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

Not Rated.
Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale

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BA SCORE
85
very good

227 Ratings
THE BROS
86
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 227
Reviews: 151
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 13.46%
Wants: 4
Gots: 77 | FT: 3
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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 227 | Reviews: 151 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by TheDudeBeers:
Photo of TheDudeBeers
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured to Pint (while Ice Fishing)

A - Deep rich brown in color with 3 fingers of frothy head

S - grains, malt, and spices. I didn't find it to be too fragrent, but it was very cold sitting out on the ice.

T - Malt, Chocolate, coffee, with a nice spicy finish

M - Pretty light on the tongue with crisp carbonation

D - For 9% this is a very drinkable ale. Perfect strong drink for the ice house.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Jason
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml brown magnum and was caged and corked.

Tan colored bubbles do their job, the brew is nearly pitch black in color. Super spicy nose from the obvious spices added (ginger seems to be the biggest addition) and the alcohol as well, hint of rose water to boot. Fluffy smoothness. Ginger right out of the gate, small handful of medicinal phenols as well. Dry malt flavors of toasted malt, hint of chicory and carob powder. Light on the hops. Fruity with a subtle yeast backing. The 9% abv is there, warming but pretty mellow for its size. Other spices within but all a quite vague other than the ginger and perhaps orange peel.

Big beers from Unibroue can do no wrong for the most part ... glad that Trader Joe's does this every year for a great price as well.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to AmericanBrew for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brownish-red color with a white head. The aroma is definitely Belgian in origin. I get a lot of anise and dark fruit, as well as some candy sugar and cinnamon. A nice, spicy aroma.

The flavor is heavy on the spices as well. I get a lot of anise and cinnamon, as well as some nutmeg, dates and cherries. There is also quite a bit of Belgian yeast and some alcohol.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A very nice beer and different from any of the other Unibroue beers I have tried in the past.

Photo of chinchill
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.

Photo of InfernoBoss
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of imbuckeye
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of dacrza1
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Situation: Mourning an NCAA pool ending and celebrating a garage door half-installed... Glassware: Maudite goblet... Appearance: Velvet dark almost coffee body with a thick brown head that occupies a chalice well... Aroma: punchy, fruity flavors and soft malts balance the bouquet... Palate: Creeamy, alarmingly soft and warm; milky on the lips; little bubble but a late vigor reveals complexity... Taste: Bright, lactic hops that are blunted by the subdued nature of malts--the roasted aspect is understated as well--little smoke but definitely fire! Overall: It’s Unibroue, and it’s a special release, and it was FREE thanks to my father-in-law--how can this review NOT end well? Less caustic than the Maudite, more body than the La Fin du Monde, darker than the Trois Pistoles, and easier drinking them all of them! At 9% alcohol another engineering marvel from the Canadians...

Photo of Metalmonk
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

9%, caged and corked, brewed by Unibroue for Trader Joe's. "Spices and natural flavor added." Natural flavor, eh? Huh. Bottle is obviously a Unibroue product; if you're familiar with the bottle designs of their more limited editions, you'll recognize this.

Looks absolutely great. As dark as a stout or porter, the liquid is nearly opaque and sports a very fluffy dirty white head.

The aroma abounds with...subtleties. Yep, it's a compelling aroma, but not one that will knock you over the head. A classy mingling of sweet/pie spices, cranberry, citrus peel, yeast, spruce tips.

Not a whole lot of surprises on the tongue, since I sniffed and sniffed at this thing before tasting it. There is an added cola taste, but it's rendered almost "diet" tasting, which is probably the spices and "natural flavors" all dancing around in here. The spruce detected in the aroma gets stronger in the flavor. There's even a peppery element that emerges. Finishes pretty dry. Alcohol stays subtle and polite, and the yeast makes itself known deep under the more surface flavors. Spruce/pine/hops/mint ride out in the finish with some alcohol and spice notes.

As said, pretty dry, but not terribly so, and the carbonation is a bit sizzly, although it also manages to be just gentle enough.

Unmistakably Belgian in character, this is neither the best nor the worst (far from the worst) when it comes to big strong holiday ales. My only real complaint is that the spicing takes over and becomes cloying after awhile. But it's a nice offering that sips slowly and pleasantly enough.

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

Brewed by Unibroue, that's interesting, Trader Joe's picked a great brewery to contract with for their winter seasonal.

Struggled with the cork a while before it broke, then ended up using a corkscrew on it.

A coffee colored pour topped by a much lighter head that quickly and lacelessly (new word?) dissipates.

The Belgian sugars make this beer very sweet but not cloyingly so. The sweetness is followed by and balanced by a fruity tartness.

Overall a pretty good example of the style.

Food pairing?? I would substitute this beer anywhere you would drink a Cabernet Sauvignon, especially roasted red meats.

Photo of augustgarage
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a caged-and-corked 750mL bottle into my Unibroue tulip. Best before September 10th, 2013.

