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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

309 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 309
Reviews: 120
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 14.21%
Wants: 5
Gots: 78 | FT: 5
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:
Beer added by: hreb on 11-13-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 309 | Reviews: 120 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of KidRagnarok
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of kdown
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of n00blar
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of BeerManDan
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

When poured there was a fair amount of light tan foam, with very little lace on the side of the glass. The color was a very dark brown. The smell of roasted malts and spices and a hint of rasins, caramel are evident in the aroma. But the taste was of roasted malts, semi sweet/bitter/sour spices, that leaves the palate wanting more. Not as balanced as the 2010 Vintage Ale. But, still drinkable and not that all unpleasant of an Ale!

Photo of Swervine44
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of jpro
3.48/5  rDev -8.4%
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 guild337
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of PangaeaBeerFood
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Saw this on the shelves at my local TJ's for $4.99 and had to grab one.

It pours much like a Belgian Quad, with average levels of carbonation, an attractive brown color with red accents and a fluffy tan head with excellent retention.

The aromatics really just out of the glass at you, sweet and fruity with some grassy notes and subtle hints of alcohol. Smells very similar to my recollection of Trois Pistoles, which I'm sure is due to Unibroue's signature yeast strain.

The flavor is more subtle than the nose, and probably more subdued than the average quadruple, but enjoyable nonetheless. It's very fruit-forward with a chalky sort of dryness in the finish and brandy-like warmth as you swallow.

Mouthfeel was noticeably thinner than other BSDA and moreso than I'd expect from something of 9% ABV, but it didn't detract from the experience.

Overall, an excellent brew that's made outstanding by the price tag. Easily the best buy I've seen in beer, ever. A must-buy for those seeking holiday beers on a budget.

Photo of scottfrie
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into NB snifter.

A: Pours a very very dark mahogany brown that barely shows red when held up to the light. The light tan head is billowing and very active, and a full 3.5 fingers of foam filled my glass despite a careful pour. After waiting a long while the head finally receded into a thick fluffy film that held great retention and left rings and streaks of clinging lacing down the glass.
S: Huge notes of spruce and pine forest, sweet candied fruits, fruit skins and fruit zest, followed by scents of sarsaparilla, juniper, coriander and other greens and spices. I get a hint of grape as well.
T: Sweet but not cloying fruits are more noticeable than the nose. The grapes, along with dried raisins and caramel, provide a strong backbone. The forest from the nose isn’t as green or potent in flavor, but the spices (and spicy yeast) come through very nicely, especially in the finish. The finish also contains flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and lightly bitter earthy and herbal tasting hops. The aftertaste is sweet with candied sugar and maybe just a hint of chocolate and dark bread.
M: Medium-full body, creamy and ample carbonation with a fluffy and fairly thick mouthfeel. The nearly double-digit alcohol is just barely noticeable.
O: I enjoyed this a lot. For the price, it’s hard to beat. This tastes like a holiday themed winter warmer mixed with a traditional Belgian Dark. Definitely worth an impulse buy while grocery shopping.

Photo of Shibbykaiyai
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
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 guillemiro
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of BeerBodisafa
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%

Photo of sweemzander
3.06/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a tulip.

(A)- Pours a pitch black color. Some tan froth and lace.

(S)- Funky with some spicy(cardamon?) and floral bits. Earthy too.

(T)- Again, some earthy spice and floral bits. Maybe even some signs of Brett?

(M)- A good carbonation level. An interesting balance of funk, spice, and floral bits. Interesting, but a bit weird.

(D)- A funkier version for the style for sure, but fun and intriguing too, but a bit strange.

Photo of Stouttyme
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of hwwty4
2.61/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured a corked and caged 750ml into my Tripel Karmeliet tulip. Out of the bottle comes a dark, rich coffee colored liquid that leaves a massive 3 inch head and just a bit of lacing as it disappears from the glass. The aroma is sweet malts up front. Caramelized sugar with toasted bread and dark fruits. Almost a wine like grapiness to it. Dates and figs with a odd yeasty spice. The flavor is odd. There seems to be a almost extract like tang to it. It underlies the most of the flavor profile. Almost like a homebrew that hasn't been executed very well. Dark fruits are present. Like in the nose dates and figs with some grape. As it warms booze becomes a bit more present and the tang seems to grow also. Fairly off putting. Its a odd balance. The mouthfeel is dry. I thought there would be a little more heft to it by the look of the beer. While, this is only the second installment in the series that I've had, I found the last one fantastic for the price tag. This is, while still a great price, not that tasty.

Photo of Scout11
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of augustgarage
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a caged-and-corked 750mL bottle into my Unibroue tulip.

Nearly opaque body is a mix of bistre, bole, and cordovan capped by a fist of wheat colored foam. Creamy, sticky merengue-like lacing. Superior retention.

Yeast and alcohol feature prominently in the aroma suggesting sourdough starter, grapes, and a wave of peppery phenols as well. Wintery and straight-forward.

Mead-like palate entry with hints of tart apple and pear. Pleasing yeast notes tie the flavor profile together. Finishes with a touch of spice and stewed fruit. Fairly sweet but never cloying.

Effervescent, soft, and medium-bodied. Just a touch hot maybe...

This remains a wonderful value - lacks some complexity for an ale you might consider cellaring - but it's worth picking up a few bottles for the price alone.

Photo of ankdoktor
5/5  rDev +31.6%

Photo of mmbernie51
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of Chopman50
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of OldIronLungs
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a stemmed tulip a straight cola color with a finger of light tan head that falls to a film and sticks and laces thickly.

The nose is boozy phenols, light berries, plenty of Belgian yeast spice with notes of cinnamon and clove.

Prickly full carbonation (over-carbonated, perhaps) and a thin body uncovers some grainy, lightly spicy malt and some berry tones. Alcohol present but not overwhelming by any means - still a touch numbing on the palate. More of a dry finish. Not terribly complex, but a very reasonable Belgian strong dark.

It's still a Unibroue-contracted beer. It's $4.99 for a 750mL. It warms up well, though I can't say it's really worth cellaring. Wait it's $4.99 a bottle. Cellar away. 2009 was the first year I had it and it hasn't been replicated since.

Photo of cosmicevan
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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).

Photo of Jdub983
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of jeffjeff1
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My mom picked this up for me a week or two ago.

Appearance- dark brown color, thick foamy head

Smell- fruit, spices, very nice

Taste- definitely spices, some fruit as well

Mouthfeel- medium bodied, well carbonated

Drinkability- I thought it was pretty good. I would probably have it again.

Photo of TappaKeggaBrew
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Looks like root beer -- dark brown, with a massive brownish-white head that appears without trying, lingers long, and leaves a wisp of lace on the glass.

S: Sweet, fruity, citrus. Subsequent whiff reveals allspice and other spicy aromas, which dominate even more on the third stiff.

T: Sweet, with a mild tangerine-like tartness. More sweet malt, with Christmas spices as it washes back on the tongue. There's a hint of hoppy bitterness in the finish that adds a little balance, but I'm still getting a lot of sweet an some spice. Did I mention the sweetness? Someone at the brewery was pretty liberal with the sugar added to this brew!

M: Nice carbonation. Watery feel (not taste!), with a hint of alcohol burn (it is (% ABV, after all).

O: If it weren't for the distracting, overpowering sweetness, this would have been a fine dark ale, indeed. It's certainly drinkable, but I won't be rushing out for more.

Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 309 ratings.