Fullers Vintage Ale

If you have a spare £500 then I wouldn’t judge you, if you decided to spend it on a Fullers 1997 Vintage Ale. This 1997 beer was the first in Fullers Vintage Ale collection and it was brewed to mature over the years. The huge price increase is due to the age and the rarity of the bottling, but also the fact that each ale is brewed with different hops each year, meaning there is a unique character for each ‘vintage’ of the ale.

Alternatively, with this year’s vintage now available, you can do what I do and stock up for a fraction of the cost. (£6 a bottle). This year’s incarnation (the 26th edition) combines the UK classic hop, Bramling Cross with a younger variety, Emperor. Bramling Cross brings dark berry notes and some hints of spice, whilst the Emperor adds a strong citrus character which overlaps well with the hints of citrus from Bramling Cross. At its heart, Pale Ale and Caragold malts combine with a double roasted crystal malt to deliver toffee and raisin sweetness. All complemented, with a zesty marmalade character coming from their house yeast.

Like many others and it’s becoming a bit of a tradition at this time of year, the idea is to buy a couple of the prized bottles, drink one during the festive season and age one. In an ideal scenario the bottle should be kept upright and stored at cellar temperature (11-13 degrees) and if you keep it in the presentation box, then this will avoid any light getting into the beer and suffering from light strike. The benefits of storing beer, if you plan to age them were evident on a recent beer tasting night, where I have the opportunity to taste a handful of fairly strong Barleywines from the 1980’s. The beers had been stored on their side at some point and the bottle tops had gone rusty, imparting a very metallic taste into the beer. It wasn’t the most enjoyable experience and has made me ensure if I do plan to keep beer for anytime, I look

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