Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale
Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale
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3.94 | pDev: 8.63%
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale
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Reviews: 100 | Ratings: 117 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Troyone:
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Troyone from California

3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky medium brown/gray color, minimal biege head, some action, and had visible sediment in bottle.

Has a spicy aroma of florals.

Sweet molasses flavored malt, with butter, and lots of florals.

Full bodied, buttery and watery/resin feel, with lively smooth carbonation.

A sweet vintage ale that could probably use some aging.

Mar 09, 2009
More User Reviews:
Photo of gestyr
gestyr from Pennsylvania

4.38/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this bottle aging in my cellar.

A: Pours a nice deep reddish brown with a thick head that leaves lacing on the glass

S: Wow! As soon as the cork was out of the bottle I could smell it. Raisins, plums, nice dark fruit, malt.

T: Again, the fruit taste hits you up front It also has a sweetness to it and a malty flavor followed by a slight hint of alcohol at the end.

M: Nice medium body

D: Oh yes! Wish i had another bottle tucked away.

Oct 04, 2010
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aforbes10 from Iowa

3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought at the Sacramento Trader Joe's and brewed by Unibroue. Pours into my Unibroue tulip a dirty clay brown, somewhat cloudy with specks of sediment floating around. Large head forms on the pour but settles down after a few minutes. Fruity and malty odor...prunes, black raspberry syrup, ethanol. Flavor is a bit hot and strongly spiced. A very alcohol-forward Belgian style, with the fruity malt backbone following through a few moments later. Some deep, roasted chocolate notes from the malt. An aggressive flavor, if a little hard to handle. Very full bodied, a little syrupy. Drinks nicely...a good beer, and not at all expensive.

Jan 29, 2009
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mpyle from Maryland

4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

App - root beer brown, pours a solid just off-white head, finely bubbled and with decent retention.

Aroma - slightly metallic, yeasty smell. Sweet with a combination of clove and chocolate.

Flavor - malty, chcolately sweet, and never gets bitter. However, enough attenuation or bitterness to prevent it from being overly sweet. Yeast character subdued, but do have a clovey, lingering slightly sweet finish.

MF - med full body, med-high carbonation. Pleasant alcohol warming - style appropriate. Carbonation enhances this warming.

D'ability - enough balance to make it drinkable, but the carbonation and warming limit the sessionability.

Dec 28, 2008
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kimcgolf from Georgia

3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown with a thick off-white head that lingers well and leaves decent lacing. Immediate aroma of coffee, roasted nuts and malted fruit, but as beer warms, this tends to be more citrus fruit and an emphasis on clove. Mouthfeel is tingly and full, and the taste reminds me of a farmhouse ale, again with the hoppy citrus fruit and clove offset by a touch of malty sweetness. Although the 9% alcohol never made itself known in either the nose or taste, I could tell it was present after finishing this bomber. This all led to a nice long warming finish.

Bought this as a lark, but was pleasantly surprised by this one.

Mar 29, 2009
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scottoale from California

3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml. cork/caged brown bottle with gold silk-screened label and a Best Before: 09-09-2011, printed on the back. After a brief wrestle with a stubborn cork, it comes out with a pop and pours a lightly murky hazelnut brown with adequate carbonation and then some. The head is a lofty near three-fingers beige floam in my Duvel tulip, with some sticky lace as well.

The smell is very sweet, full of spice and fruits. Spicy clove, coriander, pepper and ?, pretty much dominate the fruit malty backdrop. As it warms the malt speaks-up and so does the alcohol...a definite plus.

The taste is spicy right up front, with notes of plum, candi sugar and a slight warming alcohol pulling through at the finish. Somewhat complex flavor that could use a bit more age on it. Very sweet too say the least.

Full body with some fluffiness and just a bit prickly on the tongue...pepper like.

Overall a pretty good Dubbel at a very attractive price...$4.99. You can't go wrong here for a big brew of 9% ABV.

Jan 06, 2009
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zeff80 from Missouri

3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a brown color with a slight haze. It had a small, bubbly head of off-white foam that left some sudsy lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of raisin, dried fruits (cherry & plum) and some bready malts.

T - Sweet bready malt dominated the flavor with a nice dose of dried fruit taste. Just a touch of bitterness and spiciness, too.

