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

Not Rated.
Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale

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BA SCORE
86
very good

246 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 246
Reviews: 78
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 13.16%
Wants: 3
Gots: 35 | 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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerDocT on 11-02-2012)
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Ratings: 246 | Reviews: 78 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by GossageBrewery:
Photo of GossageBrewery
3.13/5  rDev -17.6%
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.

More User Reviews:
Photo of warnerry
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of Guinnsslvr
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of NoetheMatt
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of MattyG85
4.23/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml corked bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. 2012 Vintage.

Appearance: Pours a deep and dark brownish amber that is pretty cola like. Big four finger tan head that settles into a very thin patchy layer. Leaves a good amount of lacing on the glass.

Smell: A fruity and spicy Belgian style aroma that is typical of Unibroue. Belgian yeast with a consider amount of spicing including clove, pepper, coriander, and a touch of cinnamon. Big hints of banana along with some apple and orange. Belgian candied sugar and dark malts with hints of toffee, dark biscuit, and chocolate. Big dark fruit presence with hints of fig, raisin, and dates. Pretty solid.

Taste: Like it smells, fruity and spicy Belgian taste. Belgian yeast with a lot of spices up front including cloves, pepper, cinnamon, and coriander. Fruity esters of bananas, orange, and apple. Dark malt with a taste of dark bread, toffee, and chocolate. Candied sugars and a good mix of dark fruits including fig, dates, raisin, and plum. Taste is fairly dry with a lot of spice. It comes together well.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a medium to high amount of carbonation. Crisp, spicy, and pretty drying. Alcohol is hidden pretty well.

Overall: Another solid year for this Belgian style ale. Big on the spices, which I like. Solid fruit undertones.

Photo of deuce9259
2.98/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Serving Type - Bottle to Unibroue Tulip

Appearance - Deep brown color that pours a thick head....looks like plenty of carbonation.

Smell - Strong spices and Belgian-style aroma. Strong malts, clove, coriander, pepper...some fruit.

Taste - Toasted malts, standard spices I get from a Unibroue brew.

Mouthfeel - Way too carbonated IMO. Not quite enough in the body. It gets a little better as it warms....even though its still pretty light.

Overall - Not bad for the price, but don't think I will be bent on getting it next year. I liked the 2011 version much better. Have an extra 2012 and a 2012 that I'll probably sit on for a little while longer...maybe some of the spices will die down by then.

Photo of LXIXME
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big light brown head settles into a nice lacing above a really dark brown to black colored beer.

Black licorice and dark wine with spices and dark roasted malts aroma.

The black licorice and wine aspects seems to outweigh the roasted malts, spices, and darker fruits in the taste of this 2012 Vintage Ale.

A lighter dry aftertaste that brings with it some of the darker tastes this full bodied beer had to offer.

Quite different tasting, a nice change of pace but I don't think I want to drink this as my regular beer.

Photo of CloudStrife
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml split and poured into a snifter. Best before 07-06-2015

A: Pours a dark copper brown, just a little light gets through the glass. 2 finger off white head real dense small bubbles, takes a while to dissipate. No real lacing.

S: Sweet smell, yeasty with hints of orange and other spice.

T: Belgiany yeast blended with orange and spice. Coriander comes through, slight anise as well. Plenty of malts add a good fermented fruit backing. Would compare it to a dark tripel. Licorice lingers a little.

M: Nice full mouthfeel, good carbonation and a clean finish. Alcohol is well hidden. Maybe a little sweet to drink all night.

Overall is a steal of a deal, great brewery backing this vintage ale. Have had a few Unibroue's and this one seems unique. Gonna sit one down to see how it fairs.

Photo of InfernoBoss
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of mdaschaf
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a dark brown color with a small off-white head that slowly reduces to a thin cap of bubbles on top. Minimal lacing.

S: A really nice mixture of dark fruit, brown sugar, and spices. Some raisins and orange mixed with pepper and a bit of cocoa.

T: Dark fruit flavors up front, some raisin and fig mixed with some Belgian spice. The spices have a rather winter warmer/christmas ale flavor to them. Sugar sweet at times as well.

M: Medium bodied, maybe a touch thin, with high carbonation with a slightly bubbly mouthfeel.

O: Surprisingly good. At $5 a bottle a steal. Not sure I would grab more than one a year, but definitely going to grab next years.

Photo of RBM
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of TheSixthRing
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a near black, dark ruby brown with a light tan 3 finger head. Good retention. Leaves behind a small, spotty lace.

Smell - Aroma consists of sugar and cream, spice, bubblegum and candied plum or black cherry.

Taste - Follows the nose. Assertive notes of cream and spice to start, while moderately sweetened dark fruit character shines through mid-taste. Finishes creamy with notes of bubblegum and a hint of spruce pine.

Mouthfeel - Full bodied. A touch syrupy. Well carbonated, leaves a nice tingle on the tongue. Smooth, creamy finish.

Overall - Another creamy Belgian offering from Unibroue. So many intricate layers to wrap one's mind around. Lots of sweetness, becomes a bit cloying after a glass or two. Great candidate for storage.

