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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 246 | Reviews: 78 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerManDan
4.19/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

When poured into a tulip glass, the color was very dark, dark, brown with a fair amount of tan foam and a medium amount of lace. The smell of sweet spices, fruit and roasted malts were evident in the aroma. The taste was sweet carbonated malts, spices, fruit like sweet figs, rasins, with maybe a hint of coffee and cocoa. I think this is a complex Belgian Dark Ale. The alcohol of 9% is not overpowering, but sutle in a nice way. This is a pleasant surprise and is, for me, the best Vintage Ale that Trader Joe's had made. Unibroue is one of my favorite craft brews and again, I'm not disappointed.

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 BWH999
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of Mattyb79
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of RichH55
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%

Photo of notdriving
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of jmmy3
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of Zanico
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of mikeg67
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle. Pours dark brown with a long lasting, thick, beige head and nice lacing. Aroma is of funky yeast, caramel malt, brown sugar, spices and hops. Body is full and smooth. Funky yeast, caramel malt, brown sugar, spices, dark fruit and hops fill the mouth. Finish is long and very spicy. Very nice, delicious brew.

Photo of OldTime
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of MarioM
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

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 BEERchitect
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

Photo of murraymj
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of barnzy78
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
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!

Photo of HattedClassic
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance:
Pours a decent and slightly tan head with good head retention and lacing. The beer itself is a pitch black color.

Smell:
I certainly smell spices such as clover and a little bit of Belgian spices as well as brown sugar. I also get some dark fruits and caramel malts but they are dominated by the spices.

Taste:
The beer tastes as it smells but with the dark fruits and sugar being stronger.

Mouthfeel:
The beer feels a little light bodied for a strong dark ale. Biting carbonation.

Overall:
I have to admit that I'm surprised that such a decent beer from a beer brewed for a store.

Photo of TheSSG
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a large, not too dense head. Nose is dominated by spices; clove and mulling spices abound. Deep burnt umber color. Starts a touch sweet, but then the spices come through, dominating everything. A touch of toasted malt is behind it all, but it's a ton of clove, maybe a touch of minty cardamon (?).

This is very nice; like mulled schwarzbier.

This will NOT be for everyone, but if you like mulled wine/cider, this is highly recommended.

Photo of MDDMD
3.48/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-dark brown color with a light tan head and some lacing

S-caramel malt, cloves, some dark fruit and earthy notes

T-dark fruit, caramel, cloves, hints of pepper and coriander

F-light to medium body with moderate carbonation, thin mouthfeel and lacks some smoothness

O-for the price this was a decent ale, but not typical of the quality one has come to expect from Unibroue

Photo of olafphysics
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of thinwhiteduke
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of MikalMick
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%

Photo of Twig2848
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of brewcrew76
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Brown head, ruby highlights and a finger or two of bubbly foam. Leaves a thin coating foam behind.

S - Cardamom and clove with dark fruity and belgian yeast and candi sugar.

T - Cardamom, clove and maybe even a touch of allspice. Dark fruits, licorice and anise.

M - medium body with prickly carbonation.

D - Aroma is a little better than flavor but a nice holiday beer.

Photo of crewfan1952
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of TWM
1.95/5  rDev -48.7%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Started rough- as I poured from the 750ml bottle, it was so carbonated I couldn't get a smooth pour so it foamed like crazy. 4-5 finger head, nice dark rich color, visible carbonation rising through the little bit of liquid that fit under that massive head.

Smell- normally, I like fruit. In fact, I eat a lot of fruit. Somehow, the fruit smells in this beer were a turn-off. I figured out what it was: the compounds (carboxylic esters) that give fruit its scent and part of the flavor were mixing with the esters of the spices and the whole thing smelled artificial. I'm not accusing TJ's of adding fake flavors, but the results of this fermentation with these ingredients smelled very similar to an artificial, synthesized ester. Think "Runts" candies without the sweetness and a little clove.

Taste- a little better than the smell (thank heavens...). The heavy spicing and aforementioned ester taste competed with what I believe is a pretty darn good ale flavor, the combination not flattering either component. The taste changed through each mouthful- it started very sharp (not generally good for a dark ale) as the high carbonation dropped the pH, then rising to a somewhat sweeter, excessively scented finish.

Feel- as carbonated as any beer I've had recently. Felt sharp at the beginning of a sip, and the escaping carbonation flooded my nasal passages with the clove-cinnamon-spice scent that lingered, feeling like a coating of something greasy, after the liquid was gone.

Overall- I wish they had re-made the 2011 ale, that one was much better. If nothing else, having tried this one will make me appreciate dark ales that respect what makes this kind of brew so unique and good... and won't treat them like some winter-spice, flavor-free mass-produced lager by cramming whatever sounds seasonal into the tun.

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