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Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale

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BA SCORE
85
very good

222 Ratings
THE BROS
86
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 222
Reviews: 150
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 13.46%


Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  9.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Contract brewed for Trader Joe's. Often brewed by Unibroue.

(Beer added by: tang3nt on 11-19-2010)
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Ratings: 222 | Reviews: 150 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Phyl21ca
Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.74/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a deep burgundy color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma of dry fruits with residual candi sugar and your typical Unibroue yeast. Taste is a complex mix between some candi sugars with dry fruits with some caramelized malt notes, liquorice and the typical Unibroue yeast coming through at the end. Body is quite full with good carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Solid beer from Unibroue which is starting to show the damage of time.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2013 20:24:25 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of Jimmys
Jimmys

Pennsylvania

4.24/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Fresh Review, 2/21/2011

A: deep, roasty dark brown. fluffy soda-like head. looks like a glass of root beer. (3.5)

S: chilling allspice and clove. cinnamon and coffee now that it has heated up. spice masks any complexity i could be getting from the yeast. (2.5)

T: very spicy. sweet chocolate. hop usage must have been on the 'just a touch' side judging by the lack of bitterness. not getting as strong a sense of alcohol as i expected (maybe i didnt need to buy another for the cellar...) for it being such a recent vintage. (2.5)

M: very tangy, light bubbles. pretty fair showing for the style. rich and full bodied. (4)

D: with bel strong darks really being all over the place, this one just isn't my favorite. very curious if the one i have put away develops any significant flavors. (3)

Cellared Bottled, opened/reviewed 6/23/13

A: opaque, dark brown body. super frothy brownish head. big and fluffy. fantastic head retention, thick lacing left behind.

S: smells bone dry. a soft roast mixes with some chocolate. I think there is a little bit of fermentation aroma in the nose. getting a little bit of sweet fruit, pear and fig, but not a ton.

T: similar to the nose, this tastes almost as dry as it smells, at first. a little bit of dry chocolate. a tale-end of unfermentables, some yeast. roasted flavor adds to the dryness. some red grape skins as it warms.

M: a bit effervescent. medium/full body.

D: really aged well. has held up exceptionally as I am not getting any sort of off-flavors. absolutely no heat. all the spicing has dissolved on the flavor and aroma spectrum of things, which is fine with me. for the price, definitely worth getting a few and stashing.

Serving type: bottle

06-25-2013 00:38:15 | More by Jimmys
Photo of rand
rand

California

3.04/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

From 750 mL bottle to Mikasa tulip glass

A: Pours dark brown in color and forms a huge sudsy head on gentle pour. The chocolate-cream colored head never fully recedes and leaves sticky lacing all over the glass.

S: The nose is cherries and raisin, ripe fruity esters. The aromas are enveloped in a sweet, medicinal overtone.

T/M: Cherries and ripe fruit and the front of the palate. Heavy phenols. Nutmeg, paprika, cracked pepper are noted. The complexion is sticky and syrupy, and leaves a sweet residue all over the palate - could have used a little more carbonation. The flavors become overly medicinal toward the finish, which is long and stick-sweet.

Not the best showring for Unibroue, or the Trader Joe's Vintage series. I've had this cellared for a couple of years yet the brew is still a little cloying and one-dimensional.

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2013 05:53:20 | More by rand
Photo of blackie
blackie

Virginia

4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 cellared about a year after release

a: served in a large westmalle chalice, the beer is a deep brown in color, capped with a well-retained layer of khaki carbonation

s: dark belgian malts and tree fruits form a full, healthy nose - prune and fig, darker sugars, big floral coriander is the spice I find more than any other, black pepper, nice alcohol, the malts are well roasted with brief suggestions of chocolate, papery hop aroma, lots of yeast

m: carbonation medium-high, with a medium-full mouthfeel, lively but substantial on the palate

t: lots of darker sugars, a combination of roasted and caramelized malts, and tree fruits, plum/prune and fig especially, leathery fruit skin flavors hit mid palate with a generous dose of coriander - there are presumably other spices present, but coriander is most dominant to my nose, papery hop flavors and a mild-moderate bittering with sugar and coriander flavors lingering long

o: a classic dark belgian ale with the yeasty, spicy character you’d expect; a slight darker, sweeter, and heavier than is typical, drinks well

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2013 02:17:33 | More by blackie
Photo of HattedClassic
HattedClassic

Virginia

3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured in a Chimay chalice. Aged for two and a half years in various condition while slightly exposed to sunlight and occasional temperature variances.

