Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company
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Ratings: 115 | Reviews: 100 | Display Reviews Only:
3.53/5 rDev -10.6%
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.
12-16-2008 04:12:43 | More by brewcrew76
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
3.95/5 rDev 0%
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.
12-08-2008 05:50:56 | More by daliandragon
3.85/5 rDev -2.5%
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.
01-06-2009 04:28:18 | More by jwinship83
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
4/5 rDev +1.3%
Bottle from Trader's Joe - Cincinnati.
A - Poured a clear brown color with a huge creamy off-white head that mostly lasted with excellent lacing.
S- Moderate nutty malt and yeast aroma.
T - Medium bittersweet flavor with a medium fruity sweet finish of moderate duration.
M - Medium body with a smooth texture and soft carbonation.
D - My expectation where met and I got two more bottles to age for the next two years.
01-10-2009 15:03:50 | More by tmoneyba
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
4.03/5 rDev +2%
poured into tulip.
dark reddish brown, almost clear. fluffy, foamy off-white head gradually recedes to a constant thin layer. moderate lacing.
spices and fruit aromas upfront. cinnamon and anise, raisins and apple with phenols in the back again emphasizing the spice. hints of leafy hop. caramel maltiness as a consistent foundation.
similar spices on the palate and more light on the fruitiness, with the phenols a little stronger, giving a crescendo to the moderate noble hop bitterness in the middle. gentle malt caramel note. finish has more spices too.
smooth, lightly syrupy, with phenols emphasizing a slight astringency in the finish. creamy yet lightly creamy carbonation.
a great value. wish i'd picked up some more.
04-01-2009 08:26:47 | More by tai4ji2x
3.95/5 rDev 0%
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.
03-29-2009 02:16:20 | More by kimcgolf
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
3.95/5 rDev 0%
Bought at the Sacramento Trader Joe's and brewed by Unibroue. Pours into my Unibroue tulip a dirty clay brown, somewhat cloudy with specks of sediment floating around. Large head forms on the pour but settles down after a few minutes. Fruity and malty odor...prunes, black raspberry syrup, ethanol. Flavor is a bit hot and strongly spiced. A very alcohol-forward Belgian style, with the fruity malt backbone following through a few moments later. Some deep, roasted chocolate notes from the malt. An aggressive flavor, if a little hard to handle. Very full bodied, a little syrupy. Drinks nicely...a good beer, and not at all expensive.
01-29-2009 03:40:45 | More by aforbes10
4.1/5 rDev +3.8%
Pours dark brown with a nice but short lasting head. Also hazy from the yeast. Nice sweet fruity aroma of malt and yeast. Mouth filling. Sweet , raisin flavor of malt nicely balanced by spicy hops. Did not expect much from Trader Joe's but this one is great beer.
12-17-2010 22:44:54 | More by mikeg67
3.88/5 rDev -1.8%
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.
03-21-2009 17:42:50 | More by GreenCard
3.7/5 rDev -6.3%
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.
12-28-2008 01:26:03 | More by ATPete
3.9/5 rDev -1.3%
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.
12-26-2010 18:31:48 | More by kkipple
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
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
4/5 rDev +1.3%
The TJ's 2008 Vintage from Unibroue poured a ruby brown with a tiny foam head that dissipated quickly. It had the typical well spring of carbonation in center of my Chimay glass. Tight little bubble came to the sides of the glass as well.
The aroma was spicy with a good dose of brown sugar and a dark fruit. You could get a little of the abv in the nose. The taste had a good bit of malt up front with the signature yeast coming through to give you a tiny bit of fruitiness. In the mouth the 9% was well hidden. Overall a pretty darn good beer especially for the price. I will buy this again if they still have it at TJ's.
01-03-2009 03:41:28 | More by cswhitehorse
4.1/5 rDev +3.8%
Pours murky pale chestnut with good head.
Smell fruity and spicey -- peach, yeast, toffee, tropical fruits.
Taste is a blend of fruits and spices. Yeast, peach, pear, apple, various spices, finishes crisp.
This was very solid, with a nice price. Not exactly sure how this setup works, as this is clearly a Unibroue, but I'm not going to complain.
02-08-2009 04:13:14 | More by Strix
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
3.78/5 rDev -4.3%
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.
03-11-2009 00:52:21 | More by kaseydad
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
3.98/5 rDev +0.8%
First of all, this is Unibroue, for all intents and purposes. It's got their cork, their bottle, and their label as the contract brewer.
My favorite of all the Trader Joes brews to date, hands down.
Dark hazy chestnut brown. Nice off color head that dissipates fairly quickly.
Aroma is sour tart unirou style, unripe fruit, and I wouldnt be surprised if this were a Maudite or Trois Pistoles clone or something.
There's no denying this is Unib, it's got their powdery smooth yeast, a nice tart fruity crispness, sour green apple and some nice spices.
Yum! It's a bit overpowering at first, but as my 750ml bottle empties, it gets heavenly. Heavenly I say!
12-02-2008 05:48:01 | More by SurlyDuff
3.8/5 rDev -3.8%
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.
11-30-2008 02:47:31 | More by khiasmus
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 115 ratings.