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

very good
150 Reviews
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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Reviews: 150 | Ratings: 230
Photo of kylehay2004
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I used my bare hands to pry this cork off... which made the beer that more satisfying as it is no easy task.

Moderate to high carbonation on my tasting which is why the mouthfeel score was marked so low as I felt this subtracted from the flavor. Dark brown with red hue. True to the Unibroue nature, this is a spicy beer with dark fruit taste predominating. I wish I had enjoyed previous editions to provide a "year by year comparison. The finish is semi-dry.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brewed by Unibroue. Best before 9/10/13 - so this is cellar material. I have another one aging right now.

Pours a very crimson red/dark brown color with a nice 2 inch tan head that fades to a small cap. Small rivulets of lacing on the drink down. Smells of dark fruits, spices, yeast. Very similar with the taste. Plums, raisins, spices, and the typical Belgian yeast taste. This beer is very carbonated and is crisp and bubbly on the drink down. Overall, a pretty good beer for the style. I am glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.74/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a deep burgundy color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma of dry fruits with residual candi sugar and your typical Unibroue yeast. Taste is a complex mix between some candi sugars with dry fruits with some caramelized malt notes, liquorice and the typical Unibroue yeast coming through at the end. Body is quite full with good carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Solid beer from Unibroue which is starting to show the damage of time.

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Photo of emerge077
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled this a few times, and never put pen to paper to review.
It pours a very dark mahogany color, light gets through around the edges in direct light. Copious foam, pretty standard for the style, no lacing however.

Aroma at cellar temp is earthy and spicy, anise clove and coriander, dried prunes. When cold it's pretty muted.

Phenolic spice and husky toasted malts, nutmeg and raisin.
Aftertaste of nutmeg and brown sugar, but dry and not sweet. Almost astringent at first, with a very earthy malt character that is a little off putting. Good flavors, but overall nothing too out of the ordinary. Probably the usual Unibroue house yeast that tends to color everything a little funky. Would drink again, for $5 it's a steal, but not worth the cellar space to be honest.

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into tulip, best before 9/10/2013. Pours almost opaque dark brown color with a nice 2 finger dense khaki head with great retention that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Some nice bits of lacing cling to the glass as well. Aromas of big clove, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, dark candi sugar, ginger, dark fruit, molasses, and spicy yeast. Nice and interesting aromas; tons of spices going on here. Taste of caramel, molasses, dark fruit, clove, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, candi sugar, and big yeast spiciness. Lingering notes of dark fruit, molasses, candi sugar, and spices on the finish for a bit. Medium bodied with fairly high carbonation, but it doesn’t hurt the drinkability at all. Fairly creamy and smooth drinking; with a fairly prickly mouthfeel. Alcohol is well hidden with nothing but a slight warming noticeable. Overall a damn nice spiced Belgian dark ale. Unibroue rarely brews a bad beer.

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Photo of chinchill
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle purchased circa 1/1/2010, cellared for one year.
"Best before" Sept. 2013 date on bottle.
"Unibroue" stamped on the cork ... that's a good sign!
Hint: a crescent wrench worked nicely to unseal and help remove the firmly seated cork.

Pours a clear but opaque dark brown with a huge. foamy cappuccino-colored head that leaves a good amount of sticky lacing.

The aroma and the flavor both clearly indicate that this is a spiced ale. The exact combination of spices is unclear, but nutmeg and allspice seem most obvious, with hints of clove, ginger and cinnamon. The spice combination is nicely complex and well-chosen, but the beer is a bit over-spiced for my taste. The malt and hop components are well-masked by the spicing. Some raisin, prune and other dark fruit notes are evident. The aroma has a lightly tart aspect, but the beer is primarily sweet. High ABV is decently hidden in both taste and smell.

M: smooth; very good, medium carbonation; high ABV evident.

An excellent winter brew, with plenty of spicy complexity to enjoy in both the flavor and lingering aftertaste. A rather good price for a rich, Unibroue.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very rich hazy reddish tinted mahogany colored brown with a big three finger high head of foamy and sticky off white colored lace on the top. nestled into a bed of just thin brownish lace and a nice layer of foam across the top.

