Friday, November 28, 2008
Fuller's Vintage Ale 2004
Well, it's not as pricey as The Black Oil, nor is it as mysterious, but Fuller's Vintage Ale does come in a fancy-ass box, is individually numbered, and produced in very small yearly batches. Each year's production differs slightly in various ways, which means if you're a beer collector, ya gotta git 'em all. Good luck on finding the 1998 - it's impossibly rare now, and the 2001 is disappearing fast as only 30,000 bottles were produced.
My box of 2004 turned up at, of all places, Whole Foods Market, for something like ten bucks, as I recall. That price, and for a bottle that's slightly over a pint, makes it a much better deal than the aforementioned Black Oil, if you're lookin' to gently stick your toes into the pool of boxed snob-brew.
The packaging notes that although they're legally obliged to state a "best before" expiration date of 2007, the ale in fact should be cellared like a fine wine, and will improve with age for many more years. The official JSH wine cellar, which is actually just my storage unit in the basement of the Garden Gate clubhouse, is already getting full to capacity, plus I am an impatient man. So I drank it now. And it's awesome.
Like Duvel, Fuller's is bottle-conditioned and thus a yeasty sediment forms at the very bottom of the bottle. Some people pour it carefully to avoid getting the sediment into the glass, and in so doing lose several tablespoons worth of the beer. Screw that. I drink it all, the sediment, everything. It won't kill you.
While the Black Oil is not really something you can buy by the case and serve at parties, Fuller's Vintage is more within reach for at least an occasional night of debauchery. Fuller's recommends it be consumed at cellar temperature, but I dunno about that, I like my beer ice cold. Whatever temperature you prefer, check out Fuller's Vintage, any year you can get your hands on.
- - JSH