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

Trader Joe's 2016 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2016 Vintage Ale
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Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States
Belgian Dark Strong Ale
3.94 | pDev: 7.11%
Dec 19, 2020
Oct 24, 2016
Very Good
Trader Joe's 2016 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2016 Vintage Ale
Notes: None
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Rated: 4.28 by cb8282 from Michigan

Dec 19, 2020
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Reviewed by daliandragon from Maryland

4.01/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
This is one of the less sampled in this series so that is interesting. The color is jet black but there is very little head. The nose is complex with a ton of dark fruit. Yeast, dark fruit and molasses line the melange of flavors that deliver with a solid three plus years of smoothness. Surpising balance here and more carbonation than you would have any right to expect. Some late funkiness as it warms. Delicious.
Jan 01, 2020
Photo of chinchill
Reviewed by chinchill from South Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
750 mL corked and wired bottle; marked BB 09/01/19. Served ina Belgian snifter in January 2019.

Appearance: Very dark brown-black. Durable beige head with sheets of lacing, some of which sticks to the glass.

Smell: Dark dried fruits mixed with spices; faint dark bread.

Taste: Moderately spicy and lightly sweet, with dark dried fruit flavors dominating.

Mouthfeel: medium+ lively carbonation. Near medium body.

Overall: Another good Belgian Vintage Ale, but not up with the best of previous years.
Jan 12, 2019
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Reviewed by bushbeer75 from Michigan

4/5  rDev +1.5%
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.
Aug 01, 2018
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Reviewed by justintcoons from Pennsylvania

4.24/5  rDev +7.6%
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.
Mar 19, 2018
Rated: 4 by Sweffin from Wisconsin

Mar 12, 2018
Rated: 4.25 by mmilyko from Nevada

Nov 25, 2017
Rated: 3.62 by smbslt from Illinois

Nov 25, 2017
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Reviewed by BWood from California

3.69/5  rDev -6.3%
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.
Oct 13, 2017
Rated: 3.5 by imperialking from Illinois

Jun 14, 2017
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Reviewed by damndirtyape from Ohio

3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
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.
Jun 04, 2017
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Reviewed by Beginner2 from Illinois

4.02/5  rDev +2%
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.
Apr 28, 2017
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Reviewed by jkblr from Indiana

3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
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.
Apr 01, 2017
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Reviewed by jdhilt from New Hampshire

4.06/5  rDev +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.
Mar 19, 2017
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Reviewed by MeanMotaScootah from California

3.98/5  rDev +1%
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.
Mar 10, 2017
Rated: 3.38 by Jjmj51 from Rhode Island

Mar 04, 2017
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Reviewed by twage04 from North Carolina

4.21/5  rDev +6.9%
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.
Mar 02, 2017
Rated: 4.03 by grover37 from District of Columbia

Feb 27, 2017
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Reviewed by arizcards from North Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +1%
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.
Feb 25, 2017
Rated: 3.78 by socon67 from New York

Feb 19, 2017
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Reviewed by Buck89 from Tennessee

4.06/5  rDev +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.
Feb 17, 2017
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Reviewed by Harrison8 from Missouri

3.82/5  rDev -3%
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.
Feb 04, 2017
Rated: 4.31 by Kallenovsky from Illinois

Feb 02, 2017
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Reviewed by Tsar_Riga from Indiana

3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
A - Dark brown-black body, largely opaque. Moderate tan head, fairly quick fade, extensive lacing.

S - Dark fruit, plum and raisin, and sugar suggest a big, bright brew. Just a twinge of the alcohol comes through, but that is not surprising given the beer and its profile.

T - Follows the nose, with bright plum skin flavor, raisins and dough. As it ages, its sweetness becomes more mellow, but remains present. The close adds a bit of acid and bitterness, suggesting a hit of over-steeped tea.

M - A bit thin, but not unpleasantly so. Brisk, persistent carbonation. Bright finish, and no real sign of the big ABV.

O - A lovely dark Belgian that delivers a big beer with great flavor and a nice drinking experience. Dangerously drinkable.
Feb 01, 2017
Rated: 4 by InfernoBoss from California

Jan 30, 2017
Rated: 3.81 by TGS from California

Jan 26, 2017
Rated: 3.43 by DesMoinesMike from Iowa

Jan 23, 2017
Rated: 4.17 by Jcarter1221 from Oklahoma

Jan 19, 2017
Rated: 4.18 by qcghost from North Carolina

Jan 17, 2017
Rated: 3.83 by billab914 from Virginia

Jan 08, 2017
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Reviewed by barnzy78 from Illinois

3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75
750mL bottle BB08-31-19
A - tall, foamy tan head caps a brown colored ale
S - spicy Belgian nose with dark candi sugar, brown sugar, dark fruit, yeast
T - quite spicy, molasses, brown sugar, dark candi, raisin, prune, fruity esters & yeast
M - medium body with higher carbonation, spiciness kind of dominates the finish; alcohol is noticeable and warming but not overpowering
O - pretty typical Trader Joe's Vintage Ale. Good beer for a great price. I always love anything from Unibroue, so that's always a plus.
Dec 25, 2016
Rated: 3.9 by FBarber from Illinois

Dec 24, 2016
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Reviewed by Act25 from New Jersey

3.78/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
Happy to be 8th review.

caged-and-corked bottle.

A) Opaque dark brown body with three fingers of active, lumpy tan foam that sheds lots of lacing and good retention.

