Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale
1,292 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: 1,292 |  Reviews: 681
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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Photo of coldmeat23
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees
VINTAGE 2005 BOTTLE #63009

Pours a dark golden copper color. A finger and a half head of off-white foam sits on top. Retention is still surprisingly good and the lacing is spotty, thick and fairly sticky.

This smells thick, rich and malty. Big toffee and brown sugar notes. Nice hint of molasses and a trace of licorice. Nice toast presence. A mild earthy nuttiness. Very nice hints of whiskey. Dates, plums and a touch of figs.

Nice, rich, maltiness is at the forefront. Blackstrap molasses and a light touch of brown sugar. Big raisin notes with a touch of honey. Earthy, woody and nicely spicey. A mild whiskey-like character. A nice presence of dark berries and cherries. Very nice presence of currants. Mild toast notes. Very light touch of licorice, around the edges.
For all that is going on here, this is very well balanced and smooth.

Pretty much a solid medium bodied brew. This is a slight disappointment, as this would be phenomenal if it were thick and creamy. Mild carbonation level. Very slick and smooth, but not really creamy at all.

A nicely drinkable brew. Although you don't really taste the alcohol presence so much, you feel its warming qualities easily enough. This will limit most persons intake with this one.

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

A - After a hiss coming from the carbonation quickly leaving the 2008 Bottle Conditioned Fuller's Vintage Ale (#145427), an aggressive pour begins. The slightly chill hazed liquid (served at probably around 40˚F or less) bubbles up with low levels of carbonation. An aggressive pour produces a two-finger-thick slightly off-white head that is thick and creamy in look. After 30+ seconds it subsides to a thinish film, though swirling this beer in the snifter results in a vibrant finger-thick head. Spider legs definitely stick to the side of the glass, ones that do not ooze southward back into the luscious Deep Ruby Brown (SRM 24) hue that lures the eyes deeper into the glass.

S - A lovely bouquet of almost acidic and barnyard characteristics. Some biscuity undertones comes through via the malt, which also allows some raisin/cherry (couldn't smell the cherry as the beer warmed, so might have been something to do with the yeast when cold!) fruit notes to come through. As to the beer warms, caramel notes come through, blending eloquently with the toasted base. Comes in slightly more sweet in aroma than it does dry, which entices my "sweet tooth" more! Fruity esters and booze are one of the first things to come to mind in this beer. The aroma is very refined and elegant, almost like an aged Bourbon. Clearly, the cask aging benefited this delight!

T/M/D - Unfuckingbelievable! The syrupy sweet caramel and raisin mix beautifully with the dry biscuit undertones, the mellower end of the spectrum helps to balance the alcoholic sugars. This beers gumminess very much entices the drinker to want more and quickly, though the high warming effect from the alcohol (8.5% ABV) makes one think twice before turning this into a quick session. A hint of vanilla comes across the palate through aspiration. Body seems to be full in consistency and the mild acidity that came through the nose at first doesn't seem to play any role when quaffing it. Lastly, the slightest kiss of hops comes together with a very mild tingle of carbonation. Overall though, hops and carbonation are the last things one would discern from this warming gift.

C - What a charming beer! I can understand how the Brits would find this beer delightful almost any time of the year with cold, damp, rainy nights oft. Fuller's definitely brewed a splendid beer to style and allowed a level of exclusivity through limiting the production to 145,000, which still seems like a fair bit, though if you consider this beer is being produced for the worldwide market, not really.

