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

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

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very good

285 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 285
Reviews: 118
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 14.25%
Wants: 5
Gots: 75 | 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)
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Ratings: 285 | Reviews: 118 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mabermud
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Descent, but not my style.

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3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

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3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

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3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

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3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

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3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

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3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

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3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

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3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

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3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of s4s
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of bowlerjoe2
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of imperialking
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of letsgetstoked
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of jpro
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750mL bottle from the local TJ’s - it looked pretty crazy in the store and for $4.99 I couldn’t resist (especially seeing that it was brewed by Unibroue).

A: Pours a dark brown, with a massive khaki head. As the super bubbly foam dies down it leaves no lace, but manages a nice half-finger of creaminess throughout consumption.

S: Sweet malts and spices. Dark bread and candied fruit aroma seem to dominate the nose.

T: Very sweet breadiness here. Spices are interesting and almost overpowering - seems like there’s some ginger in there on the finish? Dark fruit, especially cherry, is also evident as the taste leans almost towards sour about mid-palate. A very interesting brew - a bit all over the place, but interesting.

M: Light mouthfeel and quite fizzy. Not the most enjoyable combination - it feels just about like champagne in the mouth. Again... interesting.

O: A very odd beer - it has a lot going on in the taste department... maybe too much? I guess if you spice the heck out of something, it might as well be a Belgian strong dark ale - problem is there’s just a bit too much going on here. An interesting beer, but it would be nice if it was a bit more “traditional” (hold the ginger, vanilla, clove, etc) - which is kind of what I was expecting given the brewer. But, that being said, its still an interesting brew, and will definitely start a conversation if shared with friends.

Photo of GossageBrewery
3.44/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

I had this stored in my basement for over a year, thought I would take it out and give it a try. Poured from a 750 ml bottle, into a snifter. Poured a amber color, produced a tannish head, decent retention and it left some lacing on the glass. The Aroma consisted of roasted malt, sweet caramel and prunes. Full bodied, this Belgian Strong Dark Ale the base consisted of roasted malt, caramel and some wine like fruitiness, most likely from the yeast. Overall, it was decent, it under preformed my expectations, but maybe my expectations were to high. Unibroue brewed this ale for Trader Joe's and thus far everything i have sampled from Unibroqe has been outstanding.

Photo of vandemonian
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale is ok. It's pretty mild but there are some off flavours too.

A: Black colour and a 25 mm head that lasts really well. 4.5

S: Malty and some apple clove flavour. 3.5

T: Malty with dark fruit flavour. It's a very mild flavour with something off in the finish. 3

M: Super foamy. 4.5

O: 3.5

Photo of wowbagger
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very dark with a foamy thick head. Some hints of brown and red but mostly dark.

Smells of malt and fruit.

Taste, a little spice and those fruit notes. A little sweeter than I expected. Some cherry at the back of the mouth with a grassy feel. The spices linger and tend to dominate overall.

It looks like a dark ale, but tastes more like a spiced wheat and it's a little thinner than I expected. I had mine cold but I suspect that closer to room temperature would be more appropriate. Very interesting offering from Joe's. I'd recommend giving it a shot if dark spiced ales are your thing.

Photo of Reaper16
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL bottle served into a snifter

Pours a russet brown color with plenty of crema colored head composed of fairly large bubbles. There's varying tones of brown here, and it looks like a pretty nice example of the style.

The aroma isn't beating you over the head with anything, but all of the things you'd expect to smell have their subtle day in the sun here. There's raisin and date; there's some gingersnap cookie; there's plenty of dried ground clove. Some dark syrup smell too -- like some diet version of molasses.

The taste is also subtle. The clove flavor blends well with the cookie & fruitcake malt profile. There's some dark fruit flavor here, but it is very soft and distant (unlike the sharpness in some BSDAs).

It's thin for the style. It's this beer's only real drawback. It feels insubstantial in body, and the high level of carbonation exacerbates that feeling.

Overall, this is a very solid beer in the style, especially when you consider the price. This beer, of course, is brewed by Unibroue, and you can really tell just by drinking it. It is lighter and less overtly flavorful than Unibroue's normal lineup, but not really any less good for it.

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

A decent strong dark belgian. I buy 12 or so each year, usually celar-ing one or two for later in the year when I am looking for something more potent than the usual summer ales.

Pours nicely, darker than planned. The brew is contracted from Unibroue, so it has to be good. And this one is just that, good. Nothing spectacular like years past. But a nice, solid, once in a lifetime (since they change it each year) tasty brew. I wouldn't necessarily cellar any of it, but a nice brew to enjoy when you need a break from christmas or winter ales.

Photo of WankelEngine
3.33/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a snifter

A: Pours very dark brown and opaque. There is a foamy tan head of one finger that sticks around for a while. Leaves mild spotty lacing.

S: Primarily dark fruit with a good helping of cloves and some Belgian yeast.

T: Fairly smooth with more dark fruit flavors. Clove is strong as well as some alcohol esters. Toffee and caramel take some of the edge off. Milder notes of yeast. As it warms I can make out banana bread.

M: Soft, full mouthfeel but more carbonation than I care for.

O: Better than I was expecting, given that this is 4 dollar per bottle Trader Joe's beer. An honest attempt at a Belgian dark ale, but falls somewhat short. The flavors don't quite meld well. It's still a good deal for the price.

Photo of brewerburgundy
3.3/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

25.4oz bottle, Duvel tulip, 2011 vintage.

Enormous head, pinkish light brown, widely spaced bubbles, billowing. This year's Vintage Ale is darker than I recall the last two years, more resistant to light, with more red.

Gimme that old distinctive Unibroue yeast. This super phenolic strain is spicy and funky in a raw herbal way, not like Brett at all, but just a very foreign smell. It's totally dominant, root beer is the only other aroma.

No surprise, the yeast is the dominant flavor too. Sweet malts, root beer, sarsaparilla, cranberries, and candi sugar skulk. I'm just not a huge fan of Unibroue's house strain that they use for their darker beers. Things kind of end up like overripe bananas.

Thin for the size and lack of outrageous alcohol, I find the mouthfeel of this beer really quite dull. The super carbonation that made that enormous head had fled.

Maybe I've tightened up my reviewing closer to a C average since last Christmas, but this years really isn't so much to my liking. It's one-dimensional.

Photo of chippo33
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of mattmarka1
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of mithrascruor
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle poured into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours a solid black color with a nice, thick, and foamy tan/off-white head. Good retention, and leaves a nice lacing.

Smell: Nice aroma with a hint of dark fruit, a few bits of clove, and quite a lot of cinnamon.

Taste: Lots of cinnamon and cloves, with a hint of other spices. The malt body doesn't show up until the finish, and the aftertaste is mostly spices with a bit of malt.

Mouthfeel: Quite a lot of carbonation (a tad excessive), though relatively smooth and medium-bodied.

Drinkability: More than a tad over-the-top with the cinnamon and cloves. High ABV, but not apparent in the flavor.

I think someone dumped too many spices into this one. It is alright, but there's not much dimension to it, and the flavors are a bit skewed. Especially for the price, it is pretty good for what it is, but compared to some of the ones from past years, this really isn't so great.

Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 285 ratings.