A few months ago somebody on Twitter (I forget who, sorry!) pointed out that some of the prices in the Fuller's online shop for their vintage ales were... unusual.
I can only assume that these prices are set by some automated process based on stock levels or something, because it's hard to believe that a human being would think they were rational. While there is undoubtedly the odd obsessive bottle collector, I would be surprised if there were many folk who would be willing to spend three figures on a single bottle of beer. This isn't wine, after all.
I've managed to build up quite a collection of Vintages, initially just buying them in the supermarket and then a box of mixed years when Fuller's were having a sale on. I can't remember quite what I paid, but I'm fairly sure it wasn't more than a fiver a bottle - which now starts to look like a real bargain!
Fuller's Vintage 2005 seems a perfect choice to see in the New Year. At 10 years old, it's a relatively young Vintage - I have bottles going back into the last millennium - but it's one of the pricer bottles in my collection.
The list price is currently £145.20, although that is with the box, which I lack. I suspect the box will not affect that taste, however.
It's a dark amber ale, with a decent, fine textured head and a relatively modest 8.5% ABV.
The aroma is sweet and sticky, full of raisins - it smells more like a glass of dark sherry than beer! There are little hints of leafy hop below that, and a faintly metallic edge.
The mouth is full of fruit too; sticky dates and sweet golden syrup with a perfect soft carbonation to keep it in check. Over time, the alcohol brings in a drier character and a surprisingly light, almost tannic aspect that contrasts wonderfully with the heavy, fruity initial flavours.
A light fruity blueberry acidity comes in and right at the end there's just a little burst of bitterness to encourage the next sip.
This really is luxury in a beer bottle. I couldn't ever spend anything close to £145 on a single bottle of beer but if I ever did, I could do a lot worse than make it this one. 5 stars.
This review was originally published 31st December, 2015. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.