Trader Joe's 2016 Vintage Ale | Trader Joe's Brewing Company

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Trader Joe's 2016 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2016 Vintage Ale
Very Good
48 Ratings
Trader Joe's 2016 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2016 Vintage Ale

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:
No notes at this time.

Added by ksimons on 10-24-2016

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 48 |  Reviews: 22
Photo of bushbeer75
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 4.0 S 4.0 T4.0 M 4.0 D4 .0
poured from a 1pt. 9.4 fl. oz. caged and corked brown bottle - best before 8/31/2019

Trader Joe's 2016 Vintage Ale filled my tulip glass with a dark brown almost black hue. A 1 1/2 finger of foamy tan head was produced that shrunk to a ring of foam with 'hit and miss' lacing left behind. The nose was sweet, a little spicy, and toasty. The taste follows the smell with the flavors of dark toffee, raisin, brown sugar and a light spicy finish of cloves. Mouth feel is smooth, a little creamy, and high-medium bodied.

Overall, a pleasant Belgian Strong Dark Ale that is a good value.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.24/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 ml corked & caged bottle poured into a goblet.

Near black. 1 finger of tight khaki head. No light penetration. Lively carbonation.

Coriander, clove, orange zest, nutmeg, raisin, prune, dates, and caramel.

Smooth raisin, date, and prune. Delicate bouquet of clove, coriander, orange zest, and nutmeg. Caramel, molasses, and suggestions of chocolate.

Medium bodied, crisp, effervescent, spicy, and off-dry.

Give a beer a couple of years and it speaks volumes. Complex, mellow, crisp, effervescent, and most importantly, a well hidden abv.

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Photo of Sweffin
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of mmilyko
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of smbslt
3.62/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of BWood
3.69/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Not a bad beer. Not a great one either. As I drink this I wish I had grabbed a chimay instead. I would call this a knock off of a great beer. Mouthfeel is nice and flavor is ok. Just there are much better beers to grab instead.

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Photo of imperialking
3.5/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of damndirtyape
3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

750mL corked and caged bottle, split with the Mrs. My portion served in a Tripel Karmeleit glass. Best before 03/31/19.

Appearance: Very dark brown, almost black. Thick rocky tan head with fine persistent lacing.

Smell: Spicy. Hint of mint, licorice, cloves, nutmeg.

Taste: Spicy with notable bitterness. Cloves and nutmeg dominate with some underlying roasted malt. Herbal bitterness which becomes more noble hop like as the beer warms up. The flavors are all a bit muddled together. They're all notable, just hard to pull apart from one another.

Mouthfeel: Brisk carbonation. Nice thickness.

Overall / Drinkability: I think too much going on with this beer, and while I finished my glass, I think what I had was enough and I wouldn't want more. My impression is that this beer was overspiced, or maybe it just needed to age more. For the price last December, a good beer, but not a great one.

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Photo of Beginner2
4.02/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

In my 2015 review, I said I'd buy a case and give a few as presents to show what a value North American Belgians can be. But in 2016, I only bought 4. So, I'll keep them all.

The differences between releases are enough to call this Vintage. But in a quick review of my five previous reviews, the differences are more like variations on a theme than they are experiments in a new direction. And the truth is this: I prefer the variations. Getting too distinctive -- or "extreme" as is the tendency when crafters often seek to differentiate themselves -- can produce beer that forgets that our ancestors knew more about than brewing (mostly yeast) than us... but, we learn quicker.

With that interpretation of history, I get specific and brief: 2016 is a lot like 2015.
It's nice to know that beer recipes can largely be similar while the world, seemingly in the mere span of one year, looks like it is losing its mind.

12/7/17 Shared another bottle next to another BSDA (The Bruery's The Order). Each was different enough from the other that comparative analysis is not in order. But the TJ/Unibroue had complexed more... and nicely. During the course of the year, this 2016 bottle has improved far more than the nation's condition.

11/8/18 Finished my last 2016 rendition. Sad to see TJ did not release in late 2017 and, I presume, 2018 I won't see.
But if TJ's contracts again with Unibroue, I'm on it for several copies.
Vintage Ale's contained sweetness paired well with a roasted root vegetable medley.

