old ales I've had, most obviously in that its little lighter colored and fuller carbonated.

Sweet aroma and aftertaste.

Toffee, some sweet apricot. Peaches and wood. Honey or molasses. Earthy. Feels good, but a taste of alochol, esp. for being a 2007.

As it warms, the finish and aftertaste reminds me of Scotch.

Good and worth trying, I think it's over-priced and they talk it up way too much.

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Photo of Brad007
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 editon. No. 130426.

Pours an amber color with a one-finger head into my pint glass. Looks a bit light for an old ale.

Aroma is smooth and bready with a hint of hop bitterness and alcohol in the nose.

Taste is strong with alcohol heat and a bit of syrupiness that gives way to raisin and caramel in the middle with only a small amount of alcohol heat.

As described, mouthfeel starts out syrupy but it smooths out in the middle and coats the back of the throat. A bit sweet as well and the raisin/caramel flavors linger as well.

A very nice example of an old ale. The mouthfeel may throw off someone that's new to this style but I think that this beer can and will age very well if you have the patience. It's quite drinkable now and it reminds me of how the English are skilled at making strong beers that are delicious whether you drink them fresh or aged. I appreciate that craftmanship.

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Photo of ibbjamin
4.36/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Paid $9.29 for a 16.9 oz bottle from BevMo in San Jose, CA. Poured into a large snifter. This is the 2008 vintage and is marked with No. 0124710. Comes packaged in a brown box.

Leaves a small half inch head that is relatively fizzy and white in color. Not the thickest on the pour. Head dissipates very quickly leaving very little retention. Transparent dark amber, almost a light ruby color. Minimal carbonation and lacing.

Smell is very unique and quite complex. Like nothing I've ever smelled in a beer before. Relatively sweet from malts at first, but this is backed by an almost medicinal aroma of oak balanced with a variety of mild fruitiness. The alcohol is hidden quite well, but to add to the balancing act is a fine scotch aroma. Certainly not boozy at all however. Hops are not really present in the nose distinctly, but you know they are there just by how well balanced it is. The ingredients in this are just so clean and high quality.

This becomes even more oaked and medicinal in the taste. Definitely tastes like it has aged for some time in perhaps bourbon or scotch barrels, but I do not actually believe this to be the case as it states it is bottle conditioned. Fine malt and light hop backing bring everything together. Yummy.

Medium body, and somewhat watery going down, but that woodsy medicinal taste does stick with you for a little while. Very clean.

Drinkability is excellent and this beer is highly recommended. A bit pricey, but I certainly will be purchasing this one again.

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

2008 #146495

Appearance- Red-amber, creamy off-white head, with sticky lacing

Smell- Ultra sweet malty nose with a light hop-bitterness to balance

Taste- Similar to smell- toasty malts, molasses, slight warming alcoholic taste as it goes down. Overall, very malty.

Mouthfeel- medium mouthfeel, light on carbonation

Drinkability- Though part of me wishes we could've had the patience to age this one a while, It's so rewarding to drink it now, i'm almost tempted to pick up another couple, maybe to drink, maybe to age.

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

2008 bottle # 138,657

Poured into Duvel tulip, effervescent release when I popped the crown, deep amber with ruby highlights, minimal light tan head very low carbonation on pour.

Smells are very reminiscent of Brooklyn Monster, somewhat mustardy, toasty malt character. Pie crust, dried cherry, white raisin. Hops are very mellow, somewhat earthy and light citrus. Some whiskey like notes and low alcohol tones.

Taste is fairly clean and toasty bready malt with some dried fruit undertones. Drinks like a faint whiskey, not an alcohol burn but just a pleasant natural malty tone and light alcohol warmth. Some woody/oaky notes as well as vanilla.

Beer is medium full bodied, light carbonation, a mellow hop bittering combined with a nice presence of alcohol.

Have 2 more of these to age for a while.

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

2007 edition

A clear, copper beer with a thin head and lots of nice lacing.

