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:
Photo of Scparks
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of Chaney
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up two of these today. Only $4.99? For a Unibroue? Nice!

Served in a Port City shaped-glass because I don't own a Unibroue one. Fail!

A: Poured a dark, burnt cocoa brown, with a very frothy, beige head that died down quickly for it's 2 finger state.

S: Sort of a minty, cough medicine-like disposition, understated, yet still present. The more I dug, I definitely got ginger.

T: I didn't like the fact that the raisony, dark fruit-like quality was washed over with this intense ginger component. Way too much spice for my taste.

M: VERY carbonated for such a high octane brew, but I actually dug that about it. Not sure why. The lacing was mildly splotchy and the spice component was through the roof.

O: Not a big fan of ginger, so I guess I'm a bit biased. Still, this was a well-priced, yet one-dimensional brew.

Photo of irs
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of s4s
2.9/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I've really enjoyed the past few vintages, being one who loves the Belgian strong dark type. This one, however, has really over-done the spice aspect to it. A small amount to me is OK, but this reminds me of spiced apple cider. I hope they (Unibroue) can get back on track next year.

I'm about out of Avery's Kaiser beer, so I'll have to go with Optimator instead of this Trader Joe seasonal.

Photo of Caskaway
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of UniversallyDope
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured a very dark brown, almost black color. The first smells that hit me where plum and spice. Its very smooth and has lots of darker fruit flavors like plum. Hints of clove and spices. The Finnish a little spicy.

I consider the value of this beer to be great.

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 leodarko
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of WaKdawg
3.03/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

So this was my first time trying one of Trader Joe's Vintage Ales, I had heard good things about previous years and decide to pick up a bottle for the weekend, at 4.95$ it seemed like a bargain. I appreciated the subtle somewhat understated appearance of the bottle, no gimmicks here.

Had a little trouble getting the cork out which surprised me, I had been told Unibroue corks tend to pop right out. Eventually I was able to open it, though it had warmed up some, and poured it into a pint glass. It had a thick hearty foam (roughly 3 fingers) that settled somewhat. Right away I was struck by the rich spicy aroma, my sense of smell isn't great but this cut right through.

Unfortunately the taste really didn't live expectations. Despite the strong spicy smell (almost like pumpkin pie) it's was pretty mild tasting. No real alcohol taste which I guess is impressive for 9% ABV but the beer didn't have much flavor. Also felt like it left a "grittiness" in my mouth which was somewhat unpleasant. I can't really say that I disliked the beer but it didn't rock my world. I think I will try other Unibroue products (they cone highly recommended an I'm now near Canada which seems to help with availability) but I doubt I will get this one again.

Photo of Dave_Treat
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of beck2008
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased in Cerritos, CA $4.99

A- very dark brown, big tan head on the first pour, drops a bit after the 2nd and 3rd pour.

S- fruity cherry, spice, yeasty, very "Unibroue"

T- dark cherry, apple, and clovy spice. Alcohol is hidden very well. This beer tastes good if you let it aerate a bit like you might with wine. I usually pour a glass then put it back in the fridge with a loose cap. I actually enjoy this one better after a day being chilled.

M- great carbonation, very smooth

O- I've had all the vintage ale offerings for the last 5 years and I have to say this one is the best. I really like this one. At $4.99 it's no brainer for anyone who is into Belgiums. If you like Maudite by Unibroue, then you'll love this one (and at half the cost!)

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

Picked a bottle up last night at Trader Joe's; for $4.99 I couldn't resist. Popped the cork (stubborn little thing) and poured into a Tulip:

A: Comes out of the bottle with an aggressively bubbly head colored in shades of hazel. The beer itself is more of a murky, charred brown. Settles with a nice cap which hugs the sides of the glass. Sudsy bubbles swish around the edges of the glass on each sip.

S: When first poured, the nose immediately wafted with an almost pungent aroma of yeasty spice, but more on the kind of infected. As the beer settled for a moment, these notes mellowed out, permitting a few more pleasant aromas come through: raisins, candied plums, maple syrup on toast.

T: The beer hits the tongue with unabashed sweetness: dried and candied fruits such as cherries and plums, Belgian yeasts, and a certain doughy malt character. A touch of nutmeg and toasty malts prop up the middle of the profile. I like the flavors, but there is almost too much of a sweetness to consider this a nice balance. Spicy in the finish with a bit of a peppery kick. A year in conditioning will do this beer some good. I liked it, I just felt it could less packed with the rush of sweet notes.

M: Finishes dry from the spices with not much hint of the 9% abv. The bottle conditioning at this beer's young age really put the carbonation over the top which is just unpleasantly prickly at this point.

O: Not a bad beer at this point, I just see it getting better with age which will hopefully mellow out some of more aggressive flavors.

Photo of PaulMcQ
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of kojevergas
3.35/5  rDev -11.8%
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-

Photo of dmorgan310
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%

Photo of Beermazter310
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%

Photo of impending
3.93/5  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

Photo of mmmaaattt
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of Dave1999
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Photo of CondorMcBride
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of BeerDocT
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a chilled tulip glass. Brewed for TJ's by Unibroue, the pride of Chambly, QC. Can't wait to try this.

-Appearance 4.0: Poured out a very dark brown/black. Completely opaque and gem-like. Huge, inch high head finally dropped down to a thick, khaki-colored swirl on the top.

-Smell 4.0: Very subdued bouquet. Citrusy, with noticeable malt. I also smell a very faint aroma of spices...star anice...nutmeg... . Very nice.

-Taste 4.5: Front is dry, with a light maltiness. Middle really hits you with the Belgian candi, but is subdued and balanced along with the taste of spices: very light hints of those mentioned above and also that wonderful Belgian yeast. Finish is dry, with some light alkaline hoppiness and malt. Aftertaste is brief, but features the candi sugar and more subdued spices. Everything is well-balanced and delightful.

-Mouthfeel 4.0: Carbonation is right on target for this style. Great complement to the beer.

-Overall 4.5: Excellent Belgian Strong Dark. This is obviously a "holiday" style beer, but it is head and shoulders over anything you will pick up at any other grocery store. Why? The balance. Nothing is overpowering or screaming "I AM A HOLIDAY BEER!" Instead, what you get is a very nuanced and enjoyable seasonal brew that is a real treat. Buy it if you can find it. It's times like these I feel sorry for my friends in Pennsylvania (their TJ's cannot sell wine or beer).

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