S) Belgian yeast aroma with spice cabinet, nutmeg, brown bread, pecans, and raisins. (Too fruit cake for me)

T) Follows smell. Rich and malty palate base layer overlaid with over ripe blackberry and dark fruit flavors. Shifting into nutmeg and spice drawer with soapy leather in the finale. Too sweet, low bitterness. Well balanced, and worth contemplation, but too sweet for me to have two. Great with spicy food or brauts.

F) Medium-bodied, tingly, alcohol presence, and highly effervescent.

Extremely well done, just not my style.
Dec 21, 2016
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Reviewed by ckornmannn from Washington

3.03/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3
Bottle opens with a big pop, like champagne. Aroma is dominated by Belgian yeast. The head isnt very lacey and dissipates quickly. Taste wise, it is dominated by the Belgian yeast. The malt and hops are not getting through. The yeast is typical of a Belgian style tripel but with none of the subtlety of a good tripel. Even the alcohol is hard to detect.
Definitely liked previous versions of this beer better. I am going to save the other bottle and see if it is better after sitting a while.
Dec 18, 2016
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Reviewed by hreb from Washington

3.3/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25
Trader Joe's 2016 Vintage Ale. 750 mL bottle with a "unibroue" stamped champange-style cork top. Served in a Belgian chalice while still fresh (BB 08-31-19 -- not that I'm likely to drink this in the summer even assuming it makes it to 2019). Beer pours very dark brown, opaque looking, with an ample chestnut head. Aroma is rich but gentle enough to be intriguing -- it doesn't reveal all that lies below the surface. Flavor has an immediate tartness and even reminds me of oud bruin. The sourness attacks the sides of my mouth and puckers my lips. Once it passes, I'm left with a creamy mouthfeel on the back of my palate and the harsh fizz of carbonation from a bottle conditioned ale. But yeah, this beer mostly just tastes sour, which is not my favorite flavor in a beer, and while I can tell there's some serious malt backbone hidden down there, it's way too subtle to stand up to the rest of this beer. For that, this beer will get not get great marks from me. I'm not bothered in the least though. For one, TJ's gives this away at something like $6 a bottle. I happily bought 3, the other 2 of which will sit (vertically) in the basement for a year or two. I have high hopes that this sourness will mellow the F out and reveal a delicious, balanced Belgian ale.
Dec 18, 2016
Rated: 4.18 by EdmundBlackadder from Ohio

Dec 17, 2016
Rated: 4.2 by Lingenbrau from Oregon

Dec 14, 2016
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Reviewed by ichorNet from Massachusetts

4.34/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
I've always really enjoyed this beer even though Unibroue's stuff was kind of an acquired taste for me in my early craft beer-drinking days, and I've never reviewed it so I figured "why not grab a bottle and write some words about it?" I think this beer is generally similar to both Terrible and Trois Pistoles but a few bucks cheaper and bottled for Trader Joe's stores.

Pours a dark chestnut/mahogany color with a spectacular collar of foamy light khaki bubbles that erupts into my glass with intense fervor, as is expected from Unibroue's bottle-conditioned Belgian-style ales. It isn't an overwhelming pour, though, and the head caps out at about 3 fingers even when decanted hard. Slowly fading, sticky lines of lace fall lazily as I sip the first few ounces of this fantastic brew.

Nose is the typical Unibroue funky Belgian yeast smell front and center along with some coriander, coffee grounds, some leather, tobacco, anise, clove and plum notes up front as well. Lots of dark fruit and earthy spice with some classic phenolic components. A bit of 70-ish% dark chocolate and nuts towards the end of each sniff. Complex, spicy and yeasty with a nice malt component and the requisite dose of Unibroue character. Pretty hard to find fault in this one.

Flavor carries a lot of similar weight and flavors matching and building off the profile of the nose; big hit of clove-y spice and phenolics interplaying with yeasty esters on the tip of the tongue before melding with a semi-roasty and firm malt backbone that throws out caramel, bananas Foster, roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate notes. Coriander, earthy tobacco and more yeast flavors come out towards the transition to the finish, which gives off one last hint of sweet ethanol before fading into a palate-drying closing note that feels perfectly composed. I love the hugely effervescent yet smooth and malty feel of this; it's truly a masterful BSDA that hits on a lot of interesting components while remaining drinkable. At the price it occupies, it's an absolute steal and one of the best "bang for your buck" strong beers you can get. This holiday season, if you're near a Trader Joe's store and you like Belgian style ales, you'd be remiss to not bring this beauty to your party. It even functions very well as a beer to enjoy over the course of a couple hours by oneself.
Dec 14, 2016
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Reviewed by LiquidAmber from Washington

4.02/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Poured into a Unibroue tulip glass. Opened with a big pop. Pours a very dark mahogany brown that is nearly opaque in the glass and a fine two khaki head with great retention and thick lacing. Aroma of light bready malt, spicy Belgian yeast, coriander and clove, dark stone fruit. Flavor is caramel malt, plums, brown bread, Belgian yeast, and clove. Medium bodied with peppery, active carbonation. As always, a very pleasant strong Belgian ale with classic fruit and yeast flavors, spice forward as is appropriate for the season. Seems very much like the ones from the last few year, which is great.
Dec 12, 2016
Rated: 3.83 by bowzer4birdie from Illinois

Dec 08, 2016
Trader Joe's 2016 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 51 ratings