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

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

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

226 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 226
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 226 | Reviews: 151 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of callmescraps
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The old man picked this one up, good for sharing. Had to battle the cork to get it open.

App- Deep brown, almost black. An inch of latte-colored foam. Settles quickly into a thin cap.

Smell- Cola. Some spice. Yeasty, for sure.

Taste- Lots of cola. Some spice and nutmeg. A little warming on the back. Nuttiness.

Mouthfeel- Nice carbonation.

Drinkability- Very nice. Goes down easy.

Very nice, but nothing spectacular. Certainly worth picking up.

callmescraps, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of latackbeer
2.45/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had higher hopes but this is average at best, Poured a 2 finger lacy head but quickly disappeared to where there is little retention around the sides. I get some coffee and caramel in the nose smells sweet.

Very easy to drink, good carbonation.

For the price I figured I would give it a try but I expected more from unibroue, I love mostly all their other brews!!

latackbeer, Dec 17, 2010
Photo of Clydesdale
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a deep, nearly opaque dark brown color. A few degrees shy of black. The light brown head is initially robustly tall, with a foamy consistency and medium thickness. Retention is strong, and irregular lacing (some fine and thinly spread, some chunky and rocky) clings resiliently to the glass as the head slowly recedes.

S: Vibrantly yeasty in the nose. Some caramel and ethereal sugary notes. Quite spicy - notes of cloves, coriander, and loads of ripe fruit (pear, apple, plum). A moderate phenolic snap is also available. A light earthy/herbal hop note stays in the background, per this style.

T: Smoothly sweet up front. Notes of brown and white sugar. Lightly bready malts are also detectable. Yeast and spice doesn't run amok, but it is very flavorful. Cloves, coriander, and plenty of fruity esters provide a very pleasant flavor. Light phenols, peppery flavors, and herbal hops provide some focus. A faint, tingly alcoholic note is present into the finish.

M: Relatively full-bodied. Quite smooth and velvety - carbonation is somewhat light. A touch more carbonation and thickness wouldn't have bothered me. Overall impression is much more sticky than dry, although a measured snap of crispness at the finish prevents it from being cloying at all.

D: A winner from Unibroue. This is a rock solid Belgian dark at an appropriate time of the year. Smooth, well-balanced, and hefty without being cumbersome - this is artfully brewed and easy to enjoy. Thanks are due to my Secret Santa for sending this my way.

Clydesdale, Dec 17, 2010
Photo of grittybrews
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark cola-black into a tulip with several fingers of fluffy espresso-tinted head. Yeasty aroma with spicy clove and a hint of sweet banana.

Slightly high carbonation and a mouthfeel that seemed syrupy at first and became more light and creamy as the beer warmed. Predominantly sweet flavors of dark fruit, banana, clove and toffee malt with a slight Belgian yeast funk. Nice finish with some faint hop spice, ginger, and nutmeg.

Very pleasant brew overall with a well-concealed ABV. Easy-drinking and a great value, if nothing groundbreaking. I'd echo the observations of many reviewers that the flavors improved as the beer warmed, with the initial sweetness becoming much drier.

grittybrews, Dec 16, 2010
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.

emerge077, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of Wetpaperbag
3.6/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love beer made by Unibroue, it is a company that started me in the path of craft beer.

A- I had to bust out a wine bottle opener for this one as the cork didn't want to release the beery goodness inside. This is very dark brown in color. The beer had a huge head with the initial pour, but it did settle down. Not much lacing.

S- Strong dark fruit smells, banana, esters, booze, and bready yeast.

T- The taste isn't quite like the smell, but the after taste gives you the banana and esters. The alcohol isn't there in the taste, but there is a warming (aka burning of soft tissue) sensation on the tongue.

M- Good mouth feel, the carbination is there at just the right amount like all of the beers made by Unibroue.

D- Very drinkable. Is this their best offering, not especially, but for the price of five bucks it isn't bad at all.

