1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

Not Rated.
Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale

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

191 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 191
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 11.84%
Wants: 4
Gots: 34 | FT: 7
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 191 | Reviews: 37 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Chiefy770
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pitch black body with an off-white bubbly head. The head collapses and leaves a respectable amount of lacing throughout.

Smell: Sweet notes of fruit. Mild hint of alcohol. Notes of spice stand out, particularly allspice and coriander.

Taste: Many of the nose characteristics transfer to the taste quite well. Sweet fruit up front. The alcohol kicks in and leaves a nice warming touch on this one.

Mouthfeel: The moderate carbonation makes this brew taste very fresh. The fruity flavors hold on well in this low-medium body. Semi-dry finish.

Overall: This is the first Trader Joes Vintage Ale of have tried. You can taste many of Unibroue's signature touches in this beer. I am eager to see how this tastes with a couple of years on it. This is basically a Unibroue beer for 4-5 bucks. It may not be a world-beater but it is certainly a remarkable brew for such an affordable price.

Chiefy770, Dec 29, 2013
Photo of jabo134
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

jabo134, Dec 29, 2013
Photo of jonothehut
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

jonothehut, Dec 29, 2013
Photo of oriolesfan4
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

oriolesfan4, Dec 28, 2013
Photo of Badger6
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

750mL bottle, bottled on 1 Aug 13 (label imprint reads 02131837, with an expiration of 1 Aug 16). Poured into a Chimay goblet. Labeled a Belgian dark ale, but strikes as a Belgian strong ale, brewed by Unibroue and consistent with their well-known dark, strong Belgians.

A - First pour was about 300mL. The head was light tan in color and fizzy rapidly diminished with no lacing. The body of the beer was a dark-brown to black, and almost no light passed through.

S - The aroma is slightly boozy, no surprise at 9% abv. Very spicy aroma with pronounced notes of clove, allspice and cinnamon. Smell of molasses and coffee is slight, but clear.

T - The flavor profile is complex. Starts with a malty sweetness, layered with clear, almost overwhelming, spice notes and a pronounced molasses note to the malt, coffee flavor doesn't come through. Finishes with a light acidity as the sweetness fades. The strong spice notes remain throughout.

M - The carbonation is mellow and consistent. The beer has a light to medium body with a clear boozy character that is not overpowering or that interferes with the flavor.

O- A very enjoyable beer. At 9% abv it is surprisingly not difficult to drink, and as the stronger Belgian style beers go is smooth, but could stand to age for another few months. If you plan to pick any up, do it quick, TJs will soon be out, and I recommend you save a bottle or two for next year to compare.

Badger6, Dec 28, 2013
Photo of Wattie
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Wattie, Dec 28, 2013
Photo of cnbrown313
2.75/5  rDev -27.6%

cnbrown313, Dec 26, 2013
Photo of TheBaumer
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

TheBaumer, Dec 26, 2013
Photo of BrewClint
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

BrewClint, Dec 26, 2013
Photo of lilmul123
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

lilmul123, Dec 26, 2013
Photo of smithj4
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

smithj4, Dec 25, 2013
Photo of rydev24
4/5  rDev +5.3%

rydev24, Dec 25, 2013
Photo of Fcolle2
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black in color with a big 2 finger light tan foamy head that retains nicely. There is a very vigorous amount of bubbling all over the glass that is interesting to watch.

Smell is good. Lots of spices, notes of cinnamon and clove forward followed by a Belgian peppercorn phenol and toffee malt on the back end.

Taste has some semi sweet dark syrup like toffee malt that is balanced nicely with some Belgian peppercorn flavors. Very light residual earthy hop bitterness nearly undetectable through more spices in the backend.

Mouthfeel is good medium to thick body is cut with a sharp vigorous carbonation. Slightly dry finish.

Fcolle2, Dec 24, 2013
Photo of TubbyDullard
4/5  rDev +5.3%

TubbyDullard, Dec 23, 2013
Photo of DbbC
4/5  rDev +5.3%

DbbC, Dec 23, 2013
Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%

A - Nice opaque black beer, with a light tan head that forms up big and tight, and is slow to fade. Not much lacing once the head comes down, though.

S - Sugars and raisins, a sourness suggesting citric acid, perhaps a slight hint of lemon rind.

T - Following the nose, with sweet dark fruits and subtle sour flavors. Earthiness in the close. A slight hint of clay. Some soapy notes, but these are kept in check.

M - Thick and full, but with spritely carbonation that keeps things from becoming cloying or taxing.

O - This a big brew, but it comes across as fairly approachable. Watch it, though, there is enough in a single bottle to knock you on your backside. Not a stellar brew, but good, and a great deal for the price.

Tsar_Riga, Dec 23, 2013
Photo of OldhouseRecs
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

OldhouseRecs, Dec 23, 2013
Photo of ZEB89
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

ZEB89, Dec 23, 2013
Photo of Novabrewer
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Novabrewer, Dec 22, 2013
Photo of aaroncom2005
3/5  rDev -21.1%

aaroncom2005, Dec 22, 2013
Photo of JoeMans
2.75/5  rDev -27.6%

JoeMans, Dec 21, 2013
Photo of Eisen
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Trois Pistoles goblet: An initially thick coffee-colored, over-foamy head that faded medium quickly into a thin layer with no lacing. Smells mostly of light booze, dark fruit, chocolate, coffee....Sweetness of high alcohol malty beer is well balanced by toast and hops. Very drinkable and great for the price, and thus great for anything.

Eisen, Dec 20, 2013
Photo of sgoro
4/5  rDev +5.3%

sgoro, Dec 20, 2013
Photo of brandoman63
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

brandoman63, Dec 20, 2013
Photo of barczar
4.01/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque deep brown with amber highlights and one of the foamiest heads I've ever seen, which is cappuccino foam in color.

Notes of raisin, peach, green apple, plum, and fig erupt from the glass. Yeast esters are extremely prolific. Hints of banana and clove emerge as it warms. There's an underlying sweet candi sugar base.

Flavor is less complex than the aroma, with green apple character surfacing initially, followed by fairly bready, nutty malt. Further investigation reveals cola notes, pear, and peach esters, which are more restrained than anticipated. Hints of plum, pepper, clove, and banana emerge in the aftertaste. The finish is fairly dry and earthy. Not as sweet as expected from the aroma.

Body is moderate to slightly low, with fairly high carbonation and moderate alcohol warmth.

Phenomenal aroma, just wished the flavor followed as strongly to suit. There's a completeness lacking in the flavor profile. I notice this with a couple other unibroue beers. May need more malt backbone and a touch of sweetness. Still, great brew, excellent value, and can't wait to see this with some age on it.

barczar, Dec 19, 2013
Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 191 ratings.