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Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale - Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

226 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 226
Reviews: 74
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 12.93%


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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerDocT on 11-02-2012)
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Ratings: 226 | Reviews: 74 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of mactrail
mactrail

California

3.45/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color with a modest head in the tall Petrus goblet. Moderate carbonation. Something of a musty aroma.

This has that classic taste that all Unibroue products seem to share. Distinctive yeasty flavor with a seriously dry finish and a bitter edge. Raisiny but not too sweet. Roasted fruity malt. Dark hints of chocolate add some pleasure. Seems to get better as it warms up and you get used to the taste.

This is an interesting big brew at a bargain price. From Trader Joe's in San Diego.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2014 06:03:50 | More by mactrail
Photo of Phyl21ca
Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

4.48/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle: Poured a dark cloudy brown/burgundy color ale with a very generous foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma consists of candy-like ester with some Belgian-style malt. Taste is also dominated by some candy-like ester with some residual sugar notes with some heavy dark Belgian-style malt. Body is full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very enjoyable beer with good drinkability with nice complexity and beautiful ester. Glad they drop the coriander in this year’s version.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2014 00:15:32 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of qchic
qchic

Maryland

4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

For 4.99, a fine value. With a year on it, well worth an evening to sip on. Dark brown with good head retention. Aroma is fruity and spicy. Reminds me of those canned fruit nectars from the Hispanic food section. Tastes roasty and Belgian estery with some grainy malty smoothness. Drinkable with enough going on hold your interest throughout the 750mls. Why didn't I buy more?

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2014 03:46:20 | More by qchic
Photo of Brandegee
Brandegee

Michigan

3.96/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in tulip glass... this was a New Year's Day share.

A: Lovely head with lots of lace, a hint of brown in the thick, dark pour.
S: Not much going on here, but a few hints of spice and sweet malt. It's pleasant, however.
T: I didn't try a fresh example, so I can only assume the aging helped bring out some of the dark fruit flavors, which dominate the profile without little hint of sourness or bitterness. Raisin, plum, dates even. Sweet malt and clove round out the flavors for me.
M: Nice, full, lots of room for the spices to play.
O: A nice Belgian seasonal and good effort by Unibroue and hopefully I can still get a 2013 to age for next year. This was well worth what was probably a low price tag.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2014 00:39:33 | More by Brandegee
Photo of BrownNut
BrownNut

Florida

3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Aged this a year. It was very nice. It was raisiny and something fresher in the fruit department like plums. The spices were subtle and the characteristic Belgian yeast taste was somewhat muted, which is good if you're me. It tasted refined, as in fine, as in fancy and mature and good. It was very accessible at the same time. I can't remember if I ever had this vintage fresh but aged one year was nice.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2013 01:41:31 | More by BrownNut
Photo of Darkmagus82
Darkmagus82

Virginia

3.86/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a chalice glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep brown chestnut color with a big billowy cream colored head. The big billowy head has a good level of retention, slowly fading to leave a fantastic level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell- The aroma was slightly roasted and rather fruity. A good dose of a slightly grainy but roasted and toasted malt smell along with darker fruits of cherry and raisin are there. Along with these aromas are some smells of yeast and a little bit of a spicy smells and some hot rum like aromas are there, producing a nice Belgian strong dark aroma.

Taste – The taste begins with a slightly roasted and malty flavor with the darker fruit cherry that was detected in the nose. Some yeasty and spice flavors of a clove and nutmeg later come to the tongue as well as some other flavors of more raisin and fig. As the flavor advances further to the end, the malty flavors dwindle further as the darker fruit and spice seem to increase, combining with a little bit of a boozy rum flavor, which all in all end up leaving a rather nice Belgian dark smell to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the average side for a Belgian strong dark of 9 % adv. with a carbonation level that is on the slightly higher side. The combo of body and carbonation are nice for styles of the brew as well as in keeping the brew very drinkable but not too drinkable in light of the abv. and the boozy flavors.