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

2004 Vintage ~ Best before 2007 ~ Bottle #75643

Wish I would have been on beer advocate 5 years ago when I bought this case of beer so I could have given a year by year account of any changes in this great brew. ( still have 3 bottles left after this one )

A- Poured in a tumbler. About 1/2 inch head that lingers and leaves streaky lacing. Very dark brown in color. Surprisingly, no sediment after five years of aging

S- Smells so malty sweet, english toffee and caramel

T- Starts off wonderfully sweet with caramel overtones... finishes smooth, malty, and fruity

M- Little heavy, but still very smooth. Very little carbonation. Lingering malty sweetness after every sip

D- I just drank this one pretty damn quickly... and I'd love to enjoy another. Very drinkable, though I think the alcohol could catch up with certain people quickly


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Photo of ericj551
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2008 Fullers Vintage Ale pours a slightly hazy golden copper with a thin head. The aroma is malty, light candied fruit, with some herbal, earthy hops. Malt is upfront in the flavor, but not overly sweet. More light fruity flavors with a crisp finish. The bitterness comes through in the finish as well, with more herbal, earthy hop flavor. The texture is creamy and the beer is very smooth and easy drinking for the size

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Photo of DoctorStrangiato
3.91/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 500-ml bottle into a pub ale glass.

Appearance - exceptional appearance with a lasting 3/4-inch foamy beige head. Gorgeous orange-amber colour, a little hazy with medium carbonation.

Smell - initial smell of whisky-oak, vanilla and fresh leather. Deeper baked bread, roasted malt and cherry wood.

Taste- very rich flavour of woody-spicy hops, a good maltiness that emerges in the middle and then a warming finish of noticeable alcohol.

Mouthfeel - a very smooth and warming effect, coats the mouth and tongue. Very rich.

Drinkability - very enjoyable pint for the 100th review and a cold, rainy spring day. I'll savour this for the next 45 min. and keep the 2 others I have of this for a special occasion in the future.

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Photo of PatrickJR
4.97/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Celebrating my 600th review!

Poured from a 16.9 oz bottle into oversized snifter.

2005 Vintage, bottle number 49848. Fullers recommends 3-4 years, and fellow BA's have also remarked at howwell the 05 is drinking right now; I am priveleged to enjoy such a beer at such a time.

A - Somewhere between a light-ish cola color and a very dark gold. Very murky but with some light coming through on the edges. A surprisingly thick half inch, off white head rises with great retention considering age. Minimal lacing.

S - Where to start? The aroma is almost life changing; I'd give it a 6 if I could. An immediate smell of apples, berries, and raisins fills the top half of the snifter. Caramel and toffee add another layer to the fruit giving the impression that a decadent dessert is baking a nearby oven. A seemingly endless number of other aromas jump in and out of the fray including vanilla, molasses, cherries, sweet/baking spices, and licorice. Just a hint of papery oxidation peeks out also.

T - A very nice translation of the aroma. Moderate to high sweetness with lots of caramel and toffee flavors, backed with just a touch of molasses. Dark bread lurks persistently in the background as the brew progresses into deep fruit flavors. There's a major apple and pear overtone, but the massive dark fruits are nothing to ignore. The most noticable flavor is raisin, rounded out with prunes and overripe currants with licorice creeping in on the edges. Fruit flavors develop into a sherry-like character with slight oxidation. Small notes of vanilla and honey work their way into the vinous character. The sherry notes lead into vague wood flavors and a noticable alcohol presence but just enough to help dry things out a bit. Mild bitterness follows with a touch of brine character, though the beer still finishes medium-sweet. Aftertaste is full of sweet malt and spice.

M - Medium to full bodied with soft, tight carbonation. Extremely smooth. Though not as thick as I might've expected, it works very well with the flavors without turning into a syurpy sludge.

D - Fantastic. Though I've had a lot of great beers during the journey, this is truly in the upper eschelon. Infinitely complex aromas and flavors make this a tough one to beat. I hope to be able to sample various vintages at various ages. I do wish I had more, but it looks like this might be a once in a lifetime beer for me. Such a thing is not meant to last!

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

Poured cloudy amber into a dokel, two finger head with decent retention anda small amount of patchy lacing.

Smell is rich malts and sweet vine fruit figs, yellow grapes. Yeasty nose compliments the malts.

