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

BA SCORE
86
very good
55 Reviews
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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
Reviews:
55
Ratings:
266
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
11.2%
 
 
Wants:
4
Gots:
41
For Trade:
5
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Reviews: 55 | Ratings: 266
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

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

350ml C&C bottle split two ways – FW snifter glass for me.
Notes taken on 01/25/14

A: Pours a very dark cola brown. Mostly unclear. Thick and dense collection of khaki suds on top. Nice hang time with some soapy cling to the glass.

S: Smells of dark malts and burnt caramel sugars with some light Belgian spice. Not incredibly potent on the spicing. A bit of dark dried fruits start to emerge as well. Nice overall but fairly mellow.

T: Tastes of charred malts and dried fruits with some Belgian candi syrup there although it’s not very sweet at all. Reminds me of raisin bread toast and a I am getting a strong red grape juice flavor actually. There is some soft banana peel and a dash of nutmeg with clove spice mixed in. Alcohol is well masked all throughout. A slight dusty mineral note at the finish. Nice balance to it and mostly tasty. Grapey.

M: Medium full body with a very light feel from a frothy amount of carb. Gushy on the palate with a popping feel. Very dry finish.

D: Interesting brew. It’s tasty and pretty well balanced overall but I am getting a lot of grape flavor here. Says brewed with spices and natural flavors added so not sure what that’s all about. Would check this one out again.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

**
05/07/2014
AROMA: yeast and smoke. Dark fruits, licorice.
LOOK: Brown-black color. Small white head. Head lasted.
TASTE: sour cherry, Belgian Wang is prevalent.
FEEL: Lively beer.

Better than 2011 from what I remember.

**

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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 mschrei
4.31/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into wine glass. Dark with mild carb and lacing. Nose and taste are similar-sweet Belgian characteristics with mild tangy raisin notes. Sweet with a light feel for a 9 % abv. I love Unibroue and I used to frequent Trader Joe's, and they go great together with this one.

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Photo of Lingenbrau
3.24/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Side-by-side with '12-'15. My personal least favorite. Seemed slightly infected (if that's even possible) with overcarbonation, and slightly cola flavored. Even so, it was still good. Cheers!

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Photo of Fcolle2
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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Photo of DuffDaddy
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Opened a bottle I've been cellaring since December 2013. Mellowed a lot in the intervening year and a half. Very subtle fruit tones...more of an after dinner drink (although I drank the whole 750 before, during and after supper!).

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Great dark red/purple hue, monstrous light brown head. Strong carbonation can be seen at the edges of the glass. Capitalized Trader Joe's at the top of the bottle makes for pretty lame art. The Unibroue held within is the only thing that drew me to this beer.

S: Heavy spices, some sweet grape, toffee, and malt in there, too. Middle-of-the-road Unibroue style (that's good).

T: Muscat, heavy blend of heated spices, almost herbacious, that faint toffee is still there too. Semi-sweet. Everything works well together, good balance and depth.

M: Fluid, prickly carbonation. Makes for a refreshing, lively drinker, even if somewhat mouth-drying.

O: Buy one bottle with the official Unibroue art for your collection, buy many discounted bottles of this one for frugal enjoyment. A great BSDA, if you like the style you will not be disappointed.

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Photo of Hopswagger
3.49/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

P: Dark brown almost black with flashes of ruby highlights. A thick rootbeer head crowns the top and leaves behind an intricate chain of lacing.

S: Aroma is pleasant with loads of doughy bread, dark malts, cardamom, figs, plums, nectarine pits, roasted toffee, amaretto, syrupy rootbeer and cloves.

T/M: Taste is prominently spiced and accompanied by doughy dark fruit breads, cherry cola, burnt toffee, amaretto, grain alcohol, and finishes with bitter persimmons. A vivacious, relatively thin body accentuates the spice profile. Scorched grains cover the palate in a chalky film.

O: I have to say for a $5 bottle BSDA it's a surprise. I'm really missing some good Belgian candy sugar and more dark fruit sweetness. The spice and carbonation seem to hinder the cohesiveness of the ale. Overall a good beer but not one of Unibroue's best.

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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."

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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.

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Photo of MCain04
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle for $4.99! Poured into Bourbon County snifter.

Pours a dark red/amber body with a light coco-cola head which is extremely frothy but good retention and lacing.

Nose is of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other various spices overly the dark fruits and belgian yeasts and malts.

Taste is of sweet and spicy malts akin to the style. Cinnamon and nutmeg with heavy dark fruits and sweet dark malts. Very drinkable. Smooth. No alcohol detectable.

Mouthfeel is smooth, medium carbonation, drinkable, mildly dry.

Overall a very drinkable and tasty belgian winter ale which sneaks up on you with dangerous drinkability with 9% ABV.