Overall – A rather nice drinking Belgian strong dark ale with some nice fruity flavors as well as a good level of roast and booze.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2013 02:53:26 | More by Darkmagus82
Photo of bluejacket74
bluejacket74

Ohio

4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml caged and corked bottle, best before 07-06-2015. This is about a year old now. Served in a Dogfish Head signature glass, the beer pours dark brown with about an inch and a half light tan head. Head retention is good, and there's a decent amount of lacing. The brew smells like cloves, dark fruit (plums, raisins), peppery spice, and molasses. It tastes like cloves, dark fruit (plums, raisins), cola, dark bread, molasses, and a bit of nutmeg. Mouhfeel/body is medium, it's slick and creamy, and is well carbonated. This is very similar to the 2011 bottle I drank right before this, which I liked. Guess I'll have to buy a bottle of the 2013 now!

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2013 02:45:07 | More by bluejacket74
Photo of dhannes
dhannes

Wisconsin

3.34/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a bottle with 11 months' worth of aging into a standard pint glass.

A=Dark, reddish brown with larger, 3-finger eggshell head.

S=Spice...nutmeg or allspice.

T=Similar to a porter's rich cream malt backbone, but nutmeg and cherry present...at times, it reminded me of cherry cough syrup. Alcohol taste present much of the time.

M=Lighter body...felt flat...also a slick feel to it.

O=I was somewhat disappointed in this beer and would not seek it our or buy it again...for numerous reasons, it was too much of a chore to drink.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2013 04:43:38 | More by dhannes
Photo of superspak
superspak

Michigan

3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into signature tulip glass, best before 7/6/2015. Pours clear nearly opaque reddish brown color with a 1-2 finger fairly dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass, with a lot of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of raisin, pear, apple, grape, clove, peppercorn, cardamom, coriander, orange peel, caramel, molasses, herbal, brown bread, toast, and yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of malt, spice, and yeast ester notes; with solid strength. Taste of raisin, pear, apple, grape, caramel, clove, coriander, orange peel, peppercorn, cardamom, molasses, toast, brown bread, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of light fruits, caramel, toast, clove, peppercorn, cardamom, coriander, orange peel, herbal, brown bread, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of malt, spice, and yeast ester flavors; with good flavor robustness and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a fairly slick, smooth, and lightly syrupy mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice spiced Belgian dark ale. All around good balance and complexity of malt, spice, and yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2013 04:44:35 | More by superspak
Photo of Jabberwocky
Jabberwocky

California

3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Drinking it cold. Pouring out of bottle. The liquid part is dark rich black color with a slight red tint. The foam head is very large and light brown. This is a beer that tends to pour with a lot of head. The head has a slightly creamy mouthfeel and is actually quite enjoyable.

Smells sweet with a faint hint of Logan fruit. Upon drinking, it is toasty, with medium high amount of carbonation. Spices tingle my tongue a little. The one minus is that the beer does not have a very viscous mouthfeel that I had thought it would. It definitely doesn't have the heavy mouth that I wish it had, but then again it isn't a stout, its a dark ale. Tastes quite decent, good amount of toastiness, sweetness, and some slight hints of fruit similar to a fig or prune with a bit of brown sugar. Not hoppy or bitter at all. Taste leaves the mouth fairly quickly and doesn't linger like a heavier/heartier beer.

Edit: As the beer gets wamrer, the spices are a bit more prominnent. Unfortunatley, is doesnt get any more viscous which is what i feel this beer is missing the mos -texture/mouthfeel.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2013 03:19:41 | More by Jabberwocky
Photo of BucannonXC5
BucannonXC5

California

3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Type: 750 ML glass
Glass: Oversized Sea Smoke wine glass
From: Trader Joe’s in Hillcrest (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $4.99
Purchased: June 19, 2013
Consumed: June 22, 2013
Misc.: Best before July 6, 2015

Poured an almost pitch black color with 1-2 fingers of khaki tan lacing. Below average lacing with some occasional wet spots on the sides of the glass. Average-to-below average retention on the top.

