Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale
Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale
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Belgian Strong Dark Ale
3.9 | pDev: 11.54%
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale
View: Beers
Reviews: 73 | Ratings: 81 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of lemmy187
3.38/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

To be fair, this was opened with exactly 10 years age on the bottle. I have found that most of these vintage ales peak around 2-3 years on the bottle. The has retained its carbonation and looks great. Deep brown with a finger of off white head. The bad.....oxidation is prominent. Heavy in raisin and plum. Still drinkable, but not entirely enjoyable.

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Photo of nickd717
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review dated 1/9/2009, from 750ml bottle.

Dont hate because its from TJs! Unlike other Trader Joes products (see Chuck, Two Buck) this is actually quite tasty and satisfying. Pours a reddish color with medium off-white head. Flavor of yeast, roasted malt, candi sugar, coriander, and some cherry. Fairly sweet and well spiced. Not bad, not bad at all.

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Photo of womencantsail
2.17/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

A: The pour is dark amber/red-brown with a thin tan head forming.

S: Oh man, this is very medicinal. Smells like bandaids, sage, menthol, and anise. It's also pretty obviously oxidized. The intense herbal and medicinal thing isn't really for me...

T: It doesn't improve at all on the palate. Cough syrup with plenty of sage and eucalyptus. There's a bit of a sour apple flavor, which is weird, along with some warming alcohol and cardboard.

M: The body is medium with a pretty high carbonation and definite alcohol heat.

D: This was all sorts of no good. I wouldn't even bother with this beer.

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a 2006 vintage bottle that has been stored in my cellar for 3 years.

Pours a dark reddish translucent brown, with ample head that resolves into a fine layer of bubbles, leaving some lacing on the glass.

Aromas of dark malt, bread, spice, fruit.

Tastes of sweet dark malt, with milk chocolate, light coffee, coriander, and dark fruit. Very sweet at first, finishes dry with tastes of coriander and hops. It is a bit candy-ish in its sweetness, the way root beer is.

Body is light and carbonation is very pronounced, resulting in a refreshing soda-like mouthfeel.

Brewed by Unibroue, this is a class beer and has aged well, getting somewhat more mellow, but still sweet, spicy, and carbonated. This could probably cellar well for a long time.

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Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.23/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

looks like a coca-cola w/a bubbly tan head. aroma is molasses, dark dried fruit, and nutty. smells also a bit like cola. tastes, again, a bit like cola with warming alcohol on the end. dark malt is dominant w/spicy, fruity yeast and a drying finish. a bit red-winey as well. mouthfeel, again is kinda like a dryish cola with similar body and prickly carbonation in the mouthfeel. a sipper, and if you tried to make a belgian strong dark ale into cola, you'd have this.

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Photo of stpadddy
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Alright, I cracked this open Feb 2009. Had it with tacos. Two years on the shelf gives this beer a lot of character. When young, it had too much of a bite, too heavy. But that has been lifted with time, and this is a smooth, slightly sweet, very enjoyable bottle of dark ale. Please give this one time, and it will turn into something worthy of the wait. Don't be fooled by the $4.99 TJ's price tag (it's still Unibroue in a TJ bottle). Not much smell until you get your nares right in there, but then it hits you -- cola. And taste -- like a Coca Cola with almond liquor notes.

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

As always, my disclaimer: I don't really like dubbels as much as other beers. With that being said, although this beer has all the markings of a dubbel, I thought it was great. Dark mahogany pour with a short tan head. Thick, and equally thick lacing. Cherries, plums, grapes, and clove in the nose. More dark fruits in the taste, lots of plums, red grapes, and cotton candy-like sugar. Malty without being super-heavy. More of a cake-batter malt taste without the weight. Nice, complex tastes that don't overpower like other dubbels.

On the side, I was under the impression that all Trader Joe's beers were Unibroue products.

