Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

72 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 72
Hads: 78
Avg: 3.88
pDev: 11.6%
Wants: 4
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: DogFood11 on 11-15-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (21) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next → last
Reviews: 72 | Hads: 78
Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured into the chalice black with a frothy and moussy tall brown head which fell slowly as it coated the glass.

The aroma was fruity with a strong peppery spice presence through the extra tall head. Some dark fruit character was notable raisin and a bit of prune. Pepper was the dominant aromatic and some alcohol notes. Cinnamon spice became apparent as the beer warmed and the head fell.

The flavor was light with a bit of a metallic character. Some caramel was notable as was a bit of chocolate or perhaps black malt. The flavor was peppery and spicy with some characteristics of cinnamon and Belgian yeast spice contributions. As the beer warmed a licorice flavor began to emerge.

The finish was dry with lasting peppery spice and anise/licorice flavor into the aftertaste. The body was medium and the carbonation was very high leading to a creamy character in the mouthfeel. The warming after consumption was fairly high for this beer. Licorice and anise are not favorite flavors of mine unless in Porters and Stouts. This one went a bit too far in that direction to score high drinkability.

750 ml corked and bailed bottle. $4.99 at TJ. (Shouldn't this be listed under Unibroue?)

 1,207 characters

Photo of Dukeofearl
4.36/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Trader Joe's (where else?) in Riverside, Ca. for $4.99- what a bargain!

Opens with one seriously loud pop and lots of gunsmoke- this cork wants outta dere!

Pours one of the blackest black I have ever seen in a beer, especially for this style. My wife was having her favorite Guinness at the same time, and I swear, this was darker. And with a very pretty, very persistent tan-brown head of the tiniest bubbles around. This one gets top marks here.

My sniffer is a bit jacked up from the Santa Ana winds, but all I smelled were spices. Coriander and cloves top the list, in fact, that's all I can smell. Seemed overpowering to my weakened nose, and wasn't sure if I cared for it.

But then the flavor comes roaring back. The spices are there, and at first they are too much, but then a medley of other flavors join the chorus, singing chocolate and toffee and a whiff of smoke and a touch of sweetness, all singing point/counterpoint in near perfect harmony. As it warms, raisins and figs and dates come to the front of the stage and do a very nice trio backed up by very mellow port notes.

Alcohol completely hidden. But this one has an amazing finale in it's drinkability. I could drink this one all night long. I don't give out a lot of 5's, but this one is hits the right note here.

I really like this one.

 1,327 characters

Photo of GeoffRizzo
4.7/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml, corked and caged. Dark and rich black appearance, a bit bright as well. When held to the light, a nice reflection of me holding the glass! Massively rising tan rocky head, settles slowly into a 1/2 inch milkshake covering. Some sticky lacing, but not much. The nose is subtle, and the offerings are more detectable as she warms. Dark fruits, rich Belgium spices and some burnt malts are all noted in the aroma. The taste is quite nice for the style--an onslaught of pepper, dark chocolate, plums, cranberries and rum soaked raisins. Highly carbonated, but the carbonation does not detract from the flavorings. Rich and full bodied. The second round revealed a little more chewiness and more pronounced spices. The finish is silky and smooth, and the alcohol is noted towards the end. Serve at near-room temperature to enjoy the true flavors of this gem. This is an incredible offering from T Joe's and Unibroue and should age nicely. Highly recommended; and while I rarely comment on price, this was picked up for $4.99 at T Joe's.

 1,038 characters

Photo of TheLiterati
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brewed for Trader Joe’s by Unibroue, Best before 08-28-2009…hmmm…I’ll have to buy another and let it age a while…

As for this one, poured a deep brown with a healthy tan head. Smells of raisins, dates and plums, really rich and slightly buttery with hints of Christmas spice.

Taste is truly amazing – just what you’d expect from Unibroue, which usually does Belgium beers well. They’ve nailed the Abby style, complete with the complexity as it warms, releasing a mild malty-sweetness without being cloying.

Mouthfeel is like velvet, making for a decidedly drinkable ale. Well done, and much more enjoyable than the 2005 vintage in my opinion.