Smelled dark malts and Belgian spices. Specifically got roasty nuts, toffee, cinnamon, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, pepper and cloves.

Tasted like toned down version of the smell. Got those Belgian spices. Also winter warmer notes like cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and cloves. The 9 percent alcohol is well-hidden.

Medium body, Oily texture. Soft carbonation. Long, smooth finish.

This beer grew on me as it went down. Not as good as the Providential Belgian Style Golden Ale I tried last night, but definitely worthy.

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2013 07:58:24 | More by BucannonXC5
Photo of socon67
socon67

New York

3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Brown pour with a purple hue & a thin foam that shrinks. Very little to no lacing. Some small bubbles of carbonation.

S - Very strong smell of nutmeg, and dried fruit. The spicy aroma is nice but unfortnately it is very dominant and drowns out the other more subtle flavors. Some of the telltale Unibroue yeast strain is noted inthe smell.

T - Dry sherry, dried cranberries, figs, and finishes with a spicy nutmeg kick. This seemed to age well and would have been better with a full year.

M - Sipping beer more for the complexity than the body or ABV. Take some time and enjoy the flavors. Perfect for after theat holiday meal.

O - Unibroue contracted this for Trade Joe's and it is certianly a good bottle share with family and friends. If you do get a bottle of this I'd recommned at least a year of cellar time.

Serving type: bottle

05-19-2013 21:18:43 | More by socon67
Photo of falloutsnow
falloutsnow

Illinois

3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From: Trader Joe's, Glen Ellyn, IL
Date: 2012 bottle, best by 2015-07-06
Glass: New Belgium globe glass

Unibroue has a solid Belgian Dark Strong Ale with their Trader Joe's 2012 annual offering. The flavors and aromas are of appreciable complexity, with grape-like esters, modest caramel and roasted malt, and allspice-like phenols being the most prominent. This is an annual special good enough to pick up each year it's offered, particulary for the $5 cost.

Pours a 1cm tall head of tan foam, made up of small-sized bubbles, giving a dense, fluffy appearance. Retention is below average for the style, the foam lasting less than thirty seconds, quickly fading to a thin ring around the glass and a small island of foam in the center, atop the body. Lacing is present, but not particularly interesting, a few medium-sized shapes cling to the inner walls of the glass. Body is a dark brown to black color, with light bringing out amber-brown highlights. Carbonation is visible, appearing vigrous and fairly active.

Aroma of grape esters, allspice, and sweetness (Special B malt, Belgian amber candi sugar, light caramel), mild ethanol becomes noticeable as this warms.

The overall flavor profile for the beer is of grape-like esters, modest caramel and roasted malt, and appreciable allspice-like phenols. Front of palate features grape-like ester flavors from the Belgian yeast, closely followed in perceptibility by malt sweetness (Special B, Belgian amber candi sugar). Mid-palate brings the malt further forward, with a caramel-sweet, lightly bready, character from Special B and other caramelized malts, along with allspice-like phenols from the yeast. The grape-like ester remains in mid-palate, but becomes subdued beneath the malt character. Back of palate finds renewed grape-like esters, caramel-like sweetness, hints of roasted malt, allspice-like phenols, ethanol. There is also a modest spiciness, whether from ethanol or hops is unclear. Aftertaste is of caramel sweetness from malts, grape-like esters, prune-like esters, slight breadiness, and lingering ethanol spiciness and warmth.

Beer is medium to medium-heavy in body, with fairly high, aggressive carbonation. This leads to, at first, a fizzy, prickly mouthfeel that isn't particularly pleasant. With time on the palate or in the glass, the foam lessens significantly, though, eventually leading to a soft, rather foamy touch. Ethanol is felt a bit in the nostrils, particularly as this warms. Closes dry, with significant stickiness lingering on the palate.

