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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.

282 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 282
Reviews: 117
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 14.25%
Wants: 4
Gots: 73 | 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: 282 | Reviews: 117 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of beerme411
4/5  rDev +5.5%

beerme411, Dec 10, 2011
Photo of fehrminator
4/5  rDev +5.5%

fehrminator, Dec 10, 2011
Photo of railman
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Found this at Trader Joes for 4.99. Knowing that it was brewed by Unibroue made it all the worthwhile.

Pours a very dark almost black hue with minimal carbonation and head.

At first whiff it reminds me of Coca Cola with raisins.

Tastes like it smells, Coca Cola with raisins maybe some spice mixed in.

Medium body in the mouth, not much else going on.

Overall it was worth the price although I was a little disappointed
with the flavor. Not sure if I would purchase again in the future.


railman, Dec 09, 2011
Photo of southhousebrew
4/5  rDev +5.5%

southhousebrew, Dec 09, 2011
Photo of beck2008
4.13/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - dark coffee / cola, 1/2 finger head on the 1st pour

S - lots o' spice, hint of lemon

T - Spice is most dominant, pepper & clove, citrus on the finish. It tastes better as it warms up. Ice cold is not the way to serve this up.

M - a bit too much carbonation - I like to let my glass sit awhile so the carbo mellows out. A bit thinner than the 2009 (2010 was not all that impressive) but still a good bsda.

O - 2009 was my 1st taste of this style of beer and I have to say it was the best compared to 2010 and 2011. Overall I think 2011 is better than 2010. I am going to save one (hopefully) for one year and compare to 2012. I love this beer and for a mere $4.99 it's a great buy.

beck2008, Dec 09, 2011
Photo of grittybrews
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark cola brown with three fingers of loose khaki head. Yeast-dominated aroma with dark fruit, apple, clove and other indistinct spices, and raisiny sweetness.

Moderate carbonation and a light, dry mouthfeel. Bready toffee and yeast up front mingling with dark fruit and banana before the spice character reasserts itself on the finish. Hardly a trace of alcohol to be detected.

Not too sweet, but the spices come across a little muddled. Drinks easy enough but lacks the "wow" factor (although the price was right).

grittybrews, Dec 09, 2011
Photo of Listers
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Listers, Dec 09, 2011
Photo of bennetj17
3.6/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer, like most Unibroue selections, has an inviting appearance. The beer is dark brown, topped with a thick, bubbly head of off-white foam. Smells like every other vintage I've had: touches of dark fruit with dominant spice.

The taste has a good balance between the robust malts and the spices. It has a cocoa/raisin character with touches of roast and a decently bitter finish. The pairing of coriander-like spices gives it a unique flavor profile, and overall the beer is quite mellow in terms of alcohol flavor. The mouthfeel is slighty thin, but the bubbly carbonation tends to make up for that.

This 2011 vintage doesn't deviate much from years past. It seems like the issue with excess carbonation is fixed, but the beer isn't any more drinkable overall really. A good buy for the price, but not something I want to drink all the time. I wish they would change the recipe more significantly from year to year, but I supppose this is their niche.

bennetj17, Dec 08, 2011
Photo of mactrail
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Totally black in the snifter. Big foam-up at first pour but subsequent sloshes are fine. Fairly coarse head. The sudsy mouthfeel is the most pleasant part of the experience. Slight fruity touch of dried figs and old red wine. Surprisingly light bodied. It goes down easily, leaving only a faint burnt raisin toast flavor. Hops are pretty much undetectable. A little aroma of alcohol and something like grapes or jam.

Seems like a typical Unibroue offering. Some are great and some are like this, a hard to understand stew with some dark yeasty nonsense going on.

mactrail, Dec 07, 2011
Photo of Wreckoncile
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml into a snifter.

A - Initial pour was cola-like, pouring with a two and a half finger foam of larger bubbled head. Very dark brown, nearly opaque. Initial pour was heavily carbonated to the point where it really looked like soda, but I let the bottle warm as it was overcooled and just poured the second pour which was much less carbonated.

S - Solid overall scent. Spices dominate, with notes of clover and nutmeg and what seems like an underlying but faint cumin. Some dark fruit lingers on the nose, with a touch of fig and raisin.

T - Spice dominates at the front, but subsides quickly to let in more of the fruitiness than the nose revealed. Clover is the most evident taste on the front end, while it subsides and lets mostly a raisin flavor to linger, albeit a little more subdued. Some booziness, but not overpowering or offputting at all. The yeast finishes the sip and gives it a pleasing aftertaste with a breadiness that fits well with the darker fruit notes towards the end.

