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

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Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale
Very Good
81 Ratings
Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale

Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by DogFood11 on 11-15-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 81 |  Reviews: 73
Reviews by Zraly:
Photo of Zraly
4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
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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More User Reviews:
Photo of magictrokini
4/5  rDev +3.4%
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 OStrungT
3.56/5  rDev -8%
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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Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
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 hreb
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale, "Dark Ale on Lees", best before 8/28/2009. Sold by Trader Joe's, but this is a Unibroue product (La Fin Du Monde, Maudite, etc.). Served from a cold 750 ml corked bottle. Cork and champagne cap at the top, and a ton of yeast at the bottom. I was careful to refrigerate it vertically and pour without disturbing the sediment. The cork releases itself with great force. Served in a chalice-style Chimay glass.

Beer is dark, dark, dark. Black, with a gray-brown head which is thick, creamy, and strong. Subtle aromas of slightly floral barley. Indeed, the head is creamy and pleasant. The carbonation is fine and pleasant as well. This is a big and tasty ale. Hop bitterness is complex and subtle. Alcohol content is listed on the bottle at 9%, but there's zero harsh alcohol flavor.

If I had to criticize it, I'd say this beer is a little thin. The flavors aren't complex enough and the body isn't there. If I hold the glass up to the light just right, I can see that the beer is reddish brown, or so it might have appeared if I had served it in a flute. In any wider glass, no light escapes. Scant white lacing on the glass. But why criticize it? This is good beer. But Belgian strong dark ale is a great style of beer, and there are some truly great ones out there. As a Belgian strong dark ale, this isn't atypical, it's just not as good as the rest. Not to be a hater. The best ones aren't often found for $5 / 75 cl, either. There are a lot of belgian strong dark ales out there scoring strong 4s (note to self: find and try Allagash Odyssey).

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Photo of nickd717
4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
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 MiScusi
4.07/5  rDev +5.2%
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 trackstar1043
3.1/5  rDev -19.9%
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 GeoffRizzo
4.7/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml, corked and caged. Dark and rich black appearance, a bit bright as well. When held to the light, a nice reflection of me holding the glass! Massively rising tan rocky head, settles slowly into a 1/2 inch milkshake covering. Some sticky lacing, but not much. The nose is subtle, and the offerings are more detectable as she warms. Dark fruits, rich Belgium spices and some burnt malts are all noted in the aroma. The taste is quite nice for the style--an onslaught of pepper, dark chocolate, plums, cranberries and rum soaked raisins. Highly carbonated, but the carbonation does not detract from the flavorings. Rich and full bodied. The second round revealed a little more chewiness and more pronounced spices. The finish is silky and smooth, and the alcohol is noted towards the end. Serve at near-room temperature to enjoy the true flavors of this gem. This is an incredible offering from T Joe's and Unibroue and should age nicely. Highly recommended; and while I rarely comment on price, this was picked up for $4.99 at T Joe's.

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Photo of schusterbauer
3.22/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

nice looking beer. dark dark brown, almost to the point of blackness, with a thick sturdy head that looks like beach sand. aromas are somewhat abrasive, smelling like cola and vodka with hints of fruitiness. the flavor profile has some nice things going on, with light and dark fruits, spices, some cola flavor, and toasted malts, but that said, it's very one-dimensional. every sip is the same, and nothing changes as the beer warms. there's nothing to look for after the first sip. monotonous. mouthfeel is quite nice -- thick and rich, with lively crisp carbonation.
750 ml of this beer, with its high abv will get you drunk. i've done it twice, and it's knocked me on my ass both times. considering the significant lack of complexity in the flavor, getting quite tipsy off of so much of this beer doesn't really feel worth it. i believe the bottles are under $5, though, so it's hard to argue with the price.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.55/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Shp555: Poured a dark brown color ale with a huge off-white foamy head with perfect retention and great lacing. Aroma of spice with huge Belgian malt and typical Unibroue yeast. Taste is dominating by strong spice, Unibroue yeast and big Belgian malt. Body is above average with some great carbonation and no alcohol was discernable. I thought this beer was really complex and well done and probably something I would buy more often if I had access to it.