Appearance:
Pours a darkish black and brown with a hint of purple.

Smell:
Hints of Belgian sugar and dark fruits with a hint of sour grapes.

Taste:
The Belgian sugars are less prominent than in a fresh bottle. The dark fruits tend to comprise of raisin and grapes. However, the grapes appear to have soured a bit. The beer tasted a little bit like a port instead of a strong dark ale. The hops were noticeable diminished.

Mouthfeel:
Full bodied. Light carbonation.

Overall:
A pretty decent and surprising beer given the fact it was brewed for a grocery chain. I look forward to drinking the other vintages that I've been storing.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2013 20:56:23 | More by HattedClassic
Photo of Mitchster
Mitchster

Michigan

3.41/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

One of our members of our homebrew club brought this to our latest meeting and after it was cracked, nobody drank it, so I brought it home with me, loving all things Unibroue and never having heard of this one before. "Dark Ale brewed with spices and Natural flavor added", bottle conditioned, 9.0% abv per the bottle. BBF 9/10/2013, so hey, I'm still within their time range:) Pours out to a very dark brown, like a brown porter, forming a nice whipped light tan head with very good retention and lacing. The cork was notoriously difficult to get out at this age and required a cork screw, pliers, and a knife. Brisk carbonation, ~3.5 carbs or so. The aroma is peculiar...at first I get some Brett like sour cherry pie character, but then it's closer to cola and root-beer..perhaps some sarsaparilla, licorice root, ginger and orange peel. The mouthfeel is crisp and clean with a light body (considering it's ABV) that finishes dry. Thankfully no oxidation at this age. The taste doesn't have any funky Brett character, just the aforementioned spices sitting on top of some restrained dates and figs. Very mild bitterness, barely enough to retain balance. No roast malt character at all...the color is probably from Carafa or debittered black malt. Finish of root-beer, cola and carob. Very peculiar, unlike any Unibroue beer I've had. It reminds me of a more drinkable stronger version of that "Brewer Patriot 1790 Root-beer" that Sam Adams released a few years ago.

Well, that was interesting. It's a fun beer to try but honestly couldn't see myself ever wanting to drink it again even if it were available.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2013 23:22:50 | More by Mitchster
Photo of Philousa
Philousa

California

2.68/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Aged in my own cellar, may taste slightly older than normal since I let it sit in my closet one summer before getting a proper wine fridge.

Pours a dark brown, somewhat red color against the light, black in the glass. Head is billowy at first but settles to a dense off white color, not too far from grey. Lots of spices: mostly allspice with pepper, clove, and ginger. I also get caramel and a bit of chocolate. It's hard to get the aroma out of the malts because the spices are so strong. Yeasty! Flavor is equally spicy and malty. Mostly caramel with cacao and a healthy amount of allspice, pepper, and clove. There's also a significant amount of raisin, prune, and grape juice. It's just this side of cloying, really. The finish is slightly dry, feel is a bit watery. Not my favorite. Glad I only paid $5 at the time. Nice first try in cellaring.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2012 19:06:59 | More by Philousa
Photo of draheim
draheim

Washington

4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL into a chalice. Pours a murky mahogany w/ a big khaki head. Leaves behind a uniform film of lace.

Aroma is dark fruit, bready malt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Smells like pumpkin bread.

Taste follows nose. Plums and figs, holiday spices. Alcohol well-hidden. Bready and satisfying.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, delicate, with a dry finish. Bottle conditioning has done its work here.

Overall a very good quad /BSDA from Unibroue.

Serving type: bottle

09-23-2012 04:50:17 | More by draheim
Photo of AwYeh
AwYeh

Ohio

3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage, poured into snifter. A bit of a Christmas in July was had with this one.

A: Pours an opaque dark brown, with a bit of visible sediment at the bottom of the glass.

S: Dark fruity malts, figs, spice, and yeast. Sweet and festive.