Photo of ALZ
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of PaulMcQ
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of augustgarage
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a caged-and-corked 750mL bottle into my Trappistes Westvleteren goblet. Unibroue produced of course.

Nearly opaque seal brown liquid with a smattering of pale tan suds. Average retention, pasty lacing, faint legs.

Lots of stewed fruit, toasty malt, and a surprising vinuous quality suggesting blackberry wine and clove-studded oranges in the nose. Ester-heavy.

Sweet/sour palate entry that unfurls into increasing complexity, albeit restrained throughout. The flavor profile remains rather heavy handed with dates, honey, berries, cherries, oranges, and so on. The malt bill is interesting and flavorful, though the overall impact is not as well integrated as I would like. Somewhat lacking in the yeast department too. Finishes a touch sweet with a faint nuttiness.

Soft, medium-bodied, with a little warming flourish and a gentle effervesence.

Tasting more and more like a watered-down, rushed-to-the-bottle version of one of Unibroue's regular offerings (e.g. Trois Pistoles), perhaps this would improve with some age, but I would skip buying a case this year. Still, not a bad ale, and still a good value.

Photo of secondtooth
4.21/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours almost black, with deep ruby highlights. Prodigious head of tan foam, dissipating slowly into thin and loopy lace.

Aroma is plenty of fermented fruit (wine grapes), spices, Belgian yeasty bread -- absolutely a wonderful approximation of classic Belgian ales.

Taste is similar -- some sweet notes, but this one is really well-balanced on the palate. I get hints of dark fruit and berries again, alongside plenty of spice (coriander, clove). This is a delicious brew, overflowing with complexity.

At $4.99 a bomber at Trader Joe's, this is a real bargain, and well-worth a try.

Photo of brokentee
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of tjsdomer2
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Fluffy white head and lacing. Dark brown with decent carbonation. Red tint in the light.

Smell: Plums and red wine. Holliday spices also. Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Smells better as it warms.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Licorice dominates the flavor. Yeasty backbone in the finish. Feels thin in the finish, but there is a nice alcoholic aftershock in the sensation.

Overall Drinkability: I enjoyed this. I think I will save another bottle and open next year.

Photo of socon67
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

Photo of prototypic
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Trader Joe’s 2012 Vintage Ale pours a dark mahogany brown color. It’s close to opaque. Backlighting shows some nice burgundy highlights. It’s capped with a really nice, darker caramel colored head. It rises to about two fingers in height. Retention was quite good. Hung around for a while. Lacing was sticky and moderate. It looks good!

The nose is alright. It’s a tad weak in terms of strength. More would be better. There is a hint of caramel malt up front. Smells a little sweet. It’s followed by a mix of spicy and fruity notes. On the spicy side, there’s a bit of clove and pepper. Fruity scents of apple, cherry, and plum are noted. Belgian is there, but is lighter than it should be. Alcohol is noted, but doesn’t come through all that strong. Not bad. Would improve with a little more strength.

The flavor is good. It is a little sweet up front. Caramel hits first. There’s a toasted praline or nutty flavor that’s interesting (and good). Fruit notes of apple, pear, cherry, and plum are all present. Belgian yeast is there and adds some spicy flavors. Pepper and clove are most notable. Nevertheless, the Belgian yeast flavor is lighter than I’d like. Comes together pretty well otherwise. Alcohol is more noticeable in flavor, but still isn’t warm or hot. Good stuff. Finishes fruity and spicy.

2012 Vintage Ale definitely has a light body. It’s far lighter than it should be. It will not be confused with an authentic Belgian. No way. The feel is actually below average. It goes down pretty easy for a bigger beer though.

Unibroue did an alright job with Trader Joe’s 2012 Vintage Ale. The flavor delivers where it’s lacking in aromatics and body. Those two aspects need work though. No question. Not too shabby otherwise. Definitely worth checking out, especially at its price point.

Photo of zonker17
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of dhannes
3.34/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

Photo of jdkitchi
4.73/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought a few of these bombers from Trader Joe's the other day and wanted to try one. This is made by Unibroue and I believe it is Trois Pistoles Belgian strong dark ale. I've had the 4 or 5 more common Unibroue brews and like them a lot.

Poured into a Duvel large tulip glass. There was a massive amount of head on the first pour. The smell is complex. Dark malt, fruit, spicy Belgian yeast a little hops.

There is plenty of carbonation for a lively mouth feel. The first taste especially with the foam was fantastic. Very complex flavors and aromas. It's sweet, spicy, fruit, hoppy and delicious. There is a little bit alcohol kick too. This just keeps getting better as you drink it. This is a world class brew.

As I stated earlier, I think this is the Trois Pistoles from Unibroue. I do have a bomber of that in the cellar that I'll have to crack open and see if it's the same someday.

Photo of puboflyons
4.18/5  rDev +10%
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.

Photo of bluejacket74
4/5  rDev +5.3%
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!

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Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 246 ratings.