Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company
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Ratings: 115 | Reviews: 100 | Display Reviews Only:
4.8/5 rDev +21.5%
Served up in a corked and caged 750mL bottle into a Chimay goblet. This beer pours a gorgeous deep brown hue with a creamy tan head that sticks around and sticks to the glass. Initial tastes are of sweet raisins and figs with a bit of caramel. The brew is sweet, but not cloying. There is a nice finish of winter spices that brings everything together. The carbonation is effervescent, but not overly so. It is extremely drinkable and warming. Doesn't taste like a 9% brew, but certainly kicks like one. This is one I'll be grabbing a couple more bottles of before the season is out.
12-19-2008 08:11:14 | More by BassBone
4.68/5 rDev +18.5%
I hadn't sampled this brew for about 4 months. This afternoon, on an unusually winter-like spring day I decided the time was ripe for a re-visit. Wow!
In the approx. 6 months since this was bottled it's taken on smoothness beyond what I would ever have imagined. Unibroue and Trader Joe's are really to be complimented for producing an exceptionally flavorful Belgium style beer at a price that the masses can love.
I think I'll check on my local store to see if any 2008 is still lingering....or as a secondary strategy, make sure I stock up well on the 2009 release. The brew itself is well balanced with subtle hints of raisin and figs - but not too sweet!
A truly enjoyable sipper on a cold day.
03-31-2009 23:15:29 | More by ricke49
4.6/5 rDev +16.5%
Picked this up at the Coolidge Corner TJ's this morning. Just over 5 bucks when you include the bottle deposit.
A- Rich caramel brown when held up to the light. A thin layer of foam seems to linger... a nice eye piece.
S- Dark sweet fruits with a tiny bit of alcohol fumes coming in at the end.
T- Complex deep fruity taste upfront as is typical for this style. A tiny bit of bitterness detected on the back of my tongue in the finish.
M- Medium bodied, perhaps on the higher end of the carbonation spectrum for this type of beer, but definitely not a bad thing.
D- I personally think that the higher than normal level of carbonation seems to make this beer a bit lighter and therefore more drinkable than a typical dubbel or dark belgian ale. Another way to put it is that I plan to drink this 750 ml bottle in one sitting... probably in about 90 minutes or so. Not so heavy that it needs to be a sipper.
I recognized the "U" on the metal cork topper of this bottle. A bit of bottle investigation would reveal what I was suspecting... this is actually brewed by Unibroue. No wonder why it tastes so good. This is definitely a good bargain. It tastes similar to Unibroue's Trois Pistoles... one of my personal favorites.
12-24-2008 00:58:57 | More by jwheeler85
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
4.4/5 rDev +11.4%
I had this bottle aging in my cellar.
A: Pours a nice deep reddish brown with a thick head that leaves lacing on the glass
S: Wow! As soon as the cork was out of the bottle I could smell it. Raisins, plums, nice dark fruit, malt.
T: Again, the fruit taste hits you up front It also has a sweetness to it and a malty flavor followed by a slight hint of alcohol at the end.
M: Nice medium body
D: Oh yes! Wish i had another bottle tucked away.
10-03-2010 23:25:33 | More by gestyr
4.4/5 rDev +11.4%
To me, this beer is surprisingly good. It held onto a nice light-tan head even in the burgundy glass that I'm drinking out of, and it's leaving a nice lace on the glass as well. The aroma is full of well-integrated complexity; basically you could go a lot of different ways on this one. Caramel is dominant, but there's a dark, earthy, fruitiness very present as well- my dad described it smelling like an "earthy root beer". I think dark fruity root beer is closer, there's the same sort of sweet root/spice flavor that you think of in a good root beer.
The back label copy is dead on in it's "champagne effervescence"; the carbonation is full and light, very small pinprick bubbles. Just the lightest bit sticky, but the carbonation and the sweet, earthy, fruity flavors balance out the body and alcohol nicely. I've almost finished the whole bottle myself, starting before dinner and now continuing into the evening. It goes well with a chewy nut & chocolate chip cookie even. I'm stoked to open the other one that I'm cellaring, I'm thinking I'll give it six months- any feedback on this beer's aging?
Addition: It IS good with Brie (read the sidebar!)
