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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: 41 | 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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 83 | Hads: 319
Photo of MattyG85
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml corked bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. 2012 Vintage.

Appearance: Pours a deep and dark brownish amber that is pretty cola like. Big four finger tan head that settles into a very thin patchy layer. Leaves a good amount of lacing on the glass.

Smell: A fruity and spicy Belgian style aroma that is typical of Unibroue. Belgian yeast with a consider amount of spicing including clove, pepper, coriander, and a touch of cinnamon. Big hints of banana along with some apple and orange. Belgian candied sugar and dark malts with hints of toffee, dark biscuit, and chocolate. Big dark fruit presence with hints of fig, raisin, and dates. Pretty solid.

Taste: Like it smells, fruity and spicy Belgian taste. Belgian yeast with a lot of spices up front including cloves, pepper, cinnamon, and coriander. Fruity esters of bananas, orange, and apple. Dark malt with a taste of dark bread, toffee, and chocolate. Candied sugars and a good mix of dark fruits including fig, dates, raisin, and plum. Taste is fairly dry with a lot of spice. It comes together well.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a medium to high amount of carbonation. Crisp, spicy, and pretty drying. Alcohol is hidden pretty well.

Overall: Another solid year for this Belgian style ale. Big on the spices, which I like. Solid fruit undertones.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
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!

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Photo of nUgZ
2.34/5  rDev -38.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22 ounce bomber poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a dark brown color with a 2-3 finger head and no lacing to speak of.

S: Lots of yeast, spice, fruit, and alcohol on the nose. Not very appealing.

T: Honestly, I didn't keep it in my mouth long enough to distinguish the flavors.

M: Medium bodied good carbonation.

O: This was a drain pour for me. I didn't enjoy it in any way.

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Photo of lanceballance
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very warm mouthfeel. Hints of ginger and clove. Also, chocolate and coriander. Not a very hoppy aroma. Some alcohol heat on the finish, but not overpowering (does not feel like a high gravity ale). Pours "whiskey" brown...very high level of carbonation on the pour that diminishes quickly.

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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 elNopalero
3.48/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This pours a deep intense dark raisin-date color with a foam capping that dies down quite rapidly. There’s an aroma with evident stone fruit, mostly figs and raisins as well as some …plums? And wet leather? Just barely. There’s also an alcohol-warmth in the aroma that is fairly evident once it warms, and slightly off-putting.

The flavor has more of those stone fruits in combination as well as a touch of dark chocolate and some hints of a piney-medicinal finish. Juniper, perhaps?
The body is slightly on the lighter side for the beer itself, as I would have appreciated more body and a tad more heft to match the flavors and the alcohol’s strength.

Every year I buy this. It’s from Unibroue and it’s dirt cheap and I find it hard to resist a deal like that. But after finding this year’s version so disappointing, and feeling underwhelmed by last year’s as well, I’m thinking I need to restrain myself come next year. But who knows, maybe some more time on this edition will bring out some more depth and complexity.

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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 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 Aaron_Ramson
2.59/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: obelisk black, beautifully dark with a small 1 finger head that dissipated too quickly, leaving a flat, laceless surface.
S: musty, cheese, yeasty. Just unpleasant.
T: Strong taste of anise and licorice, Belgian hop favors such as bubble gum and banana also noted. Burnt coffee, very little hop bitterness at the end and very boozy.
M: Medium mouthfeel with good carbonation.
O: unpleasant and nasty, I poured the last 1/4 bottle down the drain and will not be drinking this again.

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Photo of CloudStrife
4/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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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 mjpolzin
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A few years ago, I was really fond of this yearly release from Trader Joes. As I have gotten more into beer, this one has started to slip for me a bit as I have just simply found other brews I like better. I am always still excited though to buy a few bottles each year to add to my vertical collection. At Thanksgiving, my brother in law and I did a 3 year vertical (2010-2011-2012) and I was disappointed to find that all 3 years tasted basically the same. I suppose you could say that this beer holds up well but I was hoping there would be some differences that the aging had brought out.

The 2012 then was much like the other years; a fair amount of holiday spice (ginger, clove, cinnamon) with a slight cola or maybe root beer taste. The beer is also fairly carbonated. But maybe a few years ago I would have been "wowed" by this beer but now I am not.

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Photo of Mavigo
4/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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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 pkalix
4.33/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

huge foamy head. very dark and unable to see through even the sides of the tulip glass holding it.
smells like a dark belgium, malty and dark fruit-y.
taste is the same- dark fruit-y, heavy on the malt, a little taste of alcohol on the finish.
this is my first trader joes and i was thinking what a great job they did of brewing such a semblance of a belgian dark ale. and then i read someone said that unibroue is producing these. that explains why it tastes so good. very good considering the 9% abv, in fact. and the tasting ended prematurely after the kids accidentally threw the dog's ball into the glass.... had to be there....

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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 Arithmeticus
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured at room temp in flared glass from hotel

A: nearly solid black; very nice frothy head; good carb action
S: strong malt aroma; yeast/lees prominent (reminds me of Unibroue's other offerings)
T: supergreat taste; cherry and plum flavor dominate, with a nice thread of spicing; sweet; hops understated; yeast conditioning is nicely blended into the body

Really fine beer; one of my favorites of the month

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Photo of jdkitchi
4.7/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought a few of these bombers from Trader Joe's the other day and wanted to try one. This is made by Unibroue and I believe it is Trois Pistoles Belgian strong dark ale. I've had the 4 or 5 more common Unibroue brews and like them a lot.

Poured into a Duvel large tulip glass. There was a massive amount of head on the first pour. The smell is complex. Dark malt, fruit, spicy Belgian yeast a little hops.

There is plenty of carbonation for a lively mouth feel. The first taste especially with the foam was fantastic. Very complex flavors and aromas. It's sweet, spicy, fruit, hoppy and delicious. There is a little bit alcohol kick too. This just keeps getting better as you drink it. This is a world class brew.

As I stated earlier, I think this is the Trois Pistoles from Unibroue. I do have a bomber of that in the cellar that I'll have to crack open and see if it's the same someday.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

So we just had a Trader Joe's open up in Charlottesville and curiosity drew me in. I was completely unaware that they had these annual brews done, and much less that they were done by Unibroue... for $4.99, at that!

A: Ruddy reddish-brown, topped with a liberal pillow of head--white around the edges, but more of a khaki in the richer foam.

S + T: Quite sweet and spicy on the nose... like a dessert, really. Sugary notes and plenty of dark fruits... lots of plum and raisin, along with a banana-like yeasty ester. The flavor is much the same. Lots of spices going on here... some cinnamon and clove, maybe ginger? It's got such a strong sugary side to it that none of them really come out as subtle spices.

M + D: The body is like that of most of Unibroue's offerings (sitll trying to figure out what exactly 'Trader Joe's Brewing Company' is--this is plastered with Unibroue all over the place. Medium to richer in body, with a nice sparkling carbonation that gives it a 'shimmering' quality. I find this beer to be a little more intense in the sweetness, but not too bad all around. Certainly not my favourite from the brewery, but at the price, it's a pretty good bargain.

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Photo of tjsdomer2
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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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 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 Chaney
3.41/5  rDev -10.7%
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.

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Photo of s4s
2.94/5  rDev -23%
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.

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Photo of UniversallyDope
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

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