I wasn’t prepared for the perspective shift I received when three days ago I took the bottle of Fuller’s Vintage 2009 from the closet and carefully placed it in the fridge. What was I doing 10 years ago aside from putting this beer in this exact closet? Who was I then? Holy shit, I wasn’t on Oppo yet.

I can’t remember buying it but it’s a safe bet I bought two of these annual release beers and cracked the other one right away. Year to year the recipes change so direct side-by-side comparisons are impossible. One constant though is these are big full bodied ales at 8.5%.

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The back of the boxes have an expiration date 10 years after the bottling date but I began to think this was a long shot. Back in the day I’d yet to nail down airflow and temperature management in the home. We’ve had some hot summers and I’m sure there were years the temperature inside reached 85 degrees or more. I put the chance of having a good beer at 25%.

There were four of us. We drank the 2019 version first. It poured crystal clear and I dumped the sludge from the bottom of the bottle into a separate glass so we could add it at our own discretion. The head was about what I remember them being, explosive, large bubbles quickly falling to very slight but hanging around quite some time. We each blurted out a flavor as soon as we got it. There were some. Complex enough. It was good.

The glass of the 2009 bottle was very noticeably thicker so seeing the pour as it went was impossible. Immediately it became clear it wasn’t pouring clear. Shit, shit, shit, shit...Was it the extra 2 days the 2009 spent on the fridge door? I don’t know.

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The head was the same as the 2019. Gave it a smell and right away at the back I got a slight bad sour note. I was now worried. Luckily it seems the beer just needed a few minutes to settle and that was the last time any of us had anything bad to say.

It was just as enjoyable to smell as it was to taste. Bold yet at the same time very round. Again we just blurted out notes as soon as we got them. It was rapid-fire this time and we were almost always in agreement. They were blatant.

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  • Milk chocolate
  • Ovaltine
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Cherry
  • Old dirty brandy
  • Creamy
  • Half-ripe red plum
  • Orange extract
  • Very dry finish
  • slight green apple or pear

This thing was awesome.

A look after the fact at the included tasting notes revealed some different flavors and some shared.

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The good? It can be done and in my opinion it’s worth it. The bad? I now have a gap in my supply and need to wait until 2026 to have another like it.

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