Trader Joe's 2015 Vintage Ale
Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Trader Joe's 2015 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2015 Vintage Ale
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
3.97 | pDev: 6.3%
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Trader Joe's 2015 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2015 Vintage Ale
View: Beers
Reviews: 42 | Ratings: 99 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of rodbeermunch
rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.08/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Consumed December 27, 2015, leftpaw brought it out for the winter break.

Pours a dark brown but with a thinner viscosity, tan colored head 1/2". Plenty of those dark fruit bitter notes upside a darker belgian spice rack (i.e. clove, but very little banana).

Taste is like someone put some stupid shit into your low carbonation cola. Hefty amount of dark fruit bitterness. Hint of belgian dark sugar. Not all that smooth to me, but then again a lot of the reviews talk about the smoothness many years later whereas this was drank pretty fresh. Unibroue stuff usually isn't up my alley, and this was no different. Tinge of nuttiness to it. Man I wish the clove aspect wasn't so aggro here. That seems to be my least favorite aspect of this beer. Take that away and I think my appreciation goes way up. You coulda called this beer Clove-A-Cola.

May 22, 2020
Photo of daliandragon
daliandragon from Maryland

4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Cellared for the better part of five years, this should be the ideal companion to another Covid night. Kind of malt glazed with sweet dark fruits in the nose. Healthy wait time on the head. Flavors are complex, and a little understated compared to more raw recent versions. Woody and yeasty possibly due to the aging. Really mellow version overall, with very pleasant resididuals

Apr 26, 2020
Photo of niknot
niknot from Massachusetts

4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: dark, porter like color. Deep brown to the rim.

S: lacking here, but cola and dried fruit is prominent.

T: this is where this beer shines. Super deep after almost 5 years. Surrounded by plums, prunes, dried cherries, and malt. This would make a fantastic float with vanilla ice cream...but probably a waste of the bottle.

F: effervescent and light. Not a beer that hangs on the palate.

Feb 03, 2020
Photo of MrOH
MrOH from Maryland

3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Cola colored, huge rocky tan head, retention ain't so great, spotty lace
Dried figs and prunes, a little bit of cola-like spiciness in the aroma
It kinda tastes like spicy Dr. Pepper.
On the leaner side of things, good carbonation
Not bad for a $5 750 over a year past its best by date

Dec 28, 2019
Photo of claminat420
claminat420 from Michigan

4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured heavily into a imperial stout glass. best before 09/04/18 then J04152020QFL marked on shoulder of bottle.

Appearance- typical stout color with a tan head. frothy head at first then dissipates quickly with minimal lacing.

Aroma- raison, prune, maybe burnt caramel. slight booze.

Taste- malty just like the aroma. abv is more pronounced in the smell and more muted in the flavor.

Mouthfeel- solid medium body. good carbonation. alil slick.

Drinkability- easily going to kill the two 750ml bottles tonight.

Overall- i was worried about the quick head disappearing that this brew would be flat but it's not. it's pretty much dead on description. glad i aged this to near best before date.

P.S. why isn't this listed under unibroue when on the back of the bottle it says brewed by unibroue chambly, quebek, canada?

Aug 19, 2018
Photo of chinchill
chinchill from South Carolina

4.11/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle with a Unibroue cork and cage seal served in a pint glass. BB date of 3-10-2018. Revisited in December 2019 - well past the claimed BB date but this cellared bottle seems to have improved over the younger bottle.

Loosening the cork immediately resulted in a vigorous pop but no ale rose out the top of the bottle. A gentle pour produced a moderate size, overly bubbly head that slowly settled to a durable, creamy, beige top. (Smaller, weaker head in 2019). The very dark reddish brown body is clear but essentially opaque in the glass.

Good mouthfeel with a creamy smooth feel in a full body. Lively but soft carbonation. Some alcohol warmth.

The aroma is spicy, yeasty and complex. Moderately strong.

Flavor: dark fruits and spices come to the fore in a complex array of spice, yeast, grain and fruit notes. Nice but too much spicing. Bitter and sweet present in about equal measure. (Older bottle was apparently sweeter).

Jul 01, 2018
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber from Washington

4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a very dark reddish brown with fine, two finger light khaki head with great retention and lacing. Aroma of bready lightly caramel malt, plums, figs, Belgian yeast and clove. Flavor is dry caramel malt, fresh and dried plums, fruitcake, figs and dates, Belgian yeast and clove. Nice light to moderately creamy body with sharp carbonation. I've been buying this now for a decade and believe that this improves for two to three years, then levels off and starts to get a little cardboardy. This bottle in the sweet spot, and shows a little mellowing of the flavors, although the clove is still quite dominant. The best improvement is to the body, which has a nice, mouth pleasing light creaminess to it that adds a lot to the already full flavors. Although this ale differs slightly year to year, it seems like pretty much the same recipe. This is a particularly good one and has become quite balanced and integrated with time. This is not only a very nice holiday ale, but is a great bargain at Trader Joe's price. Unibroue does a fine job on these.

