Fuller’s 2008 Vintage Ale (Bottle 90,372 of 145,000)
There is beer and then there is beer. Beer is a passion of mine and I get excited for sampling any bottle.
In the last 5-10 years it seems that beer rolled our of bed, found itself to be middle aged, a little flabby and not achieving it’s childhood dreams. It had to make a choice – throw in the white towel, give up and just accept that it would never amount to it’s full potential or hit the gym, start watching what it put in it’s body and take the biggest risk it ever took and actually grow up. While every brewer made it’s own choice, there is a wonderful abundance of selection and options.
Like wine, price does not mean quality. We each have our own tastes and there’s plenty of budget conscious options that are fantastic. Today’s review weighs in at $7 in Ontario for 500 ml – this brew relates closer to wine in price, alcohol and packaging than it’s beer brethren.
Fuller’s has made “small batch” ale each year in the last 11 years. Production in 2008 was limited to 145,000 500 mm bottles. While that may sound like a lot this amounts to approximately 155 kegs of beer shipped globally. The 2008 Vintage Ale is 8.5% alcohol – each bottle is individually numbered.
Ale is not a favourite of many North Americans. It is made with quick-fermenting yeast which is very sweet and is generally balanced with hops which add undertones of bitterness. Fullers is a traditional family-run brewwery that was conceived in 1845.
This is a bottle-conditioned beer – the bottle contains sediment from the brewing process. The advantage to this is that the beer will age well – and improve in flavor if stored correctly over time (a relatively cool place such as a cellar). The disadvantage (to some) is that you pour it slowly so not to add the grainy texture to your glass. I used to take great care in pouring such beers – I take less care these days and if a bit of sediment travels from bottle to glass I accept my cruel fate. The beautiful packaging states it will last well beyond the required expiry date of 2011.
I didn’t want to wait – so there’s one less bottle in the world today (144, 999 bottles left on the wall…). True to an ale, I found it slightly bitter, crisp and lightly carbonated. It has a lovely caramel color and cream topping. If you are not a fan of a very bitter ale, this may present a happy middle ground for you. It’s very easy drinking and a great introduction to the traditional world of ales.
I drank it fridge-cold. I would like to try it room temperature next as I think it would pull more of the flavors through.
This is a lovely experience. I imagine buying a bottle, storing it for a number of years to have the neighbor’s kids drink them at a house party thinking that no one would notice and finding their empty corpses years later. I think I might store them in the dark outside of the packaging for this reason.
(For those of you looking for these in Ontario, they are available in the beer section in some of our LCBO’s – I found this one in the Newmarket store – product number 676213).