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Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

147 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 147
Reviews: 30
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 12.4%


Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
Contract brewed by Unibroue.

(Beer added by: djaeon on 11-16-2013)
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Ratings: 147 | Reviews: 30 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by BeerDocT:
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BeerDocT

Georgia

3.99/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought at the Trader Joe's in Alpharetta, GA, which I hate. I really wish TJ's would open up a new store closer to North Atlanta so I would never have to go that particular location again.

Poured into a chilled La Trappe goblet.

Appearance 3.75: Poured out jet black with a creamy white, 1/2" head. Head quickly dissipated, leaving very little froth behind. Lacing non-existent.

Smell 4.0: Nice bouquet. I smell toasted grains, star anise, cloves, orange rind and spicy Belgian yeast. All of it is well balanced and subdued.

Taste 4.0: Front is slightly sweet, but much more dry than last year's batch. Middle is where the spices come in: cloves, orange, anise...but all very well-balanced and not overwhelming. In the Finish, a certain smoked grains taste seeps in along with a taste of cocoa. Finish is also where I noticed a subtle hop flavor and a very light sweetness. Aftertaste is remarkably (and woefully...I did not want it to end!) short and gives the palate one more kick of spice and subtle malt. Absolutely NO hint of the 9% ABV this baby packs.

Mouthfeel 4.0: Ideal carbonation for this beer. Pleasing on the palate and refreshing.

Overall 4.0: Excellent holiday brew...in fact, this is my favorite holiday brew. The master brewers at Unibroue have stepped up to the plate again and knocked another one out of the park. Light, refreshing and perfectly sessionable. Recommended, even if you have to navigate a horrible TJs like the one in Alpharetta, GA. **shudder**

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2014 05:33:17 | More by BeerDocT
More User Reviews:
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Fettpopps

Massachusetts

3/5  rDev -20.8%

04-13-2014 12:46:05 | More by Fettpopps
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elNopalero

Texas

3.69/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours a cola color with lots of foam.
I don’t get much aroma. Some light root beer notes. (Not artificial root beer.)
The flavor has something similar, with a root beer/sarsaparilla/cream soda character, followed by some sherry and eucalyptus . I find a taste akin to tree bark and orange peel rounding it out. Thinly bodied with a drying finish. For the price it’s a steal. I’ve found I tend to appreciate these TJ Vintage beers with some age on them, so revisiting this might be in order down the road.

Serving type: bottle

04-11-2014 20:22:53 | More by elNopalero
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Rick778

California

3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

04-11-2014 03:50:41 | More by Rick778
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verge

California

4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

04-07-2014 01:53:45 | More by verge
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Minnesota_beer_guy

Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

04-04-2014 01:11:30 | More by Minnesota_beer_guy
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beertunes

Washington

3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

04-02-2014 18:51:59 | More by beertunes
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Willcook

Illinois

1/5  rDev -73.6%

03-25-2014 05:03:36 | More by Willcook
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brheuer

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

03-23-2014 20:24:24 | More by brheuer
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jaydoc

Kansas

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

03-22-2014 20:02:22 | More by jaydoc
Photo of burntoutphilosopher
burntoutphilosopher

Indiana

4.53/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance:
This beer is dark, cream colored head,
Large bubbles (sometimes too large, like force carbonation).
Head doesn’t last

Smell:
Earthy, woody, reminds me of bourbon

Taste:
Smokey malts, very little hops. “flat” in flavor. The flavor doesn’t change as you drink it.
It has a very earthy mushroomy taste. This is classic of dark Belgium ale’s. this beer does it almost as well as any high end ommegang, or Trappist. It’s slightly over carbonated and I’ve been through almost 20 bottles of these and that’s a classic trend.
It’s a bit more mild than other dark ales … and I like that. I can get a good buzz with this beer, which is why I buy it by the 12 pack.
It’s 9% alcohol, and drinks like a 6 or 7%.

Mouthfeel:
Perfect in my opinion. It has a great lingering after taste. It’s thicker than any filtered beer, without having the overly bitter residuals of most autalized bottles.

Overall:
First off, this is my standard drink lately. I bought two cases from Trader Joes, and it’s going to be deeply missed when it’s gone.
Bottle conditioned beer varies. It’s a tough balance. And the guys and UniBroue got it right on here. It’s drinkable enough to not feel heavy and let you get a nice buzz, it’s earthy and deep, and has enough alcohol to get you to your proper level, without making you feel bloated or full.
But it’s also subtle. This beer is excellent chugging or sipping.
Slight critique, after 20 bottles of this, the carbonation is inconsistent. Some bottles pour three inches of head, some a half inch. all stored on the same cellar rack and poured without any turbulence.

FINALLY: There’s no a single beer for the price I’d recommend more than this… if you can find it.