M - It was crisp and smooth with a mildly dry finish. A medium bodied ale.

D - This is a very solid dubbel and a very good value at around $5 for a 750ml bottle.

Jul 02, 2010
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rtratzlaff from North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

TJ's Vintage 2008 is a clear brown with ruby body with a popping off white head that leaves some lacing and stays throughout the experience. Aromas are of Belgian spiciness with some cherry and decent sweetness. The flavors match with a really smooth and fluffy mouthfeel. For the price, this is a definite purchase each year.

Jan 05, 2009
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a10t2 from Colorado

3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Comes in an attractive, heavy-duty 750 mL corked brown bottle with etched gold lettering. Pours a slightly murky brown with ruby highlights and a huge off-white head. Lots of effervescent carbonation.

S: Lots of dark fruit aromas with some booze contributing to a sort of rum-raisin thing. Faint breadiness too.

T: A fair bit of alcohol all the way through, with malty sweetness and a faint acidic quality. Caramel is prevalent, and there's even a little roastiness. Some buttery diacetyl, which is not out of place but may be a little overdone. Bready/yeasty notes as well, but quite subdued by Belgian standards.

M: Heavy carbonation but a smooth, even slick mouthfeel. Just a hint of alcohol warmth in the back of the throat.

D: Considering how much is going on, there's a surprisingly good balance and I would have no trouble drinking a bottle, or even two. From what I remember, the 2007 was a little better overall; I'll have a vertical tasting soon to compare.

Dec 24, 2008
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mountdew1 from New Hampshire

3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a chalice. Nice medium brown with a hint of red. Head was thin, maybe 1 finger at best, and left small lacings on the top. Aroma was a roasted malt up front, then switching to a fruity sweet, maybe like plum. Small hint of seasonal spices, nutmeg, cinnamon etc. Taste was mellow up front, shifting to a sweet fruit, then a hint of tangy bitter, before becoming sweet again to finish it up. Range of flavor was complex, however individual portions were more subtle and nuanced. Coated ok, seemed a bit over carbonated on the tongue. Overall definitely seemed to age well, didn't have any fresh to compare it to. ABV definitely seemed to pick up a bit while aging however.

Nov 27, 2012
Photo of robbyc1
robbyc1 from Illinois

4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel glass, big fluffy off white head, at least 2 inches. Deep ruddy brown, can't see through this one as it should be.

Nose is yeasty with highlights of apples, prunes, dark malt. Within the style for sure.

Nice subdued dark stone fruit flavors, a hint of chocolate, yeasty with a slightly sweet finish, very nice for the style.

Really creamy mouthfeel, big carb foams up the mouth in a nice way. Goes down easy, not a problem finishing this bomber. Always love these Unibroue types from Joe's, thanks Mr Quartetman for this one.

Feb 14, 2009
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PhiloPsych from California

4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy, ruddy brown with a foamy tan head that leaves a very thick lace. Yeast and alcohol in the nose with a definite fruity aroma. The taste is recognizably Unibroue--this beer is a close cousin of both Maudite and Trois Pistoles. Also like those other two beers, the taste of this one shifts and becomes increasingly complex as it warms. A nice Belgian-style dark ale.

Dec 11, 2008
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khiasmus from South Carolina

3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep amber with exceptional clarity and constant bubbling. The head seems a bit light and spacey, but still boasts excellent retention and moderate lacing.

Aroma is of rich malt and some spice... coriander, a hint of metal, golden raisins, yeast. A hint of fresh maple is there too. However, it seems to be the same yeast strain that Unibroue uses all the time, and not terribly different than many of their other beers.

Flavor starts off with the same thick malt that was hinted at in the nose. As one swallows, the yeast comes out a bit strongly. The malt stays just as sweet as it slides down, and there seems to be only some very faint noble hopping failing to balance. White pepper is there, as well as some lemon/orange/tangerine notes and a good bit of plum. Alcohol flavor comes forth in the finish.

The mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent, lightly creamy, and heavy on he syrupy. A hint of warmth in the back.

This beer is simply too sweet. Purportedly a dubbel... it's not. Some sort of Belgian strong dark, like everything else they make. I simply end up being underwhelmed anymore by the brewery's lack of creativity. Their craftsmanship is excellent, but the majority of their beers end up being rather monotonous.

