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Wednesday
Nov052014

FULLERS VINTAGE ALE

Fuller's Vintage Ale 2012. London Pride brewer, Fuller's, release this vintage ale every winter and, to my dismay, recommend cellaring it for between three and four years.

The hell with that. I could manage just two years, so perhaps I didn't get it at its prime. And that saddens me, because the thought of this beer improving even more is a tantalizing one.

It comes in this box, too, and just in case you didn't understand that it's not part of the regular Fuller's lineup, they sting you a lot of money for it. And they should.

Fuller's released it for the first time in 1997 and it's so limited that each bottle is individually numbered. The recipe is slightly tweaked each year to suit climactic conditions, but the ABV stays at around 8.5%.

It's brewed with Goldings, Sovereign and Target hops and uses yeast and organic barley grown by Sir James Fuller himself.

It pours a very dirty-looking brown (it's bottle conditioned) and is visually not the most appealing ale in the Fuller's lineup. But just when you think things aren't ship shape in the bottle, the aroma storms through the murk.

It's all caramel notes and crushed raisins and toffee and cut grass and nutmeg and marmalade. And it's somehow balanced.

Avoid the mistake of serving it too cold and it rewards the tongue with a gloriously soft mouthfeel. There's barely a hint of the booziness you normally expect with this sort of ABV, but instead a wonderful assortment of everything good, from a sherry to toasted malts to brown sugar and finished with a slight peppery aftertaste.

It's an incredibly complex beer and Fuller's only makes 125,000 of them a season. with the four I've still got waiting for me, you might get lucky and snag one of the other 124,995.

 

9/10

 

 

 

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