Wetpaperbag, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of Chadpaq
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Initially, I was a little worried that Trader Joe's would be sold out of this stuff when I walked in on December 14th. Ha. Everywhere I turned there was a new display of it. I guess they're hoping it really takes off this year. As soon as I picked up a bottle, the salesclerk jumped all over me: "You had that stuff? It's amazing. Really, really good stuff. You're gonna love it. Just fifteen minutes in the fridge and it's good to go!" I responded with a quick "Yeah, I love UniBroue, bet this'll be good." He looked puzzled; satisfied, I made my way to the bread aisle.

On to the review: Appearance was pretty. Almost no head to speak of, which I was a little disappointed with. Then again, I never judge a beer by its appearance, per-se.

The smell was--and I hesitate to say this--almost off-putting. It was very peppery, and sort of metallic. Maybe it's just because it's such a fresh BSDA and needs to mellow out for a little while. And now I'm recalling it was probably a little too cold. Either way, there was something about it that really didn't agree with my olfactory organs. Ah well.

The taste was much more pleasing. It was a little more mild than I expected it to be, and seemed to hide the high alcohol content very well. I tasted distinct coffee tones, as well as a peppery bite and some molasses. Pretty darn delicious. This thing definitely got better as it warmed too.

Mouthfeel was pretty good as well. Seemed to be almost TOO carbonated. A year in the cellar should take the edge off that. But like I said, good.

One bottle was all I needed of this to last me for the holiday season. I wasn't TERRIBLY impressed, but it was hard to beat at $4.99. I'll look forward to cracking one of the bottles I have cellared of it next year.

Chadpaq, Dec 15, 2010
Photo of MikeRose
4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a wide mouth glass. Warmed a bit out of the fridge, but still a bit colder than recommended. Initially not greatly impressed. Poured a dark brown, not much foam or lace, and the smell was just not there for me. CO2, hops, and not much else. Tasted fair right off the bat. Metallic hops taste the biggest complaint, but fairly balanced though not as robust as some Belgians. Was reminded of roasted coffee. Alcohol well balanced with the dark flavors. The after taste was very nice, one of the first things I noticed - malty and persistent. As the beer warmed up however, what a difference. The metallic taste disappeared, and wonderful notes appeared. A taste of bananna, and other dark fruity delicious smells. Will have >very< slightly chilled next time, and at the price, I plan to put a bit of this away too. I think it will age nicely just as the label states.

MikeRose, Dec 15, 2010
Photo of Dreadnaught33
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark dark brown like molassas in color but thinner in consistency. Off white head, some lacing but not much.

Smells like a Belgo-Canadian brew typical of Uni- lots of belgian spice, coriander, wheat malt, spices, ginger, nutmeg, etc. The taste follows suit, but with yeasty, wheaty, and candied fruit additions that are nice, but not overly complex.

The feel is nicely medium and great in carbonation. A nice beer over all

Dreadnaught33, Dec 15, 2010
Photo of droomyster
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy, very dark brown, almost impenetrable to light, with a tan head that's lasts long. The aroma is not bad but simply doesn't stack up to that of other Belgian Strongs. The nose has the signature notes imparted by Belgian yeasts: bubblegum and dark fruits, but is not as complicated as several of its competitors. The flavor, on the other hand, pushes all of my right buttons. Flavors of dates, raisins, and plums provide a strong sweetness that does not cross my personal threshold for "cloying" even after the whole bottle, which sets this beer above and apart from most other Belgian Strongs, which tend to quickly fatigue my palate. I also appreciate that the body doesn't completely break apart into bubbles on the tongue, and actually allows me to swish it around and appreciate for a long time. A fabulous elixir.

droomyster, Dec 15, 2010
Photo of allrizz
4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I purchased this beer from Trader Joe's.

A: Dark color yet able to see light through the glass. The head remained for much longer than I thought it should. Must have been how I poured it.

S: Fruit, malt aromas, caramel, and spice.

T: Dates, cloves, molasses, caramel, nutmeg accentuating a malty finish.

