Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company
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Ratings: 115 | Reviews: 100 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by cowboy83:
More User Reviews:
4/5 rDev +1.3%
The 2008 release smells of dark fruits and brown sugar, perhaps banana bread made with black molasses.
These flavors continue on the tongue, with the dark fruit esters especially present. Deep below those fruits are caramel and chocolate malt flavors, as well as tobacco. A nice, well-balanced smattering of hops completes the palate, mostly noticeable in the slight tingling the ale leaves on the tongue. But the dark fruit flavors easily dominate, creating a huge sugary-alcohol flavor to this brew, no doubt in no small part because of its 9% alc./vol. status.
Anyone familiar with some of Unibroue's other offerings (especially their other "ales on lees" such as Trois Pistoles), will easily recognize the flavors present here. In fact, it might be an interesting comparison to see what the differences are between Trois Pistoles and the 2008 Vintage Ale; it seems to my memory that they share far more in common than not.
08-13-2011 21:11:51 | More by jondeelee
4.13/5 rDev +4.6%
Corked and caged bottle into a Chimay chalice.
Appearance: A swirling lighter amber color with a lot of carbonation and coating off-white head. A lot to admire here with subsequent pours.
Smell: Dominant fruit esters and Dubbel aromas with dark berries and apples, strawberries, a tad banana, and brown sugar.
Taste: Initial fruity esters from the yeast, with darker berries and sugars coming to fruition, along with hints of brown sugar. Balanced stuff, though it could push the boundaries a bit, as I'm tasting vintage Unibroue flavors without a lot of distinction. Be that as it may, I'd take Unibroue flavors over many domestics, so I'm fine with it.
Mouthfeel: Creamy and effervescent with a good burst of carbonation at the end, and this is even after two hours of sipping and pouring.
Drinkability: A pretty solid Unibroue brew, since that's essentially what it is. Flavorful and balanced, with all the Belgian qualities one comes to expect from their brewery. I'm not sure how Trader Joe's has much to do with it, but for around $5, I'm going to snag a few more, if they still have them, when I go back to see what happens in the cellar.
12-12-2008 03:36:50 | More by asabreed
4/5 rDev +1.3%
Pours a hazy red color with a fizzy head with fair retention.
Smells of belgian yeast, this beer smells like a Unibroue which it is. maybe a little pine apple.
Lots of carbonation, almost to much but the rest of the mouthfeel is great. Tastes fruity, and very belgian, maybe a little raisons.
At $5 for a 750ml this beer is an incredible value. I will be buying much more of this in the future.
12-09-2008 06:54:05 | More by alovesupreme
3.93/5 rDev -0.5%
A - This one pours from it's obviously Unibroue'd bottle into my snifter a lighter-than-expected nutty brown hue with a huge four finger beige head. Lots of quality lace is smattered about the snifter, and the head shows really good staying power for a high ABV brew. The head is nice and fluffy, and the brew is almost clear when held directly in front of a light source (i.e. my laptop display).
S - Dark fruit and candied sugar plums are the major players here. Definitely a good start for a wintry night such as this. Hints of light mint are way off in the distance, and only come to me after several sniffs, and some alcohol is definitely noticeable (not a bad thing). This is dark, alluring, and vinous in the way that only Belgian (or Belgian style) brews can be.
T - Again, dark fruit.... plum, date, raisin, and dried apricots. And some rummy notes bring this one out of the Christmas/winter vibe and onto the decks of a Carnival Cruise ship in the damp heat of the Caribbean. This seems lightly spiced to me, and the dark fruit/ rum combo is definitely a hit although this is not as complex as most upper echelon dubbels.
M - This is a full bodied brew masquerading as a medium bodied tipple behind a mask of alcohol, fruit, and a semi-dry finish. This initially seems sweet and full, but pulls back to a boozy dry finish that seems dusty after the swallow. Nice!
D - This is a slow sippin' brew for the wee hours of the night. A definite nightcap that could put you to sleep early shoudl you choose this as your weapon of choice too early in the evening. I dig the dark rum notes that remind me of a late after-dinner stroll around the humid decks of a cruise ship in the black middle of the vast Caribbean. I like it!
