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

very good
117 Ratings
no score
Send samples
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale

Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Dubbel

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by khiasmus on 11-30-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
firstprev| 51-75 | 76-100 | 101-125  | next → last
Ratings: 117 |  Reviews: 100
Photo of droomyster
4.32/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The best beer at tonight's party by a long shot. It's been over a year since I've had Trois Pistoles but this beer reminded me to put the deadly horsemen at the top of my to-buy list. There's a LOT of carbonation in this brew, perhaps too much. This would be its only flaw as far as I'm concerned. It smells and tastes great but lifts so quickly off of the tongue that it is hard to pin down and savor the way that it deserves to be savored. The aromas and tastes of complex dark fruits, sweet malts, and yeast come out in full force and haunt the senses for minutes after the encounter. As long as you know that you are taking on a[n intentionally] sweet brew then you won't cringe at the sweetness and instead feel out its complexity. I'll try to taste it side-by-side with Trois Pistoles soon.

 796 characters

Photo of echdk3
3.74/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a snifter

A_Half opaque mahogany, range from dark to bright glow at bottom glass. Huge head dissipates to one and a half fingers, off white with some nice cliffs and valleys. Some small lacing

S_Fruity funk, smells similar to a geuze. Citrus and red apple aroma

T_Dank aftertaste. Earthy and fruity taste overwhelms the pallet. Alcohol makes itself known. This is very warming

M_Chewy and lightly carbonated, sticks to the gums in a really nice way

D_I want to drink the entire 750mL bottle. This brew makes me feel very warm and is very inviting. The taste is very strong but it is still balanced and drinkable

 648 characters

Photo of peejaybee
3.68/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted into pitcher, then into Moretti goblet.

Pours a very thick, persistent head atop a dark brown, slightly cloudy beer.

A spicy ester profile dominates the aroma, accompanied by some fruitiness.

Likewise, the yeast characteristics dominate the flavor, along with some sweetness, alcoholic warmth and a trace of hop character as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is nice, with a medium body.

The aftertaste is pleasant, and again dominated by the flavors from the yeast.

Overall a very nice beer, especially for $5.00.

 521 characters

Photo of FatCaster
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm going to try to ignore the price and pleasing presentation of the bottle and just review the beer here, but those are indeed bonuses.

A--Poured into a mug. Had a picturesque tan colored head that filled out nicely and dissipated pretty quickly. But there was little ring of foam that just would not die and left lacing when the glass was tipped.

S--My friend said it smelled like vomit. But he is dumb. In fact, it smelled like bready malts and sweet dried fruits.

T--Very fruity, with a touch of yeast to it. Fades to bananas and a tiny touch of hops at the very end.

M--Fairly thick, but still refreshing. Very carbonated so it hides the alcohol until it is warming your throat.

D--Lets just say that all 750 ml disappeared very quickly.

Great value, will buy a couple more, probably at least one for aging.

 819 characters

Photo of asabreed
4.13/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Corked and caged bottle into a Chimay chalice.

Appearance: A swirling lighter amber color with a lot of carbonation and coating off-white head. A lot to admire here with subsequent pours.

Smell: Dominant fruit esters and Dubbel aromas with dark berries and apples, strawberries, a tad banana, and brown sugar.

Taste: Initial fruity esters from the yeast, with darker berries and sugars coming to fruition, along with hints of brown sugar. Balanced stuff, though it could push the boundaries a bit, as I'm tasting vintage Unibroue flavors without a lot of distinction. Be that as it may, I'd take Unibroue flavors over many domestics, so I'm fine with it.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and effervescent with a good burst of carbonation at the end, and this is even after two hours of sipping and pouring.

Drinkability: A pretty solid Unibroue brew, since that's essentially what it is. Flavorful and balanced, with all the Belgian qualities one comes to expect from their brewery. I'm not sure how Trader Joe's has much to do with it, but for around $5, I'm going to snag a few more, if they still have them, when I go back to see what happens in the cellar.

 1,154 characters

Photo of PhiloPsych
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.

 369 characters

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

Pours a hazy red color with a fizzy head with fair retention.
Smells of belgian yeast, this beer smells like a Unibroue which it is. maybe a little pine apple.
Lots of carbonation, almost to much but the rest of the mouthfeel is great. Tastes fruity, and very belgian, maybe a little raisons.
At $5 for a 750ml this beer is an incredible value. I will be buying much more of this in the future.

 397 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.82/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Light brown color; attractive beige head; good slippery lace on the glass.

Strong Belgian smell with strong maple sugar touches and solid yeast. The alcohol is prominent as well.

More chocolatey than most dubbels. Light hop finish in the swallow and aftertaste. Still, the alcohol is potent enough to be notable. Decent body, but not heavy. High level of carbonation of fine bubbles. Slight touches of brandy in the background.

 429 characters

Photo of spointon
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured this one from a 750ml corked and caged bottle into my Duvel tulip snifter.

A= This beer poured a murky, cloudy, medium brown color with a towering 2.5" bone colored head. The head dropped to a 1/4" cap and left only minor lacing.

S= This beer smelled absolutely great. I detected bakery malts, Belgian candi sugar, funky yeast, and alcohol.

T= Flavors were of bready malt, followed by dark sugary sweetness (Belgian candi sugar, brown sugar, prunes) followed by a fantastic yeasty profile very common among Unibroue's beers. Finish was alcohol and more bready sweetness.

MF= This is a great mouthfeel beer. The higher carbonation actually cuts the alcohol a bit and makes this beer feel great on the tongue.