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Photo of BeerSox
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Caged & Corked 750mL bottle into snifter. Gold print, with Unibroue's marks on the wire and the cork. Stickly lacing here and there.

Ultra dark and opaque with minute ruby highlights. I've never seen a Belgian Strong Dark Ale this dark before. A tan thick tan head that holds well, then settles to a thick cap.

A strong mix of dark berry, warming alcohol, and a little bit of spicy phenols.

The dark berry is repeated in the flavors, dancing with strong spiciness. Some powdery creaminess can be tasted. The acidity and carbonation from this one is sharp on the tongue, mixing violently with the high alcohol. Medium bodied with very high carbonation. The finish is dry with lingering berry and cream.

Decent in the flavor department, but this one seemed very harsh (even for the style), thus reducing its drinkability. This one is probably best served with someone else to share it with. Recommended.

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Photo of uberabr
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love Trader Joes. Now I can buy good beer in addition to cheap and healthy foods and snacks. Awesome...with one caveat: I noticed the Unibroue cork and quickly examined the bottle to find, "Brewed in Canada." Odd considering that TJ's is a Cali company, especially considering all the great breweries out here. Oh well, Unibroue is cool...I guess.

Poured into a St Bernardus gobblet from the bottle. Very dark for a Belgian, basically black. Cool. Tons of carbonation, medium head could be a little thicker, but it's nice and fine and frothy. Very mild lacing.

The first thing I noticed was the amazing smell. Very, very strong. Sweet and aromatic, fruity and floral, without being hoppy at all. A wonderful and complex combination.

Tastes lovely. Sweet and creamy with a stong butter and biscuit malt and mild orange citrus backbone. There are hints of honey and floral esters. Mouthfeel and drinkability are great...the superb carbonation and light, modestly full body works well and helps tie the beer's complexities together in a tight, highly quaffable package. Well done Trader Joes (aka Unibroue)!

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Photo of Dukeofearl
4.36/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Trader Joe's (where else?) in Riverside, Ca. for $4.99- what a bargain!

Opens with one seriously loud pop and lots of gunsmoke- this cork wants outta dere!

Pours one of the blackest black I have ever seen in a beer, especially for this style. My wife was having her favorite Guinness at the same time, and I swear, this was darker. And with a very pretty, very persistent tan-brown head of the tiniest bubbles around. This one gets top marks here.

My sniffer is a bit jacked up from the Santa Ana winds, but all I smelled were spices. Coriander and cloves top the list, in fact, that's all I can smell. Seemed overpowering to my weakened nose, and wasn't sure if I cared for it.

But then the flavor comes roaring back. The spices are there, and at first they are too much, but then a medley of other flavors join the chorus, singing chocolate and toffee and a whiff of smoke and a touch of sweetness, all singing point/counterpoint in near perfect harmony. As it warms, raisins and figs and dates come to the front of the stage and do a very nice trio backed up by very mellow port notes.

Alcohol completely hidden. But this one has an amazing finale in it's drinkability. I could drink this one all night long. I don't give out a lot of 5's, but this one is hits the right note here.

I really like this one.

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Photo of theopholis
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance- Poured from a 750 mL bottle in a Belgian tulip glass. Very dark, even appearing black until you hold it up to the light, and then you get a deep, dark red. The head is light tan, fairly tight and has a lot of staying power. Leaves almost no lace at all. And what lace there is appears to actually be stacked up on the meniscus.

Aroma- Lots of aroma. A nice, sweet, fruity boquet mixed with the aroma of rising bread. Hints of brown sugar and caramel. Not much hop aroma, but what there is is a very spicy hop nose; but it is very well balanced. As the beer warms, the hop spiciness becomes more prevalant. Very tantalizing boquet.

Spicy, minty hops is the biggest taste in the foreground. Some malty sweetness, but the minty flavor is so overwhelming, it doesn't come through. Can't say I'm overly impressed with the taste, but I'm not a big fan of Belgian beers either. If you are, you will probably like it.

Mouthfeel- Medium body for the style. A bit over-carbonated IMO. Doesn't coat the mouth like port-style beers. Not much warming for such a high (9%) ABV beer.

Drinkability- It's okay. Definately a sipping beer. Has a very hot finish.

