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

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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:
Photo of elNopalero
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.

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 OldTime
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of carrollmel7
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of AndrewMichael
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of Gueuzedude
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).

Photo of Eriktheipaman
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of brewcrew76
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.

Photo of TeamUgly
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of Stoutsman
4/5  rDev +5.5%

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 kevgod
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of ckapp
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of towlea25
3/5  rDev -20.8%

Photo of aliving1
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of imbuckeye
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of tat2dhllblly
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of morganhowell
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of Damian
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.

Photo of superspak
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.

Photo of GolamKovach
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of mrebeka
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of CelticAleMan
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of VaterRoss
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.

Photo of BedetheVenerable
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.

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