 659 characters

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.15/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 750ml tall straight sided brown glass bottle with a fluted neck. Sealed with a thumbed cork and a silver colored cage and a silver Unibroue logo’d cap. Main bottle is the classic Unibroue presentation, unlike 2005’s metallic silver printing, the 2006 offering is all metallic gold with the words ‘Trader Joe’s 2006 Vintage ale’, with some suitable hoppy emblems to decorate above and below. Smaller text at the base of the bottle continues, ‘Dark Ale on Lees, 9% Alc./Vol.’ The reverse of the bottle goes on at great length about this brew, seem like the blurb is exactly the same as last years 2005 offering. It is clearly stated that this is a dark Belgium beer that is exclusively brewed for Trader Joe’s by Unibroue and that this 2006 offering is the inaugural Vintage Ale. Screen printed as Best Before 8-28-09 with an inkjet neck code of ‘J07061012Q’.

Appearance: The cork was firmly entrenched, as the saying goes, but the regular Unibroue Quercus suber was soon extracted with a firm “Yorkshire Pull”, that strong right wanking wrist always comes in handy. Intense blue-grey gunsmoke riddles the air with whispy fumes. Dark black body has an ebony tinged mahogany with ruby flashes. Clear but dark, light but intransigent. The head rises fast on the pour but rests at a very constant ¼” thick minimum. Solid presentation.

Nose: Spicy stuff, stronger than the 2005 Vintage Ale for sure. Lots of spiced malts, caramelized dark fruits and a hint of molasses. Scathing bitterness crosses the black malts and soft caramel. Leaping aromas and a very strong cross-section. Gorgeously dark rich warming tones.

Taste: Peppered black malts are filled with lots of spices. Dark black chocolate and some Fry’s Chocolate Cream Bar punctuate the lightly zinged centre-piece. Feisty smoked sausage, black boot polish, plums and a rich zingy prune juice finish. Belgian latter third has some cloves and a rising warm alcohol bite. The hops play a big part in this one, more so than most Belgians. Pleasing zesty brew with a fine tuned sharp Terry’s Chocolate orange finish. Yikes I like this one.

Mouthfeel: Boding Mouthfeel has a larger than life presence, partially thanks to the soft carbonation and enticing spices the debauched angle starts to feel like it is intentional. Cheap as chips, no vinegar, and twice as lovable.

Drinkability: The flavors and alcohol are neatly balanced. The superb nose and great looks all entwine to encapsulate a solid Belgian Dark Ale. Relaxing and easy going, nothing disturbing except for the fact that you find you have partaken of nearly a whole 750ml before you even realize it.

Overall: Very nice. Very Drinkable. Very "dark" Unibroue. Very good value for money - at only $4.99 for a 750ml of a 9% beer it’s a bloody steal!! Very Hard to knock this brew at. It’s not perfect, and it’s not the best from Unibroue, by damn it’s a solid brew for tyhe coin and a great treat to see on the Xmas shelves at the local Trader Joe’s each year. I strongly recommend you pick up a few of these, one for now and a few for later. I think the 2006 Vintage Ale has improvements that edge the 2005 Vintage Ale a tad.

Mister, fill me another
Till I go crazy and it turn my mind around
Just pass that bottle one more time
And slowly drink it down

 3,322 characters

Photo of xymyl
3.87/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Very dark brown in color with a light brown sugar colored head, huge head good retention and abundant carbonation.

Aroma is what you would expect from a much lighter colored Belgian brown ale. There are great spicy notes and a very light malt aroma along with a somewhat jarring black malt note.

Flavor is all over the place, from brown sugar, coriander and (of course) cloves along with a very slight milk-chocolate all the way to a very slight rubber/band-aid note. Everything is riding a fragile backbone of pilsner malt. I can see this developing well over about 6 months to 3 years. But I'll wait a month or two to try the next one.

Medium light mouthfeel (most everything was turned to alcohol).

Drinking a bottle alone is a bit of a trick right now because all the qualities are conflicting with each other, light and dark, thin and rich etc... But once everything is integrated it seems that it will be great. As it is, it's good enough for now. P.S. I bought a whole case because I saw the Unibroue label on the cork. So I will have time to test the aging process on this one.

Note on Feb 6, 2008: Digging it much more as it ages.