D= An easy brew to drink for sure. Its hard not to bring price into this, but in the grand scheme of things, this is a good brew, not a great brew. However, for about $2.50 a pint, this is an outstanding value! Great job Trader Joes and Unibroue!

 969 characters

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

It's definitely winter when this one finally shows up at TJ's to ring in the new year. Unibroue makes a pretty good beer and for the TJ's price in particular, this one is tough to beat, assuming it's similar to last year's edition. This one pours a tawny golden at the bottom of my chalice that darkens up to a chocolate brown at the top. The tight bubbled beige head dissipates a little quicker than I'd like. The nose is malty and shows tones of grapeskin and yeast with faint traces of spice and other fruits in the distance.

Malty and layered with a light, bubbly finish that reminds me of champagne. The yeast has floral notes as mentioned on the bottle and is very strong in the taste, even for the style. Noble hops make a late appearance although they blend well with the fruit and spice notes to produce a clean, satisfying aftertaste. Mouthfeel is thin but well textured, and shows little leaking of booze despite the 9%. I wouldn't mind lowering the carbonation a few notches, as it seems to inhibit some of the flavors a bit.

Overall, a delicious ale that grew on me as I sipped it and showed balance and complexity. Needless to say, that $4.99 price tag is a plus as well. Not awesome but quite good.

 1,217 characters

Photo of bolddeciever
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours dark brown, with a tall, fluffy, just-off-white head.

S: Notes of dark fruit, fig and prune prominent.

T: Moderate to high sweetness, almost overpowering in first taste but mellowing through the glass, giving way as the pallate adjusts to the dark fruit flavors noticed in the aroma. Some hop bitterness at the tail end.

M: High carbonation dominates early on, giving way to decent body.

D: For a 9%, the alcohol is rather muted. Couldn't drink it all night, for sobriety reasons, but definitely goes down smooth.

O: At first sip, the sweetness and high carbonation almost gives a coca-cola character, but this really mellows after the first few sips. The right food pairing could probably help a lot, espescially with the sweetness. Great bottle of beer, espescially at the $4.99 price tag for 750 ml.

 817 characters

Photo of danmouer
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale is a strong dark Belgian Ale brewed by Unibroue. It may be identical to--certainly is similar to--Unibroue's mainline beer of that category: Trois Pistoles. My beer came from Trader Joe's, Richmond, VA., in a 750 brown champagne-style bottle with cork and wire cage.

The beer pours with a huge moussy head of off-white to tan color. Even with slow careful pouring, a cold bottle pours up a huge head of foam that takes several minutes to fall, leaving the chalice traced with Belgian lace.

The brew is deep amber/dark brown, showing mostly amber highlights in transmitted light. Quite clear, though not crystal clear. It is, after all, bottle conditioned, and no beer this highly conditioned can hold its sediment on the bottle bottom!

The aroma is outstanding. Big gales of spicy phenolics--cloves, allspice, cinnamon--all laced with sweet pilsner malt and faint traces of noble hops all greet the nose above the foam.

The flavor is sugary-sweet more than malty, although the malt is definitely there. Perhaps its all that spice that reminds moe more of holiday cakes and cookies than of a chilled brew. Hops aromas are way understated--as they should be in this style. The alcohol--9%abv--is lightly warming and silky smooth. Hard to believe the beer is this potent--but don't try to drink the whole bottle yourself without a designated driver.

This is an excellent dark strong Belgian style beer.Perhaps spicier than some would prefer, but I loved all those mulled-cider flavors. WHat a great oliday beer---and only 6 bucks for a 750! I bought a case, and I think I'll go back for another to cellar for a bit.

Trader rock!


 1,678 characters

Photo of olegv40
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.

 513 characters

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

First of all, this is Unibroue, for all intents and purposes. It's got their cork, their bottle, and their label as the contract brewer.

My favorite of all the Trader Joes brews to date, hands down.

Dark hazy chestnut brown. Nice off color head that dissipates fairly quickly.

Aroma is sour tart unirou style, unripe fruit, and I wouldnt be surprised if this were a Maudite or Trois Pistoles clone or something.

There's no denying this is Unib, it's got their powdery smooth yeast, a nice tart fruity crispness, sour green apple and some nice spices.

Yum! It's a bit overpowering at first, but as my 750ml bottle empties, it gets heavenly. Heavenly I say!

 664 characters

Photo of Timmush
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is one beer that is difficult to rate. It is only $4.99. With that being said. It is worth getting and drinking, but I will rate this on the beer alone, not taking the price into consideration.
First and Foremost this beer tastes like most Unibroue offerings. If you didn't know that they made this, you would be able to tell after the first sip. Poured a dark amber/chestnut with a cramy light tan head. A little too much carbonation for me. Fizzy on the tounge. The taste is more like a belgian strong ale rather than a Dubbel. But, it is good. Taste some fruit and possibly some caramel/sugar. I realy like this beer and enjoy it with dinner. Buy some if you can,

 672 characters

Photo of bulletrain76
3.28/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

75cl bottle. Brown with a good sized off-white head. the aroma has a lot of dusty Unibroue yeast, tart berry, and caramel. the flavor has sharp, dry alcohol, crackery malts, and sweet caramel. Dry, dusty yeast cleans up the sweet finish, Thin and airy mouthfeel, with an astringent papery dryness. The flavor is too much like brown sugar water with too much carbonation. I'm not getting much solid malt out of this, or many interesting flavors at all. Still drinkable, but a big let down from last year's.

 505 characters

Photo of khiasmus
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.

 1,261 characters

firstprev| 51-75 | 76-100 | 101-125  | next → last
Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.94 out of 5 based on 117 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.