03-01-2009 06:03:35 | More by pmcadamis
4.33/5 rDev +9.6%
22oz bomber poured into Unibroue La Fin du Monde chalices.
This muddy brown brew, hazy with yeast stirred up (intentionally) from the bottom, raises a massive foamy tan head that slowly recedes.
Sweet musty malt dominates the nose. A very pleasing balance of sweet maltiness underlies fruity and spicy notes. A very well done dubbel, not cloying at all, the very active carbonation from the bottle conditioning makes this a lively and very drinkable beer. Surpsisingly one of the best Unibroue offerings I have had in a while. At TJ prices, i will buy more.
01-13-2009 04:23:50 | More by kenito799
3.78/5 rDev -4.3%
This vintage ale pours a murky reddish brown into a large wine glass from a 750 ml. bottle. A thin head settles and keeps awhile.
Offers a nice smell of light dried fruit and balanced malts.
Taste is similar. A bit of light grape and some muddled dried fruits. Malt structure is moderate, as it should be for a Dubbel. Lots of carbonation here, perhaps over done actually. But then, not really.
Bottom line a very nice ale and hats off to Trader Joe's for hosting such an ale. Better than many an American interpretation of the style.
01-12-2009 05:45:37 | More by HalfFull
3.93/5 rDev -0.5%
Pours a murky medium brown/gray color, minimal biege head, some action, and had visible sediment in bottle.
Has a spicy aroma of florals.
Sweet molasses flavored malt, with butter, and lots of florals.
Full bodied, buttery and watery/resin feel, with lively smooth carbonation.
A sweet vintage ale that could probably use some aging.
03-09-2009 03:14:45 | More by Troyone
4.4/5 rDev +11.4%
Enjoyed this bottle while making some buffalo chicken wings. Poured from the 750 to the brandless chalice. A buddy of mine has had this one for a while so it should have a little age on it. AND he decided to share it with me.
A- dark brown with a slight rusty color on sides where light is let through. Even though the head has somewhat disipated there is still alot of effervesence.
S- Yeast remniscent of a Unibroue beer. Malty with a slight tinge of sweetness.
T- Lots of that Unibroue yeast. Has the crispness of La Fin Du Monde with the dark fruits of Maudite. Nearly the effervesence of La Terrible.
M- Crisp and very bubbly.
D- Easily could drink my friends whole bottle. I probably enjoyed it more than him.
09-08-2009 00:03:29 | More by SpencerSauce
3.7/5 rDev -6.3%
Not as good as the '07! More carbonated than the previous year's brew. The flavor isn't quite up to par, not the marriage of sweetness that Vintage '07 provided. Still, this beer is a cut above average especially for the price. It's just too similar to the other Unibroue mainstays and Chimay. Not like this is a bad thing, but it fails to really stand out. Not for those with discriminating tastes.
I think '07 was such a hit, TJ's ramped up production this year. Unofrtunately, the quality is a little worse even though the supplies are better. (Last year, I coudn't buy the vintage in Febuary at my local store!)
02-03-2009 02:16:48 | More by n1ckels
4/5 rDev +1.3%
Bottle: Poured a hazy deep brown color ale with a large off-white foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of typical Unibroue Belgian ester with deep rich malt with hints of candi sugar. Taste is also a nice mix between some rich Belgian malt with notes of candi sugar and that typical Unibroue ester. Body is quite full with great carbonation and no signs of alcohol. Very well done though quite similar to prior year vintage.
12-02-2009 02:56:31 | More by Phyl21ca
3.53/5 rDev -10.6%
Pours a cloudy, opaque brown with a good sized tan head. There is excellent retention and a good amount of lacing.
Smells of a typical dubbel, yeasty, fruit, sweet, spice.
Tastes are the same as the nose, a big fruit flavor with some spiciness. I mostly taste apples, raisins, figs, and other such fruits.
Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy. An appropriate amount of carbonation.
This is fairly drinkable.
I bought with low expectations. It was a pleasant surprise and turned out to be a good brew. If you have the chance to pick one up, I would suggest it.