 1,515 characters

Photo of jkblr
3.83/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

750mL bottle BB 8/13/19 poured into a St Bernardus chalice at 52 degrees. Lots of pop when the cork is removed. A tan head of about an inch lasts a few minutes fading into a film across the top of the beer. The beer itself is dark brown with almost no light passing through. Smell is a hint of dark fruit. Taste is more dark fruit than smell. There is also a rich malt taste and little spice. Mouthfeel is very carbonated yet full and even a little creamy before the carbonation jumps in on the end. Overall, good but excellent value. This was purchased for $5.99 @ Trader Joe's back in January.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.06/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Explodes out of bottle with light khaki head that fades very slowly leaving a good lace. Opaque black/brown color. Medium bodied and fierce carbonation. Spicy nose and flavor is dark fruit and malt. $5.99 for a 750ml bottle from Trader Joe's Nashua, NH.

 257 characters

Photo of MeanMotaScootah
3.98/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This was the beer that turned me on to the wonders of craft beer. So this one has a special place in my heart. Every year since 2009 I make it a point to try this offering from TJs. Some years are better than others. As for 2016 (yes I am a bit late) I must say this one is very enjoyable. Lots of toffee, date, raisin on the nose - pours deep mahagony brown, lots of creamy carbonation, mouthfeel is spot on for a Belgium dark ale or more likely a triple by any other standards. Taste is full of dark fruits, very little bittering but lots of malty, bready, Belgium goodness to go around.

 601 characters

Photo of Jjmj51
3.38/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of twage04
4.21/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep black with high-ish carbonation. Aroma is of fruity belgian hops a little sweet malt. Taste is much of the same, lots of good belgian character with some malt to chew on. Pretty easy drinking, not one too flavor jumps out but all in all it is a well executed BSDA.

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Photo of grover37
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of arizcards
3.98/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a 750ml bottle on 11-11-16 from Trader Joes Arrowhead for $5.99. Best before 8-31-19.

Beer poured a burgundy brown with a beautiful off white head that has some great hang time and is leaving lacing behind.

Nose is Belgian phenols and fruit esters.

Taste is dark fruits with some coriander and nutmeg accent added.

Mouthfeel is wonderful, light bodied with each sip dancing across the palate.

Overall a good beer that is probably better off without the spices. I get the holiday theme thing but unfortunately from my palette's perspective the spices are a detraction.

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Photo of socon67
3.78/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Buck89
4.06/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Teku. A cola brown out of the pour with a large rocky tan head. Spicy aromas with cinnamon, nutmeg, caramel, cola, and subtle Belgian esters. The taste is largely similar with brown sugar, caramel, spices, and plums. Lively carbonation and lighter than I would expect on the palate. Very tasty.

 308 characters

Photo of Harrison8
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hearty, dark brown. Head forms large and foamy, with nearly three fingers showing up after pouring one ounce of beer straight into the glass. Very foamy. Head formation is tightly laced, and khaki in color. Reminiscent of pouring root beer over ice cream in an ice cream float. Aroma is banana, clove, plum, with Belgian yeast esters. Lovely and lively, although it does have a stale after smell. Flavor profile opens smooth and clean with spices and bready and biscuity malts. The spices linger for a little bit of an after taste. Clove, nutmeg, and Belgian yeast esters all show up as well. Mouth feel is a little fizzy, but otherwise large and creamy. It's very filling with a medium-thick feel. As the beer nears room temperature, that thickness drops to a thin feel with a watery finish. Overall, a surprisingly fun beer considering the price. It punches above its weight in terms of ABV and flavor. On the nit-picky side it leaves a little something to be desired. Not a bad beer to pick up on the cheap and see how it ages.

Served in a Chimay chalice.

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Photo of Kallenovsky
4.31/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown-black body, largely opaque. Moderate tan head, extensive lacing.

S - Dark fruit, plum and raisin, sugar.

T - Follows the nose, with bright plum skin flavor, raisins and dough. A hit of tea.

M - A bit thin.

O - Lovely dark Belgian.

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Photo of InfernoBoss
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of TGS
3.81/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of DesMoinesMike
3.43/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Jcarter1221
4.17/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

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Trader Joe's 2016 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.93 out of 5 with 48 ratings