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

Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale
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.

Bros Score:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 230 |  Reviews: 150
Photo of MoreThanWine
3.67/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brewed by Unibroue in Canada and indistinguishable from their Trois Pistoles label. Poured all head and took a long time to settle down. Very dark clear brown, kind of a VanDyke brown. Smell has yeast, a hint of smoke in my opinion, and dried fruits. Taste again is dried fruits with raisin and fig. Moderately rich body. To me this reminded me alot of DFH Raison D'Etre except that one's richer and cheaper.

 408 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

 571 characters

Photo of dwilson01
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured from a 750ml bottle into my 40oz spaten mug, the tan head is so massive the mug was 2/3 foam and 1/3 beer and I had to wait for it to subside to finish the pour. Thick lacing ensues from slow dissipation.

The scents emanating from the brew remind me distinctly of brown sugar and raisins.

The flavors in the taste follow from this directly, maple brown sugar, a thinner more bubbly mouthfeel and nice raisin toffee aftertaste, definitely a ton of special b and cavienne malts in this one.

The thinner mouthfeel drives you to want to drink it faster but at 9% thats dangerous, they must have stopped the fermentation at some point or added a ton of unfermentables to keep it so sweet.

 694 characters

Photo of altom
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - beer pours dark. Heavy amounts of carbonation apparent

S- mimics the scent of many Belgian strong ales. Cherries, cloves, dates, pepper

T- lots of fruit and spice, more spice then fruit. Lacks malty flavors. Spice and fruits are excellent, far from overpowering

M- warm, carbonation pleasant on palate,very drinkable. Definitely a beer that needs to be drank at 55F or warmer

D- this beer cannot be beat for the price of 3.99

I prefer this beer to many of the unibroue Belgians that I have had. It will certainly get better with age

 541 characters

Photo of Mississipping
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a 3rd rev Boulevard smokestack series tulip glass.

A: Very dark brown with a mahogany glow around the edges and when held to light. Large 2 - 3 finger khaki colored foamy head billows from the surface, even with a fairly gentle pour. Dissipates slowly and leaves behind a thin bubbly film with minimal lacing.

S: Interesting aroma ... yeasty and spicy with ample barnyard funk. Just a hint of dark fruit. Very saison-like; I really like the aroma here. Fairly simplistic, yet funky and inviting.

T: The taste matches the smell quite well. Very spicy up front, nice malt bill, yeasty. On the finish, lingering spiciness with a very mild hop bite and a bit of booze. As it warms, there is an odd medicinal flavor that is more peculiar than off-putting.

M: Feels like a cola in the mouth. Medium bodied and highly carbonated. Coats the tongue just a bit. Nothing special here, but pleasant nonetheless.

D: Despite the 9.2% abv, and despite a less than perfect balance, this is really quite drinkable. I've only got one bottle of this, but could easily at least start a second.

This was my first experience with this beer and I was impressed with it for what it is and for the price. I'd love to see how it ages ... in hopes that it would balance out a little more.

 1,297 characters

Photo of NegativeSpin
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hmm... I think I've bought about 10 of these... I fully intend to put a bottle away and let it age, but every time I wind up popping it open and sharing it with some friends.

Yes, for $5.00 a bottle, you can't beat it. Made by Unibroue, it's very similar to La Fin Du Monde or Tres Pistoles if you ask me, which are both nearly twice the price.

It pours dark with a thick head and a fairly potent aroma. It's fairly-high alcohol content comes as a surprise, as does the fact that opening a second bottle isn't all that difficult to do.

For $5.00 a bottle, it's amazing that these things aren't gone the second that they hit the shelves. Go and buy some now.

 660 characters

Photo of benclimbs
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours dark with a nice head and a bit of lacing in the glass which dissipates quickly

smell reminds me a bit of homebrew at first - really really estery and off-sour, to a wierd extent, but after the head subsides the smell gets a lot better, just starts to smell like a nice noel - spicy, fruity and belgian.

taste is really pretty nice i think, yeast driven and strange for sure but with a nice character of fruit and malty goodness followed by a very light, refreshing mouthfeel and a very belgian-esque drinkability for 9%

 529 characters

Photo of Gavage
3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

 534 characters

Photo of JamnesCameron
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a MJ tasting glass.