Nov 21, 2017
Photo of gandres
gandres from Philippines

3.86/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 10:09 PM
750 mL bottle poured to tulip glass
Sight: Pale, bright yellowish, large off white foam, hazy
Smell: fragrant, fruity, nice aroma
Taste: very good, balance - medium to low bitterness
Mouthfeel: very good, long follow through, bitter after taste
Overall: excellent beer, repeat, look for yes

Oct 30, 2017
Photo of Beginner2
Beginner2 from Illinois

4.26/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I bought 3 of this vintage. I couldn't wait to have the first during the 2015 holidays. A quick disappointment. It needed to mellow. I had the second about four months later. The blending of flavors was hardly complete, tho clearly better.
This last one I had 18 months before TJ's Best By date of 3 years and it was more than fine.

Keeps its Looks, even by the second day. Aroma is still all fruit. Taste is surprisingly not sweet, very balanced. Feel is luscious (and I don't say that often.)
OA. Any BSDA that costs this little and mellows this much is my friend... and I hope for many more years. Maybe I should buy a case of 2016 and give it as presents !

Mar 08, 2017
Photo of Derek
Derek from Canada

3.84/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black with a tan head, thin ring of retention.

Aroma is sweet and spicy, alcohol is hidden.

Cola-like caramel sweetness is up front and lingers. Not a bad brew, but that kinda spoils it for me.

Moderate body has a light residual sweetness, with a dry finish.

Jan 08, 2017
Photo of CantDrinkEveryBeer
CantDrinkEveryBeer from Virginia

3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not a huge fan of raisins, which had quite a noticeable presence in the flavor of this ale, but enjoyable nonetheless. Poured into a pint glass, the look is nice and dark, and the fruity, spiced aroma is very pleasant and a good match to the taste. Good mouthfeel thanks to the carbonation. Overall, a great ale, and something worth picking up each year when a new vintage is brewed.

Dec 23, 2016
Photo of Tsar_Riga
Tsar_Riga from Indiana

4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark body, black brown opaque, tan head, extremely persistent. Some lacing.

S - Yeast, some mild sugar hints, plums and apple, pear and spice.

T - Follows the nose, with strong dark fruit and apple and pear aspects, joined to mild bitterness in the close.

M - Decent carbonation, moderate weight, some alcohol warmth.

O - Such a fine bottle for a rock bottom price. Tasty and warm.

Oct 13, 2016
Photo of bushbeer75
bushbeer75 from Michigan

4.11/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

poured from a 1pt. 9.4 fl. oz. caged and corked brown bottle - best before 3/10/2018

Trader Joe's 2015 Vintage Ale filled my snifter with a coffee colored body. The beige head was 2+fingers and formed light stringy lacing. The smell was of dark fruit, and also a scent of spice was noted. The taste was like the nose, however more complex. Roasted malts, burnt toast and dark fruit [figs, raisins] upfront followed by spices with notes of clove and black peeper. Mouth feel was medium with fine and a little prickly carbonation.

Overall, Joe's 2015 Vintage Ale is a good representation of the Belgian Strong Dark Ale style.

Apr 27, 2016
Photo of johnnnniee
johnnnniee from New Hampshire

4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared tonight by Kelly and Paul, thanks.
Deep mahogany with a huge tan head that persists. Rich dark pitted fruits with bits of bready caramel and toffee with plenty of earthy spicy to counter. Great beer.

Apr 24, 2016
Photo of damndirtyape
damndirtyape from Ohio

3.96/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL corked and caged bottle, best before 09-14-18, served in a Karmeleit Tulip glass.

Appearance: Black with a tan persistent 1/8" thick head. Large bubbles consistently coming up through the beer to replenish the foam. Some fine strands of lacing noted, but most of them tended to slide back down into the foam.

Smell: Yeasty with a hint of mustiness. Some noble hops noted.

Taste: Spicy and lots of flavors going on. Candi sugar, Belgian yeast, licorice/anise, nutmeg, and a leafy noble hop finish. Lots and lots of flavor with this one.

Mouthfeel: Strong carbonation scrubbed the palate clean with every sip. Dry and spicy finish.

Overall / Drinkability: A very drinkable ale - with a well hidden alcohol. I enjoyed my large glass and it paired well with Carbonnade a La Flamande and mashed potatoes. While I rather enjoyed this beer, I apparently liked last year's version better. I would not mind a bit more to drink though which tells me this is quite drinkable. Apparently the only drawback was a weak aroma when comparing to last year's.

Apr 09, 2016
Photo of Alexkauruk
Alexkauruk from Washington

4.49/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Dark almost black. Spicies smell. This is very delicate beer, something new for me. Super smooth, gentle taste with spicy finish. Very balanced and creamy. Great beer.

Mar 17, 2016
Photo of Summerteeth
Summerteeth from Massachusetts

3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Dark black with a beige head, this smells a bit bready and sweet. Nice heavy maltiness with a slight, slight spiciness. This was about $7 at TJ's, an incredible price for a Unibroue beer. Gets an A-. Go get this one.

Mar 11, 2016
Photo of scootny
scootny from New York

4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A deep dark dark ale with a goodly head and good lacing. Exactly what you would want from a quality Belgian ale.

