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

very good
81 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 81 |  Reviews: 73
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 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 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 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%

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.48/5  rDev -10.1%
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 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 RBorsato
3.38/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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 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 srandycarter
3.31/5  rDev -14.5%
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 GCBrewingCo
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
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?)

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Photo of Floydster
3.81/5  rDev -1.6%
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 matjack85
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of kmpitz2
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
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 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 Jcarriglio
3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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 lemmy187
3.38/5  rDev -12.7%
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 beerpadawan
4/5  rDev +3.4%

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

Drank from a 750 mL/1 pt. 9.4 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Trader Joe's, Cambridge, MA

Poured a deep, dark brown/black with a bubbly, rocky, three-finger, light tan head that slowly faded to a swirls of lace and a thick dollop of foam. Large patches of lacing trickled down the glass.

The aroma was rich and complex. Strong spices, a powdery yeastiness and a metallic tinge were immediately recognizable along with brown sugar.

The taste was deep, dark and complex. Slightly sweet, toasted malts came through up front along with a distinct Belgian yeastiness. Notes of oak, maple syrup, burnt sugar and dark, dried fruits, including raisins and prunes, appeared mid-palate. A fruity, boozy, alcohol kick came through on the back end. The finish was a touch hoppy and dry, but the lingering aftertaste was sugary sweet and fruity. A subtle alcohol warming was noticeable in the back of the mouth.

Mouthfeel was super creamy, frothy and pillowy. The beer turned to a rich foam once it hit my tongue. The carbonation was actually a bit overwhelming and thus made the beer feel somewhat airy.

At 9% ABV this beer was rather drinkable.

At $5 a bottle, I considered this tasty offering to be quite a good deal. I am already looking forward to next year's version.

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Photo of morebeergood
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
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 blitheringidiot
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
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.

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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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Trader Joe's 2006 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 81 ratings.
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