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

115 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 115
Reviews: 100
rAvg: 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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 115 | Reviews: 100
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.

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.04/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review from 7/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a deep red amber. Moderate off white head fades to thin film with light lacing. Nice Belgian aroma. Mild malt with dark fruits, sharp carbonation up front. Fades to lighter fruit and malt, spices and finishes a bit abruptly with a bit of hop bitterness and an interesting lingering caramel aftertaste. Tastes nice. I regret that I did not record my original comments on this when fresh, although I remember being pleasantly pleased (and bought two cases!). Like other Trader Joe's Vintage beers, time has treated this well. Mellow and tasty.

Photo of Rukasu
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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.

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

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.

Photo of jondeelee
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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

Photo of notchucknorris
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours an amber/copper color with an enormous cream-colored head that shows great retention.

S: Lots of apple cider, spice and a hint of yeast. Some caramel, brown sugar and apple pie too with a pretty nice aroma of apple pie crust.

T: Lots of caramel sweetness upfront with apple, yeast and a bit of grain on the finish. Just the right amount of carbonation and a nice mouthfeel.

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

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.

Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The pour is a brownish color with a minimal off-white head forming.

S: The nose is quite sweet with lots of caramel, candi sugar, and light fruits such as pears and apples. There's a touch of alcohol as well as a hint of darker fruits like raisins.

T: Despite the definite sweetness, there's a touch of dryness to the beer. Still some good fruit notes like apples, pears, raisins, and plums. Lots of candi sugar and caramel as well.

M: The body is medium and so is the carbonation. A bit of alcohol warmth.

D: One of the best (if not the best) of the Trader Joe's vintage beers. A more standard and drinkable Belgian-style beer.

Photo of mikeg67
4.1/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of gestyr
4.38/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of zeff80
3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a brown color with a slight haze. It had a small, bubbly head of off-white foam that left some sudsy lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of raisin, dried fruits (cherry & plum) and some bready malts.

T - Sweet bready malt dominated the flavor with a nice dose of dried fruit taste. Just a touch of bitterness and spiciness, too.

M - It was crisp and smooth with a mildly dry finish. A medium bodied ale.

D - This is a very solid dubbel and a very good value at around $5 for a 750ml bottle.

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.

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.

Photo of drabmuh
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass. Beer is brown and hazy. Forms an off white thin head of small bubbles. Carbonation is low and steady, beer is really hazy. Head leaves some lacing on the glass.

Aroma is strong and bready, sweet, yeasty. Smells like a La Fin Du Monde and that would make sense to me. I like the smell. Some fruits in there, sweet fruits.

Beer is medium bodied and finishes nicely. There isn't really any bitterness, I am not sure what I would have guessed this beer was but dubbel is a fine catagorization, maybe. Strong dark? Anyway, mouthfeel is good, carbonation doesn't really do anything in the mouth but there is some complex fruit character to it. Some nice sweet plum or banana. Finishes nicely as well. It was fine.

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.

Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a hazy deep brown color ale with a large off-white foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of typical Unibroue Belgian ester with deep rich malt with hints of candi sugar. Taste is also a nice mix between some rich Belgian malt with notes of candi sugar and that typical Unibroue ester. Body is quite full with great carbonation and no signs of alcohol. Very well done though quite similar to prior year vintage.

Photo of SpencerSauce
4.39/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo of BeachRez
4.17/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had been wanting to sit on this beer a little longer, but couldn't wait. Wish I did.

Very carbinated. Had a huge head, but nice deep color.

The smell was sweet, but mild.

The taste was of carmel and some fruit/citrus. I keep pushing for a tropical kind of fruit, but can't put my finger on it. The alcohol is not too strong considering 9%.

Easy to drink, and not super complex. Just a good sipper for the price. I really wish I aged a little longer. I think it could sit more and still retain some flavor.

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