Nose is spicy and complex with notes of licorice and nutmeg. A chocolate tinged Belgian malt construct that lays the group for anise to underpin, develop and gently explain the dark candy aspects of this beer. Sweet molasses leaning singed toffee.

Taste is one that get better and better as you drink. Spices that may seem a little forward like nutmeg and licorice tinged anise. Singed toffee is flowing with dark bread and roasted grains. Mild belgian yeast. Lots of dark fruits. Old plums and new figs. Light overripe banana fused to A bit of sherry. Dry and surprisingly clean finish leaves some chalky yeast and earthy hops. A bit of coffee and a hint of graham. An almost lactic sourness.

Feel is superb with a full creaminess at first pour that holds up well after an hour or so in the glass. A velvety body that has a perfect weight for winter drinkability. Carboantion is spot on through all phases of the glass, from active at first to mildly effervescent at the finish. For the money this beer is a value champion and even inflated by 30% its an excellent brew. Always get a few of these

Mar 10, 2016
Photo of barnzy78
barnzy78 from Illinois

3.86/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750mL bottle, BB 09-10-18
A - huge creamy tan head holds incredible retention atop an effervescent brown colored ale
S - yeast, spice, raisin, plum, brown sugar, candi sugar, earth
T - very sweet with notes of Belgian candi sugar, brown sugar, earthy & spicy yeast, raisin, tea leaf
M - effervescent medium body feels full, finishes dry with lingering sweetness
O - just like all the other TJ Vintage Ales. You know what you are getting when you buy one of these during the Christmas season - a quality Belgian styled ale for a great price. Always a perennial purchase for me. Glad I finally got around to drinking this one.

Mar 02, 2016
Photo of Bookewyrmm
Bookewyrmm from Virginia

4.55/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into a below room temp mug from a chilled corked bottle (I know, I shoulda chilled the mug). I have to assume some responsibility for the sheer volume of froth that was generated by the pour, but when 1/5 is beverage, the rest foam, it's a little frustrating. Once the froth settled down, the taste was fantastic! A nice mellow drink, not too bitter but just enough bitter hints to keep it interesting. I'm glad i picked up a second one for another time!

Feb 29, 2016
Photo of crob3888
crob3888 from California

4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy dark brown with a big beige head; lots of bubbles stick around with this belgian style ale. Aromas and flavors of raisins, brown sugar, belgian yeast, banana/clove, allspice. Medium mouthfeel with a high level of carbonation. Very good example of the style and a great treat for the low price.

Feb 29, 2016
Photo of 88caprice
88caprice from Virginia

3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Kept in the fridge from November to February.
Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

OVERALL very good! My first Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Good for cold weather and snow and fires.

LOOKS hazy black, raisin colored where a little light can barely get trough. Two finger creamy tan head sticks around til the end and coats the glass on the way down.
SMELLS a little dusty, of prunes and dried fruit with a dried cherry tartness.
TASTES fruity and spicy of cloves, prunes, noticeable bubble gum and ripe banana phenols that increase as it warms, alcohol presence in the middle, and a caramel coffee finish.
MOUTHFEEL is medium to heavy, but not as heavy as expected. Biting and sparkly, carbonated.

Feb 15, 2016
Photo of Suds
Suds from Missouri

3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is a dark brown beer with a towering off-white head. There are crimson highlights in the color, and the aroma is a peppery phenolic Belgian scent. There's a bit of warmth in the taste, and a dry malt flavor. There's a dried fruit flavor, spice and yeast. Full in body and worth a try.

Feb 15, 2016
Photo of beertrek
beertrek from Pennsylvania

3.54/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I love Unibroue and every year I try to get the vintage ale they brew for trader joe's. I first learned of the beer from Jerry, the master brewer himself! I like the idea of winter ales but always find them "thinner" than I want them to be (excepting a Corsendonk I once had). This ale suffers from the same lack of body. The spices aren't overwhelming and the ABV is right on point but there's a weird sour finish which I don't enjoy. Is this beer better than most beers? Yes because Unibroue brews better beers. Is it as good as a La Fin du Monde? Decidedly no. But it is cheaper. Would I drink it for the price? Definitely. Is it my favorite beer? Nope. What next? I'm going to try to lay the beer down for a year and see what happens.

Feb 13, 2016
Photo of garymuchow
garymuchow from Minnesota

4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I wonder if the recipe is a bit different this year. I note a greater spiciness to the aroma and pleasant it is. The malt seems a little more background as is the fruit character. The yeast seems to be playing a bigger role and so far I like it.
Yuge head. Bigger than in the past with a long settling of it to get to the drink.
The decreased intensity of the malt is also and especially noted in the taste.
Fully carbonated and warming to the gut.
Nicer blending than other years. I really like the mix of the malty fruit and the spicy, fruity yeast. Smoother and less harsh.
This is solid, esp. for the price. My favorite of the vintages I've had but apparently the 2012 had a nice tartness to the fruit that I scored a little higher than this one, so I'll leave it at that.

Jan 23, 2016
Trader Joe's 2015 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 99 ratings