Nov 30, 2008
Photo of pmcadamis
pmcadamis from Illinois

3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - This one pours from it's obviously Unibroue'd bottle into my snifter a lighter-than-expected nutty brown hue with a huge four finger beige head. Lots of quality lace is smattered about the snifter, and the head shows really good staying power for a high ABV brew. The head is nice and fluffy, and the brew is almost clear when held directly in front of a light source (i.e. my laptop display).

S - Dark fruit and candied sugar plums are the major players here. Definitely a good start for a wintry night such as this. Hints of light mint are way off in the distance, and only come to me after several sniffs, and some alcohol is definitely noticeable (not a bad thing). This is dark, alluring, and vinous in the way that only Belgian (or Belgian style) brews can be.

T - Again, dark fruit.... plum, date, raisin, and dried apricots. And some rummy notes bring this one out of the Christmas/winter vibe and onto the decks of a Carnival Cruise ship in the damp heat of the Caribbean. This seems lightly spiced to me, and the dark fruit/ rum combo is definitely a hit although this is not as complex as most upper echelon dubbels.

M - This is a full bodied brew masquerading as a medium bodied tipple behind a mask of alcohol, fruit, and a semi-dry finish. This initially seems sweet and full, but pulls back to a boozy dry finish that seems dusty after the swallow. Nice!

D - This is a slow sippin' brew for the wee hours of the night. A definite nightcap that could put you to sleep early shoudl you choose this as your weapon of choice too early in the evening. I dig the dark rum notes that remind me of a late after-dinner stroll around the humid decks of a cruise ship in the black middle of the vast Caribbean. I like it!

Mar 01, 2009
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n1ckels from Massachusetts

3.69/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Not as good as the '07! More carbonated than the previous year's brew. The flavor isn't quite up to par, not the marriage of sweetness that Vintage '07 provided. Still, this beer is a cut above average especially for the price. It's just too similar to the other Unibroue mainstays and Chimay. Not like this is a bad thing, but it fails to really stand out. Not for those with discriminating tastes.

I think '07 was such a hit, TJ's ramped up production this year. Unofrtunately, the quality is a little worse even though the supplies are better. (Last year, I coudn't buy the vintage in Febuary at my local store!)


Feb 03, 2009
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kenito799 from New York

4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into Unibroue La Fin du Monde chalices.

This muddy brown brew, hazy with yeast stirred up (intentionally) from the bottom, raises a massive foamy tan head that slowly recedes.

Sweet musty malt dominates the nose. A very pleasing balance of sweet maltiness underlies fruity and spicy notes. A very well done dubbel, not cloying at all, the very active carbonation from the bottle conditioning makes this a lively and very drinkable beer. Surpsisingly one of the best Unibroue offerings I have had in a while. At TJ prices, i will buy more.

Jan 13, 2009
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bushbeer75 from Michigan

4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml dark bottle, caged and corked poured into a mug

Trader Joe's Vintage 2008 Ale poured a dark amber color with a light 2-finger tan head that held well and looked inviting. The Ales aroma is dominated by fruit [apples, banana] and a little dark sugar. Taste is of the same and is balanced with a sweet finish. Mouth feel is on the creamy side with an abundance of effervescent carbonation that produced fine bubbles that bounced around in the mouth.

Trader Joe's Vintage 2008 Ale sure tasted like it is related to Unibroue - a nice "family" to be a part of...definitely will revisit this Ale.

Feb 11, 2009
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BeachRez from California

4.17/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had been wanting to sit on this beer a little longer, but couldn't wait. Wish I did.

Very carbinated. Had a huge head, but nice deep color.

The smell was sweet, but mild.

The taste was of carmel and some fruit/citrus. I keep pushing for a tropical kind of fruit, but can't put my finger on it. The alcohol is not too strong considering 9%.

Easy to drink, and not super complex. Just a good sipper for the price. I really wish I aged a little longer. I think it could sit more and still retain some flavor.

May 27, 2009
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bbothen from California

3.75/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours hazy ruddy brownish color with a root beer float looking 2 finger deep bubbly head. Looks like a nice dubbel should.

Smells fruity, spicy, and yeasty, cola. Nice bready malt character as well.

Tastes of bready malt, peppery spice, raisin, yeast, banana, nice warming booze.

Medium to full bodied, highly carbonated, creaminess beneath the bubbles, effervescent.