02-07-2009 18:31:40 | More by ocelot2500
3.78/5 rDev -4.3%
A big three finger head is light tan in color and full of fast crackling bubbles that fade to a skim in two minutes. Body is a hazy root beer tone that shows amber tones when held to light. Nose is full of yeasty fruit tones and bubble gum. the first sip brings with it lots of that yeasty fruit in the form of dark fruit and mellon. Carbonation carries with it a soft, phelonic spice profile that is very nice. There are notes of raw veggies as well. Actually the mouth feel is dominated by this yeasty veggie feel. This is a nicely drinkable sipper with well hidden alcohol.
03-21-2010 19:03:25 | More by SPLITGRIN
District of Columbia
4.28/5 rDev +8.4%
The New Year tradition continues...
Though not stored in the most optimal setting, the 2008 Vintage Ale is very good some three years on.
Head is thick and cream colored, which reduces to a thin white layer just on the surface.
Color is a deep brown, dark tan. Not as red as other years.
Aroma is fantastic! Very fruity and jammy. Strong hint of apricot and pineapple. Very similar to Muscat or possibly a Vioginer wine.
Taste is equally fruity, with hints of coriander and a 9% warming alcohol that could only go up a couple %'s over the long storage.
Mouthfeel is light with a bit of tartness, though overall flavor is surprisingly fleeting. Slightly bitter finish, but ultimately the flavor is gone in your mouth within a few seconds.
01-02-2012 20:09:12 | More by Rukasu
3.9/5 rDev -1.3%
Not sure why this isn't listed under Unibroue as the bottle states it's clearly brewed by them. Since Unibroue is one of my favorite breweries, I'm thrilled my sister gave this to me as a recent gift.
APPEARANCE: Pours into a LaChouffe tulip a dark bronze amber (okay, brown) with a massive, rocky, loose-bubbled, beige head. It gradually shrinks down from its immense size to a full, one-finger high cap with a constant stream of bubbles replenishing it completely.
SMELL: An immediate hit of an abbey-like yeast is followed by an even bigger fruitiness - quite typical of Unibroue's yeast. Chocolate, figs, and especially raisin are very prominent here. A light alcohol highlight tops the beer off.
TASTE: Quite light in flavor despite a significant fruitiness. It's missing the breadiness I'd expect from an abbey-style dubbel but has a pretty nice dark malt component though too muted to be called chocolaty. Alcohol is undetectable in the flavor but shows itself a bit as a warming afterthought long after the swallow.
MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light bodied and nicely dried out. The carbonation level is higher than average which is appropriate for the style.
DRINKABILITY: It goes down easy enough, and I'll have fun getting through the 750mL bottle tonight. This feels nothing like 9% though which gives this beer the 'dangerous' label; that's a good thing.
A fine choice that I'll consider a Unibroue success. If you're looking for something out of the ordinary that jumps a bit out of style guidelines, you could do much worse than to pick up a bottle of this.
06-02-2009 22:35:58 | More by jmalex
4.03/5 rDev +2%
Review from 7/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a deep red amber. Moderate off white head fades to thin film with light lacing. Nice Belgian aroma. Mild malt with dark fruits, sharp carbonation up front. Fades to lighter fruit and malt, spices and finishes a bit abruptly with a bit of hop bitterness and an interesting lingering caramel aftertaste. Tastes nice. I regret that I did not record my original comments on this when fresh, although I remember being pleasantly pleased (and bought two cases!). Like other Trader Joe's Vintage beers, time has treated this well. Mellow and tasty.
08-02-2012 22:02:30 | More by LiquidAmber
3.55/5 rDev -10.1%
dark amber in color, almost garnet on the sides and the bottom with a nice two finger head of white foam that came up and over the to, settling down nicely and evenly across the sides of the glass.
Aroma was full, nice tart notes of fruit, plums, grape skins, an earthy, full fruity aroma. Nice touches of bitterness sprinkled in throughout as well. Warming brings out some more caramel, touches of earthy, grainy hops and a nice balance of earthy tones. Nice full bodied feel as the lush carbonation rolls across the tongue and really gets going. Smooth, even finish with a nice tart bite
12-03-2011 18:57:40 | More by mikesgroove
3.68/5 rDev -6.8%
A: Pours a dark brown that turns into a ruddy hue when held up to light. Decent amount of foamy white head forms.