01-27-2009 04:39:50 | More by mikeepeck
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
4.33/5 rDev +9.6%
I was blown away by the quality of this brew. It has the depth and complexity of a Chimay Grande Reserve, my ultimate favorite, at a fraction of the cost. I am going to Trader Joe's tomorrow for the sole purpose of salting away several bottles of this elixir for special occasions (like days ending in "y").
Sweet and malty, with intriguing spices and warm alcohol oomph. I went in with lowish expectations, it being a store brand and all, and was completely blown away.
PS: Re-tasted and found to be way over-carbonated. Took the taste and mouthfeel scores down a notch. Still very good, but not the knockout that the first bottle was. Disappointing.
01-10-2009 02:13:25 | More by dhd1491
4.33/5 rDev +9.6%
The best beer at tonight's party by a long shot. It's been over a year since I've had Trois Pistoles but this beer reminded me to put the deadly horsemen at the top of my to-buy list. There's a LOT of carbonation in this brew, perhaps too much. This would be its only flaw as far as I'm concerned. It smells and tastes great but lifts so quickly off of the tongue that it is hard to pin down and savor the way that it deserves to be savored. The aromas and tastes of complex dark fruits, sweet malts, and yeast come out in full force and haunt the senses for minutes after the encounter. As long as you know that you are taking on a[n intentionally] sweet brew then you won't cringe at the sweetness and instead feel out its complexity. I'll try to taste it side-by-side with Trois Pistoles soon.
12-14-2008 09:57:43 | More by droomyster
4.3/5 rDev +8.9%
At least one reason to break down and buy warm shelf beer is this fine brew. Quite a deal too at under $5, and perhaps one of the most perfect styles to endure the storage conditions (hate to think what the pilsner type beers must taste like though)
Light golden carmel colored ale, finely carbonated and sporting a 5 star head, Belgian style with cream colored foam and small bubbles like champagne. Also sports a wonderful fine haze.
Expected esters are dominant in the nose. Lots of dried fruit. Rich and grainy.
Sweet malt body. Some dusty wood, fruitcake, and a faint bitterness to round it out. Very well balanced. Delicious. Doesn't finish too dry or too sweet, but has the subtleties of both. Lots of esters but almost no detectable alcohol.
Mouthfeel reaches another delicate balance. I'm loving the perfect viscosity, just barely sticky and sweet and very easy to drink. Carbonation is just enough to carry the medium viscosity and create a bit head, but is never too much.
A very drinkable, well made, traditional ale. I think this beer has a lot in common with traditional bottle-conditioned high gravity British ales (I also though that with the 17).
My second beer from Unibroue, since I was back in college 10 years ago. I forgot how good they are, or maybe I never realized (...same with HotD brewery as well...) Glad they and Trader Joe's put out this exceptional value. Seek this out warm off the shelf. Cheers!
04-21-2009 05:45:41 | More by rayjay
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
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
4.28/5 rDev +8.4%
This is an attractive looking, hazy, translucent garnet-colored brew with a creamy beige head that reduces down ever so slowly, leaving a thick sheen of lacing on the glass. Aromatic malty smells with traces of cloves and potpourri. Taste is dominated by candy-sugar sweetness -- quite figgy with lots of raisin and ripe plum present -- but not cloyingly so. Balances out well toward the middle with a subtle tartness that keeps the sweetness in check. Definite wintry spice presence as well, particularly in the finish, dominated by a lingering taste of cloves. Very carbonated -- too much of a spritziness that takes away from the heft at first, but creaminess takes over, giving it a nice, silky overall presence. This is a pleasant brew, highly drinkable for its strength. Much improved over last year's disappointing release, up there with the phenomenal 2006.
Really a fantastic deal. 5 bucks gets you a great, relaxing evening. 20 bucks gets you a weekend plus a couple to cellar.
12-19-2008 02:06:00 | More by eberkman
4.28/5 rDev +8.4%
Overall: A well-attenuated Belgian with refined holiday flavors, good head and a decent punch. Also a good example of how some batches are just better than others - get this one while it lasts!
Even with a very slow pour, has a very thick, rich head that never completely subsides. Color is glassy, brownish black.
Smell is delicate, with notes of cinnamon, anise and clove.