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Photo of seand
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a dark cola brown, nearly opaque, with a small amount of tan head. Some surface film retains along with a ring around the edge of the glass, leaving pretty good lacing.

S: Sweet and full, with a light note of yeast.

T: Medium yeasty sweetness with notes of dark fruit. Finishes slightly dry, with a lingering and almost mouthwatering note of fruit.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation.

Overall, very nice, and not surprising that it's a Unibroue beer. Certainly a great value, and a pretty good beer regardless of price.

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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.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle BB 8-1-16. DFH Tulip.

A: pours a dark brown with some light penetrating at the edges. 1 finger sandy ran head. Ample visible carb. at the edges.

S: lighter expression than the 2012. Less pronounced grape phenols; more floral phenolic and carrying a bit of malt roast. A touch of rocky/flinty and herbal notes.

T: arrival carries a slight tartness, an almost citrus touch. This tastes significantly lighter than the last BSDA I remember, and more like a Belgian brune. Malty and floral across mid-palate; lightly phenolic. Turning into a little caramel and milk chocolate. Lingering phenols and malt character.

M: full-bodied but highly carbonated, so it feels lighter. Alcohol is well hidden (dangerously so). Slightly slick finish.

O: to me this seems like a very light take on the style, even relative to prior years. Granted I had a couple of stouts earlier, but this tastes so light and citrusy by comparison, and does not have the grape/bubblegum I typically associate with the beee and the style.

 1,015 characters

Photo of BeerDocT
3.99/5  rDev +3.9%
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**

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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.

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Photo of Chiefy770
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pitch black body with an off-white bubbly head. The head collapses and leaves a respectable amount of lacing throughout.

Smell: Sweet notes of fruit. Mild hint of alcohol. Notes of spice stand out, particularly allspice and coriander.

Taste: Many of the nose characteristics transfer to the taste quite well. Sweet fruit up front. The alcohol kicks in and leaves a nice warming touch on this one.

Mouthfeel: The moderate carbonation makes this brew taste very fresh. The fruity flavors hold on well in this low-medium body. Semi-dry finish.

Overall: This is the first Trader Joes Vintage Ale of have tried. You can taste many of Unibroue's signature touches in this beer. I am eager to see how this tastes with a couple of years on it. This is basically a Unibroue beer for 4-5 bucks. It may not be a world-beater but it is certainly a remarkable brew for such an affordable price.

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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 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.

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Photo of porter_collie
3.37/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into brandy snifter.

A - A dark opaque brown body.

S - Plum, burnt sugar, cinnamon, banana, and clove.

T - A funky yeasty flavor typical of Belgian brews, but this one is not as refined as most. The taste of the malt is a bit cloyingly sweet, too. The spices do add a nice touch, and I get hints of cinnamon, anise, and all-spice. The finish is a little too sharp and boozy, especially since Belgians usually excel at hiding high alcohol.

M - Viscous, but almost a little too syrupy. The carbonation is nice, though.

O - Not a bad beer and at $4 a bottle quite a good deal. However, it certainly is not as refined as most other Belgian-style brews out there. I would be curious to see if some of the overly-aggressive or off flavors settle down with a year or two of cellaring.

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Photo of Ohmmygawd
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Good quality beer! I'm pleasantly surprised about this beer. Nose is bright and fresh and the body isn't heavy and full of flavor. It finishes with a nice feeling of spice and cloves and leaves a little tingle on the very tip of your tongue.

A- pours black with a thick head.

S- bananas and

T- Bananas with cloves and cinnamon

M- Clean and light and finishes with a nice tingle on the tongue.

O- Not an overly complicated beer and really does well what it brings to the table.

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Photo of Eisen
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Trois Pistoles goblet: An initially thick coffee-colored, over-foamy head that faded medium quickly into a thin layer with no lacing. Smells mostly of light booze, dark fruit, chocolate, coffee....Sweetness of high alcohol malty beer is well balanced by toast and hops. Very drinkable and great for the price, and thus great for anything.

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Photo of mevett89
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%

Appearance: black with a striking white head. Pours with hight head, dissipates after a few minutes to a persistent creamy foam. Minimal lacing.

Aroma: Belgian spicy phenols and fruit with a caramel malt sweetness

Taste: good spicy and some fruit notes from the yeast. Background of warm alcohol, but not overbearing. Some caramel sweetness, and just a hint of chocolate in the back. Just the slightest hint of cardboard from oxidation. As it warms, dark fruit and burnt sugar are detectable, with a background of low hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: carbonation on the high end presents a nice tingle to the palet. Medium body leaves a smooth coating on the tongue which lingers a short while.

Overall: a good example of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Granted, not the best I've had, but certainly enjoyable, and one of the better brews I've had from Unibroue. Well balanced, and it aged well (I aged it one year).

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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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