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Trader Joe's 2009 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Trader Joe's 2009 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2009 Vintage Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

128 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 128
Reviews: 96
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 15.89%
Wants: 3
Gots: 20 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  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: bsp77 on 12-12-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 128 | Reviews: 96 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev +4.2%

t0rin0, Mar 03, 2013
Photo of djrn2
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

djrn2, Jan 07, 2013
Photo of Thorpe429
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle picked up at Trader Joe's in Alexandria - Winter 2009. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a nice dark mahogany-brown with a thick off white head with a bunch of lacing as it goes down. Smells like dark fruits and some mild caramel along with a bit of creamy alcohol. Taste brings dark fruits, dates, and dark cherries along with a bit of alcohol and dark, sweet malt flavors. Good creamy mouthfeel with a bit of alcohol. Drinks quite well at a really tremendous price.

Thorpe429, Oct 24, 2010
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a dark brown color ale with a large light brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma consists of candi sugar and coriander with the typical Unibroue yeast profile. Taste is a very nice mix between some sweet Belgian malt with light notes of candi sugar and quite a bit of coriander. The Unibroue yeast strain profile can also be easily detected but I find the light fruity ester it provides very enjoyable. Body is full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well brewed with some complexity and easily drinkable characteristics.

Phyl21ca, Oct 31, 2011
Photo of mikesgroove
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

brown with a huge frothy head. Smell was very spicey, grassy and earthy tones with a hint of sweetness. The taste was classic belgian and very nicely done. Fruitness and spices predominate, no hint of alcohol, which at 9%abv is incredible. Really smooth and effortless in drinkability. This is a fantastic brew, way too easy to drink, honestly the easiest 9% I have ever had

mikesgroove, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of womencantsail
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The pour is a dark brown color with some definite amber tones to it. A decent khaki colored head forms on top.

S: A strong aroma of herbs here, mostly chamomile and sage. There's a bit roasted malt character as well, and a pretty decent chocolate note. As it warms, the herbal nature becomes more and more apparent.

T: A bit more subtle in terms of the flavor profile. The sage and chamomile are there, and there's a bit of licorice that I didn't notice on the nose. A bit of sweetness and minimal chocolate with some warming alcohol.

M: The body is medium and so is the carbonation.

D: The herbal nature of this beer isn't quite as pungent and overwhelming as some of the other Unibroue special releases, making this more enjoyable.

womencantsail, Dec 20, 2010
Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -21.9%

ygtbsm94, Jan 30, 2012
Photo of jlindros
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Optimator13 for this one.

Huge 3+ finger head that fades at a med pace and makes me stop pouring, light lacing, dark coke brown color.

Nose has some Belgian malts, a bit nutty, Belgian fruity dark fruit yeast, slightly tangy, light candi and syrupy, light spices.

Taste has some darker Belgian style malts, bit nutty again, and little syrupy, some booze warmth, dark malts, bit of candi sugar, bit of darker Belgian yeast fruits, light cranberry and cherry, little plum, light spices. Finishes dry and spicy, some booze, lingering malts and light sticky malts.

Mouth is med bodied, lots of carb.

Overall pretty good, interesting flavors, dark malts, fruits, bit boozy and syrupy.

jlindros, May 10, 2011
Photo of oline73
3/5  rDev -21.9%

oline73, Nov 16, 2011
Photo of smcolw
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge head. Settles in a rocky fashion. Lots of chunky lace. Dark muddy brown color--some light passes through the edge of the glass.

Good Belgian yeast smell. There's also aromas I associate with spiced winter ales, like cinnamon, star anise and cardamom. Notable alcohol warmth.

Mild sweetness in the start. Good alcohol presence in the swallow. The spice shows up in mid-taste. Light hop bite in the aftertaste. Very complex. Overall, this is one of the better made American-Belgian beers.

smcolw, Feb 07, 2010
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled January 2010
Very careful pour, foam over, in my 25cl tulip, 5-fingers of head, light brown / darkened tan color. The beer is a dark, burnt amber color that shows clear, ruby-plum highlights when held up to the light. The smells characteristically of Unibroue; an earthy, herbal spiciness that is typical of the yeast, definite clove and coriander aromatics, quite a bit of fruitiness that reminds me of prunes, some sweet plums and raisins. There is also an earthy, dark cracker like malt character, grassy toasted grain note. After sitting for a bit the nose becomes nicely balanced

Pretty light bodied, with only a touch of sweetness that is actually accentuated by the fruity and clove-like yeast character. The finish has a touch of dark grain as well as that earthy spiciness that leans towards coriander that reminds me of Unibroue. There is a touch of tartness in the finish that helps to mitigate the earthy spiciness that really lingers in the finish. The light tartness makes me think of plums and raisins. The malt character is more muted than the color would suggest; there is not much in the way of any roast character that the rich color would suggest; there is perhaps a touch of astringency to the finish. There is a soft woody herbal note here in the finish and there is a . While the texture can be a bit fizzy after a fresh pour (this bottle is clearly a bit over-carbonated), it has a nice light body for a beer of its strength.

