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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

83 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 83
Hads: 319
Avg: 3.82
pDev: 12.83%
Wants: 3
Gots: 43 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerDocT on 11-02-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (21) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 83 | Hads: 319
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Best before 7/6/15.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a thick cap on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, spices, and Belgian yeast. Taste is much the same with slightly smokey flavor as well. There is a mild spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer but it tastes better than it smells in my opinion.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

very cool of unibroue to brew this beauty for trader joes. i had this in st. louis. pours a redish brown color, hazy from some suspended yeast, with a lacey tan head. the nose is spicey and wintery, warm, some notes of honey, dried fruit, and more hops than i expected. the flavor is complex as hell, is this aged in oak? tastes like it might be. a pick up some licorice, cherry, and birch syrup. finish is sweet and long, alcohol is strong and warming. great carbonation keeps it lively, and a full body is just what the doctor ordered for winter time. this is a really neat brew, and one id like to age for awhile to see how it matures. love this mix of sweet and spice and fruit. its a great bottle to share though. overall an impressive product, and one i will seek out again. this is literally christmas in a bottle for me.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The always dependable brewers of Unibroue takes their regal brewing disciplines to the Trader Joe's family with their Vintage Ale 2012- a strong, dark Belgian ale that celebrates all 9% alcohol and with the complexity and balance that it deserves. Its a beer that's certainly built for celebrations and holidays.

Dark brown in its initial hue, a nod to the light reveals deep golden, lighter brown, and redish amber highlights. Much clearer than expected, the initial pour reveals very low haze that's hardly describable through its dark gaze. An expansive froth grows above the beer with a light tan color and sticky broken lace. Lingering 'til the end, the beer sells its Belgian roots well.

Aromas of perfume, toast, pepper, and cola waft over the nose and take the sense of smell in a lot of different directions. Malty notes of lightly scorched caramel and candy is met with dry toast scents for a complex malty upstart. Spices of clove, cinnamon, black pepper, and alcohol follow closely behind; before the supple notes of burnt berries and grilled plantains round out the light estery make up.

Similarly, the beer opens with the malty taste of hard candy, heavily caramelized malt, and cola-like sweetness. And like some colas, spicy peppercorn, and toasted bread, burnt wood accompany the dry malt taste. Sweetness fades at middle palate and allows the spicy additions of clove, cinnamon, and pepper to provide dry taste throughout. It's this point where a short-lived soap character reveals itself, and this is gone before the finish. Charred currant, cherries, plantain, and red grapes seem to rise at the same rate as alcohol and give a slight medicinal taste to its closure.

Firmly dry from nose to finish, the beer favors a drier and spicier pace than most for its style. This demeanor means that the medium creamy-sweet upstart is short lived and quickly shed in order to favor a toastier, drier, and highly peppery texture. Quite warm and spicy throughout, the beer doesn't mind light spice tannin, winy acidic, and woodish textures that unwavering even deep in finish.

And like Trois Pistoles and Le Terrible, Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale displays the dark ale signatures of Unibroue accurately and boldly. It's a wonderful beer that's highly enjoyable in its assertive dry, spicy tone now but will surly mellow gracefully for years to come.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.48/5  rDev +17.3%
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.

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Photo of zeff80
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale
750ml bottle, corked and caged, "Best before 07/07/2015"
$4.99 @ Trader Joe's #719 in Omaha, NE

I saw this at the Trader Joe's in Omaha, NE and immediately recognized it as a Unibroue beer. How I could do that with so many European beers available in the same bottle, I don't know, but upon closer inspection it has the Unibroue cork so I was right in the end. It's got a pretty nice painted-on gold label, and maybe that was what did it. I was quite surprised at the price, just $4.99 for a 750 ml bottle, and I figured I was saving at least $3, and probably more like $4 or $5. The back label reads "Trader Joe's Vintage Ale - Unique and limited edition, this Belgian style ale is crafted once a year as a special treat for those who appreciate flavorful, bottle conditioned ales with character". Upon opening it and smelling it I knew it wasn't the "17" that I'd been hoping for, but it certainly wasn't bad. Upon tasting, I thought it might be the "Trois Pistoles" but it seems bigger than that. Anyway...

It pours an opaque, very dark, almost black-brown body that reveals only russet brown highlight along the upper edge. The head is a fizzy tan head that drops fairly shortly and leaves only a minor lacing of spots and splashes behind.

The aroma suggests green cardamom, light cola, clove, a hint of dark chocolate, some brown sugar, a hint of dark fruit, some floral and grassy character, and a light touch of maltiness.

