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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.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 81 |  Reviews: 73
Photo of BeerManDan
4.92/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow, better than last years Belgium Vintage Ale. When poured, it had load of tight light tan foam with a conciderable amount of lace. The color was a dark, dark brown. The smell of soft malts, spices and hops gave out a very pleasant aroma. After the first sip, I tasted toasted toffee/caramel nose with layer of solf malt and hops. A very nice beer without being heavy. Extemely well-balanced.

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Photo of TasteFiend
4.75/5  rDev +22.7%

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 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 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 yesyouam
4.48/5  rDev +15.8%
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 abcsofbeer
4.4/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the big 750ml bottle that has a drink by date of 08-28-09 and an indication that it was brewed for Joes by Unibroue.

The color is at first very dark and when held up to the light is a dark brown. The head is chameleon-like: at first rocky and later very creamy. The head retention is very good lasting all the way to the bottom. There is lots of carbonation and sticky lack that help make the appearance top notch.

The aroma is a strong malty one with a sweet, fruity smell that is pretty powerful. The taste is pretty typical of the style. The mouthfeel is very efervescent and medium to heavy. Overall, a good example of the style.

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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 Jaynuze
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful amber brown with a pillowy white head. According to the packaging this was brewed by Unibroue in Quebec.

Notes of bubblegum, fruits, sugar, and light malt.

A wonderfully smooth Belgian styled strong ale. Very light notes of malts and sugars with an abundance of fruitiness. The alcohol notes are very subtle and make this a dangerously enjoyable strong ale. Well balanced and well structured finish.

Smooth mouthfeel and very well carbonated.

Love this beer ... I only wish I had bought more than one bottle last December. I think I only paid something like $5 for it which is ridiculous for the quality of beer! If you find any of this in stock buy it up immediately. A wonderful tip of the cap (I guess in this case cork) to the Belgian style.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.34/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Fizzy with a minute or two of staying power. Tan head that falls to a thin cover with little lace. Dark brown to black body.

Floral and fruity in the nose and that translates well to the taste. Shades of a backend hop presence and a little pepper are welcomed. The true core of this beer is in the fruity presence that is rich and dark in nature. Lighter citrus comes into play as well. This brew takes you in a lot of different directions. Carbonation is rather strong in this and plays a big role in the mouthfeel and cleansing snap. Incent like cloveyness to this as well. As it warms i get some black liquorice and more alcohol in the finish.

Notes: My how palates change. I liked certain aspects of this beer better this year like the complexity of the fruits and the intensity of flavor. Still though I believe this is a clone of last years in my opinion. I appreciate it more and is reflected in my score. The mouthfeel was a bit harsh for me as the carbonation had a pop rock feel to it. Scores well in the big categories and if it could improve the small stuff it could be excellent. All in all this is on par with some of the better belgian strong darks and @ $5 bucks a pop for a 750ml.... get a case today if you can.

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Photo of DrewBeechum
4.32/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled from a nice fresh bottle (750ml) purchased at TJ's Pasadena.

Brewed for TJ's by Unibroue. Wee!

Low earthy chocolate tones with a minty note to the finish of this dark brown blackish beer with a tall beige big bubbled head.

dry spicy chocolatey with the usual musty Unibroue yeast flavor. (aka slightly mushroomy)

Over time, the alcohol comes through for a warming touch.

Overall not a bad product and for the price a really great value

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Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
4.28/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

$4.99 corked bomber at Trader Joes

A-deep, dark black body with a soft leather brown hue. A creamy head made up of tons of tiny carbonation. The head stayed present the entire glass.

S-Awesome star anise spice punch followed by a soft, floral Belgian yeast aroma. There also seems to be a hint of cola (possibly cardamon seed)

T-To go along with the aroma, there is a spicy, cola-like front on the tongue. The anise also sneaks through the yeast. The finish is mellow with a dried, dark-fruit character. Definately seems like a great winter beer.

M-Incredibly smooth and well balanced. The high abv is completely hidden behind the full-flavors.

D-Probably one of the best $4.99 unibroue's out there. Unibroue rarely disappoints and this is another great brew.

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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 mithrascruor
4.23/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle poured into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with a bit of red tint along the edge. Creamy and dense light tan head.

Smell: Lots of yeast and slightly sweet bready aroma, plus some spices and malts.

Taste: Spices, some herbs, and a bit of fruits, all over a solid bready/yeasty/malty base. A bit of alcohol is also present, but is rather mild. Not quite as diverse and complex as some beers of this type, but still very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth medium- to heavy-bodied feel. Soft, slightly tingly carbonation.

Drinkability: Highly drinkable, despite the high ABV and the slight presence of alcohol in the taste.

This is actually brewed by Unibroue, so I started with high expectations. It didn't quite meet all of my expectations, but I consider this to still be a great beer. It's a bit more simplistic than some Belgian strong dark ales, but it also doesn't suffer from drawbacks that many Belgian-clones have (such as a dull flavor or excessive carbonation). That said, it's still a very sharp beer and it's simplicity is good in some respects -- I could actually imagine this as a session beer, for instance, and I imagine it would go nicely with food too. But it is also a very enjoyable beer on it's own as well. A very affordable beer, and widely accessable in many parts of the US. I'm certainly going to get a few more of these before they are all out...

