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

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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.

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Reviews: 100 | Ratings: 116
Photo of WaXHeLL
3.53/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a pint glass - tasted on 5/12/2009. Aged approximately 6 months in refrigerator.

Appearance: Cork came off with a huge pop. Initial pour against side of glass was about 2/3s of a white foamy head with a very light brown tint. The head was extremely fluffly and foamy. Most of the head dissipated very quickly, however subsequent pours retained a good layer of head. Moderate lacing. Opaque, dark brown color, with a slightly redish tint with a little bit of green mixed in. Head was executed extremely well, however the color isn't the most appealing color.

Smell: Light smells of belgian yeast and spices. Clove and cinnamon are the most apparent spices. Not much of a nose.

Taste: Relatively light taste, but still has some complexity -- starts sweet with the Belgian sugars and malts coming out pretty quickly. Hints of caramel, brown sugar, light coffee, and light fruits. Finishes sweet with a muted spice flavor surfacing. Nutmeg comes out in the finish as the primary spice. Slightly bitter aftertaste. There isn't a overall dominating flavor throughout the beer, but rather everything is pretty muted.

A bit too sweet for my pallet, thankfully it doesn't have that stickyness and syrupyness associated with most sweet beers.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, carbonation keeps the tongue tingled. The carbonation keeps the beer creamy and is executed well (even though I am a fan of the less carbonated beers). Medium bodied to light bodied.

Drinkability: Easy to drink, light flavors, but still executed reasonably well. The alcohol does not come out harsh, but blends well with the smoothness of this beer. Quite warming.

Final Thoughts: Above average -- nothing to write home about. Decent for its price range, tastes like a decent American Dubbel (yes yes, I know that Unibroue is Canadian). Not sure if any additional aging would do anything for this beer -- it might make the sweetness worse.

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Photo of rayjay
4.28/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

At least one reason to break down and buy warm shelf beer is this fine brew. Quite a deal too at under $5, and perhaps one of the most perfect styles to endure the storage conditions (hate to think what the pilsner type beers must taste like though)

Light golden carmel colored ale, finely carbonated and sporting a 5 star head, Belgian style with cream colored foam and small bubbles like champagne. Also sports a wonderful fine haze.

Expected esters are dominant in the nose. Lots of dried fruit. Rich and grainy.

Sweet malt body. Some dusty wood, fruitcake, and a faint bitterness to round it out. Very well balanced. Delicious. Doesn't finish too dry or too sweet, but has the subtleties of both. Lots of esters but almost no detectable alcohol.

Mouthfeel reaches another delicate balance. I'm loving the perfect viscosity, just barely sticky and sweet and very easy to drink. Carbonation is just enough to carry the medium viscosity and create a bit head, but is never too much.

A very drinkable, well made, traditional ale. I think this beer has a lot in common with traditional bottle-conditioned high gravity British ales (I also though that with the 17).

My second beer from Unibroue, since I was back in college 10 years ago. I forgot how good they are, or maybe I never realized (...same with HotD brewery as well...) Glad they and Trader Joe's put out this exceptional value. Seek this out warm off the shelf. Cheers!

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Photo of arizcards
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a 750ml bottle in early December for $4.99. Best before 9-9-2011.

Beer poured brown with a large bubbly head that disapated quickly. Nose is banana, slight hint of rum, and malts. Taste has classic Belgian yeast strain, dark fruits soaked in a hint of rum, caramel, toffee, and a hint of cinnamon balanced nicely with a hint of hops. Mouthfeel is classic belgian, light to medium bodied and very smooth across the palate. Overall drinkability is very good for the style as the abv is very well hidden. Great deal at $4.99! I'll be sure to look again for it next year.

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Photo of mjl21
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle poured into my Chimay goblet. Best before 9/9/11 and comes in at 9%.

A-Huge pop when this one is uncorked. Brown with some nice red hues when put up to a light. Has a really fluffy one finger off white head that stays around after each pour.

S-Belgian yeast, candy sugar, and spices such as clove and cinammon.

T-Those same spices from the nose hit upfront. Taste rum soaked raisins, candy sugar, yeast, and malt.

