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

A - Dark mahogany, clear, and a thick tan head. Great head retention but very little lacing. So far this looks very promising.

S - Peppery spices, roasted nuts, dark bread and dark malt. Alcohol is there but you have to search for it. I can't put my finger on the actual spices but overall this is looking like a promising beer.

T/M - Medium-full and creamy. The dominant flavor is the same peppery spice mix from the aroma. Mixed with this is sweet dark malt, dark bread, phenols and only the slightest hint of dried cherries. The cherry is more evident as the beer warms, and a hint of figs also appears, but both still take a back seat to the spices. There is plenty of carbonation and a nice warming sensation from the alcohol as it goes down.

D - Overall this is a great beer for the price. The flavor could have a bit more complexity for the style, but what's there is very good. The beer is honestly a little young, so I'll revisit in a few months and see how this has developed.

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Photo of bgildea
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark amber brown with a slight reddish hue to it. The head poured thick and tannish with some large bubbles that dissipated very quickly. Left a decent amount of lacing.

S: Has a very strong smell of spices. Smells of nuts, malts, and maybe some pumpkin. Not necessarily my favorite combination of smells, but definitly gets its point across.

T: The taste starts with the smells that came through at the beginning - mainly nuts and roasted malts, and nutmeg maybe. The flavor then moves into a sweeter finish with a chocolate and coffee notes. Leaves a pleasantly sweet aftertaste. The initial flavors didnt knock me away, but it definitly progressed into something more enjoyable.

M: Pretty thin beer. Was definitly hoping for some more chew.

D: The beer is pretty drinkable. The aftertaste kept me wanting more. I will say this though, the bottle was a pain to open, which makes it that much less drinkable.

Overall: Overall the beer delivers as promissed. It advertises spices and sweets, and thats what you'll taste. The flavor progression is probably the best aspect of the beer. It's worth a try, but dont expect something mind blowing just because it has a cork.

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

Pours dark brown. A bit thin. A ton of head even after sitting open for hours. Good head retention. Very highly carbonated. Smells yeasty and malty. Lots of floral scents. Tastes strong and flowery. A solid malt profile but doesn't really taste that good... Tastes too strong to be that drinkable...

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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 midworken
3.07/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Poured this into a snifter and head was bubbling crazy. I've never seen a brew that fizzes and pops like a soda, this one was more than that. The head had no retention at all, the carbonation was too active. Other than that it looked decent with the deep brown and a hint of gold. There was hardly any lacing left on the top.
This tastes quite good with a complexity of spices and maltiness. Wasn't able to leave the beer sit and enjoy the flavors, the reasoning I will explain below.
Drinkability and mouthfeel were downright awful. Because of the intense carbonation, I couldn't get a good profile of the taste. It was like the beer was screaming at me while it was in my mouth. It's too bad, because I think this could have been a great overall beer. Maybe I got an infected bottle, I might pick up another one to see if it is the same. If it is different, I will be re-reviewing this.

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Photo of JayQue
3.6/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Unusual beer. Big flavors and very cheap price at Trader Joe's. Pours a dense dark brown color with a medium size bubbly tan head. Head retention fairly good for this strength and some lacing.

Smell is rich, some Belgian yeast, candi sugar and a strong unusual spice (I think it is Cardamom). The overall smell is good but the spice is a bit too much out of balance.

Taste is a bit of a letdown after the smell. As the beer warms, the taste is primarily malty with cinnamon and nutmeg...a run-of -the-mill Christmas Ale

Mouthfeel is a bit thin for a BSDA, more like an average Winter Warmer. The alcohol is well hidden. Goes down pretty smooth.

Drinkability is about average. High abv. fairly routine Christmas spices..a good bargain for such a big beer, but in the end it is fairly average big beer.

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Photo of JLeege
3.21/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Contract brewed by Unibroue ~ into a chalice

Appearnace- Pours a deep murkey mahogony color, with a bubbly one finger tan head. Fades fairly quick. No lace at all.