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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 tpd975
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
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 BassBone
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the corked and caged 750 mL bottle into a Chimay chalice. The beer poured a nearly opaque dark brown with a thick off white head that dissipated fairly quickly. The head left a small film of lace over the beer. Not much lace clinging to the sides of the glass, though.

The smell is sweet complexity with malty overtones as well as plum and blackberry with a touch of spice.

Unfortunately I chilled the beer too long and there was not much to say about taste until it warmed up. As it warmed up it opened up with tons of fruit and spice. Again blackberries and pepper and a hint of the alcohol. Just enough to keep it interesting, but not enough to let on that this is a 9% beer.

The mouthfeel of this beer is where the real magic is. It is highly carbonated and rolls on the tongue almost like champagne yet at the same time is thick enough that it has substance. It leaves a pleasant finish that lasts a few minutes.

Overall this is a lovely beer. I will grab another bottle or two for cellaring and see how it ages. If I can find one now that its time is over.

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
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 TheLongBeachBum
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 750ml tall straight sided brown glass bottle with a fluted neck. Sealed with a thumbed cork and a silver colored cage and a silver Unibroue logo’d cap. Main bottle is the classic Unibroue presentation, unlike 2005’s metallic silver printing, the 2006 offering is all metallic gold with the words ‘Trader Joe’s 2006 Vintage ale’, with some suitable hoppy emblems to decorate above and below. 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, seem like the blurb is exactly the same as last years 2005 offering. It is clearly stated that this is a dark Belgium beer that is exclusively brewed for Trader Joe’s by Unibroue and that this 2006 offering is the inaugural Vintage Ale. Screen printed as Best Before 8-28-09 with an inkjet neck code of ‘J07061012Q’.

Appearance: The cork was firmly entrenched, as the saying goes, but the regular Unibroue Quercus suber was soon extracted with a firm “Yorkshire Pull”, that strong right wanking wrist always comes in handy. Intense blue-grey gunsmoke riddles the air with whispy fumes. Dark black body has an ebony tinged mahogany with ruby flashes. Clear but dark, light but intransigent. The head rises fast on the pour but rests at a very constant ¼” thick minimum. Solid presentation.

Nose: Spicy stuff, stronger than the 2005 Vintage Ale for sure. Lots of spiced malts, caramelized dark fruits and a hint of molasses. Scathing bitterness crosses the black malts and soft caramel. Leaping aromas and a very strong cross-section. Gorgeously dark rich warming tones.

Taste: Peppered black malts are filled with lots of spices. Dark black chocolate and some Fry’s Chocolate Cream Bar punctuate the lightly zinged centre-piece. Feisty smoked sausage, black boot polish, plums and a rich zingy prune juice finish. Belgian latter third has some cloves and a rising warm alcohol bite. The hops play a big part in this one, more so than most Belgians. Pleasing zesty brew with a fine tuned sharp Terry’s Chocolate orange finish. Yikes I like this one.

Mouthfeel: Boding Mouthfeel has a larger than life presence, partially thanks to the soft carbonation and enticing spices the debauched angle starts to feel like it is intentional. Cheap as chips, no vinegar, and twice as lovable.

Drinkability: The flavors and alcohol are neatly balanced. The superb nose and great looks all entwine to encapsulate a solid Belgian Dark Ale. Relaxing and easy going, nothing disturbing except for the fact that you find you have partaken of nearly a whole 750ml before you even realize it.

Overall: Very nice. Very Drinkable. Very "dark" Unibroue. Very good value for money - at only $4.99 for a 750ml of a 9% beer it’s a bloody steal!! Very Hard to knock this brew at. It’s not perfect, and it’s not the best from Unibroue, by damn it’s a solid brew for tyhe coin and a great treat to see on the Xmas shelves at the local Trader Joe’s each year. I strongly recommend you pick up a few of these, one for now and a few for later. I think the 2006 Vintage Ale has improvements that edge the 2005 Vintage Ale a tad.

Mister, fill me another
Till I go crazy and it turn my mind around
Just pass that bottle one more time
And slowly drink it down

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Photo of Overlord
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Surprised to see one bottle of this left at my local Trader Joe's. I snapped it up, and have set down to enjoy it tonight while playing some God of War.

Pours a deep, dark black. Huge head. Other than the Yulesmith, I can't think of another beer I've poured recently that had such a large, long lasting topping of foam.

Smells like rich, roasted, multi-faceted fruit blends. The taste is quite similar. If I tasted this without looking at it, I would never have guessed it to be such an opaque brew, as it feels more like a straight fruit flavored red or amber ale. Delicious, and quite drinkable for its alcohol content. The afteraste is of vanilla, which rounds it out quite nicely.


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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 aquaderek
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
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 t0rin0
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
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 malcontent
4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale (1st tasting, no aging)

Almost totally opaque in its darkness, decent head with a very good ring of lacing as the beer settles.

Apples, currants, sour fruit and some musty, earthy scents.

Delicious dark bread (marble rye?) flavors mingle with buttery notes. Some hop bitterness although this is mostly more complex than the normal hop/malt descriptors. A really nice Belgian dark ale.

Crisp yet rich, complex yet inviting, this feels, tastes & behaves like a really good beer should.

NOTE: unlike most Trader Joe’s contract brews, this one is not mysteriously/deceptively labeled. The cork and back of the bottle clearly attribute this beer to the bad-asses at Unibroue. In fact, it's very close to the Trois Pistoles (might even just be that beer repackaged). Still, for $4.50 a bomber I'd say Santa Joe got generous this year!

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