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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
72 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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.

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 72 | Ratings: 80
Photo of womencantsail
2.17/5  rDev -44.1%
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.

 597 characters

Photo of sessycuban
2.82/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: The beer pours a black hue. I'm not getting any head whatsoever and there is no lacing.

S: Spicy, Belgian smell. Standard for the style.

T: I'm familiar with both the style and the brewer but I'm just not digging this beer. The spicy notes overpower everything else and all I'm getting is spicy additives. This was honestly an unpleasant surprise.

M: The beer has a creamy mouthfeel, but again, I'm expecting more from the style. The beer does not coat very well. You'd expect more from an aged ale.

D: If you want to try something new, this is not a bad choice at $5. However, some may find the spiciness a bit offensive, as did I. I leave the rest of you to judge for yourself. I was not a huge fan.

 718 characters

Photo of Natural510
2.91/5  rDev -25%
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.

 729 characters

Photo of beachscrat
3.03/5  rDev -21.9%
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.

 964 characters

Photo of trackstar1043
3.1/5  rDev -20.1%
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.

 328 characters

Photo of schusterbauer
3.22/5  rDev -17%
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.

 914 characters

Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
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.

 468 characters

Photo of pinballwhizard
3.25/5  rDev -16.2%
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.

 245 characters

Photo of srandycarter
3.31/5  rDev -14.7%
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.

 425 characters

Photo of doubleipa
3.35/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Frothy head and almost black. Moderately malty with some straw aroma. Has a hint of saison aroma. Also, allspice, clove, and pepper. Medium body and lively carbonation. Great beer for th eprice Had a definite spiciness to it. Expected more dried fruit flavor, though.

 267 characters

Photo of phisig137
3.47/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Cork pops out or a nicely gilded gold bottle with a mighty loud pop. Pours into my tulip a dark brown, almost black color, with a one finger head. Very little retention falls, leaving little behind.

Aroma is malty, and slightly sweet, along with biscuity fresh bread aromas as well. Hint of cinnamon is also present.

Flavor is smooth and malty, but a bit dry. Toasted malt, biscuits, and a bit of caramel make up the overall profile. Not sweet like I would expect, but fairly dry, while retaining good malt flavors. Mouthfeel is hampered quite a bit by agressive carbonation. It's so heavy, that the "flavor" of the carbonation overpowers the flavor of the beer. Drinkability is pretty decent.

As a Trader Joe's beer, this is pretty good. As a beer from Unibroue, this is pretty bad. Not nearly up to the normal standards of Unibroue, although I think with some age it may get a little better. Actually, just less carbonation would make it better. Reminds me a bit of a very overcarbonated Chambly Noire. But for only $4.99, it is worth a try.

 1,054 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.48/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

 1,579 characters

Photo of TheLiterati
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brewed for Trader Joe’s by Unibroue, Best before 08-28-2009…hmmm…I’ll have to buy another and let it age a while…

As for this one, poured a deep brown with a healthy tan head. Smells of raisins, dates and plums, really rich and slightly buttery with hints of Christmas spice.

Taste is truly amazing – just what you’d expect from Unibroue, which usually does Belgium beers well. They’ve nailed the Abby style, complete with the complexity as it warms, releasing a mild malty-sweetness without being cloying.

Mouthfeel is like velvet, making for a decidedly drinkable ale. Well done, and much more enjoyable than the 2005 vintage in my opinion.

 659 characters

Photo of theopholis
3.53/5  rDev -9%
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.

 1,168 characters

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big ole 750 mL. bottle generously offered by IntriqKen

Pours with an eggplant violet dark hues topped with a densely packed khaki cap leaving some straggler lace in the glass.

Aroma of dark pumpernickel bread dough followed by a linger of anise, herbal notes and cola. Heat is detectable once warmed above refridge temps.

First swigs: Anise liquorice front with a grainy dough bready balance. Rosty malt hints and molasses sweet middle. A bit of baker's chocolate dryness with a frothy foamy feel. Warmer offering holds a tad of booziness to the gullet.

Last swigs: Anise doughy yeast...yes another doughy froth bomb from Unibroue. Easy drinkability. Somewhat one dimensional. Maybe needs a bit more depth. Glad to see that Unibroue made another brew for a cool store.

Beer is good. Happy Trader Joes Anniversary beering.

 838 characters

Photo of jhu1995
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown, almost black color with a fizzy head. Smell was very spicey, almost peppery, with hints of alcohol. Had somewhat of a root beer taste, slightly sweet, with some spiciness. Frothy mouthfeel and full-bodied. Fairly smooth for 9% ABV. A good brew to try for the price of $5 per 750 ml.

 302 characters

Photo of OStrungT
3.56/5  rDev -8.2%
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.

 1,044 characters

Photo of goschool
3.56/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This one has had about seven months to age. Let's see what happened.

Appearance: The pour is a brown that's almost black with chestnut highlights and a massive off-white head.

Smell: The nose has roasted malts, molasses, and spices.

Taste: The flavor profile appears to have melded together into a combination of sweet roasted malts and spices. I can pick out anise, pumpernickel bread, molasses, chocolate, and raisins, but there's not a lot of complexity in the mix.

Mouthfeel: It's sticky, medium to full-bodied, with soft to average carbonation.

