Trader Joe's 2005 Vintage Ale | Trader Joe's Brewing Company

very good
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Trader Joe's 2005 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2005 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 lou91 on 12-11-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 37 |  Reviews: 32
Photo of BKotch
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of popery
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of drewone
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of beerpadawan
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of womencantsail
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The pour is a dark mahogany color with some amber notes to it and a big tan head.

S: There is an intensely vinous character to the nose. It's almost like taking a sniff of a big red wine. Lots of red grapes and other dark fruit, particularly berries. There's also booze, chocolate, and a bit of green apple.

T: A big chocolate and red wine flavor to this beer. A moderate licorice note comes through, as do the big dark fruit flavors. There's the same hint of green apple and even a bit of a woody character. A moderate oxidation as well as some toffee.

M:The body is medium to full and the carbonation is medium.

D: This was a pretty good beer, even at five years old. It was almost like drinking a big red wine, but very nice, especially considering some of the other vintages.

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Photo of SolsticeDreamer
3.18/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've been holding on this bottle along with the others to do a vertical tasting. The best before date on the bottle was labeled 10-13-08, I'm a year and some change past the best before date: keep that in mind. The vertical tasting of mine started with 05 through 09.

The 750ml bottle was cellar in a cave for the duration of the aging, up till the finally weeks of its life. The corked was pull, a nice pop and after the smoked cleared the bottle was poured into two Duvel glasses.

Appearance: The thought of this brew being trapped under this cork for over four years with out a breath, is nothing compared to the contrast of black on white. An almost pitch black body that light dares not pass through and in fact hasn't ever in it's life, topped with a fluffy bubbly white head; but then the moment is gone. The reality is the body is a dark amber mahogany that only reveals itself towards the shallow ends, by then the head has been long gone leaving only traces of where it touched the glass the last sip.

Smell: Aroma is quite gone with it's age. Memories of the dried fruits and malty goodness are only hinted at. I stirred the glass and held it close to my nose, closing my eyes to find a dried out malt aroma with a bit of chocolate hiding. The yeast has long ago quit overpowering the aroma with it's spiciness but only tickles the aroma at this point.

Taste: The bottle was chill down and left in room temperature prior to opening. After pouring as time goes by and the body warms, and reveals an ocean of flavors hidden. Dark rum flavors hinted with what would seem to be dried fruits that leave a port like finish that dries into nothing... I remember a spicier finish but that seem to of disappeared long ago along with the yeast characters that only left a tart kiss goodbye.

Mouthfeel: After 4 years some of the carbonation must of leaked out, a hint of oxidation slips in to reveal the true age of this brew. The lively nature of the yeast that once give this a carbonation bite and settled down to allow for a pleasurable event. All the while one forgets the nature of this brew at 9% ABV, the event goes on and the glasses get emptied...

Drinkability: Given the nature of the brew, having to have had aged it and drank it over the course of years to find the right spot of time to behold it's beauty peak... At $4.99 for a 750ml and an amazing eventing with friends, it's worth saving and try the experience.

Finally I will say the best before dates are perfect peak of time. I overshot the aging but had it the year prior where it was about perfect. TJ 06 at this point is perfect and very similar to the 05 to compare of what this was at it's peak.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Finally got around to trying this thing after 2+ years. Dark brown color with a thick off white head. Good retention. Sweet and spicy aroma with coriander dominating.

The malt flavor is lightly toasty and chocolatey with a moderate dryness. There is some spiciness but its not overpowering like in the 2006 version. Perhaps its more subdued with the age? The overall flavor is good but it lacks enough depth to be great. The alcohol is not too noticible. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel with strong carbonation throughout.

Not bad, the TJ's vintage ale doesn't disappoint, and for a Unibroue beer priced 4.99 a 750ml it's worth it.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage (Sampled 1 Year Old)

Presentation: 750ml tall straight sided brown glass bottle with a fluted neck. Sealed with a thumbed cork and a silver colored cage and steel cap that has the year 2005 in blue text on it. Main bottle is classic Unibroue, metallic silver printing has the beer as ‘Trader Joe’s 2005 Vintage ale’, with some suitable hoppy emblems. Smaller text at the base of the bottle continues, ‘Dark Ale on lees, 9% Alc./Vol.’ The reverse of the bottle goes on at great length about this brew. It is clearly stated that this is a dark Belgium beer that is exclusively brewed for Trader Joe’s by Unibroue an that this 2005 offering is the inaugural Vintage Ale. Screen printed as Best Before 10-13-08 with an inkjet neck code of ‘K24050730Q’.