Pours jet black with ruby highlights around the edges. Huge light tan head, leaves a little lacing as it drops.

Aromas of clove, black pepper dominate. No noticeable hop aroma. Any malt is buried by the spicing.

First sip is of fig, cloves and black pepper. No hop flavors.

Mouthfeel is medium, with a light carbonation prickle.

Nice drinkable beer. Spicing is a little heavy, but not over the top. Would be interesting to try it warmed up.

 477 characters

Photo of Vixie
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark black, not a lot of light getting through it. Forms a huge tan head, the head size reminds me of Duvel.

First smell that hits me is the malt, then yeast and spices kick in. Has quite a bit of pepper in there, maybe some clove as well.

Fruity and spicy best describe this to me. Raisin, a hint of chocolate, and a bit of Belgian candy sugar come through. This is followed by a peppery spiciness, reminds me a bit of the spice in La Fin Du Monde.

The feel is solid, with a good amount of carbonation.

While not the best of this style I have had, definitely a good beer. All I can think of while drinking it is this could be the result if you combined LaTerrible with La Fin Du Monde. Has characteristics of each, although not quite up to the level of complexity of either of those. Still, a nice offering, and well worth the price.

 852 characters

Photo of KomodoDragon
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased at a local TJ and served in a Bells Anniversary pint glass.

A - Jet black with 1" brown head with some retention and nice lacing

S - Spice/Clove smell with a smoky sense

T - Much like previous vintages, there is overpowering spices. The 2010 version transitions nicely into a sweet alcohol warmth that lingers well past the finish

m - light carbonation and very smooth throughout. Got better as it approached room temperature.

d - Best hoilday tj vintage that I've had (an at a nice price). Need to get another to store away for next winter to compare side by side with 2011.

 591 characters

Photo of Codnasty
3.56/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served out of a bottle, poured into a Perfect Pint Glass.

A- Dark Brown with a nice Beige Head

S- Strong Alcohol Notes with a sight chocolaty/raisin aroma

T- Co2 with Fig and Plums, Maybe a little like coca cola?

M- Full bodied (I come from wine culture)

D- For 9% It is very drinkable

 290 characters

Photo of LordAdmNelson
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I liked this beer pretty well, especially considering the $5 price-tag. Typical appearance for a BSDA, decent head and some retention. Nose is dominated by spices, especially heavy on the cloves. Flavor has moderate intensity malt bill with some darker fruit and sweetness underpinning a pretty heavily spiced beer. MF is a bit thin, in my opinion, though it is a good and enjoyable drink. Definitely a value beer.

 414 characters

Photo of waldoiverson
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml into tulip

A:Dark brown to black with large bubbled, 2 finger head that was a dirty brown color (but in a good way)

S: hard to get past the CO2 in the head, chocolate and raisin with a hint of molasses

T: clove, very bright citrus like lime juice, carob rather than chocolate flavors

M: strong effervescence that really bites at the tongue and heightens the bright flavors

D: remarkably refreshing for a beer of this style and strength. a full 750 by oneself gets a bit heady and intense on the mouth feel but quite unique

 533 characters

Photo of Greggy
4.14/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a Cola colored body with a tan head, also reminiscent of cola. The head is semi foamy but has decent retention. Minimal lacing is present.

S- This has the dead on unibroue nose for me. Ample yeast of banana and clove, some great barnyard funk, as well as cherry cola notes. I could smell the funk all day long on this. Very much la fin du monde or of a non-unibroue, saison dupont.

T- Starts out with a cherry cola notes backed up by some great yeasty notes. Transitioning into the finish I get a little nuttiness a massive lingering cherry as well as some yeasty funk.

M- Very spritzy carbonation which I believe works well with this beer.

D- This is a 9.2% ABV beer but it sure doesn't drink like one. TJ/Unibroue really did it on this one. The only thing stopping this one from stellar drinkability is the semi-cloying cherry cola which will get to you at the later half of the 750ml bottle. As a general overall, this is a good beer. I would pay the $4.99 just to smell this beer... as a bonus, I also get to drink it.

 1,039 characters

Photo of itsfreeasinbeer
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: dark brown with a finger of densely packed head.

Smell: fruity yeast dominates. Largely smells of dark fruits with a hint of the cinnamon and spices peeking through.