M - A bit overly carbonated on the inital pour, but after letting it sit out and warm, the second pour was much less. Although, still the mouthfeel is a bit overcarbonated for the style and leaves a trace of tingle on the tongue that shouldn't be as pronounced.

O - Not exactly overwhelmingly good, but a solid offering for a great value. Unibroue is the brewer for this one, so you can expect a certain level of quality in the Belgian styles, but its definitely not quite the level of quality that you'll find with their branded offerings. All in all, you could do much worse for a BSDA and you can do much worse at the price point. If you can get over the overcarbonated mouthfeel, the taste and the scent are among the best you'll find in the style at this price point.

Wreckoncile, Dec 06, 2011
Photo of ADTaber
4/5  rDev +5.5%

ADTaber, Dec 05, 2011
Photo of jneiswender
2.05/5  rDev -45.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Got this beer from friend Carl. Poured out of bottle, cool, into a Belgian tulip glass.

Nice black body and a beige head. Belgian yeast, clove and slight veggie smell. Strong carbonation up front. Roasted malt front. Burnt toast. Heavy carbonation. The carbonation and the burnt malt mouth just mutes whatever else is being offered here. I may avoid next time.

jneiswender, Dec 05, 2011
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.

mithrascruor, Dec 04, 2011
Photo of TicoCali
4/5  rDev +5.5%

TicoCali, Dec 04, 2011
Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev +5.5%

drewone, Dec 04, 2011
Photo of IKR
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark Brown with a large beige head.

Smell: Spices and bready yeast notes.

Taste: The spices are upfront along with some faint roast notes. I also pick up some slight fruity notes. Finishes fairly dry with some alcohol in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with a fairly high level of carbonation.

Overall: Good beer for the price.

IKR, Dec 04, 2011
Photo of markrmoser
4/5  rDev +5.5%

markrmoser, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of mikesgroove
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

very dark, almost a hazelnut color of brown, with a slightly reddish tint to it. Very hazy and cloudy and with a good amount of sediment running through it. A good two inch plus of head

alcohol presence here, but not in an overpowering or derogatory way, more of a subtle, just letting you know it was there. Lots of dark spices here. I could pick up even some dark fruits, plums and maybe even a bit of grape very nice warming feeling coming over as I took the first sip. Lots of mellowed yeast here. Some apples and plums, maybe a fig mixed in seemed to bring out the lighter notes. Meanwhile, underneath that was a deep caramel like flavor that blended in with a earthy or bready like back. Very complex and yet remarkably smooth.

mikesgroove, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of noel2977
4/5  rDev +5.5%

noel2977, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of hellcatsjg
4/5  rDev +5.5%

hellcatsjg, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of smcolw
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge beige head which settles moderately, but in a lumpy fashion, leaving minor spots on the glass. The liquor is ruby, brown where bright light barely makes it through the center of the glass.

Strong earthy aroma with lots of corriander, star anise, cinnamon and all spice. Light alcohol nose.

Tastes very much like a Quad. Smooth (but spritzy) darker malt flavor upfront. The spices described above jump almost immediately. The swallow is brandy-like with some warming from the alcohol. The body is full but the carbonation is equally high, so it balances out.

Despite the Trader Joe's name, I would encourage others to try this. I imagine in a blind taste test this would test well against even its Belgian brethren.

smcolw, Dec 02, 2011
Photo of spamages
1.5/5  rDev -60.4%

spamages, Dec 01, 2011
Photo of abrethanson
4/5  rDev +5.5%

abrethanson, Nov 30, 2011
Photo of Overlord
1.75/5  rDev -53.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

May be showing initial signs of infection. Sadly, I have another bottle, so I'll see if that one is any better.

First thing to note is explosively crazy carbonation. Umm....should half a tulip glass result in an overflowing light tan head? Subsequent pours result in crazy amounts of fizz. Ruddy brown color.

Smells like rancid, spoiled raisins, a bit of buttery malt, and a zingy, intrusive yeast.

The taste is all over the place. Orange rum soaked raisins, a weird tangy malt aftertaste, and the belgian yeast has run amuck with medicinal bananas and an irritating herbal aftertaste.

I usually find this beer to a great value in beerdom. This year's version sucks.

Overlord, Nov 30, 2011
Photo of InfernoBoss
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

InfernoBoss, Nov 30, 2011
Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.