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 retrobeast
2.88/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

After having Trader Joe's Vintage Ale 2009 I was very excited to buy the 2010.
Excitement turned to Rats! as I took my first sip from the glass.

My first thought was that it tasted like a root beer that was under sweetened. 2009 was smooth and worthy compared to this surprise taste that hit my palette.
Just does not have that 2009 Wow taste that I expected.

I have a second bottle that I will hold for about 9 months before cracking to see it the taste changes.
But for now I give 2010 a thumbs down.

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Photo of Lukafer
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The cork is in pretty tight, had to grab a towel to get a grip, luckily didn't spill any.

Pours an extremely dark brownish red, almost black with a finger of tan head.  I smell sweet malts, yeast, slight banana, and a little woodiness.  It tastes a little sweet at first, followed by some yeast, alcohol and a little drying and bitter at the end.  Mouthfeel is good, sticky.  Drinkability is really good, although I'm not sure how often I could drink it.  Overall this is a solid brew and an exceptional value at $4.99 as they could charge twice the amount and I'd still buy.  Highly recommended.  

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Photo of andrewm190
3.46/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Hey, it's an average beer. $4.50 for 22 oz isn't a bad deal for what is actually a Unibrou brew, but this isn't a particularly special beer. (Unibrou is frequently overrated in my opinion) When opened, a strong aroma of Belgian style ale and winter spices rushed out. That was really the highlight. The head came out pretty weak, and dissipated -completely - within seconds. I was at first tempted to just up and trash this beer for being uninvented and otherwise mediocre. I ended up improving it's score based on the strong and farily impressive spices that lingered well on the tongue and through the aftertaste. I certainly wouldn't seek this out, but at a great price, you could do worse in a pinch at Trader Joe's.

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Photo of bohemiandonut
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a few of these for the holidays. Great deal, one of the best ever.

Pours up nice and foamy, not the darkest beer but definitely promising. Head unfortunately doesn't stay where it could for more points.

Smells a little off. A tiny bit metallic underneath the heavy clove and fruit. But otherwise a nice yeasty cherry aroma. Is that strawberry as well? Still, this is very savory.

If I were blind there is no way I would peg this as a BSDA. Those phenols speak of Fin Du Monde (and well!) I am enjoying this, but am a bit thrown by the color, and wish the spice had had more time to mellow. There is a smoky note in there not unlike pipe tobacco. Pear. Beautiful alcoholic bite. Almost refreshing in a Belgian sort of way.

This Vintage looks great and is pretty authentic taste-wise, but it really just makes me want a Belgian Pale. I'm not sure what gives Vintage its color but I would almost be more impressed if they had kept it blonde. And left out the spices. I'm not really selling this beer very well am I? Oh well, can't beat it for the price.

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

Served into a large wine glass from a corked and painted 750 ml. bottle. As others have mentioned, cork removal was a bit of an issue. And while I didn't have to resort to a tool, the struggle was an interesting dichotomy vs. last year's almost self popping corks.

Pours nearly black and deep mahogany in the light, and offering a somewhat resilient cap of bubbly tan foam. Cap settles out in a few minutes, keeping a surface film and leaving moderate lacing.

Nose is originally dominated by a bit of peppery chocolate spice before expanding to more yeast complexities and some dried fruits. Doesn't portend a rich malt base however as the fruit notes are not overwhelming. Offers a touch of pleasant alcohol on the aroma.

Taste is fruity with more pronounced fruit and an almost vinous quality as the carbonation is somewhat low. Not overly complex and a bit thin in body given the light carbonation. Feel is moderate and finishes with a flash of sweet black cherry, making me wonder if this has fully conditioned in the bottle. A nice drink nonetheless, smooth and clean. Nose and feel improve with warming, offering that distinctive Unibroue yeast character. Reminiscent of '06 and '08, a great value.

Note: A second visit yields better carbonation and feel and a richer aroma.

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

very dark brown that light can barely penetrate with a huge, soapy, big-bubbled grayish tan colored head that retains its size for a couple of minutes and leaves chunks of lacing on the glass.

very strong aroma that has an herbal quality to it (rosemary?). lots of fruits and yeasty spiciness on top of bready malts and some alcohol heat.

flavor is similar to the nose, but has an added sweetness on top of the spice. yeast muscles through to add even more spice and some considerable fruitiness. dark fruits as well as stone fruit and even some tropical fruit. herbs, spices, yeast, fruit and sweetness intermingle nicely without any dominating qualities.

smooth, silky body with a perfect carbonation level. aftertaste is very pleasant and lingers, softly, for a while.

drinks very well. the 9% ABV does not hinder the drinkability at all. definitely a Unibroue beer, yet manages to be unique. A great value and a great brew. I picked up 3 bottles. I'll probably go back to buy a case before its all gone.

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Photo of rka758
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL corked bottle poured into tulip glass
Purchased 11/23/10A:
A: Pours a deep brown with an almost white colored thick head (So far the bottle descrition is right on, " colored, beige foam."). A lot of action going on inside the glass.
S: I'm having a hard time with this...I notice scents of spice, but I just can't place which ones. I don't really notice the hops mentioned on the bottle, but I can detect the malts.
T: At this point there's no doubt this is a belgian. Strong fruit notes such as banana come through on the tongue. Finishes with a nice malt flavor.
M: A very clean finish. The taste doesn't linger around and there doesn't seem to be any secondary after taste.
D: I think this beer drinks well. At the abv and the price point, I can def. see this beer being a go to if I am craving a belgian on these soon to be cold weather winter nights.

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Photo of rpdone
4.8/5  rDev +28%
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 jamex
3.14/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

Wow, what a steal at $4.99. Bottle states 9.0% ABV. Brewed by Unibroue.

I had a heck of a time trying to pull the cork out. Had to resort to pliers. (EDIT: second bottle was also impossible to pull off by hand - grabbed pliers again).

Pours a nice, dark coffee. I poured a bit aggressively which gave me quite a head. Pour this guy gently. Let the head settle for 2-3 minutes which allowed the beer to slightly warm (I'm in San Diego and poured this outdoors).

Smells of a typical Belgium beer with some added dark fruits and dark wine. Some booziness as well.

Tastes like the smell; like a tripel with dark hints of fruit and perhaps banana.

The bottle states that this beer improves with age, and at $5 a bomber I might pick a few up and see. Definitely worth a five spot. (EDIT: Not sure I'd buy this again after the second bottle).

EDIT: I had to edit this because upon trying a second bottle, it was a bit of a mess. WAY over carbonated (almost like champagne) and the taste was a bit off. Maybe they are having consistency issues - who knows.

EDIT x2: Third bottle (a gift) and WTF - way over carbonated again. Meh.

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Photo of tang3nt
3.28/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Excited to try this, I've had good luck so far with these trader Joes/unibroue vintage ales.
Poured into tulip glass a dark brown color with a very active tan head.
Strong yeast aromas and a bit of alcohol on the nose.
Tastes just like it smells, tons of yeast - bready and a bit of spiciness to it. Also get some dark fruit flavors a little citrus and a nice amount of heat from the alcohol on the back end.
The mouthfeel is particularly good for this ale, with a good amount of carbonation this beer goes down nicely.
Unfortunately I don't think this beer is as drinkable as I remember last years being, but still a steal for only $4.99 a 750ml at Trader Joes. I will definitely be buying more of this soon.

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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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