Smell- Strong belgian yeast. Slightly phenolic, a cinnamon like spice. Dark fruits; raisons, plum. Some brown sugar and molasses. Smells nice.

Taste- Dark fruits and and the brown sugar like sweetness start it off. Then the strong belgian yeast shows up. A little spicy, a bit doughy, a hint of banana. Still getting the cinnamon notes. The lingering taste is a little strange, almost metallic.

Mouthfeel- Has a soda like mouthfeel, kinda weird. You would expect much more body in this.

Overall- This beer smells delicious, but all the rest of the aspects are a little off. Unibroue makes much much better beers. I actually wonder if they backed off a bit on this one, trying to appeal more to the masses?

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Photo of ferrari29
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer poured from bottle into Tulip glass

A - This beer poured and left an average amount of lacing on the glass; body had a very dark brown, almost black color to it; I was still able to see some moderate carbonation flowing from the bottom of the glass through the heavy shades of the dark color

S - The initial blast of scents my nose picks up are grassy and floral; pine cones, spruce an other earthly hop notes are oozing out of this beer

T - Grassy pine cone taste, joined with some subtle spices are the first flavors my palate senses; its immediately followed up with some light malty flavors but stays very heavily on the floral side of the flavor wheel; noble hops

M - Sparkling and effervescent; light drink; thin in consistency; well-balanced mixture of seasonal ingredients give it the right mix of taste for Christmas time

D - Smooth seasonal drink; the right kind of drink to enjoy at least once a year around the winter holiday season; I'll have to pick up a bottle of the 2011 Vintage Ale next year

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Photo of DaveBlack
2.82/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I generally find Trader Joe's beers to be both cheap and relatively good, and I figured if it's brewed by Unibroue it's got to be pretty good, so here it goes.

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Chimay chalice

A: Much darker color than I was expecting. Deep, dark brown with slightly reddish tints at the edge of the glass when held up to the light. Maybe a finger's width of tan head that has relatively short retention and leaves only very light lacing.

S: Smell of this one hits you right out of the bottle, even before it's poured. Right up front and very overpowering to any and every other aroma is the smell of allspice. Hidden behind that is a slightly yeasty smell, and some coffee malts. WAY too heavy on the spices to smell like a good beer.

T: Tastes better than it smell, to be sure. Allspice takes a backseat to the sweet, slightly roasty/caramel malts and yeast, but it is still way too prevalent. Furthermore, there is nothing to balance the overwhelming sweetness of both the malts and the sweet allspice.

M: Full bodied and balanced with a medium amount of carbonation. Quite sticky, though, which when coupled with the sweetness coats my mouth and is fairly unappealing.

D: Better than some beers, but worse than many, this is not really a beer worth drinking. Too sweet and someone had a heavy hand with the spices, making this beer completely overwhelming, at least to my palate.

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

Snifter pour and I am met with a murky brown/flat cola colored ale with a huge frothy beige head with immaculate staying power. Nice fruit (plum, banana, slight orange) aroma with some faint malt in the background. The taste is refreshing. Nice somewhat spice at the front of the sip followed by a fruit taste at the back of the throat followed by a floral aftertaste. For all that going on, the mouthfeel is still a little watery and dry. Drinkability is great as a 750 can be easily polished off but the alcohol hits pretty hard once finished. All in all this is one of the better deals out there. $4.99 a bottle is a steal. I tried to let this age but my local TJ's has a few cases and I will be picking more up to age. Good stuff and great deal!

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Photo of MoreThanWine
3.67/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

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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 dwilson01
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

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Photo of altom
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
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

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Photo of Mississipping
3.9/5  rDev +4%
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.

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Photo of NegativeSpin
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

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Photo of benclimbs
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
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%

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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 JamnesCameron
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

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Photo of Vixie
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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Photo of KomodoDragon
3.72/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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Photo of Codnasty
3.56/5  rDev -5.1%
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

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Photo of LordAdmNelson
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

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Photo of waldoiverson
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
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

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Photo of Greggy
4.14/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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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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