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Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

100 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 100
Hads: 115
Avg: 3.94
pDev: 8.63%
Wants: 4
Gots: 10 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style | ABV
Dubbel |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: khiasmus on 11-30-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (21) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 100 | Hads: 115
Photo of ZippyThePinhead
2.96/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I tasted diacetyl in the flavor profile and smelled it in the nose, which I think it could do without.

The high ABV is well-hidden, however. I wonder how many would taste it and think "Yeah, 9% ABV." I don't think very many would be able to detect the alcohol.

I tasted this after drinking a couple well-hopped amber ales, though, so I might have tainted my palate. But on the whole, I wasn't very impressed. I'm not an expert consumer of Belgian beers, but I can't recall tasting diacetyl in any of the Chimays that I've had.

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Photo of bulletrain76
3.28/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

75cl bottle. Brown with a good sized off-white head. the aroma has a lot of dusty Unibroue yeast, tart berry, and caramel. the flavor has sharp, dry alcohol, crackery malts, and sweet caramel. Dry, dusty yeast cleans up the sweet finish, Thin and airy mouthfeel, with an astringent papery dryness. The flavor is too much like brown sugar water with too much carbonation. I'm not getting much solid malt out of this, or many interesting flavors at all. Still drinkable, but a big let down from last year's.

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Photo of accordselux
3.35/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark brown that looked red through the light. Head was white and fluffy.

Smelled strongly of the Unibroue house yeast. Tart fruit and flowery smells.

Taste is fairly similar. A bit of spiciness, banana, and fruity esters dominant.

Great carbonation and good mouthfeel.

A basic dubbel; not very exciting. I actually do not prefer the overpowering Unibroue house flavor.

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Photo of maximum12
3.4/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Big bruiser bottle that was rescued from...somewhere. Somebody who knew we were beer people offered this up to my wife & said they weren't going to drink it. Well, OK. We'll try anything once! 750ML bottle split into two snifters.

Pours a light brown with red streaks, & plenty of bubbly lightness. Smell is dominated by yeastiness w/spices added, trampled malts. Additions of hard sugar, clove/banana. Almost hefe-esque.

Trader Joe's 2008 is a pretty standard dubbel. Sweet Halloween candy up front, along with a slingblade of slightly spicy yeast. The yeast has long legs & staying power: wow. Effervescent, light, bubbly in the mouth is the second thing one notes. Dusting of tropical and/or citrus fruit sticks its nose in. Really feels like a beer one might ring in the new year with, in flutey glasses.

Pretty good dubbel, but pedestrian, nothing about it stands out from the crowd. I'll be happy with the rest of my glass & move along down the road.

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Photo of SFBeerGuy
3.43/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a glass. 2008 vintage drank after 1.5yr aging. Stubborn cork with a loud pop.

A- Poured an clear amber/red with lively big bubbles. One inch off/white, tan head dissipated quickly leaving behind no lace. Bubble ribbons continued to rise.

S- Ripe banana and cloves. Somewhat of a bready, yeasty aroma. Somewhat toasty.

T- Candy sweet up front immediately followed by a strong spice presence, immediately followed by a strong yeast flavor. Yeast is complemented by comparatively subtle toasted malts and a caramel sweetness is present overall. Finishes clean with a residual hop bite. Pleasant and not overbearing. Seems to be lacking overall in the malt category but still shows up more as the ale opens up.

M- Lively. Heavy carbonation fits the style. A bit heavy bodied in my opinion.

D- Moderately drinkable. Definitely not the best of its style but I found myself oddly drawn to an ale with the Trader Joe's name on it. Valiant effort.

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Photo of gosurfobx
3.48/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pulled this one out of the wine cooler. Vintage 2008. Opened 2/26/10. Popped the cork on the 750ml bottle. The wire cap has the unibroue logo on it as does the cork, so I'm guessing that they brewed it. Beer poured into a pint glass. The beer is a hazy golden brown. Massive head forms that slowly subsides to a one finger head. The nose of the beer is mostly yeast with some spice and fruit esters. The first sip... fruit flavors upfront here. Yeast the second flavor in the profile then some malt and mild spice. By now the head has settled down to a film. As the beer drinks down the yeast becomes a more dominate flavor. The mouth of the beer is quite a bit thinner than I expected. While not quite a true dubbel strictly speaking the beer is quite drinkable, I think I'll pour another glass.

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Photo of midaszero
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Trade Joe's are a pain to get to around here this better be good

A - Cloudy dark amber with three fingers of light tan head that leave awesome lacing

S - Sweet malty goodness with some dark fruit mixed in

T - Malty and yeasty. Dark fruit presence. Overall very crisp.