M-Serious carbonation upfront. Lighter bodied and dry. The foam that sticks around makes itself known in each sip, resulting in a creamy texture at the end. Get some lingering hop bitterness from the Noble hops they use.

D-The alcohol definitely warms you up. This is a good nightcap.

A very good beer at an amazing price point ($4.99). Would like to try one of these ai it gets closer to its best by date of September 2011.

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Photo of chinabeergeek
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into tulip.

dark reddish brown, almost clear. fluffy, foamy off-white head gradually recedes to a constant thin layer. moderate lacing.

spices and fruit aromas upfront. cinnamon and anise, raisins and apple with phenols in the back again emphasizing the spice. hints of leafy hop. caramel maltiness as a consistent foundation.

similar spices on the palate and more light on the fruitiness, with the phenols a little stronger, giving a crescendo to the moderate noble hop bitterness in the middle. gentle malt caramel note. finish has more spices too.

smooth, lightly syrupy, with phenols emphasizing a slight astringency in the finish. creamy yet lightly creamy carbonation.

a great value. wish i'd picked up some more.

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Photo of ricke49
4.69/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I hadn't sampled this brew for about 4 months. This afternoon, on an unusually winter-like spring day I decided the time was ripe for a re-visit. Wow!

In the approx. 6 months since this was bottled it's taken on smoothness beyond what I would ever have imagined. Unibroue and Trader Joe's are really to be complimented for producing an exceptionally flavorful Belgium style beer at a price that the masses can love.

I think I'll check on my local store to see if any 2008 is still lingering....or as a secondary strategy, make sure I stock up well on the 2009 release. The brew itself is well balanced with subtle hints of raisin and figs - but not too sweet!

A truly enjoyable sipper on a cold day.

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Photo of kimcgolf
3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of BravoTwo
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Deep brown, with reddish tinges at the fringes, nice beige head.

S - Dark fruits, raisin, sweetness with belgian notes.

T - Dark, flavorful, fruit. Raisin and biscuity malt. Very well done dubbel and truly tasty.

M - Medium carbonation, nice body.

D - Easy drinking dubbel, well made. Flavorful and well balanced. Plus... the price is right!

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Photo of GreenCard
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: ruddy brown-red, slight haze, thick layer of spongey beige foam that slowly compacts

Aroma: raisins, biscuity malt, brown sugar, malt loaf, clove, pineapple

Flavor: quite full malt sweetness with a flavor akin to fresh bron bread topped with dulce de leche; hints of brown sugar, coffee, multi-vitamin, and grape juice (strangely); finishes semisweet with a lingering spiciness and licorice root aftertaste

Mouthfeel: medium-full body, zippy carbonation, alcohol warmth, fairly smooth for the 9% abv

Other comments: Unibroue is a great brewery and this beer is a fairly good example why. It is one I will definitely look forward to being release again next year.

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Photo of wavenger
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Overall: A well-attenuated Belgian with refined holiday flavors, good head and a decent punch. Also a good example of how some batches are just better than others - get this one while it lasts!

Even with a very slow pour, has a very thick, rich head that never completely subsides. Color is glassy, brownish black.

Smell is delicate, with notes of cinnamon, anise and clove.

The taste is refreshing, interesting and not overpowering, mostly dominated by caramel and spices. Not much bitterness at all. There is some sweetness there, but it is very highly attenuated for the style. It does not have the outrageously big flavor that a lot of Belgians have, but it is also a lot nicer to drink.

Mouthfeel is excellent - good, balanced carbonation, refreshing acidity, light body. Finish is crisp with a hint of caramel left behind.

This beer is more drinkable than most Dubbels I've had. I feel like I could work through a bottle in an evening, whereas with a lot of belgians the sugar, high alcohol and dark flavors become distasteful after a time.

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Photo of kaseydad
3.8/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dirt brown with a massive foamy head that is barely contained by my snifter.

The aroma consists of apple, pear, banana and other fruits.

The taste starts of a little tangy but mellows at the swallow. A slight lingering aftertaste is also present.

A nice sip of foam with each sip makes the drinking experience even more enjoyable.

Drinking this bad boy by myself definitely is making me a little loopy and sleepy, but it is a fairly easy drink at 9%.