 1,144 characters

Photo of pwaldron
3.77/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with a very slight amber tint at the edges. A very fizzy head dissipates quickly, leaving a light lace that did not cling to the sides of my goblet-shaped glass. A surprisingly mild aroma for such a strong beer followed by an equally mild flavor. Fizzy, with a predominant anise flavor. The strong alcohol content shows in the aftertaste. Surprisingly (dangerously?) drinkable for a big beer. A nice, non-challenging big ale that would make a good complement for turkey or roast chicken. Nice, but not exceptional in any way.

 544 characters

Photo of mghotbi
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clearly labeled Unibroue cork and bottle. Pours a dark mahogany with copious tan head and lingering lace.

Smells of brown sugar and caramel malts with a background trace of vanilla and allspice - a bit like a gingerbread cookie?

Prominent carbonation with a thick, syrupy mouthfeel. Taste is rich with sweet malts, dried fruits, and a background of subtle spice and hop notes. Alcohol is well-hidden, warms the palate and nose late. Finish lingers a bit.

I really enjoyed this ale. For around $5, it's a steal and makes a great after-dinner drink, aperitif or winter warmer. I think this is a bit sweeter than last year's offering, which is why I didn't rank the drinkability as high - but another fine Unibroue offering nevertheless.

 743 characters

Photo of MVassar
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very dark, rich brown color, slightly murky. Impressive display of cascading bubbles, very persistent head. Little lacing.

Sweet malt in the nose, along with clove, all-spice, and dark fruit. As it sits in the glass the scent of ripe banana emerges, and some roasted malt.

Tastes like a Christmas cookie, at first, with Christmas spices, brown sugar, and lots of unsweetened baking chocolate. Dark, ripe fruit flavors emerge with time, and start to dominate. Then along comes a hint of bubblegum. Absolutely chock full of flavor, this is a beer that pulls no punches.

Full-bodied with a very pleasant rich texture. Just too carbonated for my palate.

Sipping seems right with this one. Quite drinkable for such a distinctive and flavorful beer.

4.99 for a 750 ml bottle of high quality Belgian style brew? Snap it up.

 833 characters

Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
4.28/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

$4.99 corked bomber at Trader Joes

A-deep, dark black body with a soft leather brown hue. A creamy head made up of tons of tiny carbonation. The head stayed present the entire glass.

S-Awesome star anise spice punch followed by a soft, floral Belgian yeast aroma. There also seems to be a hint of cola (possibly cardamon seed)

T-To go along with the aroma, there is a spicy, cola-like front on the tongue. The anise also sneaks through the yeast. The finish is mellow with a dried, dark-fruit character. Definately seems like a great winter beer.

M-Incredibly smooth and well balanced. The high abv is completely hidden behind the full-flavors.

D-Probably one of the best $4.99 unibroue's out there. Unibroue rarely disappoints and this is another great brew.

 775 characters

Photo of eberkman
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark opaque brown, almost black. When held to the light, you can see shards of red. Tan, bubbly, champagne-like head that dissipated very quickly.

Sweet aroma of dark fruit -- raisins, plums, prunes. Also some nice spices present in the nose.

Taste is a combination of sweet maltiness and alcohol which warms on the way down.

Somewhat thinner in the mouth than expected, but it is very drinkable for a beer with its strength.

Another good Unibroue product, and you can't beat the $4.99 price tag. Wouldn't be a bad idea to get a few more of these. Kind of like a poor man's Chimay Grand Reserve.

 621 characters

Photo of drewbage
4.32/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled from a nice fresh bottle (750ml) purchased at TJ's Pasadena.

Brewed for TJ's by Unibroue. Wee!

Low earthy chocolate tones with a minty note to the finish of this dark brown blackish beer with a tall beige big bubbled head.

dry spicy chocolatey with the usual musty Unibroue yeast flavor. (aka slightly mushroomy)

Over time, the alcohol comes through for a warming touch.

Overall not a bad product and for the price a really great value

 461 characters

Photo of RustythePelican
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet a dark brown, appearing more crimson when held up to the light. Smell consists of apricots, plums, cherries and a little mint.

