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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

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

241 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 241
Reviews: 77
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 13.19%
Wants: 3
Gots: 33 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerDocT on 11-02-2012)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 241 | Reviews: 77 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

UCLABrewN84, Nov 24, 2012
Photo of Thorpe429
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Thorpe429, Feb 11, 2013
Photo of BEERchitect
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

BEERchitect, Jan 02, 2013
Photo of Phyl21ca
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.

Phyl21ca, Feb 03, 2014
Photo of TMoney2591
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

TMoney2591, Nov 14, 2012
Photo of zeff80
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.

zeff80, Mar 21, 2013
Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

SocalKicks, Jul 23, 2013
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

StonedTrippin, Nov 19, 2012
Photo of mactrail
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.

mactrail, Feb 17, 2014
Photo of kojevergas
3.35/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

B-

kojevergas, Nov 08, 2012
Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev +5.5%

GClarkage, Jul 08, 2014
Photo of drewone
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

drewone, Dec 02, 2012
Photo of superspak
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.

superspak, Nov 21, 2013
Photo of Huhzubendah
3.2/5  rDev -15.6%
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.

Huhzubendah, Dec 26, 2012
Photo of brandoman63
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

brandoman63, Jan 30, 2013
Photo of mdaschaf
3.94/5  rDev +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.

mdaschaf, Jan 17, 2013
Photo of LXIXME
3.78/5  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.

LXIXME, Dec 25, 2012
Photo of dmorgan310
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

dmorgan310, Nov 07, 2012
Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

HuskyinPDX, Nov 28, 2012
Photo of johnnnniee
4/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

johnnnniee, Nov 27, 2012
Photo of LiquidAmber
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.

LiquidAmber, Feb 11, 2013
Photo of vfgccp
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

vfgccp, Sep 22, 2013
Photo of bluejacket74
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!

bluejacket74, Dec 14, 2013
Photo of barnzy78
3.98/5  rDev +5%
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!

barnzy78, Jan 01, 2013
Photo of puboflyons
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.

puboflyons, Apr 15, 2013
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Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 241 ratings.