Drinks nice & easy.

Heck of a bargain right here. Think I paid $5 for the 750 ml. Will gladly buy again.

Feb 18, 2009
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eberkman from Massachusetts

4.27/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is an attractive looking, hazy, translucent garnet-colored brew with a creamy beige head that reduces down ever so slowly, leaving a thick sheen of lacing on the glass. Aromatic malty smells with traces of cloves and potpourri. Taste is dominated by candy-sugar sweetness -- quite figgy with lots of raisin and ripe plum present -- but not cloyingly so. Balances out well toward the middle with a subtle tartness that keeps the sweetness in check. Definite wintry spice presence as well, particularly in the finish, dominated by a lingering taste of cloves. Very carbonated -- too much of a spritziness that takes away from the heft at first, but creaminess takes over, giving it a nice, silky overall presence. This is a pleasant brew, highly drinkable for its strength. Much improved over last year's disappointing release, up there with the phenomenal 2006.

Really a fantastic deal. 5 bucks gets you a great, relaxing evening. 20 bucks gets you a weekend plus a couple to cellar.

Dec 19, 2008
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mikesgroove from South Carolina

3.56/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

dark amber in color, almost garnet on the sides and the bottom with a nice two finger head of white foam that came up and over the to, settling down nicely and evenly across the sides of the glass.

Aroma was full, nice tart notes of fruit, plums, grape skins, an earthy, full fruity aroma. Nice touches of bitterness sprinkled in throughout as well. Warming brings out some more caramel, touches of earthy, grainy hops and a nice balance of earthy tones. Nice full bodied feel as the lush carbonation rolls across the tongue and really gets going. Smooth, even finish with a nice tart bite

Dec 03, 2011
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olegv40 from Ohio

3.86/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Cheap, so cheap, Thanks Joe!

Poured a light very light brown, with a tall thick head. There is a ton of carbonation bubbles, they raced up the glass all the way till the end. Sweet, caramel flavor with a tang provided by the bubbles, the carbonation was good but a bit overpowering. Finished with a strong taste of alcohol that warmed all the way down the throat, but clean in the mouth. Overall, a very good beer, I will pick up a few more and let them sit for a few months or years, and for the price, why not.

Dec 03, 2008
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argock from Virginia

3.87/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a dark glass 750mL bottle into a clear oversized wine glass. Best consumed by 9/2011 date. Purchased from Trader Joe (Richmond, VA) for $4.99.

A: Dull bronze with 1-finger off-white head that thins to a cap with scant lacing.

S: A bit light with a yeast-dominated aroma. Raisins, figs, cinnamon, vanilla, and clove are in there too.

T: Very malty with sweet brown sugar, candi sugar, dark fruit, and earthy hops flavors mingling with a touch of spices

M: A bit too thin in body to be above-average. Carbonation is active. Aftertaste is sweet sugary and pleasant.

D: A very drinkable dubbel and a very good value on a Unibroue-made offering.

Feb 27, 2009
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t0rin0 from California

4.25/5  rDev +7.9%

Mar 03, 2013
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jwheeler85 from New Hampshire

4.6/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked this up at the Coolidge Corner TJ's this morning. Just over 5 bucks when you include the bottle deposit.

A- Rich caramel brown when held up to the light. A thin layer of foam seems to linger... a nice eye piece.

S- Dark sweet fruits with a tiny bit of alcohol fumes coming in at the end.

T- Complex deep fruity taste upfront as is typical for this style. A tiny bit of bitterness detected on the back of my tongue in the finish.

M- Medium bodied, perhaps on the higher end of the carbonation spectrum for this type of beer, but definitely not a bad thing.

D- I personally think that the higher than normal level of carbonation seems to make this beer a bit lighter and therefore more drinkable than a typical dubbel or dark belgian ale. Another way to put it is that I plan to drink this 750 ml bottle in one sitting... probably in about 90 minutes or so. Not so heavy that it needs to be a sipper.

I recognized the "U" on the metal cork topper of this bottle. A bit of bottle investigation would reveal what I was suspecting... this is actually brewed by Unibroue. No wonder why it tastes so good. This is definitely a good bargain. It tastes similar to Unibroue's Trois Pistoles... one of my personal favorites.

Dec 24, 2008
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 117 ratings