Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale | Trader Joe's Brewing Company

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Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale
Very Good
230 Ratings
Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale

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

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Contract brewed for Trader Joe's. Often brewed by Unibroue.

Added by tang3nt on 11-19-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 230 |  Reviews: 150
Photo of sgoro
5/5  rDev +31.9%

Photo of oline73
5/5  rDev +31.9%

Photo of TMoore
5/5  rDev +31.9%

Photo of DocDownUnder
5/5  rDev +31.9%

Photo of cowboy83
5/5  rDev +31.9%

Photo of tbeq00
5/5  rDev +31.9%

Photo of rpdone
4.8/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I just picked up 2 cases (12 corked bottles/case) of this at Trader Joe's. Truly can't beat the price for this very worthy offering ($5/750ml bottle). I should have saved a bottle from last year to compare. But alas, I drank them all.

Cellaring is for people with will power. Anyway, to the review...

This fine ale is in a corked 750ml bottle with a 'painted' label in gold lettering. It is self described as a 'Dark Ale Brewed with Spices and Natural Flavor added.'

As many of you know this particular brew is lovingly prepared by the fine people at Unibroue in Quebec for TJ's. I may lose some man points here, but for the life of me I could not get the cork out of this thing. I ended up breaking it in half and had to get the corkscrew out to pull out the remaining cork.

It was worth the labor and is perhaps a fail-safe to keep me from drinking too many of these.

Appearance - Beer pours a nice deep black. It's almost opaque when held up to the light with some rich red-brown at the edges of the Chimay goblet I poured it in. It has a nice lively off-white frothy head with a semi-aggressive pour (I had to back off on the aggression to keep the head at bay). You can hear the carbonation as you pour, which not surprisingly is noticeable in the mouthfeel. Does it look inviting? Sure does.

Smell - Sweet spicy malts with a little alcohol. It smells, well, Belgian.

Taste - For its 9% ABV the alcohol is very well masked behind this brew's rather complex spiciness. It is not as sweet as it smells. There are some notes of raisins and cloves and a mild malty sugar. It is very well balanced and deliciously spicy. A very nice holiday offering.

Mouthfeel - For the depth of color, and the ABV of this brew the mouthfeel is actually not as viscous as one would think. It's actually rather light. The carbonation is really nice and feels wonderful on the tongue and throat.

Drinkability - As I mentioned the cork broke off. Probably a good thing as I would drink too much of this if I could pop them open like metal bottle caps. I must say though as I type (and have consumed perhaps 600 of the 750ml) I'm feeling rather happy.

Did I mention I really like this?

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Photo of Khutso
4.75/5  rDev +25.3%

Photo of ineva
4.75/5  rDev +25.3%

Photo of thehammer70
4.65/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Trader Joe's doesn't really have a brewery. This is made by Unibroue, the craft brewery from Quebec, Canada.

Like it's label mates 'La Fin du Monde' & 'Trois Pistoles', it's strong and tasty...well worth what TJs is asking for the bottle.

Do yourself a favour and pick up a bottle...and yes, you have to be a real man to pull the cork get ready.

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Photo of InfernoBoss
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of kevgod
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of GolamKovach
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of Damian
4.4/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from a 750ml/1pt. 9.4fl.oz. corked and caged bottle
Best before 09-10-2013
Served in a tulip
Thanks to mikesgroove for including this as an extra in our trade.

The beer poured a very deep brown/black and was topped by a thick, velvety, two-plus finger tall crop of beige colored froth. Decent head retention. Small droplets of lacing trickled down the glass with each sip.

The nose was crisp initially with a dry, powdery yeastiness. Slightly spicy with an undercurrent of dark fruits. As the head subsided, the aroma changed considerably. Rich, sweet malts came through strong. Tons of fragrant spices, including nutmeg, allspice and sage, were apparent, along with an intense, earthy, herbal quality. A touch medicinal. Strong notes of raisins, plums and currents. Some boozy, alcohol warmth was noticeable as well.

The flavor profile was also quite interesting. Rich caramel malts came through on the front end. Some roasted malts were also detectible. Lots of Christmas spices. Notes of ginger, nutmeg and allspice were apparent. Noticeable amount of fruity esters. Raisins, plums and currents came through strong. Good dose of dark candi sugar. A touch of booze appeared on the slightly woody, off-dry finish. All in all, however, the alcohol was quite well hidden.

The mouthfeel was fairly standard for the style. Medium bodied with a crisp, large bubbled effervescence. A touch thinner than I would have liked.

The past versions of Trader Joe's Vintage Ales have really impressed me but the 2010 example was superb. At a mere $5.99 a bottle, I will be picking up multiples of these from now on.

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Photo of dacrza1
4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Situation: Mourning an NCAA pool ending and celebrating a garage door half-installed... Glassware: Maudite goblet... Appearance: Velvet dark almost coffee body with a thick brown head that occupies a chalice well... Aroma: punchy, fruity flavors and soft malts balance the bouquet... Palate: Creeamy, alarmingly soft and warm; milky on the lips; little bubble but a late vigor reveals complexity... Taste: Bright, lactic hops that are blunted by the subdued nature of malts--the roasted aspect is understated as well--little smoke but definitely fire! Overall: It’s Unibroue, and it’s a special release, and it was FREE thanks to my father-in-law--how can this review NOT end well? Less caustic than the Maudite, more body than the La Fin du Monde, darker than the Trois Pistoles, and easier drinking them all of them! At 9% alcohol another engineering marvel from the Canadians...

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Photo of allrizz
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I purchased this beer from Trader Joe's.

A: Dark color yet able to see light through the glass. The head remained for much longer than I thought it should. Must have been how I poured it.

S: Fruit, malt aromas, caramel, and spice.