Taste: very sweet malt, with a cinnamon-like taste. Enough hops to add a bit of bitterness that rounds out the sweet yeast and malt. The predominant spices seem to be cinnamon and cloves. Alcohol is largely imperceptible.

Mouthfeel: heavily carbonated.

Drinkability: a 750 of this is very filling so it is best to share. Overall this is an excellent beer. For $5 it cannot be beaten. I will be picking up more of this hopefully. Seems like a good winter beer as it is spiced, filling, has a 9% abv, and is light on the wallet for a very solid Belgian.

 734 characters

Photo of yeahnatenelson
2.83/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance -- Pours an earthy brown hue with an abundance of foamy beige head. Head retention is lacking.

Smell -- Banana, clove, dark fruit, buttery diacetyl, anise, coriander, and sage. Very strange herbaceous sage note.

Taste -- Dark fruit, clove, coriander, earthy yeast, toasted malt. The sage note in the nose is quite apparent in the taste. Weird business.

Mouthfeel -- medium-light in body with moderate fizzy carbonation.

Drinkability -- All in all, not terrible. Not good enough for me to go back for a second bottle, but it was a worthwhile purchase. To make a suggestion I would say to go through the couch cushions and scrounge up the balance for La Fin du Monde.

Unibroue is consistently a great bargain. However, their regular lineup are so much better than this beer that it is worth the extra dollar or two.

 829 characters

Photo of jeffjeff1
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My mom got this for me like a week ago.

Appearance- dark brown almost black color, thick head, nice lacing

Smell- fig, plums, spices

Taste- strong fig flavor in the beginning, spices

Mouthfeel- light to medium bodied

Drinkability- I thought it was very good. It was so smooth.

 281 characters

Photo of jwinship83
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml corked and caged bottle. the cage has the very familiar unibroue logo on it. picked up for $4.99 and drank out of my new ommegang chalice. first time using this glass. best before september of 2013.

A- the pour on this one yields a very dark brown body with a very tall khaki colored head on top. the head is very long lasting and leaves behind globs of lacing.

S- the first thing i detect in the nose are all the fruity esters in here. lots of figs and plums. a little bit of cherry. theres also some heavy smelling spices in here. cinnamon, cloves, and something vaguely reminiscent of christmas. some alcohol comes through at the end.

T- the taste starts out with some decently heavy figs and prunes. some raisins in here also. faint unsweetened chocolate and some spices. cinnamon comes through very softly and clove and nutmeg a little stronger than that. the classic unibroue yeast makes itself known as well. earthy hops and a little bit of alcohol at the end.

M- light bodied and highly carbonated. moderate warming from the alcohol.

D- this is a beer i look forward to every year. a fantastic value on a 750 of belgian styled beer from an always solid brewery. this wasnt as sweet tasting as i would have expected. itll be interesting to see how this one ages, it seems a little green right now.

 1,317 characters

Photo of mistaya
4.13/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up at TJs in Bakersfield. Shared with a friend in Corsendonk Christmas Ale glasses. Nice touch. Nice tan head, lots of spicy aroma. A little light in the mouth, a bit of alcohol. Spices very nice. A good Belgian stlye for those just starting Belgians. Could use some more time. Fortunately I bought enough to put a couple away.

 334 characters

Photo of sbauer
3.35/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


A: Black, opaque. Weak lacing.

S: Toffee, caramel, vanilla, Belgian yeast. Later sour cherry fruit aromas.

T: Dark cherry, burnt toast, cola. Slight molasses syrup. Light hop bitters on the finish.

M: Medium-full bodied. Moderate-high carbonation.

D: Good dark fruit and belgian flavors. Not my favorite, but still learning about this style.

 352 characters

Photo of Hojaminbag
3.63/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Not living close to any Trader Joe's that sell beer, I assumed that I wouldn't get my hands on this beer unless I picked it up at some point while traveling. I was wrong, however, because a family member from DC brought me a bottle over the holidays, which I appreciate.

Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale has a very dark brown body with a well-sized tan head. The head settles into a collar that stays on top of the beer, but it only leaves a few scraps of lacing.

The nose has a hint of chocolate and roast to it, with lots of spices, noticeably fennel. There is also a good underlying fruit aroma there.