Taste is relatively mild for a Belgian strong dark ale, but still complex and very drinkable. There was a nice crisp, apple-mint bite on the finish that I haven't experienced before with the (admittedly few) Belgian dark ales I've tasted. Carbonation may be a tad heavy. I was surprised at how the 9% ABV did not seem to impact my palate or head (I'm no heavyweight - usually a bomber of 9% brew will do some damage).

I'm very impressed with this beer, especially at a $3.99/bomber price point.

 648 characters

Photo of abcsofbeer
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the big 750ml bottle that has a drink by date of 08-28-09 and an indication that it was brewed for Joes by Unibroue.

The color is at first very dark and when held up to the light is a dark brown. The head is chameleon-like: at first rocky and later very creamy. The head retention is very good lasting all the way to the bottom. There is lots of carbonation and sticky lack that help make the appearance top notch.

The aroma is a strong malty one with a sweet, fruity smell that is pretty powerful. The taste is pretty typical of the style. The mouthfeel is very efervescent and medium to heavy. Overall, a good example of the style.

 651 characters

Photo of theopholis
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance- Poured from a 750 mL bottle in a Belgian tulip glass. Very dark, even appearing black until you hold it up to the light, and then you get a deep, dark red. The head is light tan, fairly tight and has a lot of staying power. Leaves almost no lace at all. And what lace there is appears to actually be stacked up on the meniscus.

Aroma- Lots of aroma. A nice, sweet, fruity boquet mixed with the aroma of rising bread. Hints of brown sugar and caramel. Not much hop aroma, but what there is is a very spicy hop nose; but it is very well balanced. As the beer warms, the hop spiciness becomes more prevalant. Very tantalizing boquet.

Spicy, minty hops is the biggest taste in the foreground. Some malty sweetness, but the minty flavor is so overwhelming, it doesn't come through. Can't say I'm overly impressed with the taste, but I'm not a big fan of Belgian beers either. If you are, you will probably like it.

Mouthfeel- Medium body for the style. A bit over-carbonated IMO. Doesn't coat the mouth like port-style beers. Not much warming for such a high (9%) ABV beer.

Drinkability- It's okay. Definately a sipping beer. Has a very hot finish.

 1,168 characters

Photo of TheBungyo
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pour is like the stroke before midnight, not quite pitch black but nearly so. Head is gigantic and there is a fair amount of lacing.
Nose is like an orchard of black plums mingled with syrupy sweetness, minor sugary molasses.
The taste sees the same aromas show up as flavors but the finish is robust vanilla.
Mouth is very even and never really becomes thick or thin. A nice balance.
Man, for $5 you’d be a fool to complain about this one. Brewed by one of the masters of Belgian styles on the North American continent we expect no less and aren’t let down. I myself bought four of them. One to drink now, and 3 to drink years from now

 644 characters

Photo of phisig137
3.47/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Cork pops out or a nicely gilded gold bottle with a mighty loud pop. Pours into my tulip a dark brown, almost black color, with a one finger head. Very little retention falls, leaving little behind.

Aroma is malty, and slightly sweet, along with biscuity fresh bread aromas as well. Hint of cinnamon is also present.

Flavor is smooth and malty, but a bit dry. Toasted malt, biscuits, and a bit of caramel make up the overall profile. Not sweet like I would expect, but fairly dry, while retaining good malt flavors. Mouthfeel is hampered quite a bit by agressive carbonation. It's so heavy, that the "flavor" of the carbonation overpowers the flavor of the beer. Drinkability is pretty decent.

As a Trader Joe's beer, this is pretty good. As a beer from Unibroue, this is pretty bad. Not nearly up to the normal standards of Unibroue, although I think with some age it may get a little better. Actually, just less carbonation would make it better. Reminds me a bit of a very overcarbonated Chambly Noire. But for only $4.99, it is worth a try.

 1,054 characters

Photo of sleazo
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

So Unibroue is brewing for Trader Joes? I couldnt pass up this offering as it is a few bucks cheaper than any Unibroue i can get around here in san diego.

Pours a dark dark black. almost no light gets through this. The smell is malty with spicy, raisin notes. Very good smelling beer. It goes down smoother than i expected and is also lighter too. the malt profile hits you right up front with th spices hitting you as the aftertaste.