Starts off boozy as hell, but quickly gives way to sweet sugary and toasty malts. a sweet almost estery balance.

Mouth is smooth and a bit oily. Drinks easy. I would like to see what this would do in a few more years.

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Photo of SpecialK088
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 2007 10th anniverery vintage bottle into a snifter

Very deep amber looks fantasic about a 2 finger head that hangs around pretty well and laces down the glass

Very sweet malt with some floral hop notes and some alcohol

The flavor on this one is very strange in the very front it comes across very boozy but it goes away to a very silky smooth bittersweet malt middle and a nice smooth finish. Very sweet notes also in the middle and finsih

Sliky smooth medium body feels very good on the palate. Carbonation is near perfect for what they have going.

Easy to drink this is one I would like to sit on every few years.

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Photo of roadhouse
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16.9 oz. bottle into a snifter

2007 vintage

Pours a hazy red-orange with a one inch off-white head that falls down to a skim after a few minutes. Not much in the way of lacing is left behind.

Aromas of candied fruit, raisins, brown sugar, and a slight alcohol tinge.

Tastes starts off with a sugary sweetness and candied fruit, some raisin and plum in there, spicy hops coming in towards the finish to balance out.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, verging on full. Very creamy and soft on the palate.

I enjoyed this one very much. It's no J.W. Lees Harvest Ale like I was kind of hoping for, but it's definitely worth picking up if you enjoy the English strong ales.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright orange-ish golden -- had about a one finger head for a minute or two, and very slight lacing. Not very carbonated. Little banana or citrus smell, maybe slightly damp or musty wood.

Taste is very interesting, and quite enjoyable -- I'm really liking this beer. Not a hoppy beer (even though I like hops), but an interesting lineup of fruit (citrus and banana) and earthy tones (aging wood, cellar), a very slight molasses sweetness and a good tannic bitter backbone.

Mouthfeel is very good -- slightly clingy but light, almost buttery (weird word to describe mouthfeel, but that's what popped into my head). Very drinkable -- the bitterness comes out more as it breathes.

--- Update 2009-05-06 ---

I found a bottle of 2006 Vintage Ale, which I'm drinking now. I find it much less rounded. Most of the same characteristics, but dominated by bitterness, and very noticeably dry.

--- Update 2013-10-11 ---
2011 Vintage Ale. Bottle number 104275.

Bitterness dominates again, but maybe in a more balanced way than I described in my most recent update. More of the fruit, not so much of the mustiness.

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Photo of illidurit
4.06/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

06 vintage poured into a snifter. Epic ruby hue, perfectly clear with a big fluffy off-white head that leaves gobs of lacing. Aroma is boozy dark fruits and caramel/toffee with light accents of cherry cough drops and toast. Flavor is caramel with orange jelly and hints of cherry and wheat bread. The sweetness is somewhat tempered by an earthy hop note and a mild tannic character. Body is maybe a little thin for the wealth of flavors presented, but there's no trace of alcohol and the carbonation, while subdued, is appropriate. Very good beer.

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

Fullers Vintage ale 2008 No. 126214

A- Pours a clean dark carmel-amber color with a thick off white head that leaves tons of lacing on the glass. Very appealing sight for an old ale.

S- A very complex aroma of raisins, plums, floral hops, sugar, and alcohol esters. In that order. Great harvest of scents enlighten the beer experience.

T-M- A medium to full flavored ale with mutiple complexities that are admirable in every way. Taste is of dried raisins and sweet alcohol flavor in the finish. Mouthfeel is all and all smooth and leaves a very nice earthy flavor on the tongue that is not offensive at all.

D- Great English ale i will buy at least two more for me and my brother to try... only the best!!!

An excellent ale to have and to celler for years to come i'll age one for myself also.

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Photo of tangentrider
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
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 +10.5%
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 -1.4%
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 +7.4%
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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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 4.19 out of 5 with 1,292 ratings
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