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

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Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale
BA SCORE
3.82/5
Very Good
266 Ratings
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
Ranking:
-
Reviews:
55
Ratings:
266
pDev:
11.26%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
4
Gots:
42
Trade:
5
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 266 |  Reviews: 55
Photo of target88
3.82/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of RaulMondesi
3.84/5  rDev +0.5%
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 +0.5%
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.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.84/5  rDev +0.5%
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 +0.5%
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 +0.5%
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

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Photo of calebkeen
3.86/5  rDev +1%
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 AD17
3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of mikeg67
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

 296 characters

Photo of Mavigo
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
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 +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of chinchill
3.89/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

 662 characters

Photo of mjpolzin
3.89/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of damndirtyape
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

 1,145 characters

Photo of sendbeer
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of TruePerception
3.91/5  rDev +2.4%
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 Fcolle2
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black in color with a big 2 finger light tan foamy head that retains nicely. There is a very vigorous amount of bubbling all over the glass that is interesting to watch.

Smell is good. Lots of spices, notes of cinnamon and clove forward followed by a Belgian peppercorn phenol and toffee malt on the back end.

Taste has some semi sweet dark syrup like toffee malt that is balanced nicely with some Belgian peppercorn flavors. Very light residual earthy hop bitterness nearly undetectable through more spices in the backend.

Mouthfeel is good medium to thick body is cut with a sharp vigorous carbonation. Slightly dry finish.

 634 characters

Photo of notchucknorris
3.94/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours black with a two finger fizzling light brown head. Nice retention.

S: Subtle spice notes with that sweet, signature Unibroue yeast lingering in the background. Clove, ginger, wheat bread crust, doughy malt, light booze and some molasses.

T: Toasted malt, followed by a lot of sweet Unibroue yeast. Light ginger, molasses, clove. Finish is slightly dry yeast with a touch of toasted grain husk. A pretty big improvement over the last few years. I'm liking this one.

 475 characters

Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.94/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nice opaque black beer, with a light tan head that forms up big and tight, and is slow to fade. Not much lacing once the head comes down, though.

S - Sugars and raisins, a sourness suggesting citric acid, perhaps a slight hint of lemon rind.

T - Following the nose, with sweet dark fruits and subtle sour flavors. Earthiness in the close. A slight hint of clay. Some soapy notes, but these are kept in check.

M - Thick and full, but with spritely carbonation that keeps things from becoming cloying or taxing.

O - This a big brew, but it comes across as fairly approachable. Watch it, though, there is enough in a single bottle to knock you on your backside. Not a stellar brew, but good, and a great deal for the price.

 734 characters

Photo of Spaceman_Jer
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of HopsAreDaMan
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Two years old at D&P's Christmas Eve during a vertical with the '14 and '15. This was the favorite, as it was less carbonated and more complex.

143 characters

Photo of BeerDocT
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought at the Trader Joe's in Alpharetta, GA, which I hate. I really wish TJ's would open up a new store closer to North Atlanta so I would never have to go that particular location again.

Poured into a chilled La Trappe goblet.

Appearance 3.75: Poured out jet black with a creamy white, 1/2" head. Head quickly dissipated, leaving very little froth behind. Lacing non-existent.

Smell 4.0: Nice bouquet. I smell toasted grains, star anise, cloves, orange rind and spicy Belgian yeast. All of it is well balanced and subdued.

Taste 4.0: Front is slightly sweet, but much more dry than last year's batch. Middle is where the spices come in: cloves, orange, anise...but all very well-balanced and not overwhelming. In the Finish, a certain smoked grains taste seeps in along with a taste of cocoa. Finish is also where I noticed a subtle hop flavor and a very light sweetness. Aftertaste is remarkably (and woefully...I did not want it to end!) short and gives the palate one more kick of spice and subtle malt. Absolutely NO hint of the 9% ABV this baby packs.

Mouthfeel 4.0: Ideal carbonation for this beer. Pleasing on the palate and refreshing.

Overall 4.0: Excellent holiday brew...in fact, this is my favorite holiday brew. The master brewers at Unibroue have stepped up to the plate again and knocked another one out of the park. Light, refreshing and perfectly sessionable. Recommended, even if you have to navigate a horrible TJs like the one in Alpharetta, GA. **shudder**

 1,486 characters

Photo of garymuchow
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

1 year old when giving it a first run. Huge dense tan head that took its damn time in settling down. Nearly a black body. Not sure I've every seen this style this dark before.
Spicy malt aroma with what seems to be the proprietary Unibroue yeast - a mix of spice (the usual but seems like some cinnamon later in the drink) and fruitiness. Dries out quite a bit and leaves a malty dryness laying on the tongue. Nice complex flavors with yeast character more foreground than balanced. Alcohol noticed most in gut warmth and is balanced more on the flavor - in the aroma it shows as perfume. Richer malt flavors than many and most apparent as warms. Body is bigger and fuller than most for style, even beyond the high level of carbonation.
You know, for the price, this is a solid Belgian ale.

 805 characters

Photo of Dicers
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of Guinnsslvr
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.82 out of 5 with 266 ratings
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