Serving type: bottle

03-22-2014 18:41:06 | More by burntoutphilosopher
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tkdchampxi

New Jersey

4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

03-18-2014 19:17:37 | More by tkdchampxi
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DuffDaddy

Florida

3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

03-16-2014 04:08:41 | More by DuffDaddy
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Hopswagger

South Carolina

3.49/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

P: Dark brown almost black with flashes of ruby highlights. A thick rootbeer head crowns the top and leaves behind an intricate chain of lacing.

S: Aroma is pleasant with loads of doughy bread, dark malts, cardamom, figs, plums, nectarine pits, roasted toffee, amaretto, syrupy rootbeer and cloves.

T/M: Taste is prominently spiced and accompanied by doughy dark fruit breads, cherry cola, burnt toffee, amaretto, grain alcohol, and finishes with bitter persimmons. A vivacious, relatively thin body accentuates the spice profile. Scorched grains cover the palate in a chalky film.

O: I have to say for a $5 bottle BSDA it's a surprise. I'm really missing some good Belgian candy sugar and more dark fruit sweetness. The spice and carbonation seem to hinder the cohesiveness of the ale. Overall a good beer but not one of Unibroue's best.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2014 01:34:46 | More by Hopswagger
Photo of puboflyons
puboflyons

New Hampshire

4.11/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From the corked, caged 750 ml. bottle best before 08-01-2016. Sampled on March 9, 2014 and served at about 55 degrees.

The pour is about as attractive as a Belgian Strong Ale can look with its dark brown to nearly black tone and soft, tan head lingering to the end and leaving lacing with each sip.

The nose is colorful with the dark Belgian malts, Belgian candied sugar, black licorice, plums, coriander, and pepper. There is an earthy hop note that enhances the slightly boozy quality.

Medium body.

The taste is something to remember with the black licorice, dark malts, and vibrant spicy or pepper bite with each sip. Dry finish. Trader Joe's Vintage brews are a Unibroue "knock-off" that have all the same qualities but is a couple dollars cheaper. How can one go wrong?

Serving type: bottle

03-09-2014 18:41:21 | More by puboflyons
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sicilian

Florida

4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

03-09-2014 03:28:17 | More by sicilian
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Doomcifer

Rhode Island

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

03-09-2014 01:41:25 | More by Doomcifer
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Vogey77

Massachusetts

3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

03-09-2014 00:41:46 | More by Vogey77
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sleepyteacher

North Carolina

1.75/5  rDev -53.8%

03-08-2014 18:35:10 | More by sleepyteacher
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thedifferencemaker

Ohio

3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

03-07-2014 00:47:54 | More by thedifferencemaker
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damndirtyape

Ohio

3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

750mL corked and caged bottle, split between two people, served in Tulip glasses.

Appearance: Dark cola brown to black. Light tan thin head with plenty of carbonation coming up through the beer. Minimal lacing - a few strands and tiny islands.

Smell: Roasted malts, fresh cooked pasta, hint of noble hops.

Taste: Fruity, spicy, candi sugar sweetness all mixed together. Robust flavors. The finish was leafy, part noble hops, and part wintergreen. Definite wintergreen finish as the beer warmed up.

Mouthfeel: Airy & lively carbonation, but not fizzy. Tiny bit sticky on the teeth under all that carbonation.

Overall / drinkability: Good, but not great. Did not pair well with Salmon. Didn't clash, but wasn't a good pairing as suggested by the bottle. I think it would be better with grilled meats. Interesting and flavorful, with notable noble hops and an good use of wintergreen as a flavor note. I think however, I could not finish a whole bottle by myself. Alcohol is well hidden and will sneak up on you. I'll have to see how the other bottle I bought shakes out - I'll let it age another 6-9 months and we'll see how it holds up.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2014 00:23:08 | More by damndirtyape
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BDeibs

Colorado

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

03-03-2014 15:08:40 | More by BDeibs
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LMH88

New York

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

03-02-2014 19:46:25 | More by LMH88
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wc94wc

California

4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

03-02-2014 01:13:59 | More by wc94wc
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levineju

California

3.01/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Opened one of two for this review, cellaring the other for a few years. Poured from a corked bomber (750ml) into a tulip pint glass.

A - Shows a dark cola brown with red-orange highlights. A little muddy to the eye. Lots of head, about three fingers and sandy-beige in color. Carbonation is moderate. A little bit of lacing on the glass, agitation does not yield back much head.

S - bread-y; lots of banana; malt; a little medicinal; fermented, like wine; grape; red fruit. A little dank in the glass.

T - a little coppery; malt; getting grape/red wine again; no discernible hops; metallic on the exhale, coppery, almost like blood. Anise/root beer as it develops.

M - sharp, acidic

O - it's ok. I have another for cellaring, so we'll see if there is a noticeable difference in a few years.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2014 22:58:33 | More by levineju
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Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 147 ratings.