Fullers Vintage Ale: 2000 (England: English Strong Ale: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy red brown with roiling clouds within. Toffee steamy colours at the edges. Solid banoffee pie coloured creamy head.

Nose: Fruitcake and port. Sour grapes. Massively powerful aroma. Marzipan. Banana and chocolate. Honey. Very vinous. Shortbread.

Body: Fruitcake. Dates. Glacier cherries and liquorice.  Raisins. Figs.  Slight tart sourness. Ginger beer at the back. Shortbread and slightly herbal.

Finish: Liquorice. Rum. Raisins and cherries. Digestive biscuits.  Grapes. Quite dry after a while.

Conclusion: God damn this is an old beer and you can tell. Massively vinous, hugely smooth, chock full with fruitcake flavour. Its been aged so long  that it has gained a sour tartness which may or not be considered an improvement depending on your preferences.

By this point a beer is usually viewed as being a tad over aged, and with the slight brackishness and strong liquorice it could be argued to be so here, however the oddities leads to such a full of character beer that I find it hard to care that its been technically out too long.

It’s odd that I enjoy this so much, as the young versions of the Vintage Ale haven’t really hit me as being much superior to 1845, but this is so vinous and eclectic that you would have to work hard not to enjoy it. It’s like that crotchety old granddad you love. He really should annoy you with the things he says, but the quirks that could cause anger are also what make you feel so happy in their presence.

Very big, very fun, very quirky. I’d probably not age this long myself, but since I bought it pre aged – rock on.

Background: Drunk 2012.  I’d picked this up as part of an order to get a beer for my next “Thus Drank Zarathustra” review, and was shocked to find out they had vintages going back to 2000 available. So I grabbed one. I wasn’t planning to review it for a while but limpd over at “It’s just the booze dancing” was asking on advice on if he should age his Vintage Ale. So what could a beer aphorist do but break out the bottle and help out a fellow drinker. Fullers is a pretty solid brewery and definitely works better at the more heavy duty beers than the lighter ones.  This beer has a best before date of 2003.  Oops. Also this is a full pint bottle, not the more common 500ml you get these days.