Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale
Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale
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Belgian Strong Dark Ale
3.83 | pDev: 13.84%
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale
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Reviews: 123 | Ratings: 320
Reviews by zaphodchak:
Photo of zaphodchak
3.91/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Massive, well retaining offwhite head and a dark brown body.

Nose full of Unibroue yeast, slightly funky for being a current vintage.

Judging by the description on the bottle (which is the same as the 2010) and the taste, it is in fact the same beer. My guess is that it's Trois Pistoles (or something very similar). Raisin, ample coriander, a bit of currant and plum round out the fruit profile-- still plenty of yeast. Overall faintly tart. The coriander may be slightly too much, but I'm splitting hairs; Unibroue doesn't make bad beer.

Full and rich, bottle conditioned and pretty bright.

I was hoping for something different from last years, but now at least I have enough to keep for a while. Maybe I'll do a vertical in 2012.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of impending
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml into a tulip. Pours an opaque ruddy dark brown, tall deep mocha colored head, minor lacing.

Aroma is clean and spicy, a strong phenolic clove. Definitely Noël.

Taste too is spicy to match the scent. The Unibroue yeast is on full display, blindfolded & unknowing, it would be obvious. Delicious.

An exceptional value.

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Photo of BeerBodisafa
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%

Photo of rfbenavi80
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Cork came out with a nice loud pop.
Poured into a Boulevard Smokestack Tulip glass.

A- very dark brown, almost like motor oil color, 1 inch of light head that slowly dissipates leaving no lacing on the glass. Very little light comes through the beer.

S- roasted malts, dark syrups, molasses, and yeast.

T- holiday spices, dark molasses cookies, malty.

M- thin, highly carbonated, nice warming feeling.

O- very drinkable beer. Nice to enjoy beside a fire on a cold winter night. Good beer at a good price. Wonder how it will age.

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Photo of n00blar
4.25/5  rDev +11%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.04/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brewed by Unibroue.

Best before 7/6/16.

Pours a dark murky brown with a 2 inch foamy tan head that settles to a thin cap. Random streaks and chunks of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark malt, dark fruits, Christmas spices, banana, and the distinct Unibroue yeast aroma. Taste is of malt, dark fruits (raisins, plums), spices (clove especially), and yeast. There is a slight spice bitterness that lingers on the tongue after each sip. This beer has a higher level of carbonation with a very crisp and bubbly mouthfeel. A bit too much carbonation for the style in my opinion. Overall, this is a good BSDA and a fantastic deal for $4.99 for the 750 ml bottle. I enjoyed this year's recipe much more than the 2010 bottle I tried.

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Photo of MikeMilanoDesign
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

aged a bottle for almost 3 years.

totally worth it. mellowed out really nicely. all the sugars mellowed out and it wasnt so super sweet. still had a bit of a funny taste in the finish.

highly recommend aging a bottle. but do keep an eye on the temp you age it at. i think my bottle got exposed to to much heat in the summer time.

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Photo of whatthehull
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


A - Very dark brown completely opaque, two finger off white/tan head w/ nice retention and

S - Tons of sugar, yeast, malts toasted and not, earth, herbs, dry wood, raisins, fall/winter spices, minerals and more earth

T - Very nutty, tons of malt, sweet yeast, slight booze, toasted oak, caramel/toffee, lots of holiday spices, very herbaly/earthy, oily, lots of minerals, wet soil, dried out plums and or raisins,

M - Full bodied, well balanced, nice complexity, medium acidity and long finish

D - The novice and advanced beer drinkers alike should find comfort in this winter warmer/strong ale. Lovely nose and flavors, refreshing and delicious. Lots of malts and earth. Quite yummy ale

Final thought - $5 a pop and 9% abv! Another tasty vintage. Can't wait to do an aged vertical of these awesome ales

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Photo of RedHunter
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of mweso2000
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of OldTime
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of warnerry
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of Dontcounttoday
3.25/5  rDev -15.1%

Photo of amphion1065
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle purchased by a friend for $5. Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours a very deep cocoa, bordering on black. A very thin, dark brown head forms but subsides quickly. Minimal lacing around my glass.

The aroma is just slightly off-putting. There's an overwhelming smell of Cola, a soda-like scent I just can't shake. Some cocoa and a melange of other spices are in the mix, but that Coke character is pretty overpowering.

I'm pretty surprised with how much I enjoy the taste. All of that Coca-Cola taste is there, but it's much more restrained. The spices really shine here. At first I thought that tamarind or saffron dominated, but my friend correctly pointed out that this beer has a very distinct nutmeg taste. A little chocolate rounds out the sweetness.

Mouthfeel is nice, if just a touch too lively. There's zero indication of the ABV, and I could have easily finished the bomber solo.

Price notwithstanding, this is very nicely done. Not exactly traditional, but a nice take nonetheless.

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Photo of Howlader
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of letsgetstoked
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%

Photo of grittybrews
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark cola brown with three fingers of loose khaki head. Yeast-dominated aroma with dark fruit, apple, clove and other indistinct spices, and raisiny sweetness.

Moderate carbonation and a light, dry mouthfeel. Bready toffee and yeast up front mingling with dark fruit and banana before the spice character reasserts itself on the finish. Hardly a trace of alcohol to be detected.

Not too sweet, but the spices come across a little muddled. Drinks easy enough but lacks the "wow" factor (although the price was right).

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Photo of HBeezley
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Murky-Black with coffee colored head that is well carbonated (maybe on the verge of too carbonated for this style?) that retains nicely as a half an inch head.

S - Head smelled of licorice, burnt coffee, dark cocoa powder, sugar, and spice. Once head recedes smell is almost strictly hops - which is a shame really, if they could only blend the two it would be fantastic in the smell I miss that complex head!

T - Roasted coffee beans, chocolate, some kind of nut I can't put my finger on, allspice, maybe a hint of anise? and malt with hops coming through just by the skin of they're teeth. Finishes dry with the flavor of champagne coming through (don't see that done every day!) A lot going on here! Might not be an absolute favorite, but man I love trying to taste all the different flavors in every sip which is what I think TJ's simply make something complex, not many of their beers are, so I get excited for this every year even though its not THAT high on my list.

M - SIP-ABLE! Sometimes with aged beers I hate to use the word "drinkable" cause you just cannot enjoy this beer to it's full potential unless you savor it, picking it apart one at a time. On another note, the mid-carbonation makes this oddly crisp, and I don;t know if I really like that too much or if I do. I'll decide later...

O - I feel like this was better than last year's Vintage Ale. Something much better is going on in that glass and it's really nice. I really need to see what could happen to a cellared bottle though. Come back in a year. Until then, this will do just fine by me.

 1,587 characters

Photo of IKR
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark Brown with a large beige head.

Smell: Spices and bready yeast notes.

Taste: The spices are upfront along with some faint roast notes. I also pick up some slight fruity notes. Finishes fairly dry with some alcohol in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with a fairly high level of carbonation.

Overall: Good beer for the price.

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Photo of notchucknorris
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Nearly black with a 1 finger tan head. Nice lacing down the glass and good retention.

S: Lots of spiciness, that signature sweet Unibroue yeast, clove, banana, burnt brown sugar and some cola nut.

T: Lots of spiciness and clove, some faint dark fruit, cola nut, some prune and a pretty good touch of alcohol. Overall, pretty tasty and another good addition to the Vintage Ale lineup. Mouthfeel is lighter than last year's but taste is similar.

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Photo of dcsoke
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of grubefresh
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%

Photo of lsummers
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of kjkinsey
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of markrmoser
4/5  rDev +4.4%

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Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 320 ratings