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The waiting is over: Chiswick Vintage Ale hits the shelves for some autumnal delight

Added: Wednesday, October 2nd 2013

The launch of Fuller’s Vintage Ale is one of the most eagerly-awaited events of the calendar, beer’s equivalent of the new Bordeaux vintage. The 2013 offering is the 17th vintage and comes in an attractive russet-coloured box with each bottle individually numbered.

The 8.5% beer is brewed this year with the winter barley variety Pearl, which has been specially floor malted for Fuller’s by Munton’s. “Floor malted” means the grain is spread across heated floors in the maltings rather than in rotating drums: brewers feel this produces a cleaner and juicier grain for brewing.

The hops are Admiral for spiciness and fruity Sovereign. Head brewer John Keeling says he is pleased with this latest beer of the special series. “The early tasting notes for this rich brew are already revealing another genuinely tantalising vintage beer. As a bottle-conditioned beer, each vintage improves with time. Bottle conditioning means that a little yeast is left in the bottle, which will mature slowly over the years like a fine wine or whisky – well beyond the ‘best before’ date we are obliged to state – we think it should read ‘best after’!

“I suggest buying a few and trying one now, trying one in five years and again in 10 years to see how the flavours have developed and matured.”

The young beer has a bright amber/red colour with a lively head of foam. It has a big aroma of spicy hops, marzipan, cinnamon, orange marmalade and biscuit malt. Ripe vinous fruit dominates the palate but bitter hop resins develop with continuing notes of spice and rich grain. The finish starts bittersweet but becomes dry and spicy with tart orange fruit, spices and bitter hop resins.

The beer is available in selected branches of Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Booths. It costs £6 a bottle plus postage or £50 for a case of 12 from Fuller’s online shop:


Fullers Vintage 2013