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Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale

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

278 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 278
Reviews: 117
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 14.25%
Wants: 4
Gots: 71 | FT: 4
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: hreb on 11-13-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 278 | Reviews: 117 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of PaBeerLover
5/5  rDev +31.9%

PaBeerLover, Dec 29, 2011
Photo of sgoro
5/5  rDev +31.9%

sgoro, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of teyuders
5/5  rDev +31.9%

teyuders, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of TMoore
5/5  rDev +31.9%

TMoore, Aug 12, 2012
Photo of Snodman
5/5  rDev +31.9%

Snodman, Aug 09, 2014
Photo of ankdoktor
5/5  rDev +31.9%

ankdoktor, Dec 15, 2011
Photo of ineva
5/5  rDev +31.9%

ineva, Nov 23, 2011
Photo of RichH55
5/5  rDev +31.9%

RichH55, Feb 08, 2012
Photo of moneyfunnel
5/5  rDev +31.9%

moneyfunnel, Apr 28, 2012
Photo of TasteFiend
4.75/5  rDev +25.3%

TasteFiend, Aug 16, 2013
Photo of Khutso
4.75/5  rDev +25.3%

Khutso, Jun 24, 2013
Photo of Koralin
4.75/5  rDev +25.3%

Koralin, Jun 12, 2012
Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.63/5  rDev +22.2%

Pours a murky Belgian style brown with huge off white head.

The smell is very herby. Coriander, grass, and lemon peal.

The taste is herby on the front, followed by brown sugar, and a prune, caramel, and herb back.

The style of "Belgian Dark Ale" can scare me at times because it has been hit or miss and a pretty undefined style. To me this tastes like a dark Witt if there were such a thing. Outstanding beer and the fact it is so cheap is unmatched. I will buy more for sure.

Eriktheipaman, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of UncleBuccs
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

UncleBuccs, Aug 10, 2012
Photo of BeerBodisafa
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

BeerBodisafa, Dec 18, 2011
Photo of pfullah
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

pfullah, Jan 02, 2012
Photo of b33rb1tch
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

b33rb1tch, Jan 23, 2012
Photo of brureview
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

brureview, Feb 04, 2012
Photo of cowboy83
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

cowboy83, Mar 01, 2012
Photo of NatetheGreat
4.48/5  rDev +18.2%

I really liked this one. It's dark brown with a large head and minimal lacing. Huge, complex, enticing aroma with cinnamon, apple, raisin, and a sweet-spicy mix that includes alcohol. Tastes much like the smell with layers of sweet fruit and spicy undercurrents. The mouthfeel was a bit thin but overall a great beer at a great price.

NatetheGreat, Feb 27, 2012
Photo of elNopalero
4.45/5  rDev +17.4%

It’s a malty-dark cocoa color in appearance with a healthy topping of foam. Great bouquet with lots of floral, spicy, earthy aromas. Full flavored with mushy berries (thinking mashed blackberries with orange zest, like what I topped holiday waffles with), perhaps figs? Dates? Thick, dark, fruit more savory than sweet is what I’m getting at here, followed by some spices (not chili/peppers—more like mulling spices) and a hint of rootbeer. There’s a clove-banana-rootbeer (sarsaparilla?) finish too. The effervescence keeps this light, and it holds together as it warms over an hour. This is a steal for $5. Even at twice the price it would be a good deal since it’s a terrific brew.

Trader Joe’s annual release of this beer is one of the reasons why I’m always willing to take a chance on their other contract brews. By this point I’ve worked my way through and back on their store brand beers and had more than a fair share of duds—but also found some real gems. Count this among the best of them. Try it if you can find it.

elNopalero, Jan 09, 2012
Photo of nickfl
4.45/5  rDev +17.4%

A - Poured with a large, three finger head of light tan foam on top of a dark brown body with some amber highlights. The head settles slowly and it deposits average lace on the glass as it recedes.

S - Caramel, toffee, and Belgian yeast notes of coriander, cinnamon, banana, and clove.