Serving type: bottle

05-18-2013 23:54:02 | More by falloutsnow
Photo of damndirtyape
damndirtyape

Ohio

3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

750mL bottle - served in a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Very dark brown - let little to no light through. Light tan thick rocky head upon pouring, lots of persistent lacing. Lots of carbonation coming up through the glass upon the initial pour, dying back over time.

Smell: Yeasty mostly, and as it warms up then the Nutmeg really comes out. Never could smell much else besides the nutmeg.

Taste: Belgian yeast fruity esters up front. Some roasted malt bitterness in the middle. Strong nutmeg finish. When the beer was fully room temperature I could pick out some of the noble hop tastes, but not a lot under the nutmeg.

Mouthfeel: Nice thickness, spicy carbonation on the tongue. A little bit sticky on the teeth.

Overall / Drinkability: Just as there are single hop beers, I almost think of this as a single spice belgian dark winter ale. Nutmeg dominates this beer, but not in a bad way. This beer went very well with salmon au poivre, and I think it would be great with a steak. That being said, I think I would have a hard time finishing this bottle by myself. I shared it with the Mrs. and by the end of the glass I was glad I tried it, but I did not want another. Also a beer that sneaks up on you by the end of the glass - I was definitely noting the 9% by the time I finished my glass.

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2013 23:23:03 | More by damndirtyape
Photo of puboflyons
puboflyons

New Hampshire

4.18/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

From the 750 ml. corked, caged bottle. Sampled on April 15, 2013.

It pours dark brown with reddish hues and a full, fluffy tan head that sits on top for several minutes.

Aromas are wonderfully sweet at first with notes of dark malts, Belgian sugars, brown sugar, fig, Allspice, caramel, yeast, and a mild but clean hop backdrop.

The body is full and creamy.

The taste is wonderfully malty and brown sugar sweet with the slightest alcohol note but nothing that puts me off. The spice is delicately dropped in.

Brewed by Unibroue. I wonder if this is a variation of the Don de Dieu. Still, overall very nice.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2013 22:09:57 | More by puboflyons
Photo of GossageBrewery
GossageBrewery

Missouri

3.13/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Poured this Belgian Strong Dark Ale from a big ass bottle into a pint glass. It poured a dark brown color, produced an average tan head, decent retention and it left a good amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma consisted of roasted malt and spices. Medium bodied, this ale has a foundation of roasted malt, dark fruit : figs, black pepper and other spices. Overall, I thought it was a little out of balance, to much spice- it needed a bit more of a malt backbone for my liking. Perhaps this would have been better if I would have let it age.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2013 20:46:56 | More by GossageBrewery
Photo of zeff80
zeff80

Missouri

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

One to drink, one to age.

A - Poured out a dark, dark brown color with a one-finger, tan head of bubbly foam. It left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of spices, dried fruit and rich caramel.

T - It had a biscuity malt backbone with a very spicy punch. Some dried fruit and caramel flavors.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry, clean finish.

O - This is a good Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Looking forward to trying the one I'm aging.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2013 02:08:57 | More by zeff80
Photo of NatetheGreat
NatetheGreat

Nevada

4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I really enjoyed this one.

is deep deep brown, almost black with a large, somewhat rocky head.

aromas are complex and inviting: sweet candy, green apple, spices including cinnamon and clove, rum raisin, some banana, musty.

flavor is sweet up front with a big, thick maltiness. spices are pronounced, as is the alcohol, although not too much. cheery, spices, and apple come through. finish is a bit sweet. not much hop presence.

moderate carbonation. very tasty and complex.

Serving type: bottle

03-11-2013 07:07:32 | More by NatetheGreat
Photo of Kromes
Kromes

Georgia

3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black with ruby edges and a thin tan colored head.

A big orange peel , coriander, and clove aroma with a touch of alcohol.

Initial flavor is clove, anise and coriander. The flavors remain strong as a bit of the roasted malt bitterness kicks in. There is a lingering anise/clove flavor in the finish along with a dark cherry fruit flavor.

high level of peppery carbonation gives the beer a great texture and compliments the flavors.

