beer reviews bottled beer

Fuller’s Past Masters 1914 Strong X

There is never going to be a Fuller’s Past Masters beer that we don’t buy by the case, even though this makes three in a row that have failed to hit the standard set by the first two.

Though supposedly brewed to a recipe for Fuller’s standard mild from August 1914, the ABV has been bumped up from an almost sessionable, historically accurate c.5% to 7.3%, more befitting of a limited edition release. (Here are Ron Pattinson’s notes on Fuller’s X from the period.) It cost us £3.75 a bottle, in a case of 12, plus delivery.

It certainly looks enticing in the glass, gleaming red, and has the characteristic Fuller’s tangerine aroma.

The problem,  however, occurs on tasting, when an overriding, Irn-Bru, Lucozade sweetness takes over. It made us think, unfortunately, of Innis & Gunn, of whose beers we are not fans, or even Adelscott, the whisky-flavoured, sweetened, alco-pop beer from France.

In fact, the reminder of whisky doesn’t stop there. Though we occasionally drink it, as with coffee, we struggle to discern specific flavours and qualities beyond the bleedin’ obvious, so please excuse our vagueness when we say that there was a whisky-and-water boozy, smoky afterburn in the throat and nose.

There’s also a gentle tooth-stripping quality like the feeling you get after eating a particularly tart rhubarb or gooseberry crumble. (Oxalic acid says the internet.)

We’re making this sound like hard work, aren’t we? Well, that’s how we’re finding it, four bottles into a case of twelve. The rest we’re going to leave for a few months and see if it mellows, though we can’t really see how it will get less sweet unless some of the remaining sugars are somehow digested by the bottle-conditioning yeast.

Ultimately, it’s a really quirky, interesting beer that won’t appeal to everyone, and we know some people have loved it:

But the really exciting news: that incredible 1893 Double Stout is being re-brewed this year. We’ll buy two cases this time.

6 replies on “Fuller’s Past Masters 1914 Strong X”

I picked up a bottle in my last mail order, will leave it for a few months before sampling to avoid potentially teeth-jarring-ness then!

In North America you would be berated for opposing the brewer’s intention! Too bad that they have moved to “inspired by” historic brewing.

Somewhat puzzled that they would go to the trouble of restoring a 1914 formulation but change the ABV. Maybe the idea was to achieve a ABV more akin to mid-1800’s standards for a mild ale. But then why not use a record from that era? Maybe they didn’t have one, or didn’t want to use all-malt? Hard to say.

The sweetness seems appropriate for a mild ale of the time, and the taste in the end will be peculiar to this beer and your honesty in the taste department is certainly appreciated. I admired some of the Past Masters but not all and the 1890’s strong ale (XX) did not taste good, IMO, whereas the double stout was one of the top 10 beers I’ve had in my life, so there you go.

It sounds like it might benefit from some storage, perhaps try it a two month intervals.


I’m liking it: great to have a beer that really is all about the malt, for a change. As Gary said, mild almost by definition means sweet(ish). Not noticed any rhubarby acidity myself, but oxalic acid is, of course, a natural component of barley wort, responsible for “beer stone” deposits on brewery vessels.

Mild at 7.3% is odd.

I’m wondering if it had any connection with the Fuller’s “Past Masters” beer at 7.3% I had at the Manchester BCF recently. I doubt it – I haven’t got that sweet a tooth – but the exact coincidence of strengths is odd.

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