Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale | Trader Joe's Brewing Company

BA SCORE
86
very good
266 Ratings
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Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Contract brewed by Unibroue.

Added by NickMunford on 11-16-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

BEER STATS
Ratings:
266
Reviews:
55
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
11.2%
 
 
Wants:
4
Gots:
41
For Trade:
5
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 266 |  Reviews: 55
Photo of TruePerception
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've heard a bunch of people say this is really good, especially for the price ($5 for a 750mL)!

Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale, dark ale (brewed by Unibroue). 9% ABV.

Good pop, with a nice haze! Didn't even need the cork screw to pop the cork!

A: Pours a distinct tamarind color. Very dark brown, almost black, in the glass. Half a finger of head. No lacing.

S: Sticky sweet aromas take over, at first. Deep molasses, dark caramel, slight toffee. Prune. Slight herbal coolness (peppermint?). Raisin smell comes out as it warms.

T/MF: Ooh! It has a coolness on the palate. Notes of spearmint and menthol. Very dark molasses. Slight sweet char. Very slight raisin/prune backing. Just the slightest hint of rosemary. Slight ginger as it warms. Very interesting flavor going on in this one. Not typically what I would look for, but pretty good!

Seems like it would go well with holiday food, but I'm not sure which food.

Poured from a 750mL bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

 979 characters

Photo of damndirtyape
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

750mL corked and caged bottle, split between two people, served in Tulip glasses.

Appearance: Dark cola brown to black. Light tan thin head with plenty of carbonation coming up through the beer. Minimal lacing - a few strands and tiny islands.

Smell: Roasted malts, fresh cooked pasta, hint of noble hops.

Taste: Fruity, spicy, candi sugar sweetness all mixed together. Robust flavors. The finish was leafy, part noble hops, and part wintergreen. Definite wintergreen finish as the beer warmed up.

Mouthfeel: Airy & lively carbonation, but not fizzy. Tiny bit sticky on the teeth under all that carbonation.

Overall / drinkability: Good, but not great. Did not pair well with Salmon. Didn't clash, but wasn't a good pairing as suggested by the bottle. I think it would be better with grilled meats. Interesting and flavorful, with notable noble hops and an good use of wintergreen as a flavor note. I think however, I could not finish a whole bottle by myself. Alcohol is well hidden and will sneak up on you. I'll have to see how the other bottle I bought shakes out - I'll let it age another 6-9 months and we'll see how it holds up.

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Photo of sendbeer
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of chinchill
3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle with a Unibroue cork and cage seal served in a Sierra Nevada glass. BB date of 1 August 2016.

Popping the cork produced a slowly rising foam that just barely extruded out the top of the bottle. Likewise, a very large head rises above the dark reddish brown body, even with a gentle pour. Clear but nearly opaque in the glass.

Excellent mouthfeel with a creamy smooth feel, but with a touch of astringency in the finish.

The aroma is spicy, yeasty and, unfortunately, a bit musty. This musty note largely disappears upon tasting, where dark fruits and dark spices come to the fore in a complex array of spice, yeast, grain and fruit notes.

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Photo of mjpolzin
3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of mikeg67
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle. Pours reddish brown with huge, long lasting, fluffy, beige head. Aroma is of toasted malt, spices and yeast. Body is full and smooth. Toasted malt, brown sugar, spices, plums and black cherries fill the mouth. Finish is long and spicy, with some alcohol warming. Tasty winter brew.

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Photo of Mavigo
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served in a chalice.

A: Pours a murky, dark brown color, has a 1/4 beige head that lasts for a few minutes before dissipating to a thing ring.

S: Smells of plums, cherries, malts, barley, brown sugar, licorice

T: Quite sweet, tasting of plums, brown sugars, malts, yeast

M: Full bodied beer with ample amounts of carbonation. A bit too carbonated, takes away from the flavor profile, which could be more pronounced.

O: I've been getting a bottle of the Trader Joe's Vintage ale for the past 3 years, I think I liked last years better, but none the less, it's worth the price.

