1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale

Displayed for 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: 3.95
pDev: 8.61%
Wants: 4
Gots: 9 | 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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: khiasmus on 11-30-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 115 | Reviews: 100 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of scottoale
scottoale

California

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
Photo of rabidawg
rabidawg

Georgia

3.85/5  rDev -2.5%

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.

01-06-2009 06:00:33 | More by rabidawg
Photo of jwinship83
jwinship83

Illinois

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
Photo of jl55378008
jl55378008

Virginia

3.63/5  rDev -8.1%

Pours a dark, nutty brown color with a foamy head, made of dense bubbles. Smells just like I expected dark brown Unibroue ale to smell. Rich, malty taste with lots of caramel and a little bit of milk chocolate. The texture is very fluffy, almost too much so. It seems to actually expand as you drink it. I'm curious to see how this will be after a year in the cellar.

01-06-2009 01:42:10 | More by jl55378008
Photo of rtratzlaff
rtratzlaff

North Carolina

4.28/5  rDev +8.4%

TJ's Vintage 2008 is a clear brown with ruby body with a popping off white head that leaves some lacing and stays throughout the experience. Aromas are of Belgian spiciness with some cherry and decent sweetness. The flavors match with a really smooth and fluffy mouthfeel. For the price, this is a definite purchase each year.

01-05-2009 20:06:25 | More by rtratzlaff
Photo of OtherShoe2
OtherShoe2

Massachusetts

4.22/5  rDev +6.8%

Pours a hazy brown/red with a head that dissipated quickly.

Smells of tart stone fruit, some sweet malt, and some spice. Very nice.

Great beer made to be shared. Tart cherry/stone fruit notes mixed with malt and spice. Booze is there but you don't notice it (while drinking - it finds you later). Seems to open up a bit as it warms. Wonderful beer.

Mouth coating with a tart/yeast finish. Pretty decent. Overall, this big bottle was meant for sharing, which I did. Cheap brew (price) under a generic brand that is flat out delicious. Grab it if you can.

01-05-2009 13:11:49 | More by OtherShoe2
Photo of cswhitehorse
cswhitehorse

Oregon

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
Photo of ChainGangGuy
ChainGangGuy

Georgia

3.95/5  rDev 0%

Appearance: Pours a hazy, reddish-brown body with a well-formed, foamy, off-white head.

Smell: Aromatic nose that's both fruity and rather spiced with notes of black currants and cherries tossed in coarse ground black pepper.

Taste: Dark malts tasting of dark caramel and molasses with a brown sugar sweetness. The taste isn't lacking in spices either, with it's flavors of black pepper, nutmeg, and clove. Ah, there's that Unibroue yeast, my old arch nemesis. More vinous fruitiness. Lesser hint of banana. You never get much in the way of hops or bitterness, though there is a staunch dryness competing with the little pops of sweetness that seem to come and go. Bit of aromatic tobacco in the otherwise fruity finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Highly carbonated. Yes, friends, it's a bit crackling, even prickly in the mouth.

Drinkability: Well, the alcohol is definitely well-hidden in this brew. I liked this well enough. Overall, it's a solid, enjoyable beer at a decent value.

01-01-2009 20:14:36 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of beertunes
beertunes

Washington

3.9/5  rDev -1.3%

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.

01-01-2009 11:27:33 | More by beertunes
Photo of bigkahunas4
bigkahunas4

Massachusetts

3.85/5  rDev -2.5%

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.

12-29-2008 16:07:17 | More by bigkahunas4
Photo of mpyle
mpyle

Maryland

4.08/5  rDev +3.3%

App - root beer brown, pours a solid just off-white head, finely bubbled and with decent retention.

Aroma - slightly metallic, yeasty smell. Sweet with a combination of clove and chocolate.

Flavor - malty, chcolately sweet, and never gets bitter. However, enough attenuation or bitterness to prevent it from being overly sweet. Yeast character subdued, but do have a clovey, lingering slightly sweet finish.

MF - med full body, med-high carbonation. Pleasant alcohol warming - style appropriate. Carbonation enhances this warming.

D'ability - enough balance to make it drinkable, but the carbonation and warming limit the sessionability.

12-28-2008 21:24:29 | More by mpyle
Photo of ATPete
ATPete

New Jersey

3.7/5  rDev -6.3%

750ml

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
Photo of a10t2
a10t2

Colorado

3.9/5  rDev -1.3%

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.

12-24-2008 23:00:25 | More by a10t2
Photo of Overlord
Overlord

California

4.18/5  rDev +5.8%

Ahhh...a new Trader Joe's vintage. And for 5 bucks! Sweet! Unibroue offerings around here are typicall 7-9 bucks.

Pours a somewhat ruddy brown. Not an overly pretty beer, but it looks alright. Pretty lively carbonation though, which I like. It's only an inch or so of off-white foam, but that carbonation lasted through the entire bottle.

Smells like a bit of citrus/lemon zest and a ton of bready yeast and ... maybe a whiff of brown sugar. Interesting dubbel. The bottle says "tropical" notes, but I detect none in the aroma.

The taste is sweet. There's a nice lingering bready/yeasty aftertaste, and the consistency, while thin, is pretty great thanks to the carbonation. There's more lemon/orange peel than I expected, but this is primarily a sweet beer. Brown sugar, maybe a few chocolate notes, and sweet rich malt. There's a hint of lingering dark fruit sweetness ... maybe plum.

Really good, and I'm going to go buy a bunch this week.

