The sight of cartons containing 2004 through 2010 Fuller’s Vintage Ales, four deep from 2005 to 2010, on the bar brought a heightened awareness around the table convened to share and explore these well developed and highly complex bottle conditioned old ales.
From around the table as the tasting advanced came words of rich maltiness, notes of caramel, hints of Marmite, a kiss of molasses, spicy hops, nutty, Christmas pudding in a bottle, fruity, warming alcohol, hints of raspberry, citrusy, with even bottles from the same vintage showing distinct variances. And not a bad bottle among the lot of them.
Toss in a growler of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Double IPA and a Thai feast of Thai BBQ chicken with a sweet and hot sauce, sticky rice cooked with coconut milk, roasted peppers of several colours, garlic shrimp, as well as artisanal cheeses in reserve, and you could be forgiven if you thought you had been elevated to papal status.
And if my memory of events as they unfolded is a bit hazy, I’ve already forgiven myself.