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 NoProblem
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of bluckbeyes
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of Falcone
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of elNopalero
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I’ve had this one cellared for over two years. Looking forward to seeing how it develops and one suddenly chilly, dreary night it seemed like the right time to revisit it. The recipe changes every year and while I didn’t remember being amazed by the 2010 vintage I had generally positive feelings about it.

This pours dark, dark with a big, billowy cloud of foam. It’s actually a dark ruby-brown color, but you have to hold it up to light to know that.

I get a good deal of dried fruit aromas, Figs, dates, black cherries. Some booze, some phenolic notes, some fruitcake rounding it out.

Flavor … isn’t where I hoped it would be. Thinking of root beer tastes, some licorice and those dark fruits. The carbonation is there but the flavor runs … flat. I want more floral notes on the yeast to give it some life but instead there’s a sense that the tastes are treading through mud, all muddled and murky. It’s not horrible, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just not excited about how it turned out either. I think I have one more of these tucked away so we’ll see if it continues to drop off or if the flavor comes back.


I had a bottle of this with a best before date of 09/10/2013, opened and enjoyed 12/14/12.

I heard a loud ffffsssst when I removed the cork—we got a live one!

This beer still has sufficient carbonation for a thick head of cocoa colored foam atop a dark mahogany colored brew.

My first impressions are all positive—there’s a pleasant nose with prominent stone fruit nuances, crisp flavor with a delicate sweetness and some dark fruit notes. While the flavors have mellowed out noticeably & taken on a smooth character the tight effervescence keeps them light on the palate. I get cherries, plums, some clove spice, a little orange peel. Finishes clean.

What made this vintage so enjoyable and the subsequent two (2011 & 2012) less so? The "rootbeer" or licorice does not dominant this one, although it is a bit player it works well
in the mix and lends a pleasing quality to the brew overall. A real gem for the price and one I wish I had held on to more of.

 2,117 characters

Photo of zaphodchak
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opened in early 2012.

Dark brown, some head but not tons. No particular lace.

Some date and dark fruit in the nose.

Plum, date, and dark fruit dominate the body-- it's improved in the year since it was brewed. And of course, Unibroue yeast. Kinda tart, almost citrus finish.

Nice and smooth.

Good 'gateway' vintage ale-- it's basically Trois Pistoles, but it aged pretty well. A vertical might be nice.

 407 characters

Photo of OldTime
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of carrollmel7
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of AndrewMichael
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
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).

 1,948 characters

Photo of Eriktheipaman
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of brewcrew76
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to mikesgroove for this one

A - Deep brown with a little light shining through on the edges. Tan head with nice retention.

S - Spicy. Nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger are the ones i pick out. Some yeasty phenols and dark fruits come out as it warms.

T - Similar to aroma. Clove, nutmeg, ginger with light touch of cinnamon. Candi sugar, yeasty phenols and dark fruits.

M - Medium body with a slight tingle from the carbonation.

D - Tasty. ABV well hidden. Not overly complex but nice balance of spices.

 509 characters

Photo of TeamUgly
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of Stoutsman
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of chinchill
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

 1,142 characters

Photo of kevgod
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of ckapp
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of towlea25
3/5  rDev -20.8%

Photo of aliving1
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of imbuckeye
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of tat2dhllblly
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of morganhowell
4/5  rDev +5.5%

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.

 1,612 characters

Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

 917 characters

Photo of GolamKovach
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of mrebeka
4/5  rDev +5.5%

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