Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company
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Ratings: 115 | Reviews: 100 | Display Reviews Only:
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
4/5 rDev +1.3%
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.
12-20-2010 01:09:06 | More by womencantsail
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
4.4/5 rDev +11.4%
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.
10-03-2010 23:25:33 | More by gestyr
3.98/5 rDev +0.8%
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.
07-02-2010 15:52:35 | More by zeff80
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
3.48/5 rDev -11.9%
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.
02-27-2010 02:18:07 | More by gosurfobx
4/5 rDev +1.3%
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.
02-18-2010 22:30:26 | More by drabmuh
3.73/5 rDev -5.6%
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.
01-30-2010 03:18:42 | More by Arbitrator
4/5 rDev +1.3%
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.
12-02-2009 02:56:31 | More by Phyl21ca
4.4/5 rDev +11.4%
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.
09-08-2009 00:03:29 | More by SpencerSauce
3.8/5 rDev -3.8%
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.
08-21-2009 02:34:58 | More by abrand
3.43/5 rDev -13.2%
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.
08-13-2009 03:49:38 | More by SFBeerGuy
3.9/5 rDev -1.3%
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.
06-02-2009 22:35:58 | More by jmalex
4.2/5 rDev +6.3%
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.
05-27-2009 17:15:46 | More by BeachRez
3.55/5 rDev -10.1%
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.
05-13-2009 05:22:25 | More by WaXHeLL
4.3/5 rDev +8.9%
At least one reason to break down and buy warm shelf beer is this fine brew. Quite a deal too at under $5, and perhaps one of the most perfect styles to endure the storage conditions (hate to think what the pilsner type beers must taste like though)
Light golden carmel colored ale, finely carbonated and sporting a 5 star head, Belgian style with cream colored foam and small bubbles like champagne. Also sports a wonderful fine haze.
Expected esters are dominant in the nose. Lots of dried fruit. Rich and grainy.
Sweet malt body. Some dusty wood, fruitcake, and a faint bitterness to round it out. Very well balanced. Delicious. Doesn't finish too dry or too sweet, but has the subtleties of both. Lots of esters but almost no detectable alcohol.
Mouthfeel reaches another delicate balance. I'm loving the perfect viscosity, just barely sticky and sweet and very easy to drink. Carbonation is just enough to carry the medium viscosity and create a bit head, but is never too much.
A very drinkable, well made, traditional ale. I think this beer has a lot in common with traditional bottle-conditioned high gravity British ales (I also though that with the 17).
My second beer from Unibroue, since I was back in college 10 years ago. I forgot how good they are, or maybe I never realized (...same with HotD brewery as well...) Glad they and Trader Joe's put out this exceptional value. Seek this out warm off the shelf. Cheers!
04-21-2009 05:45:41 | More by rayjay
4.03/5 rDev +2%
Picked up a 750ml bottle in early December for $4.99. Best before 9-9-2011.
Beer poured brown with a large bubbly head that disapated quickly. Nose is banana, slight hint of rum, and malts. Taste has classic Belgian yeast strain, dark fruits soaked in a hint of rum, caramel, toffee, and a hint of cinnamon balanced nicely with a hint of hops. Mouthfeel is classic belgian, light to medium bodied and very smooth across the palate. Overall drinkability is very good for the style as the abv is very well hidden. Great deal at $4.99! I'll be sure to look again for it next year.
04-11-2009 23:19:48 | More by arizcards
4/5 rDev +1.3%
750 ml bottle poured into my Chimay goblet. Best before 9/9/11 and comes in at 9%.
A-Huge pop when this one is uncorked. Brown with some nice red hues when put up to a light. Has a really fluffy one finger off white head that stays around after each pour.
S-Belgian yeast, candy sugar, and spices such as clove and cinammon.
T-Those same spices from the nose hit upfront. Taste rum soaked raisins, candy sugar, yeast, and malt.
M-Serious carbonation upfront. Lighter bodied and dry. The foam that sticks around makes itself known in each sip, resulting in a creamy texture at the end. Get some lingering hop bitterness from the Noble hops they use.
D-The alcohol definitely warms you up. This is a good nightcap.
A very good beer at an amazing price point ($4.99). Would like to try one of these ai it gets closer to its best by date of September 2011.
04-07-2009 17:21:15 | More by mjl21
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
4.68/5 rDev +18.5%
I hadn't sampled this brew for about 4 months. This afternoon, on an unusually winter-like spring day I decided the time was ripe for a re-visit. Wow!
In the approx. 6 months since this was bottled it's taken on smoothness beyond what I would ever have imagined. Unibroue and Trader Joe's are really to be complimented for producing an exceptionally flavorful Belgium style beer at a price that the masses can love.
I think I'll check on my local store to see if any 2008 is still lingering....or as a secondary strategy, make sure I stock up well on the 2009 release. The brew itself is well balanced with subtle hints of raisin and figs - but not too sweet!
A truly enjoyable sipper on a cold day.
03-31-2009 23:15:29 | More by ricke49
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
4/5 rDev +1.3%
A - Deep brown, with reddish tinges at the fringes, nice beige head.
S - Dark fruits, raisin, sweetness with belgian notes.
T - Dark, flavorful, fruit. Raisin and biscuity malt. Very well done dubbel and truly tasty.
M - Medium carbonation, nice body.
D - Easy drinking dubbel, well made. Flavorful and well balanced. Plus... the price is right!
03-27-2009 00:46:14 | More by BravoTwo
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
4.28/5 rDev +8.4%
Overall: A well-attenuated Belgian with refined holiday flavors, good head and a decent punch. Also a good example of how some batches are just better than others - get this one while it lasts!
Even with a very slow pour, has a very thick, rich head that never completely subsides. Color is glassy, brownish black.
Smell is delicate, with notes of cinnamon, anise and clove.
The taste is refreshing, interesting and not overpowering, mostly dominated by caramel and spices. Not much bitterness at all. There is some sweetness there, but it is very highly attenuated for the style. It does not have the outrageously big flavor that a lot of Belgians have, but it is also a lot nicer to drink.
Mouthfeel is excellent - good, balanced carbonation, refreshing acidity, light body. Finish is crisp with a hint of caramel left behind.
This beer is more drinkable than most Dubbels I've had. I feel like I could work through a bottle in an evening, whereas with a lot of belgians the sugar, high alcohol and dark flavors become distasteful after a time.
03-20-2009 16:34:18 | More by wavenger
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 115 ratings.