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Photo of yesyouam
4.48/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Trader Joe's Vintage Ale looks dull and black, but when held to the light, it is revealed to have a raspberry-like hue. It is also revealed to be quite turbulent. The off-white head is huge and foamy and lasts forever. It has a huge, spicy, fruity aroma: apples, cherries, plums, cinnamon, clove, brown sugar, sherry, maple syrup, cassis. It is tender to the mouth with a big and frothy medium body. The finish is dry. It starts sweet and syrupy with a berry flavor; the bitterness rolls in with a wooden fruitiness; the bitterness turns to spice: cinnamon, perhaps coriander and tobacco. Fruit and toasted malt sit under the whole thing. The aftertaste is faintly bitter and lingers. I'm glad I let it sit for a year-- the cork was ready to jump out!
(rated Aug 28, 2007)

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Photo of tpd975
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Cigar City Brew for this one.

A: Pours a nice dark brown hue with a small wispy head. Little retention with spotty lace.

S: Nice dark fruit aromas supported by yeast and light spices.

T: Bold yeasty goodness right from the start. Nice sweet dark fruit, and a touch of the spice. Rather solid brew.

M: Medium in body, smooth, with wonderful carbonation.

D: Besides 2 Buck Chuck wine add this one to your shopping list if you find yourself at Trader Joe's.

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Photo of morebeergood
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought this back in 2006, and have been cellaring it until I opened it on 12/01/08. Huge pop when I took the cork out. Dark brown color, with an extremely large white head. I was surprised to see this much carbonation present after two years. Had to pour in two steps to avoid overflow. Used a tulip glass and a Unibroue glass. Smelled like sweet Belgian sugar. Taste was much better than I expected. Tons of flavors of ripe figs, cherries, and grapes. Excellent. Only detractor was the fizziness, which I could feel in my mouth with each sip. I thought that aging it might mellow that out a bit. Alcohol was also right up front, felt it pretty quick. A great beer to share while having a dessert of some local pastries.

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Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have cellared this a bit, to lose some Unibroue yeast. I guess 2.5 years is only half the objective. Despite this sour mouldy yeast characteristic of Unibroue, the beer was good, well carbonated still though little head on dark. Some sophisticated spicey taste, not overly but quite a nice one.

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Photo of Floydster
3.81/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml corked and caged bottle purchased almost a year ago at the Trader Joe's in Westchester for five dollars, split with my dad and friend tonight, best by August 2009, poured into my Rubicon snifter

A-Dark brown body, looks like a coke, some lighter tints in the light, one inch light tan head that does not last long, lots of bubbles going away quickly, not much retention or lacing
S-Belgian yeast, pineapple, coconut, honey, toffee, banana, cloves, coriander, cinnamon, mild hops, pepper, various dark fruits, and orange juice
T-Starts off with a big spicy flavor and lots of island-like fruits, which was odd but it made me wonder if this was brewed in Hawaii and not Canada, spicy and burnt through the middle, finish has some sweetness with banana and caramel, Belgian yeast becomes stronger once it warms all the way, nicely balanced overall, time has really allowed the flavors to mold together and complement one another
M-Nearly full bodied, too much carbonation, sweet and spicy mouthfeel, taste lingers nicely, fizzy effect
D-Could drink a couple glasses of this but alcohol would start to kick in, you can taste it and it is nine percent, sweetness and citrus can get heavy on the stomach too, pretty smooth overall though

Drank this before the 2007 and this was much more flavorful in my opinion, also had this fresh but preferred some age on it, have one more bottle and will hold onto it for another year or so, looking forward to drinking again, recommended

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Photo of trackstar1043
3.1/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Poured a dark brown almost black, with a thick frothy head stayed around for a while.

S - Roasted aroma of nuts,, carmel, cafe, very malty a bit of spicy sting.

T - Thick and heavy with a profound burnt taste and a spicy lingering going down.

M - Heavy and creamy.

D - Not so much, every now and then to spice things up.

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Photo of Zraly
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stored in a cool, dark place for over a year. Brewed for Trader Joe's by Unibroue.

Pours a dark, almost opaque, brown with an ample light tan head. Streaming with spicy, phenolic smells.

Unbelievably smooth. Rich, creamy, spicy flavors supported by a strong, but not intrusive, malt-heavy, chocolate-like backbone. The carbonation is substantial, but lends an interesting dimension to the profile. Finishes with chocolate, citrus, dried fruit, and cinnamon notes. A lingering flavor consists of dried cherries, brown sugar, and cola flavor.

