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Review of Fullers 2004 Limited Edition Vintage Ale

02 Jul
I have a special beer in my possession to review today.  A Fullers 2004 Limited Edition Vintage Ale produced by the Fuller Smith & Turner PLC Brewery in London, England.

I can’t wait to try this brew.  I’ve heard many great things about each “vintage year”, so I’m hoping that I find it to be very good and worthwhile.

From the website, fullers.co.uk, I found this description of the vintage offerings.

Vintage Ale is a truly distinguished bottle-conditioned ale, crafted by Fuller’s Head Brewer, John Keeling.  Each vintage is a blend of that year’s finest malt and hops, and of course our unique yeast, creating a unique limited edition brew.  
   
Bottle conditioning means that a little yeast is left in the bottle after bottling, which will mature slowly over time like a fine wine or whiskey – well beyond the best before date that we are obliged to state.  Here at Fuller’s, we recently opened (in the interest of research, of course) a few bottles of old Vintages:  they tasted better than ever so stock up now and you’ll be glad you did in years to come!

I’m excited already!!!  I have bottle 80,895 out of the 95,000 produced in 2004.

The beer bottle was 16.9 oz. and had an ABV of 8.5%.  The coolest thing though, is that it comes packaged in a box to completely block light for prime cellaring. 

The appearance was a pristine reddish/burgundy color with some burnt orange highlights at the bottom.  An egg shell colored head with nice size and decent retention was produced from a relatively easy pour.  The head was smooth and creamy looking.  Some very nice lacing stuck to the sides of the glass and left some worthy patchwork.  The beer was clear until I poured in the last of the bottle then it became cloudy with suspended sediment.

The aroma brought forth a very nice, deep, dark fruit fragrance.  Similar to grapes and raisins.  It’s very reminiscent of grape juice really.  Some red wine characteristics also.  Overall, a very sweet smell, however some yeasty, doughy bread helped pull some of the edge off the, otherwise, “bright” nose.  A hint of alcohol was detected, but it fit the bouquet admirably.  The aroma was well completed.

The taste revealed very well balanced flavors of yeast and dark grapes.  A touch of alcohol and a “woody” or “oak” undertone gave it a rounded and solid footing.  I also found a smidgen of hops and an unsweetened tea flavor with the most minor splashes of spice.  Again, some red wine similarities arose, but everything was balanced, fitting and complex.  The taste was exceptional in my opinion.  Balanced and harmonious.

The mouthfeel was medium to almost medium/thin.  It’s dry and smooth as silk.  A wonderful warmth drenched the palate, begging me to take another sip.  Sufficient amounts of flavor were left behind for me to cherish and enjoy.

This is an EXCELLENT beer!!!!  Very well balanced and very well made.  Very complex and very complete.  This is not a beer to chug or sample every day, but rather more of a special occasion beer to sip on and contemplate.  I’m looking forward to finding a few more bottles of varying years so as to compare the subtle differences.  I currently have a 2005 waiting to be tasted, so I hope I can get to that sometime soon.  If you guys ever see the Fullers Vintage Ale, don’t hesitate to pick up a bottle and give it a try.  It’s worth the money in my opinion.

Have any of you had the Fullers Vintage Ale?  What year?  Did you enjoy it?

Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me about it.

Thanks for reading guys.  I appreciate it.  Cheers!!!

Score:  4.25 out of 5
Grade:  A- 

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