I am partial to dark beers and really enjoyed this one. I found the flavor of this beer unique with its spicy and malty taste. An excellent choice. I will definitely purchase some more and store them for future enjoyment.

allrizz, Dec 15, 2010
Photo of Chaney
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a very dark brown color, with about a finger or two head that quickly turned into nothing more that a bubble formation on top of the brew.

S: Very high pitched fruit notes, despite the dark color. It had sort of an aspriny quality on the nose and a very curious smell of Chai tea... but my imagination could be overactive.

T: Same as the nose, only more amplified. There was more sugar certainly, but it didn't make me cringe at all. Nice smooth aftertaste.

M: Fairly thick for sure, but the carbonation seemed very adequate for this very strong, funky style.

D: Actually, this was very smooth. I love the fact that Unibrue has a great thing going with Trader Joe's. I hope it stays that way!

Chaney, Dec 14, 2010
Photo of mrasskicktastic
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - A huge mocha head sits on a dark brown brew with a yellow tint. The head fades slowly into a frothy mess before dissipating into nothing.

S - Dark fruit and malt aromas. Dates, brown sugar, cloves, molasses and horse sweat.

T - Caramel malt and some darker roasts amount to a very malty flavor. Grassy hops, a touch of nutmeg and cloves. Aftertaste is of grassy/peppery hops and some flat cola flavor.

M - Thick, a little harsh initially, but a very smooth finish. Refreshing.

D - Pretty good! I had no problem drinking this. The price is excellent for the quality (typical of Trader Joe's). The Unibroue quality really stand out in this product.

mrasskicktastic, Dec 13, 2010
Photo of tapman
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark, opaque brown with a thin foam head of 2 fingers +. Head fades quickly.

A little clovey with some spicy cinnamon notes. A slight tinge of hop aroma.

Chocolate banana bread with a hint of a Guiness-like astringency, though based more on bitterness than flavor.

Very smooth, almost under carbonated compared to some of Unibroues.

Overall a definite high point in chain-supermarket-contract brewed beer.

tapman, Dec 13, 2010
Photo of InebriatedJoker
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle - 2010

Poured a deep brown with one finger head that dissipated quickly leaving a thin tan lace , moderate carbonation.

Smell - Toasty malts with lots of spiceing

Taste - The spices seemed to overtake everything else in this brew - even though it's tasty it's a bit to much spices for my taste, maybe a year in the cellar will mellow it out a bit.

Drinkability - Not a bad brew especially for the price ,still the spices seemed to over take all the other characteristics of the brew .

InebriatedJoker, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of impending
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml into a tulip, pliers were required. Pours a deep ruddy mahogany. Decent head, large bubbled lacing.

Complex aroma. I recognize multiple brews here, particularly a tripel with a strong floral component melded with a strong dark, something from the medicine cabinet or something from a Thai dish is in the distance on top of cedar. Strong spices. Unique combination.

Unique nose, unique flavor. Definitely Noël.

Smooth mouthfeel with momentary prickliness.

Unibroue had to brew something that could not be closely compared to any of their brews and be scrumptious, they succeeded.

My review is entirely based on the experience but the cost deserves acknowledgment. I don't penalize a brew for being too expensive so why should I reward a brew just because its so cheap. I don't but this is superb price performance!

Additional nod to Trader Joe's cause they always have Chimay priced below everyone else.

impending, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of KidsDoc
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the standard Vintage 750mL into a Unibroue (Maudite) snifter

Pours very dark burgundy but settles in the glass with a darker, near-black appearance and thin tan head. Minimal lacing.

Aroma is excellent - huge, continuous release of Belgian yeast and dark fruit - raisin/plum. The 9% is undetectable to me in the nose. I could really only pick it (alcohol) up once the glass was completely empty.

Taste is less impressive but still very good. A very sweet tasting beer - similar to the variations on strong dark ales that Unibroue puts out. Hits up front with belgian yeast, sweet malt. Finishes with the dark fruit which keep the sweetness going. Impressive was the well-hidden 9% ABV.

Feel was a moving target. I may have had this chilled below serving temp - whatever it was the carbonation was too much at the cooler temp. This did settle some as the beer warmed, but ruined the feel for me. The brew itself was not at all thin - had good balance but overpowering carbonation.