A wonderful dark belgian-style ale from Unibroue, and very typical of their niche. Excellent choice for an excellent price ($4.99 for a 750 ml). A good potential partner for this is a helping of homemade black forest cake. Yum.

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Photo of Natural510
2.91/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I cracked this one open on NYE 2007-08.
It poured out of the 750ml bottle with an overabundance of carbonation, much like a Belgian it attempts to mimic. The head was very thick and did not quickly dissipate.
The color was very opaque, even after holding it to light in a clear glass I could barely make out a deep brown hue. Much like a root beer.
Unfortunately, the appearance was the best part of the brew, as it also tasted like root beer. A 9%ABV root beer...very sweet like soda and also as thin. The mouthful was okay due to the carbonation, but I couldn't finish the bottle due to the overly sweet & thin flavor.
All in all a fairly disappointing choice for New Year's, luckily I had an Optimator in the fridge as backup.

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Photo of MiScusi
4.07/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Brownish with hints of maroon, clear liquid on inspection. Thin and dissipating off-white head.

S- Lots of mustiness from Belgian yeast. Fruits dominate as well, I pick up mostly grapes.

T- Belgian yeast, some dark sweet malt, fruit... dry finish. Alcohol is noticeable especially after warming up.

M/D- A relatively light body... carbonation is a bit tingly. Overall a pretty good Belgian style beer, especially for the price of $4.99/750mL

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Photo of pinballwhizard
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Good taste, but an excessive amount of carbonation. Reportedly brewed by Canada's Unibroue in the dark Belgian ale style for Trader Joe's. If you are a fan of "belgians", then you will probably enjoy this. Everyone else should probably avoid it.

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

A: Super fizzy carbonation which I expect to settle down here soon. The head is made up of really large, light khaki colored bubbles. Body is a thin dark brown, reminiscent of cola.

S: Crazy smelling beer. Loaded up with coconut, banana, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, mint and molasses.

T: Starts sweet with some tripel flavors hitting the tip of the tongue. Lots of pineapple, flower nectar, mango chutney and cantaloupe. As the beer transitions across the palate, coconut and other tropical flavor can be found flitting about. At this time, that trademark Unibroue yeast comes into the picture, bringing with it floral and dry hay particulars. The “dark beer” part of this brew doesn’t really come into the picture until right about now. Almost a dirty roasted barley position moves in but really doesn’t stay too long, which is fortunate…not into “dirty” beers. Could have been the hops I suppose lending that flavor but it tasted like it was entwined in the grains. Finishes lightly roasted and long lingering tropical flavors.

M: Medium to full body and fuzzy.

D: A lot of these Unibroue beers run together, but the tropical flavors help this one stand out. Definitely enjoyable and highly quaffable. The sweetness is great but not so much that it hinders the drinkability.

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Photo of t0rin0
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Found this somewhat by accident as I usually make an effort to avoid over priced places like Trader Joes but I'm glad I found this stuff. I guess they're making room for the 07 version because they had 6 or 7 cases out on the end cap of the beer isle.

So its bottled in a 750 ml corked bottle and it says Unibroue on the cork. On the back of the bottle it says "This vintage ale commences with a rich head of foam..." and that is definately the first thing that I noticed. That is of course after the cork put a dent in my kitchen wall after launching at about mach 1. The foam was a nice dark color that filled most of the glass and then died rather quickly. The liquid is a nice dark red/violet color and its a bit hazy when held up to a light. The beer smells quite nice. The roasted malts are noticeable and theres a subtle fruit smell in the background.

Once the foam died a bit and the beer could be consumed, there was a nice dark chocolate / raisin / dark belgian flavor. Nice balance of the malt and the "noble European hops" that the bottle talks about. Its also got an interesting spiciness. The only reason that I gave the beer a 4.0 in taste is the alcohol burn that was present.

Now that I know better, I will go back to trader Joes and buy a few more of these bottles and try them after they've had more time to age.

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Photo of aquaderek
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured this beer into a Michael Jackson, Beer Hunter Snifter glass. It poured a dark raisin type color with 3 inches of head that settled down to about 1 inch. The nose sweet, think fig newtons and cherry coke, some christmas spices like ginger and nutmeg. The taste is balanced, but not what I expected, sweet and incredibly drinkable considering the 9% abv, I find it almost refreshing. Maybe I am serving it a little too cold...