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Photo of matjack85
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

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

A very loud pop when the cork was pulled like I set off a firecracker in the kitchen, nothing wrong with this cork seal. Immediately there is the smell of vanilla in the room.

I am rewarded with a black colored beer with a light brown colored that is VERY tall.

The smell is light vanilla and strong coriander with a strong touch of lemon to it. There is also a bit of a metallic scent. Lastly this has a floral and herbal aroma to it but not strong enough to pick out any particular flower or herb.

The taste begins mildly sweet and herbal with a bit of bitterness in the after taste. Brown sugar and chocolate are the two main flavors I pick up immediately. In the back of the mouth there is a combination of licorice, mint and cinnamon taste.

The mouthfeel is good.

Nice drinkable beer at a truly bargain price. This is pretty much Unibroue at a bargain price; buy often and in mass quantities.

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Photo of beachscrat
3.03/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

serving type: Brown Duvel/Unibroue belgian style bottle with Unibroue branding on cork and cage. Gold graphix and branding directly on amber brown bottle. Defined as "Dark Ale on Lees" directly at bottom of bottle.
Poured directly into pre-rinsed stemware.

appearance: Excellent pure black color, however absolutely no head, foam, or lacing to speak of. This would have been fantastic with some good lacing.

smell: Excellent alcohol heat and belgian yeast spicyness. No issues.

taste: Perhaps a bit too much alcohol heat for 9% but excellent belgian spice flavor. Great for the holidays.

mouthfeel: Zero to no mouthfeel. This sucker is flabby and weak.

drinkability: Flavor is right on. Super hot and spicy. Just can't get around the lack of head retention and mouthfeel. The flaws surrounding this really distract from the flavor.

overall: Although some real obvious flaws are present with this one, it's still a bargain at under $5 'merican.

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Photo of TasteFiend
4.75/5  rDev +22.7%

Photo of neenerzig
4.23/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Pours a very dark brown color with a nice foamy tan head well over an inch thick that settles to an inch after pouring and stays big for a good 20 minutes or so. Then it settles to a very nice film layer covering the beer's surface. Very nice lacing too. Aromas of sweet malt, spice, and drak fruit are present. Maybe a touch of citrus and caramel as well. Tastes similar to the smell too. Flavors of sweet malt and dark fruits such as plums, raisins, and plums are present. Also some spicy notes, such as ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. The alcohol is noticable. Maybe a slight hint of orange too. The taste is rounded out by just the slightest taste of hops. The beer has a crisp, but mostly smooth and creamy mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. It is fairly easy to drink but would be be easier to drink if the taste of alcohol were not quite as present. I was certainly impressed by this beer. Good thing I am aging a bottle of this. I can't wait to see how much more the flavors will come out after this has aged properly.


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Photo of eberkman
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark opaque brown, almost black. When held to the light, you can see shards of red. Tan, bubbly, champagne-like head that dissipated very quickly.

Sweet aroma of dark fruit -- raisins, plums, prunes. Also some nice spices present in the nose.

Taste is a combination of sweet maltiness and alcohol which warms on the way down.

Somewhat thinner in the mouth than expected, but it is very drinkable for a beer with its strength.

Another good Unibroue product, and you can't beat the $4.99 price tag. Wouldn't be a bad idea to get a few more of these. Kind of like a poor man's Chimay Grand Reserve.

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Photo of RBorsato
3.38/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of womencantsail
2.17/5  rDev -43.9%
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 Gavage
4.11/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle states this is brewed by Unibroue.

Appearance: clear reddish brown in color with a 2" head that slowly falls to a thick surface foam. Some spotty lacing develops.

Smell:brown sugar, yeast, and an overall candy sweetness.

Taste: bread-like maltiness, brown sugar, prunes, raisins, light nutmeg, bit of chocolate, and a soft smoked tone are the major components. Alcohol is warming and mildly noticeable. The Unibroue yeast tones are are through this too.

Mouthfeel: crisp from start to finish. Long aftertaste as the flavors linger around the tastebuds a while. Medium bodied.

Drinkability: nice flavorful beer that one can enjoy a few pints of. Alcohol levels are up so watch out. Pick up one of these if they are still around.

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Photo of brandoman63
4/5  rDev +3.4%

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Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 81 ratings