Appearance: Muted slick exit from the Cork, the gun-smoke seems to rise but then is sucked down and vacuumed back deep into the tall bottle neck before it raise its eyebrows above the mouth of bottle rim. Dark body with an ebonyous black veil that hides a clear mahogany body. Tanned head quickly scarpers and hides, leaving nothing but the thinnest of thin rings that cling hard against the meniscus edge. Lazy conditioning is partially fine but short lasting. The looks have dropped a whole point in one year. [4.5 to 3.5]

Nose: Still punts a decent nasal front. The alcohol seems to break through the clouded dark fruits a bit more than it did when fresh. Has a dry feel, malts with some dark chocolate in the backdrop. Lightly spiced the yeast enters late. For all its up and downs, it settles out a straight 3.5, just as it did a year ago. [3.5 to 3.5]

Taste: The high fizzing tanned Cola head soon plies down and settles to reveal a blackened pond that may well distort time and matter. The entrance picks up and punches heavy on the spiced malts. Middle is heavily accentuated with a Port tangent and dark Rum hyperbole, which is much higher in strength than it was a yea ago. The finish is shorter than I remember, faded as my memory may be. The lingering death has anise and spicy yeast but it is fading a tad. Still cuts it though [4.0 to 4.0]

Mouthfeel: Whereas the appearance has dipped, the Mouthfeel certainly seems to have picked up a click or two in the last 12 months. The conditioning is feisty and lively but the nature of the carbonation is spiky and a still uncomfortable. The body exudes a presence that never reveals its 9% ABV but it always seems adequately supported and bolstered by it. A year in the wilderness has pushed this one up a half point [3.5 to 4.0]

Drinkability: Imminently quaffable, a slight heart burn tingle from the yeast bothers but it is not a hug distraction. Goes South all too easily considering the strength, it pulls in the same score it did a year ago. [4.0 to 4.0]

Overall: I enjoyed this Trader Joe’s brew the first time I tried it, in fact I figured it was one of their better moves, using a respected brewer such as Unibroue to put together a dark high ABV brew. And at the selling price it is extremely hard to fault this beer. A year later I think exactly the same. The Appearance has suffered, but a team effort between the Mouthfeel and Drinkability has pulled this one through the one year barrier, but I am not sure it could handle two years without some serious detriment. The Mouthfeel has certainly smoothed out a tad, and its damned good stuff given the economic $4.99 price tag - but it is no more complex than it was when I first tried, this is the only disappointing aspect, age is not pushing the boundaries it should be within this brew. Still good a year later, but I wouldn’t age this one much longer.

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Photo of watermelonman
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured to a very dark brown with an explosive head that shrank but lasted well. It's leaving a moderate amount of lace.

The smell is good, with a bit of dark fruit on top of sweet malts. The taste starts somewhat plain but then turns to a light combination of dark malts and fruits. A touch of alcohol finishes it off. The mouthfeel is very carbonated and a bit lighter than expected. It's very drinkable for the alcohol content.

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Photo of AaronHomoya
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Trader Joe's corked belgian ale.

Very dark, almost black colored ale with decent head, especially for the strength of the beer. Aroma is sweet and raisin-like. The taste is rather sweet for me, very much of dark fruits and almost a wheat-like flavor component. Mouthfeel is nice, with a dry finish. Overall, pretty good with some complex flavors but rather sweet and not exceptional.

 386 characters

Photo of Bighuge
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark brown body. Light brown head. Head is thick and everlasting. Great lace as well.

Aroma: Raisin, plum, cherry, must, dark malts, Belgian yeast.

Flavor: Chocolate covered cherries, raisin, cookie dough, a little rum.

Mouthfeel: Prickly, highly carbonated mouthfeel. Not gaseous though. Light body.

Drinkability: Flavorful and easy drinking. No sign of the 9% a/v. Just a nicely put together Belgian style brew.

Thanks Darren.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
3.91/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased this 750ml bottle last fall and promptly forgot about it until last night. Caged and corked bottle bore a best before date of 10.13.08 so it was okay to sit for a bit.
Poured into a goblet, this BSDA (brewed for TJ's by Unibroue) had a inpenetrable dark brown color, a large dose of finely spun carbonation and a thick creamy tan head that leaves sheets of lace in its wake.
The smell, full of yeasty bready malt, evoked a recollection of pumpernickel bread. Caramel and the sweet aromas of dark fruits sit firmly over a more subtle peppery spice note.
The taste was quite sweet and full of caramel-dipped fruits initially. Malty, had a nearly dark wheat bread flavor. Rather zippy peppery taste rode the crest of a wave of alcohol through the finish. Feel was medium-bodied and lushly creamy on the tongue.
Overall, a pretty tasty beer. Smooth, silky feel just makes it slide right down. TJ's definitely upgraded in their choice of contract brewers. Worth giving a try, especially at the bargain price of $4.99.

