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

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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Reviews: 73 | Ratings: 81
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 Lothore
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

A- Pours deep jet black with a chestnut brown head that is massive and leaves nice lacing when it dissipates.

S- Sweet, Floral and hints of alcohol.

T- The taste starts off sweet and finishes with a very distinct dark rye taste. Belgian taste is very evident in this brew.

M- This beer is very carbonated and somewhat thin, very refreshing.

D- This is highly drinkable for the 9 percent alcohol content. I could sip on this all day.

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Photo of goschool
3.56/5  rDev -8%
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.

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Photo of sessycuban
2.82/5  rDev -27.1%
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.

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Photo of doubleipa
3.35/5  rDev -13.4%
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.

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Photo of choyhosoi
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I followed up on this beer after reading about here it on BA. It is definetely something you should give a try. It cost 4.99 and at that price it is worth buying 2-3 bottles. The smell is kind of fruity, pepper smell.First couple of drinks had hardly any after taste and the glass I had poured into showed the beer had a deep dark color with a 9% alcohol level.

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Photo of jhu1995
3.55/5  rDev -8.3%
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.

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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 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 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 montageman
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark brown to black into a St. Bernardus chalice. The head is simply gorgeous - pillowy & creamy and totally sturdy, it goes no where except for some sticking on the side of the glass. Smell is typical of any Belgian style ale - dark fruit, flowery sweetness, & some bread-like character. Taste is typical of Unibroue ales - complex dark sugar and fruit sweetness with a citrusy clove & spice finish. Mouthfeel is very rich and creamy with a nice level of carbonation - the bottle says "champagne-like" and I'd have to agree. While I think this is a very tasty brew, I think this is a one and done for me - the high ABV and strong flavors would be difficult to drink continuously.

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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 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 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 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 instrumentality
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
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.

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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 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 Hibernator
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Trader Joe's Vintage Ale - 2006
750 ML brown bottle w/caged cork
Best before 08-28-2009
Served in an Allagash tulip glass

Pours a dark brown, almost purple in appearace. A mountainous head forms with the consistency of shaving cream. Surprisingly there are minimal trails of lace on the glassware.

Pleasant aroma with whiffs of spices, cloves, hops and dark fruits.

The mouthfeel is pressured and highly carbonated on the tongue. Hints of peppery spice, blackberries and exotic herbs. Dark roasted malts with a touch of caramel sweetness provide the backbone with prune flavors. Respectable hop snap on the finish. The 9.0% ABV is very well hidden as well.

Overall, this is a very solid Belgian style beer from Unibroue. You'll be hard pressed to find a better 750 ML for less than $4.99. Definitely worth picking up a few of these and cellaring.

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Photo of velo343
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance - A very dark brown with a large, billowing milk chocolate-colored head.

Smell - Dark, roasted malt, chocolate, raisins and roasted pears, a slight bit of chalkiness.

Taste - A molasses flavor with hints of bittersweet chocolate. Some hop bitterness can be felt at the top. Light esters as well. Good spiciness.

Mouthfeel - Light and dry. A bit more watery than I would have hoped.

Drinkability - I enjoyed this a while after a heavy Mexican dinner and it hit the spot. Great smell, good flavors, but light enough to really help things settle. A good beer, especially given the price.

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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 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 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 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 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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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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