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.
BA SCORE
88
very good

100 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 100
Hads: 115
rAvg: 3.94
pDev: 6.85%
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 100 | Hads: 115
Photo of HalfFull
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
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. (539 characters)

Photo of SPLITGRIN
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
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. (576 characters)

Photo of khiasmus
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
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. (1,261 characters)

Photo of kaseydad
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
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. (640 characters)

Photo of smcolw
3.82/5  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. (429 characters)

Photo of jwinship83
3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
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. (711 characters)

Photo of blackie
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
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 (783 characters)

Photo of rabidawg
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
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. (440 characters)

Photo of GreenCard
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
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. (678 characters)

Photo of Freshie
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
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. (789 characters)

Photo of bigkahunas4
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
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. (533 characters)

Photo of olegv40
3.86/5  rDev -2%
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. (513 characters)

Photo of argock
3.87/5  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. (657 characters)

Photo of mountdew1
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
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. (682 characters)

Photo of beertunes
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
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. (519 characters)

Photo of pmcadamis
3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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! (1,733 characters)

Photo of kkipple
3.9/5  rDev -1%
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. (1,889 characters)

Photo of AdmiralDiaz
3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber to pint glass. *review from old notes recently found.

A: Nice dark body with a huge off-white head. Good head retention and some lacing.

S: Complex Belgian yeast with mixed fruit and caramel.

T: Tastes very similar to the smell. Complex with a small spice bite to it. Alcohol comes out a bit in this one.

Overall: Highly carbonated and medium in body. Fairly drinkable but alcohol come out just a bit too much for me. Easily Trader Joe's best brew...or one of Unibroue's more mediocre...either way pick it up it's cheap and tasty. (558 characters)

Photo of Timmush
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
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, (672 characters)

Photo of THECPJ
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: dark murky brown with a 1 finger off white head

smell: dark fruits, raisions, plums, malts, sweet,

taste: sweet, caramel, dark fruits, malts

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, medium body,

overall: decent dubbel I've had better in the style but glad I got to try it.

Cheers,
The CPJ (315 characters)

Photo of Troyone
3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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. (337 characters)

Photo of jmalex
3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
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. (1,568 characters)

Photo of kimcgolf
3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown with a thick off-white head that lingers well and leaves decent lacing. Immediate aroma of coffee, roasted nuts and malted fruit, but as beer warms, this tends to be more citrus fruit and an emphasis on clove. Mouthfeel is tingly and full, and the taste reminds me of a farmhouse ale, again with the hoppy citrus fruit and clove offset by a touch of malty sweetness. Although the 9% alcohol never made itself known in either the nose or taste, I could tell it was present after finishing this bomber. This all led to a nice long warming finish.

Bought this as a lark, but was pleasantly surprised by this one. (629 characters)

Photo of a10t2
3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
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. (974 characters)

Photo of daliandragon
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It's definitely winter when this one finally shows up at TJ's to ring in the new year. Unibroue makes a pretty good beer and for the TJ's price in particular, this one is tough to beat, assuming it's similar to last year's edition. This one pours a tawny golden at the bottom of my chalice that darkens up to a chocolate brown at the top. The tight bubbled beige head dissipates a little quicker than I'd like. The nose is malty and shows tones of grapeskin and yeast with faint traces of spice and other fruits in the distance.

Malty and layered with a light, bubbly finish that reminds me of champagne. The yeast has floral notes as mentioned on the bottle and is very strong in the taste, even for the style. Noble hops make a late appearance although they blend well with the fruit and spice notes to produce a clean, satisfying aftertaste. Mouthfeel is thin but well textured, and shows little leaking of booze despite the 9%. I wouldn't mind lowering the carbonation a few notches, as it seems to inhibit some of the flavors a bit.

Overall, a delicious ale that grew on me as I sipped it and showed balance and complexity. Needless to say, that $4.99 price tag is a plus as well. Not awesome but quite good. (1,217 characters)

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