 583 characters

Photo of South2NW
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of AD17
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of calebkeen
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Purchased at Brookline, MA Trader Joe's on 11/16.

Poured 40 cl. into a Hill Farmstead Belgian-style glass

Three fingers of caramel-colored head from a moderately fast pour. Head retention is acceptable for the style. First taste registers burnt sugar, a nice amount of yeasty spice, molasses, "dark fruit" and just a bit of alcohol heat on the end of the sip. Everything is balanced quite nicely. My experience with the TJ Vintage Ales over the last five years is that the flavors might all be acceptable in their own right but are out of balance with each other / a hot mess on the tongue. This beer is tasting surprisingly solid for a Belgian strong ale from the first taste.

At $4.95 this is an incredible value, and I'll be drinking at least one bottle a week until it's gone.

 783 characters

Photo of RaulMondesi
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Hi, my peeps.

Just chillin' on the low with a '13 Vintage and feeling it like a hummingbird in the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands. Dark fruits, rum, raisins...and smooth. Woo! Now, this isn't the best Belgium Dark Ale; it wasn't when Raul was at his zenith after ingesting a certain substance while in said gardens... but it's still quite nice.

Verdict? For $4.99, this should be the new "value meal."

 415 characters

Photo of Badger6
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

750mL bottle, bottled on 1 Aug 13 (label imprint reads 02131837, with an expiration of 1 Aug 16). Poured into a Chimay goblet. Labeled a Belgian dark ale, but strikes as a Belgian strong ale, brewed by Unibroue and consistent with their well-known dark, strong Belgians.

A - First pour was about 300mL. The head was light tan in color and fizzy rapidly diminished with no lacing. The body of the beer was a dark-brown to black, and almost no light passed through.

S - The aroma is slightly boozy, no surprise at 9% abv. Very spicy aroma with pronounced notes of clove, allspice and cinnamon. Smell of molasses and coffee is slight, but clear.

T - The flavor profile is complex. Starts with a malty sweetness, layered with clear, almost overwhelming, spice notes and a pronounced molasses note to the malt, coffee flavor doesn't come through. Finishes with a light acidity as the sweetness fades. The strong spice notes remain throughout.

M - The carbonation is mellow and consistent. The beer has a light to medium body with a clear boozy character that is not overpowering or that interferes with the flavor.

O- A very enjoyable beer. At 9% abv it is surprisingly not difficult to drink, and as the stronger Belgian style beers go is smooth, but could stand to age for another few months. If you plan to pick any up, do it quick, TJs will soon be out, and I recommend you save a bottle or two for next year to compare.

 1,424 characters

Photo of cosmicevan
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

bottle picked up locally at trader joe's. proclaimed unibroue fanboy (one of the breweries that got me into craft). enjoyed from a unibroue taster tulip (coolest glass i've ever seen...a mini tulip!!!!)

a - so glad this year is a BSDA...one of my fav styles...and no one does it like unibroue! poured perfect...dark purple with a monster head and lacing to rule the world. coated the glass like a milkshake.

s - what can i say? smells like a unibroue BSDA. has that signature yeast strain with some soft spicing for the holiday. a vast improvement fresh from the previous few years. can't wait to dig in.

t - much more spicy than the nose suggested. a bit heavy handed on the spicing actually. looking forward to sitting on my other bottle to let that zing chill out. classic unibroue wondeful BSDA base, but just so much spice added to it to make it a holiday beer...too much so, but i guess if they didn't do that, it would just be trois pistoles or maudite (more like trois that maudite).

m - zingy. crisp, but fizzy. almost a bit heavy handed on the carb.

o - overall, a step in the right direction from previous years, but still an overspiced belgian like the others. i should just stop getting these and just pick up a bottle of trois pistoles since that's what i love from unibrou (one of my all time favs). these vintage ales really just seem to be unibroue classics with a ton of holiday spice added. at $5 a pop, a deal to be had, but i'd rather pony up the extra $4 or $5 to get a version without all the spice. the nose is the star of the show and in a few years, i'm sure the taste will catch up. it is kind of funny that every year i save these with the hope that the spicing will fade and they will eventually just taste like the base beer without the spice.