T: Once again, quite sweet, and due to the same basic flavors that showed up in the nose (plus even more spice). This tastes distinctly like a Unibroue beer given the high quantity of their yeast present.

M: Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation; a syrupy quailty helps the beer's flavors stick around after the finish.

O: A solid Belgian dark ale, especially given its comparably low price. Well worth picking up for five dollars.

Serving type: bottle

08-05-2012 19:09:41 | More by AwYeh
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber

Washington

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review from 12/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours nearly black with a thick, attractive dark tan head with lots of lacing. Spicy malty Belgian and dark fruit aroma. Malt, dark fruits, Belgain spicing. Ends rather subdued. Sweet and spicy I think this will age nicely like the last few years.

Serving type: bottle

07-04-2012 23:23:55 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of elNopalero
elNopalero

Texas

4.18/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I’ve had this one cellared for over two years. Looking forward to seeing how it develops and one suddenly chilly, dreary night it seemed like the right time to revisit it. The recipe changes every year and while I didn’t remember being amazed by the 2010 vintage I had generally positive feelings about it.

This pours dark, dark with a big, billowy cloud of foam. It’s actually a dark ruby-brown color, but you have to hold it up to light to know that.

I get a good deal of dried fruit aromas, Figs, dates, black cherries. Some booze, some phenolic notes, some fruitcake rounding it out.

Flavor … isn’t where I hoped it would be. Thinking of root beer tastes, some licorice and those dark fruits. The carbonation is there but the flavor runs … flat. I want more floral notes on the yeast to give it some life but instead there’s a sense that the tastes are treading through mud, all muddled and murky. It’s not horrible, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just not excited about how it turned out either. I think I have one more of these tucked away so we’ll see if it continues to drop off or if the flavor comes back.

UPDATE:

I had a bottle of this with a best before date of 09/10/2013, opened and enjoyed 12/14/12.

I heard a loud ffffsssst when I removed the cork—we got a live one!

This beer still has sufficient carbonation for a thick head of cocoa colored foam atop a dark mahogany colored brew.

My first impressions are all positive—there’s a pleasant nose with prominent stone fruit nuances, crisp flavor with a delicate sweetness and some dark fruit notes. While the flavors have mellowed out noticeably & taken on a smooth character the tight effervescence keeps them light on the palate. I get cherries, plums, some clove spice, a little orange peel. Finishes clean.

What made this vintage so enjoyable and the subsequent two (2011 & 2012) less so? The "rootbeer" or licorice does not dominant this one, although it is a bit player it works well
in the mix and lends a pleasing quality to the brew overall. A real gem for the price and one I wish I had held on to more of.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2012 20:46:40 | More by elNopalero
Photo of zaphodchak
zaphodchak

Virginia

4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opened in early 2012.

Dark brown, some head but not tons. No particular lace.

Some date and dark fruit in the nose.

Plum, date, and dark fruit dominate the body-- it's improved in the year since it was brewed. And of course, Unibroue yeast. Kinda tart, almost citrus finish.

Nice and smooth.

Good 'gateway' vintage ale-- it's basically Trois Pistoles, but it aged pretty well. A vertical might be nice.

Serving type: bottle

03-11-2012 01:58:58 | More by zaphodchak
Photo of Gueuzedude
Gueuzedude

Arizona

3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tried November 2011
A careful pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet Tulip produces a glass filling, dirty brown tinged, dark tan colored, initially four finger thick, but then quickly glass overlflowing head; this leaves some light, wispy lacing as it slowly subsides. The beer is a dark, concentrated, opaque, sort of black color, it seems to have tinges of concentrated brown / purple to it. The foam that was rescued from overflowing tastes a bit like concord grape-juice. The beer smells predominantly of sweet spices and fruit; it reminds me of clove, cardamom, a light concord grape soda note and a bright raisin note, though really the cardamom note seems to be the most noticeable (though not by a huge margin). Backing notes of a slight grain husk character and toasted brown bread are noticeable the more you dig for them. As the beer warms up the cardamom becomes more piquant, perhaps taking on a ginger like edge to it.