M - Medium body with high carbonation

D - Aside from being over carbonated which is kind of distracting it is kinda easy to drink and enjoyable

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Photo of ndekke39
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had a bottle of this given by a friend. Decanted into a white wine glass. Pours a hazy reddish-copper with a thin white head. Great retention. Smells and tastes pretty simply of apples, bananas, brown sugar. Overall sweet quality, but not overwhelming. Decent amount of fizz to it. Very drinkable - a good Dubbel, but nothing like the real thing and nothing really mindblowing.

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark brown with raisin colored highlights and a thick whipped cream like beige head.

S - Sweet malt, dark fruits, brown sugar,banana and spicy Unibroue yeast.

T - Bready malt, plum, raisin, chocolate, banana, candi sugar sweetness and spicy yeast.

M - Highly carbonated making it seem thick, creamy with a touch of alcohol.

D - I have had better Unibroue beers but hard to beat at 4.99.

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Photo of WaXHeLL
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a pint glass - tasted on 5/12/2009. Aged approximately 6 months in refrigerator.

Appearance: Cork came off with a huge pop. Initial pour against side of glass was about 2/3s of a white foamy head with a very light brown tint. The head was extremely fluffly and foamy. Most of the head dissipated very quickly, however subsequent pours retained a good layer of head. Moderate lacing. Opaque, dark brown color, with a slightly redish tint with a little bit of green mixed in. Head was executed extremely well, however the color isn't the most appealing color.

Smell: Light smells of belgian yeast and spices. Clove and cinnamon are the most apparent spices. Not much of a nose.

Taste: Relatively light taste, but still has some complexity -- starts sweet with the Belgian sugars and malts coming out pretty quickly. Hints of caramel, brown sugar, light coffee, and light fruits. Finishes sweet with a muted spice flavor surfacing. Nutmeg comes out in the finish as the primary spice. Slightly bitter aftertaste. There isn't a overall dominating flavor throughout the beer, but rather everything is pretty muted.

A bit too sweet for my pallet, thankfully it doesn't have that stickyness and syrupyness associated with most sweet beers.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, carbonation keeps the tongue tingled. The carbonation keeps the beer creamy and is executed well (even though I am a fan of the less carbonated beers). Medium bodied to light bodied.

Drinkability: Easy to drink, light flavors, but still executed reasonably well. The alcohol does not come out harsh, but blends well with the smoothness of this beer. Quite warming.

Final Thoughts: Above average -- nothing to write home about. Decent for its price range, tastes like a decent American Dubbel (yes yes, I know that Unibroue is Canadian). Not sure if any additional aging would do anything for this beer -- it might make the sweetness worse.

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Photo of ocelot2500
3.55/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.56/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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Photo of jl55378008
3.63/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, nutty brown color with a foamy head, made of dense bubbles. Smells just like I expected dark brown Unibroue ale to smell. Rich, malty taste with lots of caramel and a little bit of milk chocolate. The texture is very fluffy, almost too much so. It seems to actually expand as you drink it. I'm curious to see how this will be after a year in the cellar.

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Photo of peejaybee
3.68/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted into pitcher, then into Moretti goblet.

Pours a very thick, persistent head atop a dark brown, slightly cloudy beer.

A spicy ester profile dominates the aroma, accompanied by some fruitiness.

Likewise, the yeast characteristics dominate the flavor, along with some sweetness, alcoholic warmth and a trace of hop character as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is nice, with a medium body.

The aftertaste is pleasant, and again dominated by the flavors from the yeast.

Overall a very nice beer, especially for $5.00.

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Photo of n1ckels
3.69/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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!)


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Photo of thekanna
3.7/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

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Photo of ATPete
3.72/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


Whilst Christmas shopping in Westfield i decided to stop in to TJ's and pick up a bottle of the 2008 Vintage Ale, i thought last years offering was decent so why not. The beer poured a light brown color, transparent with a small off white head. The nose was of banana, bread and other fruits from the classic Unibroue yeast used, also with subtle notes of roasted chocolate, coffee and a hint of booze. Light in body, not too exciting in any one field but a damn drinkable beer nonetheless and for only 4.99, yea, this one is a winner.

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Photo of berebrando
3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased the 750 mL bottle from Trader Joes in Escondido, CA. I am drinking this beer from a round snifter. I am enjoying this beer with some Gouda and Manchengo.

Appearance: The head was robust, white and leaves a slight lace.

Smell: The smell is alcohol, spices and syrup.

Taste: the smells dominate the taste. Spices and alcohol excite the taste buds.

Mouthfeel: this beer has a slight carbonation as you swallow. The initial feeling, however is a smooth, foamy feeling.

Drinkability: I like this beer. I like drinking this beer. You should too.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL lightly chilled bottle poured into a glass. From notes. Consumed in January 2010 after purchasing in November 2008.