Glassy burnt umber-tinged bistre body, just about opaque, though I get hints of ruby and auburn around the edges when held to a strong light (unless my eyes are playing tricks on me). Thick desert sand head leaves an even creamy raft on top of the ale. Soapy lacing curls down the glass in slowly. Faint legs.

Distinctive Unibruoue yeast in the nose, jammy with a hint of sourdough.

Plums, nutmeg or maybe clove, and earthy/grassy noble hop notes on the palate entry. Vascilates between sweet and dry with chocolate and honey/custard notes coming out as the beer warms. Light roast malt adds complexity without straying too far from style norms. Really, this is a "safe" take on the style, though as good if not better than some of their regular offerings. Finishes spicy, yeasty, lush, and somewhat sweet.

Medium bodied, the alcohol seems to yield a bit more texture without being excessively hot (the heat is well contained actually). Effervescent yet soft.

This is very tasty, and while lacking a little complexity, for $4.99 I can't complain.

Photo of brewerburgundy
3.63/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml corked and caged Unibroue bottle, snifter.

Raisin brown, yellow edged beer, black tea colors. Moderate amount of tannish head.

Banana esters, cotton candy, clove, some savory herbs that seem fitting for a roasting chicken, a bit like herbs de Provence. Grapes, red wine poached pears, distinct Unibroue yeast, and a sharpe mineral or acidic edge.

Flavors of clove, allspice, bitter dried orange peel, cakey malts dark and savory caramel, and biscuit. It is not sweet and seems like a strong Belgian brown ale. Lots of spice and lemon.

Chewy in carb and body.

I do think the price helps the taste. It's one of the most savory beers in my experience. I find 2009 and 2010 to be quite similar and not really something I like. Not hard, but not easy to drink.

Photo of zaphodchak
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.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.38/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to cosmicevan for this one. Poured from a 750ml corked and caged bottle into Lost Abbey stemware. Best before date of 9/10/13. This is actually contract brewer by Unibroue.

A: Cork is almost impossible to eject but when it comes out, there's just a muted pop. Standard pour yields a monstrous 4 finger frothy, foamy, dark purple/brown head with fantastic retention. Beer is a dark, near opaque purple. Lacing is thick and layered and with good cling. Very appropriate for the style though the head is a bit too much.

S: Nose is classic Unibroue... plums, grapes, clove, and Belgian yeast. Excessively sweet and very aromatic. Root beer comes to mind. Could be a bit deeper and there seems to be a hint of soap or some type of cleaning fluid aroma. A little awkward but not bad by any means.

T: Opens slightly ashy and heavy on the spices. Plum and grape juice and puree towards the middle. Very sweet. Clove and more spice towards the end with a Belgian yeast kick. Finish is Belgian yeast and sugar plums with a sweet, almost syrupy aftertaste. There's not a lot going on here but what is present is pretty enjoyable. Again, a bit too sweet though.

M: Light to medium bodied and moderately carbonated. Slightly prickly in the mouth and smooth going down with just a hint of carbonation. Finish is messy with a lingering aftertaste. Pretty standard and just a touch too light.

D: A pretty pedestrian beer overall but very in line with what Unibroue does. All of their offerings seem to very closely resemble each other so this one comes as no surprise. Enjoyable but I wouldn't go out of my way for another.

Photo of morganhowell
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of cjacobsen
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(A) When pouring it was like a dark brown, but when it sits in the glass, its pretty black. Not much of a head, but there was one present.

(S) Smells pretty spicy. Decent amount of plum and other fruits. Some molasses or other sugary compound in there.

(T) Thankfully not as spicy as the nose. It's definitely fruity and the plum is as present in the taste as it is in the nose. Roasted malt character with a hint of dark cherry and molasses.

(M) Had a spicy bite up front. Decently carbonated and settled like a high carbonated saison.

(O) I was a bit surprised by this one. Didn't know what to expect, really. I'm glad it wasn't as spicy as the nose but it was still fruitier and spicier than I had anticipated.

Photo of Hatshep18
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of danafr4
4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Trader Joes offers this seasonal brew (made for them by unibroue) in a 750ml bottle.

Poured foamy & a little bit thin with some fair, but subtle lacing.

At cellar temps, the aroma is full of the unibroue belgian yeast with fruitiness that is slightly sour. I find myself wishing the head retention was better.

The flavor is lovely. Clove/allspice mingled with caramel and dried fruit with a noticeable alcohol warmth afterward.

For as strong as the beer is (and feels) i want a little more body to balance it out.

This is the 'digestible' belgian dark ale, fermented to a crisper, lighter finish. Lovely to drink even if the body doesn't match the alcohol content for my taste. I'm curious to see how this year's offering ages after a year.

