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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

115 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 115
Reviews: 100
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 8.61%
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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 115 | Reviews: 100 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Snodman
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%

Photo of Intelligentsia
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

Photo of steadydose
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

Photo of vtfan77
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

Photo of HalfFull
3.78/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

3.78/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of berebrando
3.78/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

Photo of kaseydad
3.78/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dirt brown with a massive foamy head that is barely contained by my snifter.

The aroma consists of apple, pear, banana and other fruits.

The taste starts of a little tangy but mellows at the swallow. A slight lingering aftertaste is also present.

A nice sip of foam with each sip makes the drinking experience even more enjoyable.

Drinking this bad boy by myself definitely is making me a little loopy and sleepy, but it is a fairly easy drink at 9%.

Only paying $5.99 for a nice bottle of this 750 ml is a nice treat and though normally I would avoid a Trader Joe's beer (by Unibroue) at all costs, this was a nice treat.

Photo of khiasmus
3.8/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep amber with exceptional clarity and constant bubbling. The head seems a bit light and spacey, but still boasts excellent retention and moderate lacing.

Aroma is of rich malt and some spice... coriander, a hint of metal, golden raisins, yeast. A hint of fresh maple is there too. However, it seems to be the same yeast strain that Unibroue uses all the time, and not terribly different than many of their other beers.

Flavor starts off with the same thick malt that was hinted at in the nose. As one swallows, the yeast comes out a bit strongly. The malt stays just as sweet as it slides down, and there seems to be only some very faint noble hopping failing to balance. White pepper is there, as well as some lemon/orange/tangerine notes and a good bit of plum. Alcohol flavor comes forth in the finish.

The mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent, lightly creamy, and heavy on he syrupy. A hint of warmth in the back.

This beer is simply too sweet. Purportedly a dubbel... it's not. Some sort of Belgian strong dark, like everything else they make. I simply end up being underwhelmed anymore by the brewery's lack of creativity. Their craftsmanship is excellent, but the majority of their beers end up being rather monotonous.

Photo of abrand
3.8/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

Photo of smcolw
3.83/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Light brown color; attractive beige head; good slippery lace on the glass.

Strong Belgian smell with strong maple sugar touches and solid yeast. The alcohol is prominent as well.

More chocolatey than most dubbels. Light hop finish in the swallow and aftertaste. Still, the alcohol is potent enough to be notable. Decent body, but not heavy. High level of carbonation of fine bubbles. Slight touches of brandy in the background.

Photo of blackie
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

Photo of rabidawg
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Chestnut brown with large-bubbled, foamy head. Lacing is sticky and spotty. Relatively low carbonation.

Smell: Dark dried fruits. Light phenolics. Hints of bananas and eshers. Alcohol is apparent.

Taste: Sweet initially, with slightly hot alcohol up front. Spritzy, medium body. Green hops in the middle, drying hop bitterness in the finish.

Good beer, great value. $4.99 for a corked/caged at Trader Joe's in Sandy Springs.

Photo of Freshie
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Been spending a lot of time at Trader Joes over the past half year. I haven't really partaken in their beer offerings very much, but this one caught my eye.

Comes in a dark 22 oz bottle, with gold lettering and tasting notes on the side. Corked with the standard Unibrue.

Pours a dark amber with thick white head. Lacing is frothy, like a root beer float. Active carbonation noticeable.

Smells of dark and spicy yeast. Some fruit in the back of the nose.

Taste is malty upfront, strong brown sugar quality. Fruity flavors come in as well. A spicy hop back bone permeates the back of the palate.

A bit watery in the mouth, but the strong flavors help this one along.

Very drinkable, and a very decent Dubbel. For the price and convenience though, you'd be hard pressed to do better.

Photo of jwinship83
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- this one pours a dark brown colored body with a large tightly formed cream colored head.

S- the familiar odor of the classic unibroue yeast is the first thing i notice. slightly sweet and nutty. lots of dark fruits in this. mostly plums figs and cherries.

T- very fruity and yeasty. figs, plums, cherries, cloves and a hint of bubblegum. the alcohol is somewhat noticeable.

M- pretty light and watery with a high level of carbonation. just like the style should be.

D- a great beer for the cost. brewed by unibroue, which is a very great company for the money you spend, but this is actually cheaper! cant wait to see how this one turns out after some time in the cellar. one bottle was enough for now.

Photo of bigkahunas4
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750 into a wine glass.

Poured a cola body, with a beige foamy 1/2 finger head. The brew had some nice retention and solid lacing. The nose was a brown sugar candy.

The flavor profile runs from root beer barrel candy to plum, with a semi-strong presence of alcohol - quite sweet. Brew is foamy and light, as well as sticky to the tongue.

Ultimately this is a bit too sweet for me to have several of. That said, at 4.99 a bottle, splitting this with one or two people is a nice treat - say before or just after dinner.

Photo of GreenCard
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: ruddy brown-red, slight haze, thick layer of spongey beige foam that slowly compacts

Aroma: raisins, biscuity malt, brown sugar, malt loaf, clove, pineapple

Flavor: quite full malt sweetness with a flavor akin to fresh bron bread topped with dulce de leche; hints of brown sugar, coffee, multi-vitamin, and grape juice (strangely); finishes semisweet with a lingering spiciness and licorice root aftertaste

Mouthfeel: medium-full body, zippy carbonation, alcohol warmth, fairly smooth for the 9% abv

Other comments: Unibroue is a great brewery and this beer is a fairly good example why. It is one I will definitely look forward to being release again next year.