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Photo of srandycarter
3.31/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into tulip.

A - Pours dark, cola color. Large, off white head last pretty long. Lacing pretty stubborn and persists throughout glass.

S - Again, with the cola, sweet malt, some vanilla notes and candy.

T - Ok, this is the cola of beer! Very carbonated, cola and candy.

M - Too carbonated. Doesn't have huge mouthfeel. Not much balance in the end.

D - Not my favorite. Interesting, but one is enough for the year.

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Photo of kmpitz2
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle. The brew is a very dark brown color with ruby red highlights at the edges. There is a solid 2 fingers of tan head over top and a very solid carbonation apparent. The aroma is dominated with spice and fruit character. I get oranges and raisins in the realm of fruit with some hints of cinnamon and nutmeg in the spice with some black pepper in there as well. At the end of a deep inhale, I get solid brown sugar sweetness also. The flavor brings a strong orange and raisin fruityness that fades to cinnamon and candied sweetness. It trails off fairly quickly, leaving it a little short on the finish. Mouthfeel is moderate with a very solid carbonation that seems to come out of solution as it leaves the glass. Overall, the brew is not bad. I like the aroma and flavors. I think the orange character and the raisin work well together and are accentuated by the cinnamon spice on the end. I would like to see the flavor hang on longer and the carbonation to stick in solution better after taking a sip.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.48/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a frothy, brownish tinged, tan colored head that is fairly large bubbled that shrinks but never dissipates from the top of the beer. The beer is a dark, opaque, blackish color with burnt amber notes near the edges. Still amply spicy with aromas reminiscent of cardamom, allspice, clove, woody cinnamon. Dark malt aromatics contribute notes of blackened raisins, sweet figs, toasted grain and browned biscuits. This beer's aroma is definitely spice dominated, but it seems to achieve a little more balance as my nose becomes numb to the dominant aromatics.

Sweet and spicy tasting. Flavors of cardamom are pretty pronounced, producing a signature cola like note. The finish has an almost hotness / prickle to it that is entirely spice derived; flavors of cardamom, ginger and white pepper seem to make up this as does the effect of an ample carbonation. Hints of chocolate & dusty cocoa also become noticeable in the finish as does an astringent, woody, almost tannic edge. After I get past the in your face spice notes I start to notice a significant fruit contribution too; prunes, figs, raisins and I will throw out that I get some molasses flavors too even though it is not a fruit. The body is a little on the light side as it could probable use a bit more fullness and malt to carry the spice character.

Despite the over the top spiciness, and especially if you give your palate a chance to shift, this is a pretty nice beer. If the supporting malt character can remain un-oxidized and complex enough, this beer should be able to age for quite a few more years.

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Photo of geokills
3.78/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottled in Canada for Trader Joes, this brew shares the frothy, richly carbonated character of many of its Unibroue brothers. Grains to the nose and some sweetness and spice to the taste, this concoction pours very dark with a longevitous head, lively mouthfeel, and alcohol quite present at 9% abv. Definitely worth a drink, though a little up-front on strength for some - a solid winter warmer nevertheless!

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Photo of OStrungT
3.56/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a brown color so dark, that it appears black unless held up to direct light. It boasts a thick, fluffy brown head that fades slowly, leaving a thick curtain of lace.

This beer has a dominate grainy aroma. It is backed with a strong peppery scent. Earthy yeats aromas are also present. Some spicyness. Cloves and coriander, but both ate mild, and somewhat hidden by the grainy and peppery aromas.

This beer tastes very much like it smells. Very peppery and grainy up front. Those flavors almost mask all other flavor. I can slightly taste a yeasty flavor and some spice. Also, I can vaguely make out the alcohol content.

This beer is very full bodied. It leaves a peppery aftertaste. It is highly carbonated.

I am not sure if this beer would make a great session beer. It tastes very aggressive, and it has a high alcohol content.

Overall: First off, this beer is brewed By Unibroue, and therefore is mislabled. Secondly, I think this beer is too flavorfull. It is overbearing. I am not sure I like it much. Sorry.

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Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 81 ratings