Great Lost (English) Beer #BrewedAwakening
Not all beer can age, but that doesn’t mean all beer can’t age. I once had a Ten Penny (a slightly stronger version of the Pale Ale from Moosehead) that had been in my in-laws’ basement for Ninkasi knows how long, but was still quite drinkable and certainly not spoiled. It was somewhat oxidized and hazy, but had a pleasant caramel taste and I drank it.
So sometimes beers not intended to age can age, but there are also notable beers intended for keeping in the cellar. One such beer is Fullers Vintage Ale from England. This week I opened a 2007 bottle, and it was a revelation.
Fullers is an old, classic British brewery, located in London, dating back to 1845 according to their website, but with roots extending much further back. They have grown into a large brewery, making over 50 million litres a year, and are one of England’s bigger brewers. That said, they still make quality beer; on my most recent trip to England two years ago I had several pints of Fullers on cask at pubs, including London Pride (their biggest selling cask ale), and they continue to be excellent.
Their Vintage Ale is a project that was started back in 1997, so this 2007 vintage was their 10th Anniversary release. This strong (8.5%) ale is bottle conditioned, meaning that it is a live beer on bottling, and it is carbonated by the yeast in the bottle. It throws a sediment, so you should pour in such a way as to leave a little bit in the bottom.
The 2007 bottle has a best before date of 2010, but that’s just for legal reasons. Old beer can’t hurt you.
The aroma is slightly vinous, with a mushroomy hint, alongside some caramelly malt. Hops are not very noticeable. This is NOT an American style beer. On the palate this 2007 Vintage Ale is clean, smooth, complex and delicious. It has a pleasant softness and a wonderfully dry finish, with just enough bitterness.
You can’t go wrong buying a Fuller’s Vintage Ale. It will taste stronger, sweeter and more simple on release, but if you hold it for a few years, even a decade, it will give you great complexity, deliciousness and satisfaction.