Smell is malty with caramalts, which appear like raisins and lightly roasted. When I swirl the beer around in the glass, an oaky smell comes off.

Taste is strong malty and has a warming alcoholic feeling. The malts are palemalt-y combined with dark caramel malts, which makes the beer into one to cellar, because these dark malts add a bit of a rough edge to the beer. The yeast adds a light fruity taste, which makes the beer distinctly British. Mouthfeel is pleasant and smooth.

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Photo of santa109
4.64/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #62881 of 145 000 according to the label. Vintage 2008.
Served at 45 degrees.

A: Poured a very nice copper into a pint with about a finger of off-white head. Sadly, the head disappeared quickly and there wasn't much lacing.

S: Aromas of caramelized buttered apples is what struck me first. Very enticing!

T: Plenty of caramel here in the initial stage. Very balanced with a nice touch of earthy hops mid-palate along with some fruitiness and finishes a bit woody. A bit of alcohol at the end but it just accentuates the other tastes. This was truly a great beer tastewise.

M: Fairly lively carbonation. Light to med body with a slight syrupy feel. Complements the taste very well.

D: It was hard to hold back and drink this one slowly. You feel the alcohol more than you taste it as it warms you with every sip and feels perfect on this cold winter night.

Overall, I was really pleased with this beer. I'm very fond of this style and it didn't disappoint the slightest bit. I'm glad that I bought a few and I look forward to seeing how it develops.

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Photo of KeefD
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage:

Pours a bright amber color with a small, bubbly off0white head that left some small rings of lacing down the glass. Lots of carbonation bubbles coming up from this one. Smell is full of caramel, some Belgian-like yeastiness, and some fruitiness, almost like spiced apples. This aroma reminds me of several BSPAs I've had in the past, which is odd since it's supposed to be an Old Ale, but I like it. Taste is chock full of caramel covered apple, a bit of earthiness, some woody flavors, some booziness, lots of ripe fruit, some herbal, lightly bitter hops, lightly sweet, fairly dry on the finish. Very interesting and complex and more subtleties comes out as it warms. Medium bodied, crisp on the finish, lots of carbonation tingle. Becomes a little smoother and easy to drink as it warms, but the alcohol becomes more prevalent. A nice tasting beer and I'll be sure to start aging a bottle of this every year, as I think an aged bottle would definitely taste a little better than a fresh one.

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

Vintage 1999

A: slightly opaque tawny color. light tan head with low retention and ringlike lacing.

S: apples and spices, cinnamon, clove, like apple cider almost.

T: tastes similar to an apple pie, like a nice english ale meets my grandmother's apple pie. slight alcohol burn. apple and spiced notes...obviously.

M: very dry finish, mild carbonation. medium bodied.

D: rather nice for a 9 year old...old ale. good drinkability.

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Photo of Tdizzle
3.77/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage poured into my New Belgium globe glass.

A- Clear golden-amber in color with a frothy, white head that leaves some spotty lacing as it settles to a dense, foamy ring.

S- Fermented dark fruits, cooked apples, and a rich malt backing that smells sweet, fruity, and slightly toasty.

T- Thin flavors of dark fruits and malty sweetness stop half way up the palate and linger on the front of the tongue, leaving me in anticipation of a lasting, flavorful finish that never arrives. Instead, I get a watery and slightly metallic taste that's sort of unsatisfying. This is quite a contrast from what the rich, boozy aroma promised.

M- The moderate amount of carbonation feels just right for this beer, but the body is thinner than I would have liked.

D- I had no problem finishing an entire bottle, but that's mainly because I kept waiting for the flavor to fully develop.

I was expecting a lot more from this beer.