TJ's 2010 Vintage leans heavily on spices to create a flavorful, dry beer. The beer starts with hints of chocolate and roasted malts, but those flavors quickly fade into the spice characteristics. Isolating individual spices in the cadre of yeast and additive flavors is pretty tough, but I'll give it my best shot and mention a pepper/coriander flavor, fennel, perhaps a hint of nutmeg and several others that I cannot identify. Below the spices there are fruit flavors, and the fruit is more of the light variety than the dark, with notes of apple and other generic light fruit; this is a little surprising, but not negative.

The feel is good but not at all what I would expect from a beer this big; very highly carbonated and fairly light feeling.

This one is probably over-spiced for my tastes, but it is a well-made beer that doesn't show even a trace of alcohol.

 1,475 characters

Photo of brendanbeer
3.26/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

note: this beer is brewed by Unibroue for trader joes, not "trader joes brewing company"

a. nice look, dark brown, pretty light brown head that is sticky and laces a little.

s. subtle spicy smell. also woody/bready notes.

t. bland sweetness hits first, then an array of spices which is the best tasting part in my opinion. the aftertaste is minimal, not much happening there for me.

m. i really like the mouthfeel despite the flavors. rich and silky, but very light after swallowing.

d. eh, its pretty tasty, high abv is disguised well. but nothing i would prefer to drink given other options.

 598 characters

Photo of DPFRD
2.79/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml poured into Chimay Chalice

A- Dark brown, 80% opaque, head froths up, but dissipates quickly leaving no lace and barely any suds on top.

S- Took a wif out of the bottle right when it was corked and I got all giddy, once I poured it, however, my mood changed slightly. It's an odd smelling one. I can't tell what it is, I believe it's a certain hop that's standing out. Comes off very white pepper, so much so that I am having troubles getting anything else out of it.

T- The peppery taste is the first thing out, maybe a touch of chocolate, with some malt presence somewhere in the sea of pepper. If there was a referee in beer making a flag would have been thrown on the field for excessive use of spice. I literally want to taste the other notes in this beer and can't. I don't even know if it's beer.

M- Medium bodied (much less thick than I expected). Abundant Carbonation

O- I wasn't expecting much out of this beer in the first place. It's not bad, it's not great. It is interesting and it didn't get poured out. Will I buy it again... nope. I think if you cellared this for a year, it might mellow out and you might be able to actually taste the other flavors in the beer being concealed by the overabundant pepper flavor. For being Unibroue, it's a complete failure. If I was them I would have had Trader Joe's sign a confidentiality agreement as to not mention that Unibroue made it.

 1,403 characters

Photo of kemoarps
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My brother got me some for christmas (an oddity considering he's 19 and doesn't have an ID). Figured it would be only right to open it tonight and share some (also flying w beer is always stressful to me.)
Poured it into a glass my friend blew and it came out a deep cola brown bordering on black, with a massive pillowy off white head that dissipated fairly quickly leaving nice lacing down the sides.
the smell was disappointing to be honest. I could catch faaaaint hints of allspice and cloves with maybe a hint of nutmeg (though that could be the allspice coming through, I always felt they smelled similar), but not much else.
Once I started sipping it however, the aforementioned spices came cascading across my palate, this is definitely a holiday beer imo, and I think I made a good decision by enjoying it in the context of Christmas. The flavour is dominated by the spices that it contains (which is far from a bad thing - as an avid baker, I greatly appreciate the flavour). A little bready and warm (not alcohol warm, just... think cocoa by the fire warm, but not temperature. If that makes any sense.)
I'm drinking this not quite chilled, but probably in the mid-fifties, and it is incredibly smoothe on the tongue. The tiny pinpricks of carbonation are not enough to outweigh the ease with which it swirls in the mouth and finishes clean down the gullet. The 9% kind of snuck up on me. It doesn't taste as alcoholic as many beers with that abv that I've had, and already after just one bottle I can feel the intoxicating effects when I stand up. I could see myself accidentally drinking myself three sheets away on this. Overall, a pretty tasty beer that I would imagine will only get better with time. After trying this bottle, I will grab a couple to let age and see how the profile changes in the next couple of years. Definitely worth checking out, even though it's an imprint for a major grocery chain.

 1,923 characters

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