. The first assault came from a deep rooted spiciness with hints of fig very predominant here. As it started to come through a little clearer lots of dark fruity like smells started to emerge and take over. A nice amount of plums, pears, raisins and even a touch of grape were easily picked up among a nice backbone of cereal grains and a touch of grassy like freshness in the back. Now this was not terribly strong, however it did have a lot of raisin like flavor in it that almost becoming a little too much as it went on. There were hints of plum and fig as well as some earthy tones in the back but the majority of this was a plum raisin spice medium bodied and somewhat of a grain like consistency to it. This was a nice sipper, not too terribly high in alcohol, but the flavors were a little too sugary perhaps,

Overall this was ok, that is about all I can say for it is ok.

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Photo of smcolw
3.55/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Huge head; very rocky. Relatively low level of lace--just some spottiness. The head settles to nearly no bubbles. Dark brown color where no light shines through.

The smell is of clove, pepper, cinnamon and alcohol.

Lots of cardamon and all spice in addition to the smells. There's a high alcohol presence to this beer. Rich body with a high carbonation.

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Photo of Jason
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml brown magnum and was caged and corked.

Tan colored bubbles do their job, the brew is nearly pitch black in color. Super spicy nose from the obvious spices added (ginger seems to be the biggest addition) and the alcohol as well, hint of rose water to boot. Fluffy smoothness. Ginger right out of the gate, small handful of medicinal phenols as well. Dry malt flavors of toasted malt, hint of chicory and carob powder. Light on the hops. Fruity with a subtle yeast backing. The 9% abv is there, warming but pretty mellow for its size. Other spices within but all a quite vague other than the ginger and perhaps orange peel.

Big beers from Unibroue can do no wrong for the most part ... glad that Trader Joe's does this every year for a great price as well.

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Photo of womencantsail
2.36/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A: The pour is a dark amber color with a thin off-white head.

S: A huge sage aroma to this with quite a bit of bitter, baking chocolate as well. There's a really high level of carbonation that becomes apparent on the nose. A bit of pepper that sort of comes out of nowhere.

T: Again, the sage really dominates the beer. Quite a bit of pepper is present, perhaps some fennel as well, and there's just a touch of chocolate. Not necessarily all that sweet, but a moderate malt/sugar character.

M: The body is medium and the carbonation is as well.

D: Somebody suggested that this beer tasted like breakfast sausage, and I'm somewhat inclined to agree. Not my favorite by any means.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Duvel tulip glass.

Finally get to try one of these things. It pours a pretty much opaque black-brown-plum topped by an abundant wan tan foam. The nose comprises figs, raisins, yeast, rye bread, red grapes, nutmeg, clove, and jasmine. The taste runs toward the darker fruit and spices, with some plum, black grapes, and chianti thrown in as well. The body is a stolid medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a grainy feel. Overall, a very nice BSDA, not surprising coming from Unibroue and all. Tasty stuff.

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Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Standard ruby-brown body, nice looking. Decent head.

S - Some spice in the nose and some sweet and earthy notes. Didn't smell incredibly rich or spiced.

T - Dark bread, toasty wheat, slight roasted malt in the backrground. Some tangy lighter notes as well. Light on the dark sugars and dried fruits here. Ok so this is a Belgian Strong Dark? Not sure if I'm the only one who thinks this is a dead ringer for a Dunkelweiss. The taste sort of surprised me as i was expecting a much richer, spcicier, sweeter mouth. I did like the taste, just not what I expected.

M - Nice mouthfeel here. Medium carbonation and a decently smooth feel but could definitely use some aging here.

D - I'd say this one is pretty drinkable, and good work here masking most of the alcohol.

Notes - So I like this beer. It's just not what I'd consider a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, at least not a particularly good BSDA. Gulden Draak, Oerbier or a Rochefort 8...

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Photo of Gavage
3.55/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: pours a brown color with a 1" tan colored head. No lacing develops.

Smell: loads of spiciness and roasted malt sweetness.

Taste: roasted malts, plums, red apples, figs, allspice, coriander, pepper, and a moderate bitterness. Alcohol is mildly noticeable and somewhat warming.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Lightly crisp throughout with some dryness arriving late.

Drinkability: this beer is a bit too spicy IMHO, but not bad for a single glass over a long period. Drinking the bomber as a solo session didn't work for me.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review from 12/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours nearly black with a thick, attractive dark tan head with lots of lacing. Spicy malty Belgian and dark fruit aroma. Malt, dark fruits, Belgain spicing. Ends rather subdued. Sweet and spicy I think this will age nicely like the last few years.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to AmericanBrew for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brownish-red color with a white head. The aroma is definitely Belgian in origin. I get a lot of anise and dark fruit, as well as some candy sugar and cinnamon. A nice, spicy aroma.

