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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Ratings: 81 |  Reviews: 73
Photo of Westsidethreat
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Super fizzy carbonation which I expect to settle down here soon. The head is made up of really large, light khaki colored bubbles. Body is a thin dark brown, reminiscent of cola.

S: Crazy smelling beer. Loaded up with coconut, banana, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, mint and molasses.

T: Starts sweet with some tripel flavors hitting the tip of the tongue. Lots of pineapple, flower nectar, mango chutney and cantaloupe. As the beer transitions across the palate, coconut and other tropical flavor can be found flitting about. At this time, that trademark Unibroue yeast comes into the picture, bringing with it floral and dry hay particulars. The “dark beer” part of this brew doesn’t really come into the picture until right about now. Almost a dirty roasted barley position moves in but really doesn’t stay too long, which is fortunate…not into “dirty” beers. Could have been the hops I suppose lending that flavor but it tasted like it was entwined in the grains. Finishes lightly roasted and long lingering tropical flavors.

M: Medium to full body and fuzzy.

D: A lot of these Unibroue beers run together, but the tropical flavors help this one stand out. Definitely enjoyable and highly quaffable. The sweetness is great but not so much that it hinders the drinkability.

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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 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 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 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 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 geokills
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
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!

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Photo of OStrungT
3.56/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a brown color so dark, that it appears black unless held up to direct light. It boasts a thick, fluffy brown head that fades slowly, leaving a thick curtain of lace.

This beer has a dominate grainy aroma. It is backed with a strong peppery scent. Earthy yeats aromas are also present. Some spicyness. Cloves and coriander, but both ate mild, and somewhat hidden by the grainy and peppery aromas.

This beer tastes very much like it smells. Very peppery and grainy up front. Those flavors almost mask all other flavor. I can slightly taste a yeasty flavor and some spice. Also, I can vaguely make out the alcohol content.

This beer is very full bodied. It leaves a peppery aftertaste. It is highly carbonated.

I am not sure if this beer would make a great session beer. It tastes very aggressive, and it has a high alcohol content.

Overall: First off, this beer is brewed By Unibroue, and therefore is mislabled. Secondly, I think this beer is too flavorfull. It is overbearing. I am not sure I like it much. Sorry.

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Photo of 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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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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