Only paying $5.99 for a nice bottle of this 750 ml is a nice treat and though normally I would avoid a Trader Joe's beer (by Unibroue) at all costs, this was a nice treat.

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Photo of Troyone
3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of pmcadamis
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
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!

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Photo of argock
3.87/5  rDev -2%
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.

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Photo of AdmiralDiaz
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber to pint glass. *review from old notes recently found.

A: Nice dark body with a huge off-white head. Good head retention and some lacing.

S: Complex Belgian yeast with mixed fruit and caramel.

T: Tastes very similar to the smell. Complex with a small spice bite to it. Alcohol comes out a bit in this one.

Overall: Highly carbonated and medium in body. Fairly drinkable but alcohol come out just a bit too much for me. Easily Trader Joe's best brew...or one of Unibroue's more mediocre...either way pick it up it's cheap and tasty.

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Photo of steadydose
3.73/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Good pop sound with cork removal. Poured into a goblet. Creamy 1 inch light beige foam cap, lots of carbonation. Head reduced to about 1/4 inch after a couple of minutes. Brown w/reddish highlights, carbonation clings to the sides of the goblet.

This beer smelled good. Classic belgian yeast, caramel, brownsugar, spiciness, cinammon, raisin, overipe bananas.

Taste for me started slightly boozy, touch of spice and follows and then sweetness from malt/sugar comes through. I liked the balance in this beer, it wasn't too sweet for me. Slight phenolic quality, tasty yeast at the end.

This dubbel had good amount of carbonation, with medium body.

Overall, i thought this beer was good. Not to sweet, at 9%, alcohol is covered well in the taste. Great value, glad I have another bottle.

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Photo of bbothen
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

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Photo of thekanna
3.7/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown that turns into a ruddy hue when held up to light. Decent amount of foamy white head forms.

S: Strong complex Belgian yeast smell with a smoky overtone almost reminiscent of polska kielbasa. Additional tones of raisins and brown sugar.

T: Malty and yeasty with strong flavors of cloves, dark fruits, apple pie spices and brown sugar. Finishes sweet and slightly bitter/ spicy with alcohol definitely present.

M: Carbonation very strongly tingles the mouth and plays around.

D: Decent sipper. Enjoyed trying it but I think I'll stick to Maudite for my Unibroue fix.

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Photo of robbyc1
4.15/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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Photo of bushbeer75
4/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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Photo of ndekke39
3.53/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had a bottle of this given by a friend. Decanted into a white wine glass. Pours a hazy reddish-copper with a thin white head. Great retention. Smells and tastes pretty simply of apples, bananas, brown sugar. Overall sweet quality, but not overwhelming. Decent amount of fizz to it. Very drinkable - a good Dubbel, but nothing like the real thing and nothing really mindblowing.

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Photo of Strix
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours murky pale chestnut with good head.

Smell fruity and spicey -- peach, yeast, toffee, tropical fruits.

Taste is a blend of fruits and spices. Yeast, peach, pear, apple, various spices, finishes crisp.

Mouthfeel bubbly.

This was very solid, with a nice price. Not exactly sure how this setup works, as this is clearly a Unibroue, but I'm not going to complain.

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Photo of ocelot2500
3.55/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy, opaque brown with a good sized tan head. There is excellent retention and a good amount of lacing.

Smells of a typical dubbel, yeasty, fruit, sweet, spice.

Tastes are the same as the nose, a big fruit flavor with some spiciness. I mostly taste apples, raisins, figs, and other such fruits.

Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy. An appropriate amount of carbonation.

This is fairly drinkable.

I bought with low expectations. It was a pleasant surprise and turned out to be a good brew. If you have the chance to pick one up, I would suggest it.

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Photo of Intelligentsia
3.77/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From Trader Joe's in Pasadena, CA (Lake Avenue store). Pours with a massive slightly off-white head, with beautiful carbonation running up the sides of the glass. Strong nose typical of Unibroues, with big maltiness, toffee, and a bit of coffee. I think it's a solid dubbel for the price. I'm also aging one, so I will see how this one compares to the other in a few months' time.

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Photo of n1ckels
3.69/5  rDev -6.6%
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!)


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Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.95 out of 5 based on 116 ratings.
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