Drinkability: This seemed like a nice candidate for aging, but in this instance, aging muddled what had been an interesting beer.

 696 characters

Photo of BeerSox
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

 915 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

 296 characters

Photo of pwaldron
3.77/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with a very slight amber tint at the edges. A very fizzy head dissipates quickly, leaving a light lace that did not cling to the sides of my goblet-shaped glass. A surprisingly mild aroma for such a strong beer followed by an equally mild flavor. Fizzy, with a predominant anise flavor. The strong alcohol content shows in the aftertaste. Surprisingly (dangerously?) drinkable for a big beer. A nice, non-challenging big ale that would make a good complement for turkey or roast chicken. Nice, but not exceptional in any way.

 544 characters

Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured into the chalice black with a frothy and moussy tall brown head which fell slowly as it coated the glass.

The aroma was fruity with a strong peppery spice presence through the extra tall head. Some dark fruit character was notable raisin and a bit of prune. Pepper was the dominant aromatic and some alcohol notes. Cinnamon spice became apparent as the beer warmed and the head fell.

The flavor was light with a bit of a metallic character. Some caramel was notable as was a bit of chocolate or perhaps black malt. The flavor was peppery and spicy with some characteristics of cinnamon and Belgian yeast spice contributions. As the beer warmed a licorice flavor began to emerge.

The finish was dry with lasting peppery spice and anise/licorice flavor into the aftertaste. The body was medium and the carbonation was very high leading to a creamy character in the mouthfeel. The warming after consumption was fairly high for this beer. Licorice and anise are not favorite flavors of mine unless in Porters and Stouts. This one went a bit too far in that direction to score high drinkability.

750 ml corked and bailed bottle. $4.99 at TJ. (Shouldn't this be listed under Unibroue?)

 1,207 characters

Photo of instrumentality
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Of the few Trader Joe's brand beers I've had, I don't recall one that particularly impressed me. But then, this beer was made for Trader Joe's by Unibroue. Unfortunately, for me, that isn't a point in its favor, as I've also had four different Unibroue beers and found most to be less than desirable and only one, La Fin du Monde, to be decent at best.

Then again, the main quality I disliked in all of Unibroue's offerings was the clove flavor, and this particular flavor has since begun to grow on me slightly, so I'm actually somewhat optimistic.

The print on the back of the bottle towards the bottom says "Best Before: 08-28-2009." This tells me that regardless of how I feel about this particular batch, it might be worthwhile to grab another and stick it in the cellar. In the meantime...

Bottle: 750mL with a twist-off cork.

Glassware: Stone Imperial Russian Stout tulip glass.

A: Magnificent. A very dark brown, almost indistinguishable from pitch black, and utterly opaque. This is only half of the spectacle, however - the other half of the glass is filled with a bubbly, champagne-like head that, after about ten minutes, only subsided about 30%.

S: The nose is partly phenolic (like band-aids), partly sweet (white grape juice), and vaguely like malt balls. If I were to smell it blindfolded, I would have thought it was a tripel or at least something considerably more pale.

T: The flavor is immediately characteristic of Unibroue with a substantial (but not burning) dose of clove and alcohol. This then evolves into a soothing flavor of malt balls, which in turn morphs into white grapes and champagne.

This is probably the best tasting beer I've had from Unibroue, but it still falls a little short of what I normally enjoy. The more I drink, the more the phenolic aspect seems to show up in the aftertaste, until I have the somewhat uncomfortable feeling as though I've been sucking on a band aid.

M: This beer has a bizarre mouthfeel for 9% ABV. When it first enters my mouth, the body tastes very watered down, and then suddenly a wave of clove and alcohol comes crashing in and then slips away just as quickly. I would have preferred a bit more fullness to the body in this case, but at least it's not intrusive.

D: Despite the fact that the aftertaste gets a bit funky after awhile, the actual drinking experience is pretty nice. The brew is impressively smooth, disguising the alcohol content very well, and I could easily consume the entire 750mL in about ten minutes if I weren't sitting here writing a review and trying to savor the beer's nuances.

The bottle says that aging will bring out a more complex flavor: that's all the incentive I need to buy another bottle or two and cellar them for a year or two. This beer is still relatively fresh and has already earned Unibroue more of my respect; greater complexity can only be an improvement.

 2,903 characters

Photo of bennetj17
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The cork is removed with an explosive "pop". Very dark black appearance, the masive foam is a grayish tan color, and it holds up well leaving some good lace along the way. Lots of holiday spice in the nose: cinnamon, nutmeg, peppermint, plus some cocoa, licorice and herbal notes. Nice and warming. The taste has many of the same flavors, dry with plenty of peppery spice. In fact, it really seems almost minty. The flavor is quite strong in that you really don't notice the alcohol. In the mouthfeel there is an intense bubbling that creates alot of foam. This occurs so much that it becomes difficult to try and let it sit on the tongue and discern the flavors. Moderate thickness overall.

I thought this brew was pretty good, an interesting winter offering. Some of the spicy/mint flavors might have been overdone, and the carbonation was way too intense, but I would still recommend picking one up. You don't often see any other beers brewed by Unibroue for $5 for a 750ml. I would like to see if it mellows with some age...

 1,032 characters

Photo of geokills
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
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!

 409 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.88 out of 5 based on 80 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!