Overall this beer has a pretty decent balance; the Unibroue yeast character is certainly expressive here, so if you don't like that then definitely avoid this one; luckily I don't mind it too much, though it can be a little bit much at times. Still this is definitely an enjoyable beer, that should age nicely for another year or so.

Gueuzedude, Mar 07, 2010
Photo of brandoman63
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%

brandoman63, Nov 22, 2011
Photo of TurdFurgison
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Corked and caged Unibroue bomber, $4.99 at Trader Joes in Columbus. This beer is dark, almost black colored and opaque, with about 1 finger of off-white head comprised of large celled foam. The aroma is spicy and estery, a little like an aged hefeweizen minus the bananas. The cloves stayed though. The beer starts with a strong dose of the spice and finishes with a bitter bite that, while objectionable to my tastes, is about right for a winter warmer. BA lists this beer as a dubbel, not sure I agree with that. More of a central European Christmas ale if such a thing exists.

TurdFurgison, Dec 05, 2009
Photo of LiquidAmber
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review from 8/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a dark, dark red amber. Very nice heavy tan head and tons of lacing. Looks very nice. Malt and dark fruit up front with spices an fruit in the middle and light malty finish with a bit of bitterness. Somewhat of a dry, abrupt finish. Not very heavy bodied, but the flavors are well integrated. These Trader Joe's Vintage ales seem to do nicely with about a year or so of aging.

LiquidAmber, Aug 02, 2012
Photo of barnzy78
4/5  rDev +4.2%

barnzy78, Dec 04, 2011
Photo of popery
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice BSDA from Unibroue. This beer is a flat-out great bargain for $5 per 750ml bottle. It's not the best Belgian around, but it's one of the very best bargains in beer. The beer pours a very dark burgundy-brown with a big fluffy khaki head. The aroma didn't sit quite right with me at first, but it's improving a lot as it warms up. The signature Unibroue yeast is present with notes of soy sauce, brown sugar and holiday spices, primarily fresh ginger. The flavor is nice and dry, and the Belgian earthiness really blooms on the palate. The mouthfeel is typical of Unibroue, nice and prickly. It's a very good beer and I'm going to pack away a few bottles for the cellar.

popery, Dec 16, 2009
Photo of blackie
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a: into the Unibroue snifter-tulip, huge tan with heavy retention and lots of sticky lace that eventually settles down

s: plummy with spicy notes of nutmeg, clove, cinnamon bark, and ginger, very subtle roast, hops give papery pulp aroma, the fruit and spice is nice, interesting set but they seem to kinda float on their own without much of a solid foundation

m: lively, high carbonation prickly on the tongue, body light to moderate

t: vivid flavors of dried plum with a solid spicing of clove and and nutmeg, a bit of cola and ginger, some lurking roast, papery hops add a nice balancing flavor and mild bitterness, just a glance of boozy sweetness, same issue as with the aroma - needs a better structure for the spice

d: no problems here, carries the 9 percent well

4/16/2013: A little overaged at this point. On the nose we have ginger, orange, and sweet tobacco. Touches of clove and cocoa. Palate is similar but muted. A little musty. Didn't age poorly for the years - just aged too long, as it's still got some good stuff going for it.

blackie, Jan 19, 2010
Photo of cosmicevan
4.63/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a tulip glass

A - Poured black with a reddish tint along the bottom edge when held to the light, with a HUGE (3 to 4 fingers) yeasty off-white head and clingy lacing.

S - Citrusy cherry mixed with exotic fruits and spices blended. Definitely has a characteristic of the smell of other Unibroue beers I've had, but also very unique in a complex way.

T - WOW! Lots going on in there. My first thoughts are that it tastes like I'd imagine blending up every exotic fruit into a single drink and mixing in some pepper and spices. Pepper, banana, kiwi, orange, plum, apple, coca with a citrusy kick.

M - Even carbonation. Lots of flavors and spices...but leaves that Unibroue afterglow.

D - The smell is upfront and blends really nicely with the taste if you breathe it in as you sip it. A truly unique tasting beer...one the I really like and one that I could understand some people really not liking as well. Not really something you can drink a bunch of at a time, but this isn't really a beer made for that (although as I type this, my wife and I are cracking open a second one - if my wife likes it, that says a lot for the beer).

Picked up a few of these today, looking forward to having another in the near future and saving a few for a year or two to see how it ages. DEFINITELY worth the price in spades clocking in at about $5. Since these are a one time brew, I might even pick up a few more. Get em while you can.

cosmicevan, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of msubulldog25
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 750 ml caged/corked bottle, served to a 'La Chouffe' tulip glass at cellar temperature, filled right to the 25cl serving line. Silk-screened: Best Before 09-12-2012. Trader Joe's, you may claim this as your own, but this belongs to Unibroue...

A: A loud, wet 'POP' as the cork releases. Looks like the deepest, darkest brown; hold it to light and the reward is a vibrant mahogany, crimson-tinted. A plethora of bubbles, angrily streaming upward. Khaki foam, dense and creamy. Lace is OK, blotchy and broken.