 1,026 characters

Photo of arizcards
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a 750ml bottle in mid-December for $4.99. Best enjoyed by 10-13-08.

Beer poured a deep dark brown with a nice tan head leaving a good lacing behind in my Duvel glass. Nose is malty and nothing much else. Taste is of dark fruits, malts; finishing with an almost wine like. Mouthfeel has a champagne smooth silkiness to it but not to the same degree that other Unibroue beers have. Perhaps this is a younger brew. Drinkability is pretty good but this packs a wallop at 9.0 abv. I may have to pickup another bottle and let it age!

 540 characters

Photo of ReDave
3.03/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Interesting [what I would call fancy Belgian cork] bottle. Very Dark color, almost no light visible through the glass. Dark tan head that I had to be careful not to foam over. In that note, it seems somewhat over carbonated. Has an almost home-brew like flavor to it. Very malty, low hops. Rather rich, probably could have used some more time in the cellar.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

03/14/06- Purchased at Trader Joe's in San Mateo, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle, caged and corked. 2005 version. Poured into my Don De Dieu tulip.

Appearance- Dark caramel brown colored pour. Maybe approaching grape juice color. Full one inch head, but quickly disappears leaving not even a rim after a few minutes. Lacing almost absent.

Smell- Caramel malt scent hidden under dark fruits. Plums and raisins mostly. Light alocohol scent with maybe a touch of chocolate.

Taste- A roasted malt underbelly. Infused with dates, prunes, raisins, plums and corriander. Unibroue for sure.

Mouthfeel- A bit drying at times. Medium carbonation level.

Drinkability- Kinda like Terrible. Nice beer once again by Unibroue. Best Trader Joe beer I've had.

 760 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a black colored ale with a thick brown head. Looks a lot like a stout in the glass, I can't pass light through it.

Smell has an acid edge to it. Somewhat sweet and fruity in the glass. Light spicy scent with some cherry and mint to the scent.

Taste is mildly sweet and spicy with a taste coriander, black pepper and faint chocolate to it. Faint apple and cherry flavors but this tastes much like a Duvel. Not a top representative of the style but certainly worth the price for weekend relaxation.

Mouthfeel is good.

Easy to drink as Unibroue always is. A tasty drink and a easy to drink Belgian style ale.

 625 characters

Photo of edchicma
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a surprise for a "store brand" It pours a pillowy head, almost black in appearance with great lacing. Smell is a very nice blend of malt and hops. Taste is an initial malt blast that became dry at mid-palate with a tartness...some "brandy" undertones. Mouthfell is dry, very nice. Drinkability is very good for the high abv.

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Photo of misterscooter
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A large, dark, 750mL cork popping bottle. Feel free to age it, based on what the bottle says. If I could trust myself to keep it stored in a cool enough place for a while, I might try to keep one until I get closer to the 2008 expiration date.

The appearance is dark with a thick, tan head that disappears quickly.

The smell came in waves with a mix of mandarin orange, milk chocolate, creamsicle, anise and sarsaparilla.

The taste is definitely a sarsaparilla and vanilla base with a hoppy balance. Not too malty. Well done but it didn't blow me away.

With the alcohol content, this is a true winter warmer. Thick, warming, substantial. Not a bad entry from one of my favorite stores. The brewer ain't too shabby, either.

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Photo of granger10
3.81/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The cork makes a loud pop off the bottle and lots of smoke is relased. Pours a dark plum color with a large foamy tan head. The head reduces to a skim layer with moderate lacing. This is a nice and lively brew.

Aroma is yeasty, definitely showing that Unibroue yeast profile. There's some figs and plums as well and a soda like smell which is a bit weird. As its warming I'm getting roasted notes on top.

This is a dark fruit beer reminiscent of Trois Pistoles. The fruits are dominant and plums seem to rule the show, but there's also a good amount of peppery spices right at the start. The roasted flavors are good and full and really come on in the middle. Some hay and bitter chocolates come and go. A cola like texture towards the finish. Ends with a strong spice flavor in the mouth and a bit of alcohol flavors.

Very effervescent and well carbonated and that's how I like my Belgians. Full of flavors yet the cola like texture hurts the mouthfeel from being anything above good.

