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Fuller's Vintage goes on the dark side

Added: Monday, October 19th 2020

Fuller's Vintage Ale 2020

It’s that sublime moment of the year – cracking open the first bottle of the new Fuller’s Vintage Ale. We sample it with all the fervour of wine lovers sipping the new vintage Claret.

In short, it’s the Claret of the beer world.

The new vintage has been developed by Guy Stewart, brewery manager at Fuller’s, with John Keeling, former head brewer and now the brewery’s ambassador at large. And a major role has been played by James Ramshaw at Simpson’s Malt, for a special grain has been designed to give the vintage a special character.

It’s called DRC, short for Dark Roasted Crystal. Crystal malt, widely used by British brewers, gives colour and flavour to beer. It’s made in a similar fashion to toffee and contains soft balls of sugar. Unlike conventional malt, it doesn’t need to be mashed, when enzymes turning starch into fermentable sugar. With DRC, the crystal is then roasted by direct heat and creates toasted, fruity and burnt notes.

The beer is 8.5 per cent ABV and has 45 units of bitterness. Pale malt and DRC are joined by Godiva and Jester hops, two comparatively new varieties with distinctive fruity characteristics. The beer pours a bright copper/red colour and the nose bursts with rich aromas of caramel, raisins, plums, blood oranges and spicy hops. There’s orange peel and marmalade on the palate with bitter hop notes, roasted grain, raisin fruit and a hint of bitter chocolate. The long, bittersweet finish has creamy malt, tart fruit, roasted grain and peppery hops.

The beer will be available from Waitrose stores from 26 October for £6. It’s available now from Fuller’s shop in Chiswick or online from