T: Dates, cloves, molasses, caramel, nutmeg accentuating a malty finish.

I am partial to dark beers and really enjoyed this one. I found the flavor of this beer unique with its spicy and malty taste. An excellent choice. I will definitely purchase some more and store them for future enjoyment.

 530 characters

Photo of MikeRose
4.32/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a wide mouth glass. Warmed a bit out of the fridge, but still a bit colder than recommended. Initially not greatly impressed. Poured a dark brown, not much foam or lace, and the smell was just not there for me. CO2, hops, and not much else. Tasted fair right off the bat. Metallic hops taste the biggest complaint, but fairly balanced though not as robust as some Belgians. Was reminded of roasted coffee. Alcohol well balanced with the dark flavors. The after taste was very nice, one of the first things I noticed - malty and persistent. As the beer warmed up however, what a difference. The metallic taste disappeared, and wonderful notes appeared. A taste of bananna, and other dark fruity delicious smells. Will have >very< slightly chilled next time, and at the price, I plan to put a bit of this away too. I think it will age nicely just as the label states.

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Photo of idResponse
4.3/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Right off the bat let me clear something up. On the bottle it says "product of Canada" and "Made by Unibroue" right there. You mean this isn't made in California by Trader Joes Brewing Company? NO! When making a special reserve Belgian Strong Dark Ale let's go to the people that seem to REALLY know what they are doing! UNIBROUE! Makers of La Terrible, Maudite, and Trois Pistoles - all of which are getting A- reviews on this website!

Well, hot damn! For only $6 a bottle I can get one of their awesome brews? Pardon me whilst I stock up!

First, I don't have a worthy container to put a bomber in right now so out of the bottle I imbibe this brew. The bottle is dark, with minimalist gold writing and graphics on it. It wants to fuzz right into my mouth on first guzzle due to the yeast making plenty of carbonation. It smells high of alcohol, roasted malts, and molasses. When this stuff hits the tongue, I am pleased to say I get the lovely tastes of a slightly spiced chocolate banana that has been caramelized with the uniquely lovely mouthfeel that only Belgian style yeast can provide, those over sized bubbles tickling your mouth to a smile.

This bottle says 9% on it, but I feel I could probably keep drinking this stuff without even thinking about it. Dangerously Session worthy! I highly recommend giving this brew a shot!

 1,337 characters

Photo of lynchtae
4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had to use a cork screw to get the cork out of the. Pours dark dark brown with a light brown persistent head. Fine bubbles continually rising from the bottle ageing and natural carbonation. Smells yeasty, and a hint of malt and ginger. Very complex flavor - lots of ginger up front, fruity esters from the Belgian yeasts, caramel malty notes, other spices are present as background notes maybe cardamom? Feels great in the mouth, rich and velvety. Overall this is an extremely well made beer, and at $7 is one of the best values out there.

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Photo of OhSoHoppy
4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From Bottle to glass.

A- This is a very dark brown, Love that I can see the yeast and other sediment at the bottom. Great lasting Tan head

S- Good malt and some spice with a slight bready hint. and a little fruitiness in there.

T- clove, ginger, and maybe a few other spices, Very subtle almost winey taste, with some light fruit, beautiful aftertaste. Alcohol is present but in a good warm way.

M- Full bodied, Rich with a great crisp feeling that stays with you for a while.

O- I wish I bought a couple more of these to age longer (I hear they age with the best of them. Great beer that I would recommend if you like them dark

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Photo of danafr4
4.27/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Trader Joes offers this seasonal brew (made for them by unibroue) in a 750ml bottle.

Poured foamy & a little bit thin with some fair, but subtle lacing.

At cellar temps, the aroma is full of the unibroue belgian yeast with fruitiness that is slightly sour. I find myself wishing the head retention was better.

The flavor is lovely. Clove/allspice mingled with caramel and dried fruit with a noticeable alcohol warmth afterward.

For as strong as the beer is (and feels) i want a little more body to balance it out.

This is the 'digestible' belgian dark ale, fermented to a crisper, lighter finish. Lovely to drink even if the body doesn't match the alcohol content for my taste. I'm curious to see how this year's offering ages after a year.

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Photo of beerbrains
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brewed by Unibroue, that's interesting, Trader Joe's picked a great brewery to contract with for their winter seasonal.

Struggled with the cork a while before it broke, then ended up using a corkscrew on it.

A coffee colored pour topped by a much lighter head that quickly and lacelessly (new word?) dissipates.

The Belgian sugars make this beer very sweet but not cloyingly so. The sweetness is followed by and balanced by a fruity tartness.

Overall a pretty good example of the style.

Food pairing?? I would substitute this beer anywhere you would drink a Cabernet Sauvignon, especially roasted red meats.

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Photo of leprechaunandfatman
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of lernerlift
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of VaterRoss
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Serving: 750ml bottle (cellared about a year) poured into crystal hock glass. Best before 9-10-13.

Appearance: dark brown/black (cola colored), some carb bubbles visible, tan colored head.

Smell: first thing that hits is the yeast which reminds me of the smell of a weizen or witbier followed by the sweet smell so common in Belgians.

Taste: quite sweet lightly roasted malts followed by that delicious weizen yeast fruity spiciness that helps to balance what would be an exceptionally sweet brew. Alcohol taste finishes and lingers, but not unpleasantly.

Mouthfeel: moderate carb, slight tingliness in mouth

Overall: what at first would seem to be a sweet, heavy beer is well balanced by the fruit/spice taste. While not the absolute pinnacle of its style the price is hard to beat and the beer is most enjoyable and easy to recommend. Worth drinking slowly due to the fair amount of complexity.

edit: recently tasted the 2011 and assuming the same recipe was used, the 2010 greatly benefited from the year of cellaring.

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Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.79 out of 5 with 230 ratings