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Photo of lemmy187
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I remember drinking this fresh.....highly carbonated and heavy on the spice. Revisited a bottle with three years age on it......and this Belgium style ale has aged beautifully. Most of the spice has mellowed and the dark fruit and malt has taken over. Big notes of plums, raisins, and slight banana. Some of the prickly carbonation has faded....improving the overall drinkability. These vintage ales truly improve with age and it seems the sweet spot is at 2-3 years.

 472 characters

Photo of Cubatobaco
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Cola-like, opaque brown, with a khaki lacing that sticks to the side of the glass. When poured, the head recedes to a 1/4".

S - All spice, barley, malt. bread-like, cinnamon, cola-like aroma, nutmeg

T - Nutmeg, very cola-like, a lot of the aroma is coming through on the flavor, an assortment of dried fruits come through on the mid-palate.

M - Thin, very carbonated, medium-bodied, light alcohol feel.

O - A great beer for the price point, would buy again, wonderful holiday beer

 491 characters

Photo of barnzy78
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of target88
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of avwrite
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%

Was skeptical of an ale brewed from Trader Joe's (though I'm not really sure if it's them anyway), but found this to be pleasant. A bit bitter going down, but then kicks you with sweetness, and finishes it with a spicy aftertaste. Dark brown color, and a bit foamy. Relatively cheap, and I'll be sure to get next year's addition.

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Photo of ghostwalker
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark brown body. Big carbonation on pour, but head falls off moderately fast.

Smell is sweet and spicy with a medicinal note.

Flavor is rich smoothness, dark fruits and sweet candi sugar. A bit reminiscent of Pannepot. Very tasty!

Mouthfeel is highly carbed and active on the palate.

Overall, a solid sipper. Unibroue continues to compete with many of the best Belgian brews.

 380 characters

Photo of Beginner2
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Rated from memory. But, enjoyed.
OA: contracting this brew to one of North America's best specialists in the Belgian tradition is a very smart for TJ

149 characters

Photo of mattyrubes
3.8/5  rDev -1%

Photo of KYGunner
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Called a Dark Ale for a reason , this poured a deep dark ruby with a course of bubbling. These bubbles built an inch of single file of horizontal brown lines that was capped by a dense khaki froth.

Peppercorns, cloves, carriage and anise meet the nose as this hints towards the "Brewed with Spices." There's some light fruit sweetness like prunes and plums.

The flavors are spicy as well but the malt is more substantial. There seems to be some caramel malt, dried dark fruit and more of a black licorice flavor. There is clove spice, and carraway, but the cloves seems to dominate the last of the palate.

This drinks with a slight alcohol warmth and a bit of dark fruit twang, but it's full enough to satisfy.

The cork read Unibroue and my guess is that it's contracted brewed through the Canadian brewery. That makes complete sense as the yeast characteristics seem to be close to many of their products.

 910 characters

Photo of ONUMello
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle poured into a snifter
A: Pitch black with a 1+ finger head that slowly settles
S: Plum, toffee, yeast, cherry
T: Largely matches the nose. Plum/toffee/cherry most prominent, adds some yeast & grapes. Still good but likely better a year ago
M: Medium-bodied, a bit of alcohol shows through
O: A decent Belgian Strong, fits the style well but likely better earlier

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a deep dark brown color ale with a medium brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of sweet Belgian malt notes with some candi sugar notes with light spices and typical Unibroue yeast notes. Taste is a well balanced mix between some candi sugar notes with some light spices, some fruity notes and some Unibroue yeast. Body is relatively full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very enjoyable but I think I preferred the two previous years vintage which were less fruity and a bit more pronounced on the spicy notes.

 561 characters

Photo of Gr8ful4Beer
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.84 out of 5 based on 266 ratings.
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