The flavor is heavy on the spices as well. I get a lot of anise and cinnamon, as well as some nutmeg, dates and cherries. There is also quite a bit of Belgian yeast and some alcohol.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A very nice beer and different from any of the other Unibroue beers I have tried in the past.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tried November 2011
A careful pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet Tulip produces a glass filling, dirty brown tinged, dark tan colored, initially four finger thick, but then quickly glass overlflowing head; this leaves some light, wispy lacing as it slowly subsides. The beer is a dark, concentrated, opaque, sort of black color, it seems to have tinges of concentrated brown / purple to it. The foam that was rescued from overflowing tastes a bit like concord grape-juice. The beer smells predominantly of sweet spices and fruit; it reminds me of clove, cardamom, a light concord grape soda note and a bright raisin note, though really the cardamom note seems to be the most noticeable (though not by a huge margin). Backing notes of a slight grain husk character and toasted brown bread are noticeable the more you dig for them. As the beer warms up the cardamom becomes more piquant, perhaps taking on a ginger like edge to it.

The beer feels light bodied and effervescent as it first hits my palate. The beer has a light sweetness to it up front, but this gets accentuated as it rolls across the tongue by a sweet spice and fruit character. Notes of cardamom and clove linger on the palate in the long finish, and there is perhaps just a wisp of toasted brown cracker character. The fruit reminds me of concord grapes and raisins. The spice character has a slight woody black pepper note to it, a touch of nutmeg, though it really is dominated by the cardamom and then clove character. The clove is likely from the house yeast, and there is also an earthy, sort of coriander like note that is distinctly from the Unibroue house yeast character.

A pretty tasty beer, it is a little too focused on the spice character, which isn’t surprising given the house yeast character, but it is nicely drinking all the same. The light mouth feel, is perhaps the best thing going for this beer (though the visual presentation is quite striking as well).

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Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear and deeply brown colored ale with a tall light brown colored head.

Smells dry and spicy and very herbal. Coriander is easily the strongest smell here. Lesser scents of cinnamon, ginger and fig. Over all it more or less smells like a spicy fig.

Starts out semi-sweet and spicy with a high carbonation level. Sweetness doesn't last long; this quickly becomes semi-dry and spicy. Ginger and clove are the strongest flavors here. Little bit of caramel but this is mostly a spice-flavored beer.

Mouthfeel is good.

Good drinkability. Unibroue doesn't really make bad beer so you pretty much expect it to taste good. Dry and spicy beer here, pick something else if you like a sweet tasting Belgian Ale.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a tulip. Thanks to cjacobsen for sharing!

(A)- Pours a translucent brown color. A nice foamy tan head and lace.

(S)- A very spicy pepper and coriander earth and clay smell.

(T)- Not as spicy as the smell, but thankful for some dark fruits of plum and raisin. Plenty of a clove and coriander spice.

(M)- A crisp carbonation level and a decent balance. Not overly spicy, but also fruity and dry earthy qualities. A bit bitter.

(D)- An interesting spiced take on the style. A bit too much going on to enjoy fully, but the earthy qualities are rather nice.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.62/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - poured into my unibroue tulip with the normal frothy unibroue head with super thick lacing. deep dark purple with some carbonation clinging to the bottom of the glass. classic unibroue look with maybe some more bubbles than usual.

S - dark fruit with that unmistakable unibroue yeast smell very heavy in the mix. haven't had a 2009 in a while, but memory tells me that this one is a bit sweeter and more on the plum side of the smell spectrum. I'm a big fan of unibroue beers and one of my favorite parts of their beers is the fantastic smell.

T - first impressions...pretty sweet for a BSDA. nice spicing, but not a whole lot going on in the flavor dept other than an alcohol bite and pepper with some subtle dark fruit flavoring. i drank this one at room temperature which i find brings out the flavor more perhaps out of the fridge would be better next time? not bad, but just nothing to write home about.

M/D - pretty thin and heavily carbonated. leaves a touch of bitterness and dryness in my mouth and a lasting nice alcohol tingle. the one thing that i really love about this series of beers is the value. at $5 a bottle, just picked up this year's case. great beer to enjoy if you are a fan of unibroue and not looking to spend double on the bottle. pretty spicey belgian flavor, not my favorite beer i've had but not bad...kind of like a unibroue light if it were to exist. i liked last years quite a bit more.