The flavor follows suit with the addition of some nice dark caramel and heightened notes of dark fruit that include: raisins, fig, dates, and a suggestion of currant. As is often the case with Unibroue beers, it presents itself as more of a complex-but-balanced 'round' of a beer rather than a more 'spiky' ale that delivers its components piece-meal and at different intensities across the palate. There is some transition to it, however, and it starts sweetish and fruity, but anchored by spice, and it finishes spicy and dry (although the alcohol is well-cloaked) yet coated in fruit (with more skins and pulp than juicy) with a light hint of anise.

In the mouth it's full-medium in body with a delicate but zesty carbonation that warms to caress the palate rather than lend zing.

For the price, it can't be beat; and within the pantheon of Belgian style beers it still ranks right up there. Not to be missed at the price, but certainly worth trying regardless.

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Photo of mactrail
3.44/5  rDev -9.9%
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.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.35/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Acquired at Trader Joe's Culver City a little over an hour ago for $4.99. 9.00% ABV confirmed. I enjoyed last year's release, so I'm excited for this one. 750ml brown glass bottle with hood and wire cap over a cork served into a 47cl New Belgium stem-goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are high.

Best before: 07/06/2015 (MM/DD/YYYY). Brewed by Unibroue for Trader Joe's.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Paired with Trader Joe's pretzel rods.

Satisfying cork pop on the open; no liquid upsurging or other issues.

A: Pours a 3.5 finger khaki colour head of nice thickness, cream, and retention. I wouldn't quite make the leap to "coffee coloured" per the label, but it's a nice khaki-beige colour head. Lacing is decent as well. Colour of the body is a solid nontransparent opaque black. Not jet black, but it's certainly dark. Looks pretty good. No yeast particles are visible; no bubble show.

Sm: Raisin and hints of fermented fruit. Grape. Lovely biscuity spicy yeast; this one doesn't shy away from its yeast in the aroma and I like it. Certainly lees. Dry caramel and a hint of roasted malts. A bit vinous. A touch herbal; maybe hints of phenol. It's to be expected. Stone fruit - maybe plum? Yes, plum. I get it when I look for it. Not at all a "bright" aroma, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's got dark fruit. In any case, it's a good aroma punctuated mainly by raisin. Candi sugar comes through as does crystal malt. An average strength aroma.

T/Mf: Spicy and fruity, with raisin drying the mouthfeel throughout. Brittle candi sugar comes through alongside stone fruit (plum) and other fermented fruits - maybe light fig. There's definitely a refined grape note in there that isn't necessarily raisin. Some biscuit malt and spicy biscuity yeast. The lees are bolstered in the second act here, and sort of muck up the balance a bit without adding much. Like homebrew pitched on a cake without adequate secondary fermentation. In this sense, the second act is overly full with the bland dead particles. Vinous, certainly - and the bitterness therein is tamed nicely by a malty sweetness that isn't quite part of the actual malt foundation. Maybe the sweetness is residual from the fermented fruit; it's hard to tell. Some smacks of pear or fig on the finish for a brief moment lends it a bit more character and complexity, but doesn't adequately turn the flavour on the climax. I'd like more of that note to brighten it up a bit. In spite of its yeasty qualities, it just doesn't feel all that alive. Certainly the malty sweetness would reduce over time, but I can't help but think that the lees character will slow the development of the yeast. It's balanced but the focus might be in the wrong place. It approaches acidic in the finish, even flirting with a dark red wine character, but it never quite commits.

It's certainly smooth and wet, but coarsens in the second act to coax out the flavours. This is a good effect methinks. Good thickness - staying on the light end for most beers of this style and ABV. At least there's something light about it. I'd by no means call it refreshing, but it's enjoyable to drink. Certainly its complexities come through. Though its subtleties are perchance not as subtle as Unibroue might like. The label mentions "roasted malts and spices". I have no idea where those are, but I don't get them.

Noble hops are minimal in their flavour contribution; that shows here - and so much the better. This flavour profile doesn't call for hops, even if they're background and floral.

It's maybe a bit too viscous and chewy. You'll feel the sugars if it touches your teeth. Not sure that's a bad thing, but you can tell it's got that tingly sugary coarseness that rottens.

Dr: A very drinkable brew for the well concealed ABV. I expected a bit better from Unibroue, but this is quite delightful at the $4.99 price point. Any cellar could use one or three of these, especially at so low an investment. I'd like to try it with one or two years on it; it's a bit young now. By no means a bad brew, but it has potential I feel I wasted by opening it now. A solid beer for the style and one I'll enjoy finishing. Give her a spin and see where she takes you.