All in all a nice well balanced version of a belgian dark. not my favourite IUnbroue offering but very good for the price. I will pick this up again before they run out. By the way this is very similar to Trois Pistoles. It might even be it with a different label, thoughg this might be even darker in colour. I will have to do a side by side comparison with the next bottle.

Edit, i had another one last night and i think it is getting better with age. I am going to see what i can scrounge up and hoard them.

 956 characters

Photo of kmcnair
4.06/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma - Rich, purfume like malty aroma, dark dried fruits, subtle dark cocoa, cherries, banana esters, bready, yeasty, biscuity. No discernable hop aromas. Very strong esters. Slight hint of plastic-y phenolic.

Appearance - Dark brown hue, opaque. Creates a long lasting off-white mousselike head that is very long-lasting (>5 min).

Flavor - Extremely complex malt profile. Dark dried fruits - raisins, cherries, dates. Sweetness in the front but dries out in the finish. Phenolic clove-like quality is well balanced w/ fruity esters. Slight salty taste on the sides of the tongue. Malt focused, yet well balanced.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full bodied. Warming. Medium-high carbonation. Peppery texture on the palate. Creamy, dryess in the finish.

Overall Impression - This is an excellent example of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. With a bit more body, some tuning of the slightly off phenolic quality in the flavor and changing the sodium levels in the water profile, this would be nearly all 5s! For $5.99, you can't beat this beer. Another great beer from Unibroue, highly recommended.

 1,097 characters

Photo of malcontent
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale (1st tasting, no aging)

Almost totally opaque in its darkness, decent head with a very good ring of lacing as the beer settles.

Apples, currants, sour fruit and some musty, earthy scents.

Delicious dark bread (marble rye?) flavors mingle with buttery notes. Some hop bitterness although this is mostly more complex than the normal hop/malt descriptors. A really nice Belgian dark ale.

Crisp yet rich, complex yet inviting, this feels, tastes & behaves like a really good beer should.

NOTE: unlike most Trader Joe’s contract brews, this one is not mysteriously/deceptively labeled. The cork and back of the bottle clearly attribute this beer to the bad-asses at Unibroue. In fact, it's very close to the Trois Pistoles (might even just be that beer repackaged). Still, for $4.50 a bomber I'd say Santa Joe got generous this year!

 880 characters

Photo of bennetj17
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The cork is removed with an explosive "pop". Very dark black appearance, the masive foam is a grayish tan color, and it holds up well leaving some good lace along the way. Lots of holiday spice in the nose: cinnamon, nutmeg, peppermint, plus some cocoa, licorice and herbal notes. Nice and warming. The taste has many of the same flavors, dry with plenty of peppery spice. In fact, it really seems almost minty. The flavor is quite strong in that you really don't notice the alcohol. In the mouthfeel there is an intense bubbling that creates alot of foam. This occurs so much that it becomes difficult to try and let it sit on the tongue and discern the flavors. Moderate thickness overall.

I thought this brew was pretty good, an interesting winter offering. Some of the spicy/mint flavors might have been overdone, and the carbonation was way too intense, but I would still recommend picking one up. You don't often see any other beers brewed by Unibroue for $5 for a 750ml. I would like to see if it mellows with some age...

 1,032 characters

Photo of DogFood11
4.34/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Fizzy with a minute or two of staying power. Tan head that falls to a thin cover with little lace. Dark brown to black body.

Floral and fruity in the nose and that translates well to the taste. Shades of a backend hop presence and a little pepper are welcomed. The true core of this beer is in the fruity presence that is rich and dark in nature. Lighter citrus comes into play as well. This brew takes you in a lot of different directions. Carbonation is rather strong in this and plays a big role in the mouthfeel and cleansing snap. Incent like cloveyness to this as well. As it warms i get some black liquorice and more alcohol in the finish.

Notes: My how palates change. I liked certain aspects of this beer better this year like the complexity of the fruits and the intensity of flavor. Still though I believe this is a clone of last years in my opinion. I appreciate it more and is reflected in my score. The mouthfeel was a bit harsh for me as the carbonation had a pop rock feel to it. Scores well in the big categories and if it could improve the small stuff it could be excellent. All in all this is on par with some of the better belgian strong darks and @ $5 bucks a pop for a 750ml.... get a case today if you can.

 1,236 characters

firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next → last
Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 72 ratings.