The beer feels light bodied and effervescent as it first hits my palate. The beer has a light sweetness to it up front, but this gets accentuated as it rolls across the tongue by a sweet spice and fruit character. Notes of cardamom and clove linger on the palate in the long finish, and there is perhaps just a wisp of toasted brown cracker character. The fruit reminds me of concord grapes and raisins. The spice character has a slight woody black pepper note to it, a touch of nutmeg, though it really is dominated by the cardamom and then clove character. The clove is likely from the house yeast, and there is also an earthy, sort of coriander like note that is distinctly from the Unibroue house yeast character.

A pretty tasty beer, it is a little too focused on the spice character, which isn’t surprising given the house yeast character, but it is nicely drinking all the same. The light mouth feel, is perhaps the best thing going for this beer (though the visual presentation is quite striking as well).

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2012 02:11:33 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of brewcrew76
brewcrew76

Wisconsin

3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to mikesgroove for this one

A - Deep brown with a little light shining through on the edges. Tan head with nice retention.

S - Spicy. Nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger are the ones i pick out. Some yeasty phenols and dark fruits come out as it warms.

T - Similar to aroma. Clove, nutmeg, ginger with light touch of cinnamon. Candi sugar, yeasty phenols and dark fruits.

M - Medium body with a slight tingle from the carbonation.

D - Tasty. ABV well hidden. Not overly complex but nice balance of spices.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2012 00:19:00 | More by brewcrew76
Photo of chinchill
chinchill

South Carolina

3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle purchased circa 1/1/2010, cellared for one year.
"Best before" Sept. 2013 date on bottle.
"Unibroue" stamped on the cork ... that's a good sign!
Hint: a crescent wrench worked nicely to unseal and help remove the firmly seated cork.

Pours a clear but opaque dark brown with a huge. foamy cappuccino-colored head that leaves a good amount of sticky lacing.

The aroma and the flavor both clearly indicate that this is a spiced ale. The exact combination of spices is unclear, but nutmeg and allspice seem most obvious, with hints of clove, ginger and cinnamon. The spice combination is nicely complex and well-chosen, but the beer is a bit over-spiced for my taste. The malt and hop components are well-masked by the spicing. Some raisin, prune and other dark fruit notes are evident. The aroma has a lightly tart aspect, but the beer is primarily sweet. High ABV is decently hidden in both taste and smell.

M: smooth; very good, medium carbonation; high ABV evident.

An excellent winter brew, with plenty of spicy complexity to enjoy in both the flavor and lingering aftertaste. A rather good price for a rich, Unibroue.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2012 21:41:51 | More by chinchill
Photo of Damian
Damian

Massachusetts

4.4/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from a 750ml/1pt. 9.4fl.oz. corked and caged bottle
Best before 09-10-2013
Served in a tulip
Thanks to mikesgroove for including this as an extra in our trade.

The beer poured a very deep brown/black and was topped by a thick, velvety, two-plus finger tall crop of beige colored froth. Decent head retention. Small droplets of lacing trickled down the glass with each sip.

The nose was crisp initially with a dry, powdery yeastiness. Slightly spicy with an undercurrent of dark fruits. As the head subsided, the aroma changed considerably. Rich, sweet malts came through strong. Tons of fragrant spices, including nutmeg, allspice and sage, were apparent, along with an intense, earthy, herbal quality. A touch medicinal. Strong notes of raisins, plums and currents. Some boozy, alcohol warmth was noticeable as well.

The flavor profile was also quite interesting. Rich caramel malts came through on the front end. Some roasted malts were also detectible. Lots of Christmas spices. Notes of ginger, nutmeg and allspice were apparent. Noticeable amount of fruity esters. Raisins, plums and currents came through strong. Good dose of dark candi sugar. A touch of booze appeared on the slightly woody, off-dry finish. All in all, however, the alcohol was quite well hidden.

The mouthfeel was fairly standard for the style. Medium bodied with a crisp, large bubbled effervescence. A touch thinner than I would have liked.