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Photo of LXIXME
3.8/5  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.

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Photo of superspak
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.23/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer is near black in color with a thin beige head. The aroma offers spices, mint, dark druit, yeast. The flavor is sweet and spicy, a bit overly so. Dark fruits and licorice with notes of anise. Not in the upper half of the style. Medium bodied with lingering spices and a touch of warming alcohol. Very reasonably priced, but you get what you pay for.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.19/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle opened on 11.23.12

A - Pours a cola brown with a fizzy light brown head with good retention.

S - Belgian yeast, subtle fruti and spices.

T - Very heavy spices, sweet subtle fruit.

D - Fizzy carbonation with a light body.

O - Holiday spices and fizzy.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4/5  rDev +4.7%
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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Photo of barnzy78
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
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!

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been a long time fan of the unibroue undercover trader joe vintage ale series (although didn't love 2010 fresh). the wife nabbed me a bottle of this today while doing some grocery shopping...took a while to hit town, but it is here. will i get a case? let's try one bottle first...in 2010 made the mistake of jumping on a case without a taste. enjoyed from a unibroue tulip.

a - brew poured a deep purple with a generous 2+ fingers of foamy yeasty head. looking good...like classic unibroue/vintage ale! perfect to style. what do you expect? it is one of the masters.

s - oh joy! not over spiced, just BSDA magic. dark fruits...prunes soaked in sugar water with grapes and berries. great belgian candied yeast. yowza, smells awesome! i cannot wait for a sip!

t - oh joy. it is REALLY GOOD. i couldn't be happier. they dialed the xmas spicing back in a major way. one of the better vintages in a few years. kind of takes me back to when i first discovered this beer back in 2009 and fell in love. definitely dialed back in intensity. really classic with the dark fruits and candied belgian sugars. very accessible.

m - a bit watery on the flavor profile. not as rich and creamy as i look for in the style, but nice drinker and good feel and carbonation.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.34/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle into snifter. Best before date 7/6/15.

A; Pours a deep cola brown color with a couple fingers of dense light tan head that slowly faded into a fuzzy and lasting film. Thick wispy lace was left down the glass.
S: Rich and spicy notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, raisin, and powdery chocolate. I get hints of dark fruits and wood as well.
T: Follows the nose with the addition of mint, slight citrus zest. Clove, chocolate, woody must, dates, plums, raisins, cream, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Spicy lingering in the aftertaste. Tastes like creamy spiced chocolate ice cream. Extremely delicious.
M: Full body, creamy, fluffy, and soft carbonation, light bitterness, smooth and rich mouthfeel.
O: Extremely rich, smooth and delicious. Not overly sweet, fruity, or malty. Very balanced yet complicated.

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Photo of FosterJM
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1628th Review on BA
Bottle to Tulip
22oz C/C

Purchased at TJ's Chino Hills, for $4.99

App- A great brown color with garnet edges and a bit of crimson in the center of the pour. A giant 2-1/2 finger head a medium khaki color that was fast receding but didnt leave a much in cling or lace. Very bubbly and craterous.

Smell- A nice strong aromatic to the style. A bit yeasty with a bit of cocoa powder which tends to smell like a soda. This years version is a bit amplified on the spices and doesnt necessarily work well IMO.

Taste- A good version of a favorite style. This years version again was uniquely Unibroue and their in house yeast. Everything has a good Saison/Triple yeasty flavoring. A good balance between the grain bill with the malts and a slighter less peppery note with some cocoa powder and a little bit of bittering Noble hops.

Mouth- A little bit too over carbonated this year. It was a tad bit high carbonated and a bit prickly. Missing that smoothness to the style. The body was nice and medium and a bit thin.

Drink- I think I will still try these every year for $4.99 but I think the recipe needs to change a bit and smooth itself out and dial down the spices.

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Photo of notchucknorris
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a deep brown color with a huge tan head that takes a while to go down. Pretty solid appearance.

S: A lot of that signature Unibroue yeast with some spicy clove notes. Some faint plum, brown sugar and alcohol as well.

T: Very spicy upfront with some thick Belgian yeast holding it up. Notes of cherry skin, prune and some almost herbal yeast. Mouthfeel doesn't really give away the ABV at all. To me, this needs some age. The taste isn't bad now, but with some age, this could be pretty good stuff.

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Photo of prototypic
3.63/5  rDev -5%
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.

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