A: Poured murky, translucent amber/crimson/brown. Head forms easily, drops to a minor film within a few minutes, but that film remains throughout the drink. Very inviting.

S: Yeast, malt, plums. Signature Unibroue smell.

T: Bready malt, banana, plums, caramel, nutmeg, pepper, clove, and Unibroue's unique yeast profile. A little alcohol burn at the end along with light dryness and fruit in the finish. Quite a pleasant flavor.

M: Can't complain. This is a balanced mix. The alcohol kicks enough to let you know it's there, but it can't even be called warm, much less hot. Carbonation is high, as you'd expect from a well-made dubbel, and it has a slight tingle going down.

D: Very drinkable. This is my last of the 4 bottles I bought last year, and while my taste for Belgians has changed, I am pleased to see that my regard for this one has not.

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Photo of steadydose
3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Good pop sound with cork removal. Poured into a goblet. Creamy 1 inch light beige foam cap, lots of carbonation. Head reduced to about 1/4 inch after a couple of minutes. Brown w/reddish highlights, carbonation clings to the sides of the goblet.

This beer smelled good. Classic belgian yeast, caramel, brownsugar, spiciness, cinammon, raisin, overipe bananas.

Taste for me started slightly boozy, touch of spice and follows and then sweetness from malt/sugar comes through. I liked the balance in this beer, it wasn't too sweet for me. Slight phenolic quality, tasty yeast at the end.

This dubbel had good amount of carbonation, with medium body.

Overall, i thought this beer was good. Not to sweet, at 9%, alcohol is covered well in the taste. Great value, glad I have another bottle.

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Photo of vtfan77
3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Hazy, dark copper with a decent off-white head.

S- Fruity and yeasty, almost weizen-like with banana and clove aromas. There's a slight metallic twinge at times, too.

T- Fairly sweet with banana and a slight medicinal note. Husky grain appears and an earthy bitterness comes through on the finish.

M- Medium-bodied and fairly high in carbonation.

D- Good, not great. The ABV is a bit high, and the beer's sweetness doesn't make me want to drink too much.

This is a pretty good North American Belgian-style ale. It was nice and flavorful, although it lacked some complexity. Still, at 4.99, you really can't go wrong. I seem to remember liking last year's a little better (I'm not sure if it's a different recipe or if my tastes have changed a little). Still, I'd recommend picking some up if you have a TJ's near you.

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Photo of echdk3
3.74/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a snifter

A_Half opaque mahogany, range from dark to bright glow at bottom glass. Huge head dissipates to one and a half fingers, off white with some nice cliffs and valleys. Some small lacing

S_Fruity funk, smells similar to a geuze. Citrus and red apple aroma

T_Dank aftertaste. Earthy and fruity taste overwhelms the pallet. Alcohol makes itself known. This is very warming

M_Chewy and lightly carbonated, sticks to the gums in a really nice way

D_I want to drink the entire 750mL bottle. This brew makes me feel very warm and is very inviting. The taste is very strong but it is still balanced and drinkable

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Photo of bbothen
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours hazy ruddy brownish color with a root beer float looking 2 finger deep bubbly head. Looks like a nice dubbel should.

Smells fruity, spicy, and yeasty, cola. Nice bready malt character as well.

Tastes of bready malt, peppery spice, raisin, yeast, banana, nice warming booze.

Medium to full bodied, highly carbonated, creaminess beneath the bubbles, effervescent.

Drinks nice & easy.

Heck of a bargain right here. Think I paid $5 for the 750 ml. Will gladly buy again.

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Photo of Intelligentsia
3.77/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From Trader Joe's in Pasadena, CA (Lake Avenue store). Pours with a massive slightly off-white head, with beautiful carbonation running up the sides of the glass. Strong nose typical of Unibroues, with big maltiness, toffee, and a bit of coffee. I think it's a solid dubbel for the price. I'm also aging one, so I will see how this one compares to the other in a few months' time.

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Photo of abrand
3.78/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml cage and corked bottle poured into the Ommegang tulip. I tried this beer fresh and decided to let one age for about 1.5 years before reviewing. Artwork on bottle is fairly plain with a detailed story about the beer displayed on the back.

Pours a deep tan color with a bubbly head similar to champagne. Head dissolves quickly and leaves little lacing along the glass. Smells of sweet hops. The taste has definitely mild out aging in the DBF. The most prominent taste is the spicy malts with subtle hints of fruit. Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Drinkability is moderate. There are so many unbelievable belgian ales out there to compete with and this is just an average example. Very good tasting but not up to par with some of the bigger ales. I will definitely hold on to my last bottle in the cellar and compare with the fresh 2009 vintage.

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Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 100 ratings.