T - Caramel, toffee and dark fruit up front with notes of plum, clove, and red apple. More toffee and raisins in the middle with a bit of cinnamon. The beer finishes with a nice combination of spicy and fruity yeast character that works nicely with the dark sugar of the malt.

M - Medium-thick body, high carbonation, and a very dry finish.

D - The yeast character is spot on for the style and the dark malt is full of complex, dark sugars that work perfectly with the fruity notes. Very drinkable with a dry finish that really hides the high alcohol content, this is a really nice Belgian beer, I would not have guessed it came from North America, let alone that it was brewed for a grocery store chain!

nickfl, Mar 02, 2012
Photo of Drinkerofales
4.38/5  rDev +15.6%

Pours a dark brown, almost black with a giant mocha colored fluffy head that dissipates to a ring quickly with minimal lacing.

Smells like spice and malted roastiness, with and undertone of crisp hops.

Tastes a little like toffee from the malts, followed by a gingerbread taste, allspice, and cloves taste most prevalent. Leaves a roasted spice aftertaste that's nice. Spice flavor comes out more as it warms.

A very carbonated beer, in a good way, it makes it feel light. Doesn't coat the tongue. For a 9% beer, it feels smooth and easy drinking.

I liked this beer, and so did my wife, which is a surprise, since dark beers aren't her thing. This beer is very festive, great spice content doesn't overpower or assault the nose, but tastes enough to get into that holiday mood. I liked feeling like gingerbread was in the oven and I was already eating the first batch.


Drinkerofales, Dec 29, 2011
Photo of MattyG85
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. 2011 Vintage

Appearance: Pours a dark blackish brown with a little ruby red showing on the bottom of the glass. Big five finger tan head fizzles down to a thin layer. Lacing is moderate on the glass.

Smell: Lots of spicy Belgian yeast upfront with cloves and hints of banana and pepper. Also some hints of raisins and other dark fruits. Has a lingering aroma of cocoa powder giving a cola like smell to the spices. Also picking up some hints of coriander, lemon, and brown sugar. One of the most spice forward beers I've smelled.

Taste: Spicy like the nose suggests but not as much cola in the taste. Big taste of Belgian yeast throughout with some clove. Hints of banana and nutmeg with dark fruit raisins and plum. Some notes of cocoa powder that blend in well with the yeast. Also some light hints of lemon, coriander, brown sugar, and dark malts giving a little hint of chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Body on the lighter side of medium and carbonation is medium to high. Finishes somewhat sweet. Alcohol heat is nowhere to be found which is a bit surprising considering the body isn't heavy. Very smooth.

Overall: A very nice and interesting take on a dark Belgian ale. The spices blend very well in the taste and this is pretty easy to drink.

MattyG85, Nov 24, 2011
Photo of cosmicevan
4.3/5  rDev +13.5%

after not really loving last year's and buying a case without trying one first (since i loved 2009 so much), i decided on a single bottle.

a - opened the corked and caged bottle and poured 2 unibroue tulips. looks rather promising with the deep purple with crimson highlights liquid capped by the classic unibroue yeasty head with chunky lacing.

s - hey...that's pretty spot on!!! great dark fruit and candied yeast. i forget how much i love unibroue beers. like a mix of candy flavors.

t - VERY nice. like a classic unibroue belgian strong dark, but on the sweeter and softer side. a big improvement from last year where i found the spicing to be a bit overwhelming (although i haven't had that one in almost a year and will probably pop one after this to see where it is at).

m - a bit thin lacking the creaminess that i typically expect from the style and the brewery. an easy drinker and cooling...the booze is pretty invisibile except some tingling in the mouth.

o - overall...hoorah! glad to see unibroue doing what they do best on this year's trader joe. think i best be nabbing a case of this whilst i still can. overall, a solid vintage and very much what i dig about unibroue's BSDAs, perhaps a bit on the sweet and softer side of trois pistoles (one of my alltime favs).

cosmicevan, Dec 12, 2011
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Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 278 ratings.