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

very good
117 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 117 |  Reviews: 100
Photo of GreenCard
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
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 +7.9%
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 -3.6%
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 -0.3%
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.

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Photo of pmcadamis
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!

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Photo of argock
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.

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Photo of AdmiralDiaz
3.9/5  rDev -1%
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 -5.3%
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 -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.

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Photo of thekanna
3.7/5  rDev -6.1%
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 +5.3%
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.

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Photo of bushbeer75
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.

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Photo of ndekke39
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
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 +4.1%
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 -9.9%
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 -4.3%
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 -6.3%
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!)


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Photo of niknot
3.96/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - A brown color with good head

S- With a few months of aging I found flavors of cinnamon, honey, and vanilla. Probably will review again after a longer aging process.

T - Bitter with a fruity finish

M - Light to strong carbonation. Depends if poured properly (I messed up the pour on my first bottles :)

D - Great beer. Im a huge fan of Unibroue beers. After 2 bottles, I am impressed with the improvement it has shown after only a few months in between. Very much worth the $5.00.

Serving type: bottle

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

A - Muddy water brown in color, poured with a nice finger of white foam. Head didn't last too long.

S - Passion fruit aromas, and maybe even some pruniness with sweetish toffee and maltiness.

T - Fruitiness right up front, and the passion fruit comes near apple-like in the flavor, toffee and a bit of a roasted coffee in the finish.

M - Nice tight carbonation, and thinner MF. Very much what I would expect for the style, but perhaps a bit lighter than other examples

D - Very drinkable dubbel. Enjoyed the nuances, and definitely enough curiosity to take another and another swig. Nice warming alcohol, but by no means rears too heavy.

Overall, this is more than a solid example of the style and I very much enjoyed the brew.

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Photo of aforbes10
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.

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Photo of mikeepeck
4.4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

To me, this beer is surprisingly good. It held onto a nice light-tan head even in the burgundy glass that I'm drinking out of, and it's leaving a nice lace on the glass as well. The aroma is full of well-integrated complexity; basically you could go a lot of different ways on this one. Caramel is dominant, but there's a dark, earthy, fruitiness very present as well- my dad described it smelling like an "earthy root beer". I think dark fruity root beer is closer, there's the same sort of sweet root/spice flavor that you think of in a good root beer.

The back label copy is dead on in it's "champagne effervescence"; the carbonation is full and light, very small pinprick bubbles. Just the lightest bit sticky, but the carbonation and the sweet, earthy, fruity flavors balance out the body and alcohol nicely. I've almost finished the whole bottle myself, starting before dinner and now continuing into the evening. It goes well with a chewy nut & chocolate chip cookie even. I'm stoked to open the other one that I'm cellaring, I'm thinking I'll give it six months- any feedback on this beer's aging?

Addition: It IS good with Brie (read the sidebar!)

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Photo of midaszero
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Trade Joe's are a pain to get to around here this better be good

A - Cloudy dark amber with three fingers of light tan head that leave awesome lacing

S - Sweet malty goodness with some dark fruit mixed in

T - Malty and yeasty. Dark fruit presence. Overall very crisp.

M - Medium body with high carbonation

D - Aside from being over carbonated which is kind of distracting it is kinda easy to drink and enjoyable

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Photo of xfactor9600
4.27/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - A brown color with some head

S- malty, but pleasantly so with a faint fruit hint.

T - Bitter with a fruity finish

M - light carbonation, kind of an champagne feel.

D - More than I expected. I plan to swing by Trader Joe's to see if they have anymore left.

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Photo of kenito799
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.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This vintage ale pours a murky reddish brown into a large wine glass from a 750 ml. bottle. A thin head settles and keeps awhile.

Offers a nice smell of light dried fruit and balanced malts.

Taste is similar. A bit of light grape and some muddled dried fruits. Malt structure is moderate, as it should be for a Dubbel. Lots of carbonation here, perhaps over done actually. But then, not really.

Bottom line a very nice ale and hats off to Trader Joe's for hosting such an ale. Better than many an American interpretation of the style.

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Trader Joe's 2008 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.94 out of 5 based on 117 ratings.
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