12-24-2008 07:58:02 | More by Overlord
Photo of berebrando
berebrando

California

3.78/5  rDev -4.3%

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.

12-24-2008 02:43:37 | More by berebrando
Photo of jwheeler85
jwheeler85

New Hampshire

4.6/5  rDev +16.5%

Picked this up at the Coolidge Corner TJ's this morning. Just over 5 bucks when you include the bottle deposit.

A- Rich caramel brown when held up to the light. A thin layer of foam seems to linger... a nice eye piece.

S- Dark sweet fruits with a tiny bit of alcohol fumes coming in at the end.

T- Complex deep fruity taste upfront as is typical for this style. A tiny bit of bitterness detected on the back of my tongue in the finish.

M- Medium bodied, perhaps on the higher end of the carbonation spectrum for this type of beer, but definitely not a bad thing.

D- I personally think that the higher than normal level of carbonation seems to make this beer a bit lighter and therefore more drinkable than a typical dubbel or dark belgian ale. Another way to put it is that I plan to drink this 750 ml bottle in one sitting... probably in about 90 minutes or so. Not so heavy that it needs to be a sipper.

I recognized the "U" on the metal cork topper of this bottle. A bit of bottle investigation would reveal what I was suspecting... this is actually brewed by Unibroue. No wonder why it tastes so good. This is definitely a good bargain. It tastes similar to Unibroue's Trois Pistoles... one of my personal favorites.

12-24-2008 00:58:57 | More by jwheeler85
Photo of Freshie
Freshie

Massachusetts

3.85/5  rDev -2.5%

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.

12-20-2008 02:38:02 | More by Freshie
Photo of BassBone
BassBone

California

4.8/5  rDev +21.5%

Served up in a corked and caged 750mL bottle into a Chimay goblet. This beer pours a gorgeous deep brown hue with a creamy tan head that sticks around and sticks to the glass. Initial tastes are of sweet raisins and figs with a bit of caramel. The brew is sweet, but not cloying. There is a nice finish of winter spices that brings everything together. The carbonation is effervescent, but not overly so. It is extremely drinkable and warming. Doesn't taste like a 9% brew, but certainly kicks like one. This is one I'll be grabbing a couple more bottles of before the season is out.

12-19-2008 08:11:14 | More by BassBone
Photo of eberkman
eberkman

Massachusetts

4.28/5  rDev +8.4%

This is an attractive looking, hazy, translucent garnet-colored brew with a creamy beige head that reduces down ever so slowly, leaving a thick sheen of lacing on the glass. Aromatic malty smells with traces of cloves and potpourri. Taste is dominated by candy-sugar sweetness -- quite figgy with lots of raisin and ripe plum present -- but not cloyingly so. Balances out well toward the middle with a subtle tartness that keeps the sweetness in check. Definite wintry spice presence as well, particularly in the finish, dominated by a lingering taste of cloves. Very carbonated -- too much of a spritziness that takes away from the heft at first, but creaminess takes over, giving it a nice, silky overall presence. This is a pleasant brew, highly drinkable for its strength. Much improved over last year's disappointing release, up there with the phenomenal 2006.

Really a fantastic deal. 5 bucks gets you a great, relaxing evening. 20 bucks gets you a weekend plus a couple to cellar.

12-19-2008 02:06:00 | More by eberkman
Photo of vtfan77
vtfan77

Virginia

3.75/5  rDev -5.1%

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.

12-16-2008 04:41:57 | More by vtfan77
Photo of ZippyThePinhead
ZippyThePinhead

California

2.95/5  rDev -25.3%

I tasted diacetyl in the flavor profile and smelled it in the nose, which I think it could do without.

The high ABV is well-hidden, however. I wonder how many would taste it and think "Yeah, 9% ABV." I don't think very many would be able to detect the alcohol.

I tasted this after drinking a couple well-hopped amber ales, though, so I might have tainted my palate. But on the whole, I wasn't very impressed. I'm not an expert consumer of Belgian beers, but I can't recall tasting diacetyl in any of the Chimays that I've had.

12-16-2008 04:22:13 | More by ZippyThePinhead
Photo of brewcrew76
brewcrew76

Wisconsin

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
Photo of twbrewer
twbrewer

Wisconsin

4.28/5  rDev +8.4%

A-Pours a hazy dark copper color with a light beige head that falls fast to little islands floating in the glass.

S-Plum,dark belgian candi sugar,slight musty smell with a faint spice and alchol odor in the background.

T-Tastes of sweet fruits,plums and raisins.A musty/earthy/malt touch with a sweet spicy finish.

M-Creamy feel when you get past the carbonation

D-One of my favorite styles,I could easily sip this beer for a night.For 5$ 750's,I purchased a couple for anytime soon and a couple for aging.

12-15-2008 05:49:24 | More by twbrewer
Photo of droomyster
droomyster

Virginia

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
Photo of echdk3
echdk3

Missouri

3.73/5  rDev -5.6%

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a snifter

A_Half opaque mahogany, range from dark to bright glow at bottom glass. Huge head dissipates to one and a half fingers, off white with some nice cliffs and valleys. Some small lacing

S_Fruity funk, smells similar to a geuze. Citrus and red apple aroma

T_Dank aftertaste. Earthy and fruity taste overwhelms the pallet. Alcohol makes itself known. This is very warming

M_Chewy and lightly carbonated, sticks to the gums in a really nice way

D_I want to drink the entire 750mL bottle. This brew makes me feel very warm and is very inviting. The taste is very strong but it is still balanced and drinkable

12-13-2008 21:50:44 | More by echdk3
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 115 ratings.