The taste is refreshing, interesting and not overpowering, mostly dominated by caramel and spices. Not much bitterness at all. There is some sweetness there, but it is very highly attenuated for the style. It does not have the outrageously big flavor that a lot of Belgians have, but it is also a lot nicer to drink.
Mouthfeel is excellent - good, balanced carbonation, refreshing acidity, light body. Finish is crisp with a hint of caramel left behind.
This beer is more drinkable than most Dubbels I've had. I feel like I could work through a bottle in an evening, whereas with a lot of belgians the sugar, high alcohol and dark flavors become distasteful after a time.
03-20-2009 16:34:18 | More by wavenger
4.25/5 rDev +7.6%
A - A brown color with some head
S- malty, but pleasantly so with a faint fruit hint.
T - Bitter with a fruity finish
M - light carbonation, kind of an champagne feel.
D - More than I expected. I plan to swing by Trader Joe's to see if they have anymore left.
01-16-2009 02:34:17 | More by xfactor9600
4.22/5 rDev +6.8%
Pours a hazy brown/red with a head that dissipated quickly.
Smells of tart stone fruit, some sweet malt, and some spice. Very nice.
Great beer made to be shared. Tart cherry/stone fruit notes mixed with malt and spice. Booze is there but you don't notice it (while drinking - it finds you later). Seems to open up a bit as it warms. Wonderful beer.
Mouth coating with a tart/yeast finish. Pretty decent. Overall, this big bottle was meant for sharing, which I did. Cheap brew (price) under a generic brand that is flat out delicious. Grab it if you can.
01-05-2009 13:11:49 | More by OtherShoe2
4.2/5 rDev +6.3%
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale is a strong dark Belgian Ale brewed by Unibroue. It may be identical to--certainly is similar to--Unibroue's mainline beer of that category: Trois Pistoles. My beer came from Trader Joe's, Richmond, VA., in a 750 brown champagne-style bottle with cork and wire cage.
The beer pours with a huge moussy head of off-white to tan color. Even with slow careful pouring, a cold bottle pours up a huge head of foam that takes several minutes to fall, leaving the chalice traced with Belgian lace.
The brew is deep amber/dark brown, showing mostly amber highlights in transmitted light. Quite clear, though not crystal clear. It is, after all, bottle conditioned, and no beer this highly conditioned can hold its sediment on the bottle bottom!
The aroma is outstanding. Big gales of spicy phenolics--cloves, allspice, cinnamon--all laced with sweet pilsner malt and faint traces of noble hops all greet the nose above the foam.
The flavor is sugary-sweet more than malty, although the malt is definitely there. Perhaps its all that spice that reminds moe more of holiday cakes and cookies than of a chilled brew. Hops aromas are way understated--as they should be in this style. The alcohol--9%abv--is lightly warming and silky smooth. Hard to believe the beer is this potent--but don't try to drink the whole bottle yourself without a designated driver.
This is an excellent dark strong Belgian style beer.Perhaps spicier than some would prefer, but I loved all those mulled-cider flavors. WHat a great oliday beer---and only 6 bucks for a 750! I bought a case, and I think I'll go back for another to cellar for a bit.
Trader Joe...you rock!
12-04-2008 22:15:00 | More by danmouer
4.2/5 rDev +6.3%
I poured this one from a 750ml corked and caged bottle into my Duvel tulip snifter.
A= This beer poured a murky, cloudy, medium brown color with a towering 2.5" bone colored head. The head dropped to a 1/4" cap and left only minor lacing.
S= This beer smelled absolutely great. I detected bakery malts, Belgian candi sugar, funky yeast, and alcohol.
T= Flavors were of bready malt, followed by dark sugary sweetness (Belgian candi sugar, brown sugar, prunes) followed by a fantastic yeasty profile very common among Unibroue's beers. Finish was alcohol and more bready sweetness.
MF= This is a great mouthfeel beer. The higher carbonation actually cuts the alcohol a bit and makes this beer feel great on the tongue.
D= An easy brew to drink for sure. Its hard not to bring price into this, but in the grand scheme of things, this is a good brew, not a great brew. However, for about $2.50 a pint, this is an outstanding value! Great job Trader Joes and Unibroue!
12-08-2008 05:59:54 | More by spointon
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 115 ratings.