S: The plummy, musty odor of Unibroue's 'Belgian Dark' take. Murky scent of muddled dark fruit and peppery Belgian yeast spicing.

T: An apple/fig/banana/raisin-filled dessert beer if there ever was one. Nutty at times, more toffee at others. Loads of spice, honey, even some cracked pepper and ginger. It doesn't quite come together, but it really does showcase the complexity of the yeast quite well.

M: Carbonation roils in the mouth, then there's a refined mellowness. Crisp, with a decent bite then soft and lingering.

D: If you like the BSDA (I do) you'll like this treat. As I recall, this bottle runs around $5, which is flat-out ludicrous for an ale of this quality. Glad to have bought a few (been doing this for the last 3 years; this is the first one I've cracked); fine now, probably better later.

msubulldog25, Oct 13, 2010
Photo of prototypic
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage Ale 2009 pours a dark, cola brown color. It's not opaque. Burgundy highlights are noted throughout with backlighting. A light tan head tops it off. It's substantial, standing over two and a half fingers tall. Retention was very good, and lacing was sticky and thick. Good stuff.

The nose is a little on the weak side, but isn't bad. It features a nice cocoa-like scent from the chocolate malt presence. Spices are rather light. I'm getting a little, but not enough to identify anything. Light citrus lemon is noted. One downside is the lack of Belgian yeast. I'm not getting any. That's a negative here. Its presence would really improve this overall. Alcohol is blended well and is barely noticeable. It's alright. Not great.

The flavor is alright, but falls a few steps shy of being good. It does have a nice chocolate malt base that imparts a cocoa-like flavor. Fruit flavors are more pronounced in flavor. Light lemon and berry flavors are noted. There's even a touch of raisin. Spices are also stronger. Pepper and ginger are present and accounted for. Again, I'm not getting much Belgian yeast. That's too bad. It's crying out for it. Alcohol is noted, but isn't strong. I wouldn't guess 9%. Overall, not bad, but could've been better.

Vintage Ale 2009 has a light-medium body that feels too thin. Carbonation is also active and a little buzzy. It's not quite smooth. Drinkability is above average. The flavor's okay, and I'm semi-enjoying it. It's deceptively strong. The 9% abv creeps up on you. Nonetheless, a 750 is more than enough.

Unibroue did a credible job with Trader Joe's Vintage Ale 2009. It's alright, but is a bit of a missed opportunity. The missing piece of the puzzle here is glaring...Belgian yeast. Where is it? A strong presence would substantially improve this beer. No question. It's alright as it is. Far from a bad beer. But, could've been appreciably better rather easily. It's definitely worth picking up, especially given the $4.99 price tag. What a value! But, it's not going to win any awards.

prototypic, Apr 24, 2010
Photo of argock
3.3/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 750mL brown bottle into a Duvel tulip. Best by 9/12/12 on back of bottle. Purchased at Trader Joe's (Short Pump, VA) for $4.99.

A: Murky brown with 3-finger cola-like, huge bubbled tan head which has good retention and leaves spotty lace.

S: Heavily spiced nose with elements of nutmeg, clove, ginger, and cinnamon. Malt component isn't as strong as it could be with some dark fruit and grape. Hops are herbal. Yeast is lightly nutty.

T: Flavor is also spiced like a winter warmer with nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and ginger with date and raisin as the biggest malt players. Substantial yeastiness through the middle. Hops are light and herbal. Too spiced for me but others might like it (a lot).

M: Highly carbonated but still feels pretty smooth. Alcohol is well-hidden. Aftertaste is mostly spiced and accumulates not in a good way.

D: The spices are too much and detract from the flavor. Malts and hops are lost in all the spicing. Not my kind of beer. Hopefully the spices will fade and the malt will get a chance to assert itself with some cellaring.

argock, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of bigred89
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

bigred89, Dec 04, 2011
Photo of flexabull
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown cola like color with a huge off white head.

Aromas are creamy, nutty, and a bit mineral like.

Light roasted nut flavors up front, a definite crispness, and a malt creamy sweetness. There are some cocoa, cola, and light spice flavors as well. Finish is nice, with a tart cherry like bite.

Mouthfeel is good. Very smooth, soft feeling, and with enough body to not be overly heavy.

This is a very drinkable Dark Belgian Ale. Smooth with nice flavors, very approachable, and you gotta love the $4.99 price tag for a 750 ml bottle.

flexabull, Dec 14, 2009
Photo of Overlord
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Considering the reviews, surprisingly pleasant!

Pours a murky, turbid brown with some brown highlights. Brown. Maybe a quarter inch of tan foam.

Smells like some dark fruits, some candied, yeasty bread malts, and a hint of spices.

Taste is interesting. Definitely some dark fruits, but also some lighter fruit esters and a bit of a candi spiced flavor to it. Almost like a mulled, sweetened caramel background.

Pleasant. Nice, thick enough mouthfeel.

Overlord, Jan 14, 2011
Photo of Falcone
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Falcone, Jul 16, 2013
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Trader Joe's 2009 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 128 ratings.