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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

285 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 285
Reviews: 118
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 14.25%
Wants: 5
Gots: 74 | 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 MidwestBA
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of ngeunit1
4.16/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark black with a finger of frothy tan-khaki head. Fades very slowly.

S - Dark caramel malts, raisin, plums, and other dark fruits, Belgian yeast, clove, pepper, other spices, a touch of sourness, and a touch of booze.

T - Dark caramel malts with raisin, plum, dates, and other dark fruits, Belgian yeast, clove, pepper, and other spices, a bit of residual sugars, a touch of sourness, and a bit of booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth with a sweet and warming finish.

D - Nice BSDA. Good Belgian character and spices.

Photo of Angryzen
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of dvmin98
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of lsummers
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of yamar68
3.99/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The most stubborn cork I have ever encountered. After struggling with my hands, then a plain corkscrew, and finally a wine opener, I sliced the print of my right thumb clean off. Lots of blood... we're off to a great start.

Very dark stuff. Muddy brown without much clarity to speak of. A swelling khaki head fills the glass and then some. Lacing is loose but consistent.

Intriguing... loads of soft pale fruits, sour yeast, some cola aromas, smooth and sweet, approachable, tame.

Fresh grape, more cola presence, frothy carbonation makes for an exciting presentation of flavors, sweet grain, it finishes pretty damn clean and rather wet. I can totally dig this.

That said - my thumb is now wrapped in gauze and electric tape... it's stinging pretty good, luckily I've already had a few but this is going to be a treat to wake up to.

Before you buy this, get some good gloves. Maybe chainmail.

Photo of brandoman63
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of brentk56
3.21/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown color with ruby highlights; an inch of tan does an adequate job of leaving a smattering of lace

Smell: Molasses, prune, charred black bread and cloves

Taste: Burnt brown sugar and prune flavors, up front, but there is an excess of clove and sour off-flavors, in the middle; the sourness dominates the finish, as well

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: In order to make the price point, I suspect Unibroue makes some compromises with the ingredients, particularly the malts; this beer strikes me as not having the body or the robust complexity of even a mid-tier BSDA

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 kawilliams81
3.89/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2011 vintage. Poured from a 750 ml cork n cage bottle into a Pipeworks snifter.

A- pours a dark brown with a 3" tan head. Some small bubbles speckle the glass with a thin ring of lacing.

S- dark fruits, some pepper, some clove and some other spice I can't pick out.

T- amber malts, dark fruits, clove and spices, some bread, and Belgian yeast.

M- medium body and med/high carbonation. Slick at first with a crisp and slightly dry finish.

O- loudest cork for a beer I have ever heard! Pretty good beer, but nothing I would rush to revisit.

Photo of MaltAndHopsFC
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of axman
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of DotBier
3/5  rDev -20.8%

Photo of Lucidious
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of Rhettroactive
3/5  rDev -20.8%

Photo of Derek
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Reddy-brown-black with a light tan head, thin ring of retention, very little lace.

S: Peppery spice, a bit phenolic, dark fruit, jaggery.

T: Raisins, dates, figs, pepper, jaggery, candied mango, curacao orange rind, cola, good bitterness, slight alcohol warmth.

M: Well-attenuated, moderate body has a crisp finish.

O: Good overall brew, probably a bit better than what the score adds up to...

Photo of aanth
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of ndepriest
3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into a snifter.

It's pours pretty dark, but there's some light around the edges. Tons of carbonation.

The smell is dark fruit and yeast with a mild sweetness. The taste is similar to the smell. Lots of dark fruit, and the yeast gives it that distinct Unibroue taste. The carbonation is very present in the mouthfeel. It's a bit distracting and odd that it's still so carbonated after 1+ year of age.

Overall, not bad, especially for the price. I have a couple of others bottle that I'll hang onto for a while longer to see how they turn out. For what a bargain it is, I recommend it.

Photo of Murrhey
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle in my house in Orange, Calif. Reviewed from notes.

A- Finger width khaki head. Little retention.

S- Hoppy and sweet. Has nice notes all the way. Dark fruits.

T- Dark fruits and burnt sugar. Crazy tastes. Has alcohol to contend with.

M- Very heavy and almost soda like carbonation.

O- Might want to buy and age again. Not great for me now though.

Photo of Tumpster
3/5  rDev -20.8%

Photo of
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

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Photo of Tinfang
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a short wide-mouth glass, cooled to 52 degrees. Best by 6 july 2016. Cork came out with a dramatic POP.

A: dark ruby with a creamy half-inch head that dissipated not too quickly. No lacing.

S: a bit of malt and definitely spices. Smell was fairly predictive of taste.

M: substantial but not thick. Left a bit of a coat in the mouth.

T: nice spice profile that lingers. Ginger, coriander, clove. Unmistakeable Unibroue funk. Slight aftertaste of bark, not pleasant.

I bought three cases of this for cellaring. Can't find my tasting notes from the bottles when fresh, but it seems to be aging just about as one would expect i.e. plenty of character with the individual spice notes more unified. Nothing about this ale struck me as an increase in complexity with time.

Very good for the price, and merits a try, but there's no free lunch. I drink a lot of Unibroue products and they are among my favorites. There's a wee something lacking in this recipe (one less spice? No fresh yeast? A step omitted from the brewing process?) that prevents me from having an immediate "Delicious!" reaction. I also found two bad bottles out of the first dozen I've opened, one of which was undrinkable. That's never ever been the case with anything else from that brewery.

Next scheduled sampling in November.

Photo of BoRaeCho
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of denimdemon
4/5  rDev +5.5%

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