This was a nice sipper but quite drinkable in its own right. I am on the final glass and have had no problem drinking it. The maltiness and roasty flavors work well to balance themselves out while maintaining interest to my palate. The spices do add up over time though and the abv does get noticeable.

At $4.99/750 ml bottle, this may be the best deal I have seen in quite some time. I wish there were a Trader Joe's by me, if there's one by you, get this.

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Photo of BitteBier
3.97/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The most noticeable thing about this pour is the copious amount of effervescent head that fizzes assertively and, as a result, falls away quickly as well. There's a bit of cling but little lacing on the glass. This beer is a clear, very dark brown with dark cherry color on the fringes. The nose is nicely spiced with a heavy dose of clove and some coriander that remind me of a hefeweizen. This is overlaid on some sturdy malts that are more prominent in the taste than the smell. The carbonation makes for a crisp, light mouthfeel that begrudgingly gives way to an interesting mix of flavors including the afore-mentioned hefeweizenesque spices and dark (though also somewhat tart) cherry flavors that also show up in the nose as the beer warms. Finishes with a pleasant bit of alcohol warmth and a persistent hint of the nice crispness that shows up in the mouthfeel. Nice complexity and some interesting character.

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Photo of scruffwhor
2.66/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottled by the renowned and held in one of my highest regards as far as breweries go, UNIBROUE Brewery. Best before 10-13-08 in a 750ml bottle.

Appearance- Poured a gummy, yet obviously carbonated nut brown ale color. When held up to the light, brought out a ruby-like hue to the edges of the beer.

Taste- This is one area of the experience that I was not pleased with at all. Starts out with a cheap root ber flavor which leads into a baseball card bubble-gum, then to a slightly sweet malt flavor. Ohhh yeah, and yeasty, noy baking bread yeasty, bad yeasty.

Mouthfeel- A cheap bubble gum palate made drinking this beer a very difficult proces.

I was very disappointed with this beer. I will give this brew the benefit of the doubt thought and buy two more 750's to see if I got dealt a bad batch. I will age one for quiet sometime and drink the other one fresh. That is, if I get my hands on two more bottles.

 927 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is incredibly well carbonated, it pours with a frothy four-finger thick, brown tinged tan colored head. It leaves a Belgian lace-like pattern as it slowly settles down into the beer. The beer is a dark, opaque purplish black color. The aroma is quite pronounced and is a mix between dark fruit notes, which dominates, a light spicy character and a hint of dark malt notes. I get aromatic notes of fig, raisins, grape soda, hints of spicy licorice, clove and hints of coffee though only subtly so. The fruity notes definitely dominate the aroma on this beer. The aroma is quite interesting, if perhaps a bit too fruit forward.

The taste is definitely sweet and fruity up front, definitely dominated by it as well. This beer is amazingly light, especially given the alcohol percentage. The notes of grape soda from the aroma are evident, but thankfully note overly so; actually the beer itself only has a light sweetness, which helps to mitigate this flavor. The fruitiness definitely has notes of fig, prunes and raisins as well. There is some spicy character here as well, but it is pretty much dominated by a phenolic clove note, which actually tends to accentuate the fruit character.

I have the same issues with this beer as I do with La Terrible, on top of this though this beer seems to not quite have the same depth of flavor. Like the Terrible, this beer is perhaps a bit too smooth, it certainly is a great hider of the alcohol and makes for an easy drinker, but I would definitely like a bit more richness here. Perhaps some age will help this brew out.

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Photo of maxpower
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml corked and caged bottle pours a dark brown almost black color with a huge creamy light brown head that leaves a sticky lacing in my glass. Fruity, spicy aromas, chocolate, caramel, plum and pepper flavors. Full bodied with a full and creamy mouthfeel, finishes dry and spicy, for $4.99 a bottle this is a great ale.

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Photo of Stubbie1
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew poured a nice deep red, almost brown in color. A thick off white head was perched upon the top of the beer for some time and left a thick lace then thin patching. Aroma of dark fruit (plumb) and maybe fig mixed in. Slight hints of alcohol make its presents known. Taste is sticky and smooth with the fruit up front and malt back. Touch of dryness in the middle with a warming alcohol finish. Nice on the carbonation and a smooth and creamy feel to it.

Overall a nice brew, one to think about putting away until next years comes out. And at $4.99 a 22 oz bottle, you cant beat the price. Don’t pass this one up if you see it.

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Trader Joe's 2005 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 37 ratings.
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