Photo of silver0rlead
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown with a cola colored head that retains OK, and leaves nice lacing. The aroma is suprisingly subtle, with dark chocolate and coffee upfront, along with some lemon and ginger, clove and molasses, fig, plum and grape, some esters and alcohol. The flavor also starts out with cocoa and coffee notes initially, along with some lemon and crystallized ginger, clove and cardamom, plum and fig, grape and candy sugar, along with some belgian yeast and slight alcohol presence. This is a very tasty iteration of TJ's vintage ale series, complex and drinkable I need to pick up some more to age.

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

Served into a large wine glass from a corked and painted 750 ml. bottle. As others have mentioned, cork removal was a bit of an issue. And while I didn't have to resort to a tool, the struggle was an interesting dichotomy vs. last year's almost self popping corks.

Pours nearly black and deep mahogany in the light, and offering a somewhat resilient cap of bubbly tan foam. Cap settles out in a few minutes, keeping a surface film and leaving moderate lacing.

Nose is originally dominated by a bit of peppery chocolate spice before expanding to more yeast complexities and some dried fruits. Doesn't portend a rich malt base however as the fruit notes are not overwhelming. Offers a touch of pleasant alcohol on the aroma.

Taste is fruity with more pronounced fruit and an almost vinous quality as the carbonation is somewhat low. Not overly complex and a bit thin in body given the light carbonation. Feel is moderate and finishes with a flash of sweet black cherry, making me wonder if this has fully conditioned in the bottle. A nice drink nonetheless, smooth and clean. Nose and feel improve with warming, offering that distinctive Unibroue yeast character. Reminiscent of '06 and '08, a great value.

Note: A second visit yields better carbonation and feel and a richer aroma.

Photo of PaBeerLover
3/5  rDev -20.8%

Photo of negroobserver
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Clear dark brown/black color similar to a porter. Pours with a lot of froth (the liquid and head take up about 50/50 of the space in the glass), which dissipates in a few minutes.

S: Complex and powerful aroma of spices and hops. Cinnamon, cloves, cardomom, light presence of hops and malts.

T: The spices really dominate and shine here. I found hints of banana and a slight nutty flavor. Mild fruity citrus flavor.

M: The beer is a little overcarbonated, but it seems to work well for it. The texture is light and not too watery.

D: Very enjoyable and complex flavors make this beer pretty easy to drink. I find the flavors make me want to keep drinking it and hold my interest more than with other beers.

OVERALL GRADE: B+/A-

Photo of andrewm190
3.45/5  rDev -9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Hey, it's an average beer. $4.50 for 22 oz isn't a bad deal for what is actually a Unibrou brew, but this isn't a particularly special beer. (Unibrou is frequently overrated in my opinion) When opened, a strong aroma of Belgian style ale and winter spices rushed out. That was really the highlight. The head came out pretty weak, and dissipated -completely - within seconds. I was at first tempted to just up and trash this beer for being uninvented and otherwise mediocre. I ended up improving it's score based on the strong and farily impressive spices that lingered well on the tongue and through the aftertaste. I certainly wouldn't seek this out, but at a great price, you could do worse in a pinch at Trader Joe's.

Photo of jamex
3.15/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

Wow, what a steal at $4.99. Bottle states 9.0% ABV. Brewed by Unibroue.

I had a heck of a time trying to pull the cork out. Had to resort to pliers. (EDIT: second bottle was also impossible to pull off by hand - grabbed pliers again).

Pours a nice, dark coffee. I poured a bit aggressively which gave me quite a head. Pour this guy gently. Let the head settle for 2-3 minutes which allowed the beer to slightly warm (I'm in San Diego and poured this outdoors).

Smells of a typical Belgium beer with some added dark fruits and dark wine. Some booziness as well.

Tastes like the smell; like a tripel with dark hints of fruit and perhaps banana.

The bottle states that this beer improves with age, and at $5 a bomber I might pick a few up and see. Definitely worth a five spot. (EDIT: Not sure I'd buy this again after the second bottle).

EDIT: I had to edit this because upon trying a second bottle, it was a bit of a mess. WAY over carbonated (almost like champagne) and the taste was a bit off. Maybe they are having consistency issues - who knows.

EDIT x2: Third bottle (a gift) and WTF - way over carbonated again. Meh.

Photo of IamTHEeggMAN
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.

Photo of emerge077
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled this a few times, and never put pen to paper to review.
It pours a very dark mahogany color, light gets through around the edges in direct light. Copious foam, pretty standard for the style, no lacing however.

Aroma at cellar temp is earthy and spicy, anise clove and coriander, dried prunes. When cold it's pretty muted.

Phenolic spice and husky toasted malts, nutmeg and raisin.
Aftertaste of nutmeg and brown sugar, but dry and not sweet. Almost astringent at first, with a very earthy malt character that is a little off putting. Good flavors, but overall nothing too out of the ordinary. Probably the usual Unibroue house yeast that tends to color everything a little funky. Would drink again, for $5 it's a steal, but not worth the cellar space to be honest.

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Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 227 ratings.