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

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

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BA SCORE
86
very good

83 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 83
Hads: 318
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 6.3%
Wants: 3
Gots: 40 | 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: BeerDocT on 11-02-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 83 | Hads: 318
Photo of CloudStrife
4/5  rDev +5%
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. (797 characters)

Photo of bluejacket74
4/5  rDev +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! (653 characters)

Photo of LiquidAmber
4/5  rDev +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. (603 characters)

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

Bottle shared by my brother in law, thanks for the opportunity Dave!
Pours a deep dark brown with a smallish off white head that shows moderate retention and lots of lace. The aroma holds lots of brown sugar, a smattering of dark fruit, lots of yeast and fruity esters, a bit of pepper, and a faint non descript spice. The flavor follows the aroma quite well. Lots of dark fruits and dark sugars with a strong bit of Belgian yeasty flavors. There's a hint of spice but it is faint and compliments rather that overpowers like so many other holiday brews. Medium to thick body with a moderate to high level of carbonation and a sweet sugary almost bubbly mouthfeel. This is a very nice beer. It has that unmistakeable Unibroue taste and aroma. I'm told that this was six dollars for a 750, that's a hell of a bargain these days for a great beer. (843 characters)

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

I've been eating their food for years, didn't know they brewed. Fancy looking bottle at a low price, count me in!

Served in a snifter.

A: Poured a deep brown-almost black color with a ruby tinge, had a 1/4 inch caramel head without much lacing.

S: Smells nice, dark fruit aromas, brown sugars

T: Tastes really good, dark fruit, brown sugar, zesty spices, very smooth, little bit of warmth from the alcohol

M: Very well balanced, light-medium carbonation, good flavor, although I would've liked a little more flavor, its really good.

O: This a great, great beer for the price, $5?, other Belgian ales will set you back $10-12. They change the recipe every year, I will probably go back and buy a few more, great beer. (724 characters)

Photo of zeff80
3.99/5  rDev +4.7%
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. (481 characters)

Photo of hreb
3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Apparently, I didn't review this fresh, so I'm going to review my personally cellared 2012 edition 2+ years after the fact. Aside from the champagne-style cork disintegrating in my hand as I try to open the 750mL heavy brown glass bottle, it seems no worse for the age. Beer pours rich dark brown in color, supporting an ample head. Gentle aroma of raisins and dark fruit. Flavor is similarly rich and demands to be warmed up, in order to bring out classic Belgian Brown ale flavors. Raisins and prunes are complemented by licorice and spice. Very mellow and drinkable. I don't recall if it was this mellow when this winter seasonal was first released, but it sure is now. (679 characters)

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle served in a chalice.

L - deep brown color with a beige head that thinned to a light film.

S - yeast and dark fruits (plum, date, raisin & fig).

T - dark fruit flavor blend and some caramel sweetness with the yeast in the background.

F - medium bodied with a little fizz, goes down easy.

O - a good beer especially at the price ($5), thanks TJ! (361 characters)

Photo of barnzy78
3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL bottle, pours an opaque very dark brown with a tall, bubbly, beige head, good retention, but not much for lacing. Aromas are fruity, Belgian yeast, bready, sweet, earthy. Tastes are well balanced with dark malt, candi sugar, bready yeast, fruity, earthy. Thin-to-medium mouth-feel, higher carbonation but acceptable for the style. Overall, I recently had a year old 2011 and the year of aging it seemed to help it some. I have another one of these to save for winter 2013. Gotta love Unibroue! (499 characters)

Photo of Brandegee
3.96/5  rDev +3.9%
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. (710 characters)

Photo of mdaschaf
3.95/5  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. (666 characters)

Photo of tjsdomer2
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
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. (466 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

Yeah, a mason jar for such a Belgian-style brew. Deal with that shit. Anyway, this stuff pours a deep ruby-sienna topped by over a finger of sandy tan foam. The nose comprises slightly tart red grapes, cinnamon, clove, banana, fig, and a touch of that general Belgian-y yeast character. The taste brings in more of the same, with a heavier focus on the spices (particularly clove). The body is a light-leaning medium, with a moderate carbonation and a sorta/kinda drying finish. Overall, a pretty tasty BSDA. It's a tad too bubbly for my tastes, but beyond that it's good times. (612 characters)

Photo of impending
3.94/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

B+

750ml into a tulip. Pours a dull walnut, fully opaque, towering dense tan head doesn't linger, minor lacing.

Aroma is of heavy spicing . . . .

here I stop to acknowledge my 2011 review fits this precisely so I proceed to cut & paste . . . .

Aroma is clean and spicy, a strong phenolic clove. Definitely Noël.

Taste too is spicy to match the scent. The Unibroue yeast is on full display, blindfolded & unknowing, it would be obvious. Delicious.

An exceptional value.
cheers
jd (487 characters)

Photo of BrownNut
3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
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. (405 characters)

Photo of Kromes
3.89/5  rDev +2.1%
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. (564 characters)

Photo of superspak
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
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. (1,468 characters)

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.88/5  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. (1,619 characters)

Photo of Dave1999
3.86/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This pours pure black with a tiny tan head which quickly disappears.

The smell is really strong, raisins,prunes and smoked sausages. The more I smell it the more it smells like sausages...

The taste is dark malts, banana and cloves.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and has quite a lot of carbonation.

Overall a generic Belgian dark ale, by no means great but for $5 for a 750ml a bargain. Hides its 9%abv very well. I bought a couple of these to cellar, at this price point I can experiment. I also think there is too much carbonation in this beer. (552 characters)

Photo of Marq18
3.85/5  rDev +1%
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. (323 characters)

Photo of socon67
3.84/5  rDev +0.8%
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. (823 characters)

Photo of falloutsnow
3.84/5  rDev +0.8%
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. (2,535 characters)

Photo of Coltalenaven
3.82/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from bomber purchased at Trader Joes.
Dark pour with huge head that settles down eventually to a nice lace around the glass.
Aroma is malt, fruit, brown sugar. Taste is subtle malt, sugar and fruits and a smooth taste I cant place. Best desctiption I can come up with is Licorice.
Nice medium body and solid mouthfeel. High carbonation throughout, but it works and makes this beer an easy drink for the 9% abv.
For a Trader Joes beer this is great, obviously due to being from Unibroue. Great brewery. (512 characters)

Photo of LXIXME
3.8/5  rDev -0.3%
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. (522 characters)

Photo of JimTeal
3.8/5  rDev -0.3%
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. (652 characters)

Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 83 ratings.