Photo of argock
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a dark glass 750mL bottle into a clear oversized wine glass. Best consumed by 9/2011 date. Purchased from Trader Joe (Richmond, VA) for $4.99.

A: Dull bronze with 1-finger off-white head that thins to a cap with scant lacing.

S: A bit light with a yeast-dominated aroma. Raisins, figs, cinnamon, vanilla, and clove are in there too.

T: Very malty with sweet brown sugar, candi sugar, dark fruit, and earthy hops flavors mingling with a touch of spices

M: A bit too thin in body to be above-average. Carbonation is active. Aftertaste is sweet sugary and pleasant.

D: A very drinkable dubbel and a very good value on a Unibroue-made offering.

Photo of jmalex
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of mountdew1
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Timmush
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is one beer that is difficult to rate. It is only $4.99. With that being said. It is worth getting and drinking, but I will rate this on the beer alone, not taking the price into consideration.
First and Foremost this beer tastes like most Unibroue offerings. If you didn't know that they made this, you would be able to tell after the first sip. Poured a dark amber/chestnut with a cramy light tan head. A little too much carbonation for me. Fizzy on the tounge. The taste is more like a belgian strong ale rather than a Dubbel. But, it is good. Taste some fruit and possibly some caramel/sugar. I realy like this beer and enjoy it with dinner. Buy some if you can,

Photo of a10t2
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Comes in an attractive, heavy-duty 750 mL corked brown bottle with etched gold lettering. Pours a slightly murky brown with ruby highlights and a huge off-white head. Lots of effervescent carbonation.

S: Lots of dark fruit aromas with some booze contributing to a sort of rum-raisin thing. Faint breadiness too.

T: A fair bit of alcohol all the way through, with malty sweetness and a faint acidic quality. Caramel is prevalent, and there's even a little roastiness. Some buttery diacetyl, which is not out of place but may be a little overdone. Bready/yeasty notes as well, but quite subdued by Belgian standards.

M: Heavy carbonation but a smooth, even slick mouthfeel. Just a hint of alcohol warmth in the back of the throat.

D: Considering how much is going on, there's a surprisingly good balance and I would have no trouble drinking a bottle, or even two. From what I remember, the 2007 was a little better overall; I'll have a vertical tasting soon to compare.

Photo of olegv40
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Cheap, so cheap, Thanks Joe!

Poured a light very light brown, with a tall thick head. There is a ton of carbonation bubbles, they raced up the glass all the way till the end. Sweet, caramel flavor with a tang provided by the bubbles, the carbonation was good but a bit overpowering. Finished with a strong taste of alcohol that warmed all the way down the throat, but clean in the mouth. Overall, a very good beer, I will pick up a few more and let them sit for a few months or years, and for the price, why not.

Photo of kkipple
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's SNOWING outside, right outside my South Carolina window. And it's Boxing Day, and Sunday. As soon as I had my wits about me from frolicking in the snow with my mildly mentally handicapped German Shepherd, I dug this Trader Joe's 2008 Unibroue Vintage Ale outta my garage and stuck it in a snow pile. What fun!

A. First off, the cork was devilishly hard to remove; I had to fall back on a cork-screw. It finally exits with a pop and some wafty gunsmoke. Cork, I have bested you! The ale is a very deep red burgundy, with a fine, small bubble head that is rather reserved, but stays.

S. Nose is the familiar "house" Unibroue - that very dry, phenolic-musty strain that is highly characterful and annoyingly difficult to describe. I'm quite confident I could pick it out of a lineup simply by smell alone though. Same deal as La Fin Du Monde, etc. Otherwise, some prune and fig, hints of once-sweet malt, some cherry. There is a crumble of buttery biscuit here if you look hard enough. Hmm. It seems the yeast has really taken hold in as this has aged, it is quite dry. Not unpleasant though, on the contrary: sophisticated.

T. Follows suit. Not miles different from Trois Pistoles - drier, spicier. Prunes and fig, gentle, tenacious sweetness lingers. I'm enjoying this, but it's not surprising. Gentle pepper notes and some red grape upon exhaling. A unique Dubbel for sure - I would prefer more malt and fruit character, but Unibroue consistently goes their own merry way.

M / D. Highly carbonated, full yet soft. Medium body. No alcohol heat... indeed, this is a fine sipper on this early snowy afternoon. I am enjoying the long, dry, sugarless, fruity / mineral finish.

The 2008 vintage is quite a solid beer, but no real surprises or risks are taken. Big thanks to my brother for picking this one up for me a while back. It's made my Boxing Day that much more... unproductive.

Photo of beertunes
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into chalice. Poured with a full off-white head consisting of larger, more course bubbles. After a couple of moments the head settled into a layer of tinier, more compact bubbles. Aroma was pungent, with a sweet component. Flavor was not as sweet as the aroma had led me to expect. Sweetness was typical for the style. Lots of malty roundness. Full, fulfilling body. Very drinkable, but if you drink a full bottle by yourself, you'll want a change of pace after. Not particularly sessionable, but very enjoyable.

Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 115 ratings.