D: This is a sipping beer as expected from the 9%. I just finished what is about a 12 oz pour and the alcohol effects notable. I bought a few of these regardless (having liked the 2009) and will plan to share the remainder in social settings - as well as cellar one for next year.

KidsDoc, Dec 11, 2010
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.

beerbrains, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of scoots511
3.08/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

When I picked this up at Trader Joes I saw "On Less" stated right before the alcohol content on the bottom of the bottle. It immediately reminded me of Unibroue. That night when I opened the bottle it was like a xmas present to see UNIBROUE printed on the cork! I've been really enjoying the Unibroue beers this past year and had only stopped into T Joes for a few other items, not beer. I actually have a Tres Pistoles in my refrigerator so I am exicited to review that tomorrow night and compare since they are both strong dark belgians.

A: Dark, malty brown nearing black in color. Very highly carbonated, fitting the Belgian style pours wonderfully with a tannish head that turns back to whitish after the pour or swirl settles down.

S: Malty, sweet, almost a subtle cola smell to it. Could be a bit too much

T: Smooth strong dark belgian. Definitely candi sugar tastes and aromas

M: Smooth, bubbly

D: Very drinkable, possibly a bit too heavy on the belgian candi sugars

Not too shabby for the price, maybe a good beer to slip in after having a few others first though. The high flavors of belgian candi sugar are a bit too much for more than a tasting.

scoots511, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of ManuelHerrera
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

So I bought this imagining it would be Trader Joe's cheaper version of Chimay...and essentially that's what it is. Not that that's a bad thing, one just has to know what one is opening. It's a value priced Belgian strong ale (at $4.99 for 750 mL that's definitely a bargain).

The beer has all frontal notes of a solid Belgian, with less of the complexity. The beer pours a dark brown, almost black...with a thick head that evaporates promptly and little lacing. It has a pungent aroma of cinnamon, brown sugar and dates layered fairly thick.

The flavor is thin, and hits the Belgian ale notes with a hammer. The sweetness of the brown sugar quickly fades to a sour grape taste at the finish. Overall the beer is clumsy, it could use a little more thoughtfulness in the brewing, but overall it's not bad at all.

ManuelHerrera, Dec 11, 2010
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.

augustgarage, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of thehammer70
4.63/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Trader Joe's doesn't really have a brewery. This is made by Unibroue, the craft brewery from Quebec, Canada.

Like it's label mates 'La Fin du Monde' & 'Trois Pistoles', it's strong and tasty...well worth what TJs is asking for the bottle.

Do yourself a favour and pick up a bottle...and yes, you have to be a real man to pull the cork out...so get ready.

thehammer70, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of kgurator
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Extremely dark, nearly opaque. No chance of seeing through this beer.

S - Definitely has the standard Unibroue aroma. Yeasty and smells like the usual Belgian Strong Dark

T - Instant bitter mint flavor that is prominent upon the first sip. Blend of spices, anise, apples and darker fruits with winey overtones.

M - Quite thick and full in body with a considerable amount of carbonation

D - Goes down extremely easy, nice warm toasty Christmas brew.

kgurator, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of katan
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz into a pint

A - Pours a very deep dark brown, pretty much black. Some amber and brown highlights. The head formation is strong, very bubbly, and just lightly off white.

S - A grainy and yeasty nose. I detect some roasted malts, grainy astringency, and a very strong bready belgian yeast strain.

T - Starts off with some light two row. Builds some more astringency from grainy notes. A strong, but yet very smooth belgian yeast strain comes in, spicing up the beer big time. Finishes somewhat sweet, with some light raisins, cherries and caramel.

M - Thick and creamy beer body, but there is also some strong carbonation airy notes as well. Finishes somewhat cloying, strongly sweet.

D - Scary easy drinking - abv is incredibly well hidden. Somewhat filling.

Well worth trying - amazing for the price.

katan, Dec 10, 2010
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.

silver0rlead, Dec 09, 2010
Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 226 ratings.