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

Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

114 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 114
Reviews: 100
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 8.61%


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)
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Ratings: 114 | Reviews: 100 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of jwheeler85
jwheeler85

New Hampshire

4.6/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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.

Serving type: bottle

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

Massachusetts

3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

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

California

4.8/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

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

Massachusetts

4.28/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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.

Serving type: bottle

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

Virginia

3.75/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

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

California

2.95/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 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.

Serving type: bottle

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

Wisconsin

3.53/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2008 04:12:43 | More by brewcrew76
Photo of twbrewer
twbrewer

Wisconsin

4.28/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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.

Serving type: bottle

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

Virginia

4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2008 09:57:43 | More by droomyster
Photo of echdk3
echdk3

Missouri

3.73/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2008 21:50:44 | More by echdk3
Photo of peejaybee
peejaybee

Illinois

3.68/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted into pitcher, then into Moretti goblet.

Pours a very thick, persistent head atop a dark brown, slightly cloudy beer.

A spicy ester profile dominates the aroma, accompanied by some fruitiness.

Likewise, the yeast characteristics dominate the flavor, along with some sweetness, alcoholic warmth and a trace of hop character as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is nice, with a medium body.

The aftertaste is pleasant, and again dominated by the flavors from the yeast.

Overall a very nice beer, especially for $5.00.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2008 05:34:22 | More by peejaybee
Photo of FatCaster
FatCaster

Washington

4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm going to try to ignore the price and pleasing presentation of the bottle and just review the beer here, but those are indeed bonuses.

A--Poured into a mug. Had a picturesque tan colored head that filled out nicely and dissipated pretty quickly. But there was little ring of foam that just would not die and left lacing when the glass was tipped.

S--My friend said it smelled like vomit. But he is dumb. In fact, it smelled like bready malts and sweet dried fruits.

T--Very fruity, with a touch of yeast to it. Fades to bananas and a tiny touch of hops at the very end.

M--Fairly thick, but still refreshing. Very carbonated so it hides the alcohol until it is warming your throat.

D--Lets just say that all 750 ml disappeared very quickly.

Great value, will buy a couple more, probably at least one for aging.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2008 06:43:56 | More by FatCaster
Photo of asabreed
asabreed

New York

4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2008 03:36:50 | More by asabreed
Photo of PhiloPsych
PhiloPsych

California

4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy, ruddy brown with a foamy tan head that leaves a very thick lace. Yeast and alcohol in the nose with a definite fruity aroma. The taste is recognizably Unibroue--this beer is a close cousin of both Maudite and Trois Pistoles. Also like those other two beers, the taste of this one shifts and becomes increasingly complex as it warms. A nice Belgian-style dark ale.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2008 07:33:11 | More by PhiloPsych
Photo of alovesupreme
alovesupreme

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy red color with a fizzy head with fair retention.
Smells of belgian yeast, this beer smells like a Unibroue which it is. maybe a little pine apple.
Lots of carbonation, almost to much but the rest of the mouthfeel is great. Tastes fruity, and very belgian, maybe a little raisons.
At $5 for a 750ml this beer is an incredible value. I will be buying much more of this in the future.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2008 06:54:05 | More by alovesupreme
Photo of smcolw
smcolw

Massachusetts

3.83/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2008 22:59:07 | More by smcolw
Photo of spointon
spointon

Illinois

4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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!

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2008 05:59:54 | More by spointon
Photo of daliandragon
daliandragon

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev 0%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2008 05:50:56 | More by daliandragon
Photo of bolddeciever
bolddeciever

Washington

3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours dark brown, with a tall, fluffy, just-off-white head.

S: Notes of dark fruit, fig and prune prominent.

T: Moderate to high sweetness, almost overpowering in first taste but mellowing through the glass, giving way as the pallate adjusts to the dark fruit flavors noticed in the aroma. Some hop bitterness at the tail end.

M: High carbonation dominates early on, giving way to decent body.

D: For a 9%, the alcohol is rather muted. Couldn't drink it all night, for sobriety reasons, but definitely goes down smooth.

O: At first sip, the sweetness and high carbonation almost gives a coca-cola character, but this really mellows after the first few sips. The right food pairing could probably help a lot, espescially with the sweetness. Great bottle of beer, espescially at the $4.99 price tag for 750 ml.

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2008 08:06:28 | More by bolddeciever
Photo of danmouer
danmouer

Virginia

4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale is a strong dark Belgian Ale brewed by Unibroue. It may be identical to--certainly is similar to--Unibroue's mainline beer of that category: Trois Pistoles. My beer came from Trader Joe's, Richmond, VA., in a 750 brown champagne-style bottle with cork and wire cage.

The beer pours with a huge moussy head of off-white to tan color. Even with slow careful pouring, a cold bottle pours up a huge head of foam that takes several minutes to fall, leaving the chalice traced with Belgian lace.

The brew is deep amber/dark brown, showing mostly amber highlights in transmitted light. Quite clear, though not crystal clear. It is, after all, bottle conditioned, and no beer this highly conditioned can hold its sediment on the bottle bottom!

The aroma is outstanding. Big gales of spicy phenolics--cloves, allspice, cinnamon--all laced with sweet pilsner malt and faint traces of noble hops all greet the nose above the foam.

The flavor is sugary-sweet more than malty, although the malt is definitely there. Perhaps its all that spice that reminds moe more of holiday cakes and cookies than of a chilled brew. Hops aromas are way understated--as they should be in this style. The alcohol--9%abv--is lightly warming and silky smooth. Hard to believe the beer is this potent--but don't try to drink the whole bottle yourself without a designated driver.

This is an excellent dark strong Belgian style beer.Perhaps spicier than some would prefer, but I loved all those mulled-cider flavors. WHat a great oliday beer---and only 6 bucks for a 750! I bought a case, and I think I'll go back for another to cellar for a bit.

Trader Joe...you rock!

Dan

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2008 22:15:00 | More by danmouer
Photo of olegv40
olegv40

Ohio

3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2008 02:58:50 | More by olegv40
Photo of SurlyDuff
SurlyDuff

Oregon

3.98/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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!

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2008 05:48:01 | More by SurlyDuff
Photo of Timmush
Timmush

New Jersey

3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
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,

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2008 22:09:02 | More by Timmush
Photo of bulletrain76
bulletrain76

California

3.25/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

75cl bottle. Brown with a good sized off-white head. the aroma has a lot of dusty Unibroue yeast, tart berry, and caramel. the flavor has sharp, dry alcohol, crackery malts, and sweet caramel. Dry, dusty yeast cleans up the sweet finish, Thin and airy mouthfeel, with an astringent papery dryness. The flavor is too much like brown sugar water with too much carbonation. I'm not getting much solid malt out of this, or many interesting flavors at all. Still drinkable, but a big let down from last year's.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2008 04:39:49 | More by bulletrain76
Photo of khiasmus
khiasmus

South Carolina

3.8/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2008 02:47:31 | More by khiasmus
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Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 114 ratings.