897: Fuller’s Vintage Ale

Name: Fuller’s Vintage Ale
Brewery: Fuller, Smith & Turner
Country of Origin: England
City & State: Chiswick, London, United Kingdom (England)
Style: Old Ale
Alcohol Content (ABV): 8.5%
First Brewed: 1997
Price: $8.99

*Bottle Number: 125387

Tasting Notes
Serve in a brandy balloon glass, at the low end of cellar temperature so that the aromatics are released as the beer warms. Character develops with age, but expect powerful malt and fruit characters to give way to complex spicy and sherrylike notes.

Ricky’s Thoughts
I have been excited to try this beer since we bought it. We grabbed this one at Jungle Jim’s International Market, and it is one of several Fuller’s beers on our list. This one is special, though. It comes in a box! The bottle is in a box, I mean. Scott Shrewsberry (a friend from Google+) had a bottle of this the other night. He has had several, and said it was pretty great. That, and each bottle is individually labeled. That is an attention to detail that I can appreciate.

In the Glass: The beer sits there silky smooth almost pouring like whiskey. There is very little head, and no lace to speak of. When you swill it gets a nice copper line around the rim, but nothing to write home about. Based on what I know about this beer, that is exactly what I expected.

Nose: It smells incredible. Imagine sniffing a barleywine. It has a very sweet nose with the expected copper notes at the end of the sniff. I am smelling this right out of the bottle right out of the fridge, and as this sits the aroma will start to increase, and the flavors will expand. But I was too eager to write, so I wanted to just pull it out and pour!

Flavor: Wow. This beer is loaded with flavor. It is very similar to a barleywine. I am not big on old ales, nor do I know many more that exist. But I do know that I have lately been falling for a good barleywine. I love the high ABV and the sweetness it brings to the palate. They usually have a pretty solid aftertaste, too.

Mouthfeel: This beer is very smooth as it slides across the palate. It has the consistency of a spirit more than a beer. There are no bubbles, which I like. I like in a beer like this, that is. It is not a beer you would chug, and while the ABV is only 8.5%, it still has the consistency of a beer you would sip and appreciate.

Aftertaste: The aftertaste is smooth and sweet with a malty finish. The aftertaste sticks around for a while, and it is not overwhelming but those sweet notes that you picked up on the nose and in the flavor aren’t going anywhere. This is a delicious beer and one that might be better with a big fancy cigar.

LIke I said, I am a big fan of barleywine and this one is very close to the Brooklyn, my favorite affordable barleywine. Maybe I will go out and find some more old ales to try. We have tried a couple from Fuller’s, and I have been impressed. If you like a beer that has a smooth finish and a subtle sweetness, try Fuller’s Vintage Ale. This makes me want to find different years. Oh, and to buy one to cellar! Bottoms up, people!

Fuller’s Vintage Ale – The bottle (and in this case, the box) says: “Limited Edition: I have crafted this very special ale from the finest Golding hops, Tipple malted barley and of  our unique yeast to create a truly extraordinary limited edition brew.

“Individually packaged and numbered, this bottle is one of only one hundred and sixty thousand produced.

“Although we are obliged to state a best before date of 2012, like a fine wine or whiskey this mellow golden ale will improve with age for many more years. For best results keep upright in a cook, dark room or cellar.

“This 2009 edition marks 12 years of brewing this magnificent ale. Further information on preview Vintage Ales can be found inside.

“Being bottle conditioned, this beer will form a natural sediment; so pour carefully, sit back, and enjoy this, the very finest of Fuller’s ales. – John Keeling, BREW MASTER”

*Each bottle of Fuller’s Vintage Ale is numbered.

Rating: 4/5

Sheryl’s Thoughts
Apparently tonight’s beer came in a box.  Well, a bottle in a box.  I hope that means it tastes good.  I already had a pretty good beer earlier tonight that was 12% ABV, so let’s see if it can top that.  That one was pretty enjoyable.

I spent some time smelling tonight’s beer because Ricky said that technically you were supposed to let it sit for about 20 minutes to let it get to the right temperature.  It takes a whiff or two to get a really good scent off of it, but it actually smells pretty good.  Ricky made the comment that it smells like a barleywine.  I hope it tastes like one, because I love barleywines.  The smell of this beer is kind of fruity, with a little bit of sour and spice to it.  In the glass it is kind of a reddish-brown color – pretty thick, but not a lot of head.  Let’s see if it tastes as good as I hope it does.  It hasn’t been 20 minutes yet, but I can’t wait that long to try it!

This beer is pretty good.  Not too much of that fruit smell shows up in the taste, but it is still a pretty impressive flavor.  Not too overwhelming, but still pretty tasty.  There’s a little bit of carbonation on the tongue, but nothing too strong.  It has a nice rich flavor, and does taste a little bit like a barleywine.  The richness makes you want to savor the flavor on your tongue for a while.  It does last, but the aftertaste isn’t overwhelming like an IPA or overly hoppy beer can be.  It’s rich and flavorful without being overwhelming.  Definitely really good, and one I would buy again (but I bet it was expensive!).

Rating: 4/5

896 bottles of beer on the wall…

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