--- edit --- 2011-12-11
been a few days over a year since i tried this and i cracked one tonight after trying the 2011 vintage. gotta say, a year did this one well. still not as good as the 2011, but much closer. the sweetness and spicing has backed off a bit. still, you'd be better off with a trois pistoles.

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Photo of n2185
4.14/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very dark brown with only the faintest traces of light getting through the edges. Two fingers of off-white head accompany it, which recedes into a ring with little lacing.

S: Very perfume-like nose, though not in a bad way. There's definitely coriander in there along with an underlying bready yeast aroma. The biggest aroma is difficult to name . . . very floral and almost stings the nostrils. Ginger, nectarines, peaches, and apricots come to mind.

T: Some coriander and sweet, dark fruits up front--plums, red grapes, pomegranates, and the like. A hearty bread and yeast flavor comes up on the finish, which is both lightly bitter and warming.

M: Medium body with lots of carbonation, this beer has a nice high attenuation so even though it's dark and high gravity, it's pretty crisp.

O: Overall, a good beer. The taste can't quite live up to the very interesting aroma, but it nails the attenuation needed for a good Belgian.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a black-ish color with a light tan head. In the aroma, roasty and dry candy sugar. In the taste, hops stand out, nice roast, with a small dry candy sugar. A small hop bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a semi dry coffee roast in the aftertaste. Kind of feels like a Belgian inspired black IPA.

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Photo of Reagan1984
2.41/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The head was crazy on this beer as it was poured. A dull, foamy aggressive tan head formed and remained. The beer was also dull in color and a dark brown with some maroon/burgundy tones. After the head falls, there really wasn't any lacing to speak of.

Aroma was very herbaceous and a pre-cursor to the menthol notes to come. Let me say it here for the first time and not the last. Vicks vapor rub.

Lots of dark fruits give way immediately to a menthol flavor coming from the spices. I can't really get past the overwhelming flavor of Vicks here. It's not a bad beer, but many I want to save some and rub it on my chest the net time I am congested. I shared the bottle with two friends and they both had the same opinion.

Kind of astringent on the tongue. Foamy bubbles pop in your mouth.

Ehh, not so good. I am not a fan of Vicks beer.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.02/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Janna and Chris for this Christmas present (or part of it!).

Poured a dark, murky brown with scotch-like hues in the light. A well-formed light tan head diminishes to a thin cap and finally a thin ring in my St. Bernardus chalice. No lacing to speak of. Aromas of dark, ripe fruit of the plum and fig variety take the stage, followed by lighter vinous flavors. Similar in flavor, with a distinct prune-like and/or cola finish. Spices are very well blended. Lightly flowery, maybe a whiff of chamomile? Or maybe that's something else. In any case, there's a pleasant, relaxing aroma and flavor to this beer. I know I'm all over the place with this review but I'm just typing as things come to me. The tiniest touch of roasted malt in here! It's like a teaspoon of coffee was added to a big bottle and it's just barely noticeable. Carbonation was pretty decent. Maybe a bit cask-like for a BSDA and the body is somewhat slick. However, it drinks very well. I recommend this for a quick Belgian fix.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown with light brown tinges on the edges when held to light. Pretty sizeable mocha head that lasts for a while.

S: Characteristic Unibroue yeast with some spices and hints of dark fruits.

T: Spicy yeast, black licorice, plum, bready malts, hints of fig and brown sugar. This is a huge upgrade from the last two years. Still maybe not as good as the 07, but it's heading back in the right direction. Saving a few of these to see how they age.

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Photo of blackie
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 cellared about a year after release

a: served in a large westmalle chalice, the beer is a deep brown in color, capped with a well-retained layer of khaki carbonation

s: dark belgian malts and tree fruits form a full, healthy nose - prune and fig, darker sugars, big floral coriander is the spice I find more than any other, black pepper, nice alcohol, the malts are well roasted with brief suggestions of chocolate, papery hop aroma, lots of yeast

m: carbonation medium-high, with a medium-full mouthfeel, lively but substantial on the palate

t: lots of darker sugars, a combination of roasted and caramelized malts, and tree fruits, plum/prune and fig especially, leathery fruit skin flavors hit mid palate with a generous dose of coriander - there are presumably other spices present, but coriander is most dominant to my nose, papery hop flavors and a mild-moderate bittering with sugar and coriander flavors lingering long

o: a classic dark belgian ale with the yeasty, spicy character you’d expect; a slight darker, sweeter, and heavier than is typical, drinks well

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Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 230 ratings.
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