The past versions of Trader Joe's Vintage Ales have really impressed me but the 2010 example was superb. At a mere $5.99 a bottle, I will be picking up multiples of these from now on.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2011 03:04:14 | More by Damian
Photo of superspak
superspak

Michigan

3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into tulip, best before 9/10/2013. Pours almost opaque dark brown color with a nice 2 finger dense khaki head with great retention that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Some nice bits of lacing cling to the glass as well. Aromas of big clove, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, dark candi sugar, ginger, dark fruit, molasses, and spicy yeast. Nice and interesting aromas; tons of spices going on here. Taste of caramel, molasses, dark fruit, clove, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, candi sugar, and big yeast spiciness. Lingering notes of dark fruit, molasses, candi sugar, and spices on the finish for a bit. Medium bodied with fairly high carbonation, but it doesn’t hurt the drinkability at all. Fairly creamy and smooth drinking; with a fairly prickly mouthfeel. Alcohol is well hidden with nothing but a slight warming noticeable. Overall a damn nice spiced Belgian dark ale. Unibroue rarely brews a bad beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2011 07:36:22 | More by superspak
Photo of VaterRoss
VaterRoss

North Carolina

4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Serving: 750ml bottle (cellared about a year) poured into crystal hock glass. Best before 9-10-13.

Appearance: dark brown/black (cola colored), some carb bubbles visible, tan colored head.

Smell: first thing that hits is the yeast which reminds me of the smell of a weizen or witbier followed by the sweet smell so common in Belgians.

Taste: quite sweet lightly roasted malts followed by that delicious weizen yeast fruity spiciness that helps to balance what would be an exceptionally sweet brew. Alcohol taste finishes and lingers, but not unpleasantly.

Mouthfeel: moderate carb, slight tingliness in mouth

Overall: what at first would seem to be a sweet, heavy beer is well balanced by the fruit/spice taste. While not the absolute pinnacle of its style the price is hard to beat and the beer is most enjoyable and easy to recommend. Worth drinking slowly due to the fair amount of complexity.

edit: recently tasted the 2011 and assuming the same recipe was used, the 2010 greatly benefited from the year of cellaring.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2011 02:24:53 | More by VaterRoss
Photo of BedetheVenerable
BedetheVenerable

Missouri

3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 750 brown pop top, corked and caged, with really attractive, simple, classy gold writing and design painted on the bottle. Best before 2013.

Appearance: Nearly opaque dark brown beer, just a bit of light gets in around the edges. Split into two Chimay chalices w/the wife, this pours with a nice light tan head with good retention.

Smell: This is one of the spiciest-smelling brews I've ever encountered! This just says 'dark ale brewed with spices and natural flavor', but I have no idea what's going on here specifically. Very pungent spices up front. I got a ghost of orange when I popped the cork, but it's dissipated now. The spices are difficult to pick out, but something like cardamon or coriander comes out strong, along with a touch of cinnamon. A bit fruity, but not the big dark fruit aromas or caramel malt presence I was expecting. Tons of sweet spice, it's almost overpowering, but not quite. Very interesting, nonetheless.

Taste: Big spice presence here too, but not the cardamon I was expecting. Some orange fruitiness, a dash of coriander as well, almost like a witbier. A bit of cinnamon as well. Extremely spicy. Mild, but firm, hop bitterness. Warming, but not hot, alcohol, and high levels of carbonation, combined with a medium-body make this fairly drinkable. Ends with a firm hop bitterness and a hint of juicy blueberry.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, bubbly, quite drinkable

Overall: Unibroue beers are very hit or miss for me, but this one I'm actually digging. Usually I'm not a fan of spice-bombs, but here it really kind of works. Not something I'd buy all the time, but at $4.99-$5.99 I'd definitely pick up a couple of these to age if it was available again.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2011 03:34:06 | More by BedetheVenerable
Photo of LuthersMug
LuthersMug

Virginia

3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Let this one cellar for a year and partook on Thanksgiving 2011.

A - Dark brown, one inch fizzy tan head that dissipated a little bit too quickly. Some lacing.

S - Spicy Christmas flavors, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander.

T - Spicy, bready flavor.

M - Good maltiness, a bit of spice and pretty clean.

O - A good hearty beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2011 03:49:51 | More by LuthersMug
Photo of IamTHEeggMAN
IamTHEeggMAN

Illinois

4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I put away a case to age after it was released last year. Since the 2011 is now out, I figured I'd open up a bottle to see how it's aged.

