Sunday, 8 April 2012

Fullers Vintage Ale - Vertical Tasting

As the title of the post suggests, this afternoon we decided to do a tasting of the Fullers vintage ales which we've been hoarding for some time.  In fact we've been hoarding since last year's Beer Bloggers Conference when we were spoilt with a tasting of Fuller's vintage ales at the Chiswick based brewery.

They were all served very lightly chilled to retain the flavour profiles, our tasting notes follow.

2011 - Crystal clear, caramel brown colour, with hardly any head.  On the nose - sweet, burnt caramel, with a strong malty backbone.  To taste there's a lot of caramel and sugar, a strong malt flavour.  It has enough carbonation to carry the sweetness.  Not as much depth of flavour as we were expecting, but the bitterness comes through afterwards.  'Cough candy' sugariness to it.  We both liked it a lot, but Sam found the 'brewed malt drink/soda flavour' (as he described it) disconcerting.  Slightly cloying.

2010 - Clear, more head retention, but visually identical and with similar carbonation to the 2011.  On the nose there's dried fruits, caramel and malt, it has more presence than the 2011 and is very different in flavour.  It still has a sweetness but is nowhere near as sweet as the 2011, the hops come through strongly and there's a dried fruit taste.  Sam commented that the flavour had developed since he last tasted it a year ago.  We preferred this to the 2011 due to there being a dryer taste and less sugar.



1999 - Cloudy, rusty in colour, with the best head retention of the three.  Smells boozy,  with sherry notes, dried fruits and christmas pudding on the nose.  On taste; a bit disappointing!  Christmas pudding & dried fruit flavour, malt loaf (specifically Soreen!), but the hops come through nicely to balance out the sweetness.  There were none of the oxidised notes which we'd expected.  There were more bitterness/hops than the 2011/2010.  You can definitely taste the 'age' of it,  with the alcohol coming through a bit more than on the previous two.

We both picked the 2010 as our favourite, the 1999 came in second and the 2011 in last - mainly due to the sweetness, but we're both expecting it to age as well as the other two have.  Luckily we have another two bottles stored away, so we'll be giving them some time before opening the next one.

Note; as Fullers do not use the same recipe every year, this isn't a direct comparison.  All are around 8.5% abv. For a more comprehensive look at a wider range of the Fullers Vintage Ales Des De Moor has a great write up on his blog.

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