S: Strong complex Belgian yeast smell with a smoky overtone almost reminiscent of polska kielbasa. Additional tones of raisins and brown sugar.
T: Malty and yeasty with strong flavors of cloves, dark fruits, apple pie spices and brown sugar. Finishes sweet and slightly bitter/ spicy with alcohol definitely present.
M: Carbonation very strongly tingles the mouth and plays around.
D: Decent sipper. Enjoyed trying it but I think I'll stick to Maudite for my Unibroue fix.
02-15-2009 05:25:47 | More by thekanna
3.98/5 rDev +0.8%
750ml. cork/caged brown bottle with gold silk-screened label and a Best Before: 09-09-2011, printed on the back. After a brief wrestle with a stubborn cork, it comes out with a pop and pours a lightly murky hazelnut brown with adequate carbonation and then some. The head is a lofty near three-fingers beige floam in my Duvel tulip, with some sticky lace as well.
The smell is very sweet, full of spice and fruits. Spicy clove, coriander, pepper and ?, pretty much dominate the fruit malty backdrop. As it warms the malt speaks-up and so does the alcohol...a definite plus.
The taste is spicy right up front, with notes of plum, candi sugar and a slight warming alcohol pulling through at the finish. Somewhat complex flavor that could use a bit more age on it. Very sweet too say the least.
Full body with some fluffiness and just a bit prickly on the tongue...pepper like.
Overall a pretty good Dubbel at a very attractive price...$4.99. You can't go wrong here for a big brew of 9% ABV.
01-06-2009 23:34:11 | More by scottoale
3.85/5 rDev -2.5%
a: westmalle chalice, the beer is a deep chestnut in color, sporting a white head with good retention
s: plummy malts, heavily toasted caramel, yeast esters and some good clove, brushes of chocolate and a grassy hop aroma, dark banana bread
m: carbonation lively, on the high side but smoothing out after awhile, body medium with some sticky sugars lingering
t: lots of sweet, nutty flavors on a crisp, clean base structure, yeasts contribute fruity esters and a moderate, clove flavor, some dark fruit sugars, plum, slight date, nutty dark toast, some old tobacco in there, hops mild and grassy, giving a crisp finishing note, warming alcohol
d: alcohol present but not intrusive, good flavor set, a quality dubbe all told
lost this bottle back in the cellar for a couple years
02-18-2011 03:46:00 | More by blackie
3.9/5 rDev -1.3%
Poured into a chalice. Nice medium brown with a hint of red. Head was thin, maybe 1 finger at best, and left small lacings on the top. Aroma was a roasted malt up front, then switching to a fruity sweet, maybe like plum. Small hint of seasonal spices, nutmeg, cinnamon etc. Taste was mellow up front, shifting to a sweet fruit, then a hint of tangy bitter, before becoming sweet again to finish it up. Range of flavor was complex, however individual portions were more subtle and nuanced. Coated ok, seemed a bit over carbonated on the tongue. Overall definitely seemed to age well, didn't have any fresh to compare it to. ABV definitely seemed to pick up a bit while aging however.
11-27-2012 00:11:36 | More by mountdew1
4.28/5 rDev +8.4%
A-Pours a hazy dark copper color with a light beige head that falls fast to little islands floating in the glass.
S-Plum,dark belgian candi sugar,slight musty smell with a faint spice and alchol odor in the background.
T-Tastes of sweet fruits,plums and raisins.A musty/earthy/malt touch with a sweet spicy finish.
M-Creamy feel when you get past the carbonation
D-One of my favorite styles,I could easily sip this beer for a night.For 5$ 750's,I purchased a couple for anytime soon and a couple for aging.
12-15-2008 05:49:24 | More by twbrewer
4.28/5 rDev +8.4%
TJ's Vintage 2008 is a clear brown with ruby body with a popping off white head that leaves some lacing and stays throughout the experience. Aromas are of Belgian spiciness with some cherry and decent sweetness. The flavors match with a really smooth and fluffy mouthfeel. For the price, this is a definite purchase each year.
01-05-2009 20:06:25 | More by rtratzlaff
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 115 ratings.