Poured into a chalice the color is an extremely dark black with a pale cream-colored foam. Bringing the chalice up to my nose reveals strong notes of ginger and a hint of alcohol as the 9% abv suggests. Again the ginger hits the pallet in the first sip with a taste of roasted malt, complimented with a light spiciness. It finishes with a chewy, gingery, malty taste accenting by a soft alcoholic bite. I now understand why the English enjoy biscuits and tea as this beer is perfectly paired with ginger snaps. So much for the tea.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2011 18:19:46 | More by IamTHEeggMAN
Photo of mjpolzin
mjpolzin

Wisconsin

3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

In the interest of honesty, I have to admit I have not actually had this beer since last Christmas time and I know we are not supposed to review beers on here that we are just scoring based on memory. I wanted to put my score on here though simply as a comparison as I drink this year's vintage and compare it to the '09 (great) and the '10 (not as good). I remember the '10 having a lot of the same characteristics of the '09 but it wasn't as sweet, the spiciness wasn't as prevalent and it didn't have all of the characteristics I like from a dark ale/stout.

EDIT-Was given 4 bottles of the 2010 for Christmas 2011 so I can come back to it now and review what I said. The score is about right. I always like Trader Joe's Vintage Ale but I have placed right where it should be for my taste; behind the 2009 and 2011.

It is a very spicy, bitter beer. The smell was almost overpowering at first. Maybe this is due to the aging process? But although I say it is spicy and bitter, it just doesn't seem quite as complex as the other two years I have had so I don't like it as much. I have heard people say the '10 was more hoppy and the '11 was more malty? That seems about right.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2011 03:33:11 | More by mjpolzin
Photo of paxchristi
paxchristi

Missouri

3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Notes from Christmas 2010. 750ml bottle corked and caged.

Violently dark brown meets opaque color. Very spicy nose. Ginger, coriander, chicory, and and some strange bittering agents I cannot put a finger on. Taste seems to put the most of its thoughtfulness in its finishing spice more than the actual brewing itself. After the spiciness, there is some yeasty breads that I thought were underwhelming. I think a bigger yeast and/or biscuit would really give this one a bigger backbone that would have complimented the spices much better. In the finish, there is some subtle fruitiness that is vague. Neverthless, alcohol is hidden well and its very warming. It was a good Christmas brew.

I'm going to get it again this year and age it a year or so. $5 a 750ml bottle brewed by Unibroue is incredible.

Serving type: bottle

09-13-2011 01:06:09 | More by paxchristi
Photo of NeutroMan
NeutroMan

Illinois

4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL bottle, corked and caged. Uncorking this one proved to be quite the ordeal.

Pours a viscous, solid, opaque dark brown color. One finger creamy tan head forms before receding to a persistent cap. Visible carbonation; bubbles force their way through the top of the head and give the head more character.

Spicy phenols and dark fruits characterize the aroma. Spicy flavor: cloves, nutmeg, with some Belgian candy sugar. Malts are dextrous and full-bodied. Candied fruits round it out. No hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is creamy and full-bodied; the carbonation keeps it lively. A nice sipper; the 9% ABV is well-disguised.

Serving type: bottle

09-11-2011 20:33:50 | More by NeutroMan
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VaTechHopHead


3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Nice dark brown color and the head is a little flat. Pours pretty viscous out of the bottles and the lacing is a little lacking.

S - A very nice spicy Belgian aroma is prominent. A little banana is in there as well as figs and candied sugar.

T - Very strong spicy flavor....cinnamon and nutmeg are the two driving flavors. There's a nice brown/dark sugar note as well. The grain bill is complimentary in sweetness and no hops are detected.

M - A very medium to heavy body but the high carbonation makes it feel a little lighter on the palate. The alcohol is well hidden but still warming. Finishes semi-dry with flavors of spice on the tongue.

O - Not having any TJ Vintage ales before I'd have to say this one is pretty good. Granted it is contract brewed by Unibroue so I'd expect something very good. Don't know the price but I'd say it a must seek during the holiday season.

Serving type: bottle

08-16-2011 01:41:41 | More by VaTechHopHead
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Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 222 ratings.