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Photo of chinabeergeek
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2005 vintage, #57355

poured into tulip.

dark amber color, with slight haze. decent off-white head slowly fades to wisps and ring. a couple rings of lace.

sherry and brandy whiff, with underlying caramel to the aroma. white raisins and hint of dates. trace of grassy hop.

some maltose and caramel sweetness, plus hint of fortified wine, but phenols are still quite hot, in turn exaggerating the alcohol as well and pushing everything else into the background. grassy hop bitterness is moderate and lingers into a finish that has malt notes, but ultimately gets somewhat overwhelmed by the spicy medicinal phenols again.

relatively smooth, but thinner than expected, with an almost watery quality. finish has faint astringency in the front of the palate and tongue. gentle carbonation, prickly for an instant, which does provide some complexity and body.

this vintage's phenols detract overall. maybe a few more years will mellow things out.

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

2004 Bottle #65118.

Poured dark amber color with medium white head that mostly lasted with good lacing. Good aroma of malt and citrus. Medium body with smooth creamy texture and soft carbonation. Full good flavor with a small alcohol bite at the finish.

I look forward to 2005 version.

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Photo of hooliganlife
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007, cellared for the past year+. pours deep orange with amber, light head retention. smell is light floral hops and very light malts. i catch sweet light caramel scent. the taste is very sweet, hints of honey and caramel with a subtle floral hop presence but as the hops fade toward the finish, light malts are exposed. carbonation is medium and picks up towards the finish although this enhances the flavor though. there is no hiding the alcohol though. unlike fullers regular line which are typically almost half the ABV. overall, a great beer and i look forward to trying the rest of my 07's over the next 3 years.

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Photo of Patrick999
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beer in a box, 2007 vintage. Old style heavy pint bottle, simple label. Excellent presentation....apparently I have bottle #139,930 of the 2007 batch. Pretty cool.

A - Poured into a large, sturdy wine glass. Not really as dark as I thought it would be, just an amber color. Excellent creamy head and good lacing.

S - Mostly a light raisin, grape, honey-caramel. Seems muted, but in all fairness I don't think my nose is really working that well today. Aroma does open up a good deal more as it approaches cellar temp, but the full smell is still being concealed from me.

T - After one sip, I can tell that this is a beer I like. It tastes like a good hoppy English ale, scaled up to 8.5%. Not as sweet as I feared it might be; indeed there is some sweetness, but well-balanced out by an earthy, tobacco-like British hop character. A little alcohol nip, but that's OK. I assume that in 1-2 more years, this will be completely aged out. However, it's certainly fine drinking at this point of its evolution. I'm impressed with the hop character here especially. Nicely done.

F - Well carbonated and generally good, but has a bit of that stickiness that doesn't always sit well with me in regard to old ales/English barleywines.

D - A sipper, but what a sipper it is. Goes down easily for its strength...a world-class British ale.

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Photo of nick76
3.15/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Year 2008. The aroma is rich and sweet with malt, caramel, light fruit, alcohol, lemon, and vanilla. The appearance is amber with a small but foamy head. The flavor is like the aroma but very alcoholic even for a beer at 8.5%. The palate is a little thin but OK. The aftertaste is soapy. Even though this beer has some good qualities the whole is not better than the sum of the parts.

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

2005 Vintage bottle poured into a chalice. pours a dull chestnut brown color with a half finger of soapy light tan head. no lacings, but a nice semi-haze from the yeast.

aroma is a nice mix of rich caramel malt and bready yeast with a touch of dark fruit and notes of plum, a touch of apple, and a bit of grape. no alcohol is present.

taste is malty, with a mild thinness in body when compared to the aroma. bready malts are ubiquitous with subtle fruit notes that follow the aroma. finishes on a mildly bitter note with a light bite from alcohol and a mild lasting fruit note in the aftertaste.

mouthfeel is full bodied with a tart texture and a mildly bitter finish. the brew itself resembles a barley wine in complexity and body, with a tart texture.

drinkability is wonderful; the brew is quite complex on the palate. the flavors get more potent with a bit of warming, while the brew warms the palate and leaves a satisfying aftertaste, making it a great winter brew. cheers!

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