Pretty good Dark Ale. Very tasty and bit strong right now with the spices right up front. I imagine it will get better with age.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2013 20:20:16 | More by Kromes
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber

Washington

4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Unibroue tulip glass. Pours a very dark, almost opaque brown with a huge three finger light brown head with great retention and massive lacing. Aroma of dark fruit, sweet malt, Belgian yeast and spicing. Flavor follows, with spicy dark and dried fruit, caramel malt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Sweet start, but finishes semi-dry. Medium bodied with good mouth feel from active carbonation. A bit attenuated compared to a Belgian strong, but flavorful and well made. I really like getting this each year and after a year or two the body gets more depth. A great annual ale at an incredible price.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2013 04:49:18 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of JimTeal
JimTeal

Nevada

3.79/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

There really is a fig hint. Obvious clove and sweet malt, slight citrus, but overall a very good brew with a high casual drinkability factor. Very enjoyable lighter flavor, and certainly a good value. Not a special brew, but certainly a fair and adequate beverage. It does have a nice appearance, but an average smell, taste and mouthfeel, remember, when compared to fine Belgian dark ales. Compared with mass produced dark lager and dark ale this sizes up very well and more than holds it's own. I feel that one of the plus values of BA is that we always look for comparisons to excellent and compared to excellent, Trader Joe's Dark ale is very good.

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2013 23:59:19 | More by JimTeal
Photo of brewandbbq
brewandbbq

New Hampshire

4.01/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle.

Pours dark brown with a coarse, spongy head of beige. A partial skimcoat with errant dots of lacing for the duration of the glass.

Aromatics are spicy and chock full of Belgian character. Cloves, nutmeg, apples, and bubblegum ride atop cocoa-laced malt with raisins and rum.

Medium bodied with a creamy, crispish mouthfeel. A bit tacky.

Rum-soaked raisins with clove-studded apples and sweet malt starts the palate. Hints of nutmeg, cardamon, and boozy phenols follow through.

Finishes with lingering spice-dusted raisins and dark rum.

Tasty beer but could use some age to let the spices mellow a bit.

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2013 22:22:20 | More by brewandbbq
Photo of garymuchow
garymuchow

Minnesota

4.21/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into goblet.
Quite a nice aroma. Solid mix of yeasty spices and firm malt foundation. Then subtler and occasional aroma's of tartness, sour and sweet fruit (I like this last part as it seems to stay around and it is quite pleasant).
Really dark body with brownish read highlights. Dark tan head that is full. It does settle out some but not too quickly.
Initial taste is really nice. A little more of the added spices are evident, but that nice sweet and sour fruit aroma carried to the flavor. The malt is firm but not heavy handed. The yeast flavors are the same. Seems like the spices are showing with a cinnamon and very slight nutmeg showing. Just enough drying.
Light and effervescent with sufficient carbonation.
As much as I can tell I"m digging this quite a bit more than the 2011. Really like the light fruit aroma and flavor and it seems to stick throughout. The drink was goo throughout the whole bottle.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2013 12:49:43 | More by garymuchow
Photo of Marq18
Marq18

Virginia

3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours dark mahogany. A big pillowy head that falls quickly into thin bubbles.
S- Smells spicy with dark fruit and a bit alcoholic.
T-Has a base flavor of caramel malts with strong winter spices... coriander, nutmeg. Finishes a touch sweet.
M-Highly carbonated feel with medium body.
O- A great belgian ale for the price.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2013 22:16:01 | More by Marq18
Photo of ONUMello
ONUMello

Ohio

3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle poured into a goblet
A: Pitch black with a one-finger head that slowly settles
S: Figs, brown sugar, spices, a hint of orange peel
T: Baking spice up front, clove in particular, with figs and citrus. A bit sweet and the finish is a bit off in a way I can't quite place; overall this is perfectly pleasant though.
M: Medium-bodied with a pleasant carbonation
O: Solid overall, though for my palate it would be even better if it were a bit drier

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2013 05:38:20 | More by ONUMello
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Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 226 ratings.