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

Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale
Liked This Beer
3.8 w/ 320 ratings
Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale

Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by hreb on 11-13-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 320 |  Reviews: 123
Photo of notchucknorris
3.61/5  rDev -5%
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 bennetj17
3.61/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer, like most Unibroue selections, has an inviting appearance. The beer is dark brown, topped with a thick, bubbly head of off-white foam. Smells like every other vintage I've had: touches of dark fruit with dominant spice.

The taste has a good balance between the robust malts and the spices. It has a cocoa/raisin character with touches of roast and a decently bitter finish. The pairing of coriander-like spices gives it a unique flavor profile, and overall the beer is quite mellow in terms of alcohol flavor. The mouthfeel is slighty thin, but the bubbly carbonation tends to make up for that.

This 2011 vintage doesn't deviate much from years past. It seems like the issue with excess carbonation is fixed, but the beer isn't any more drinkable overall really. A good buy for the price, but not something I want to drink all the time. I wish they would change the recipe more significantly from year to year, but I supppose this is their niche.

 961 characters

Photo of wedge
3.59/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Slight gusher. Pours damn near black in color. Opaque with a tall, rocky beige head that quickly fades to a wispy covering, then nothing. Deep fruit, spice, and Belgian yeast in the aroma. Apple, banana, and a touch of licorice. Big, creamy, spicy flavor...a large smack of Unibroue yeast and some brighter spices like coriander and clove. Sweet raisin and fig with perhaps some ginger and citrus, though it's faint. Medium-plus body with some lively, but not over the top carbonation. Pretty good stuff and an interesting move with the spices...

 546 characters

Photo of Aaryah
3.59/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of kaseydad
3.59/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Broke my favorite snifter so am using a pint glass. Bleh.

Pours a dark flat cola color and a huge amount of beige foam that stays throughout session.

Smells of light booze, floral, dark fruits (plum, pear, apple0, clove and wood. Lots to whiff here.

After the heavy carbonation, the taste consists of fruitiness and a mix of spices on the finish and a dry alchohol finish. Pretty malty as well.

Overall I think I may have drank this a little early. A lot of carbonation going on and the booze is pretty evident. Definitely can't beat the price and still solid after all these years.

 588 characters

Photo of OldIronLungs
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a stemmed tulip a straight cola color with a finger of light tan head that falls to a film and sticks and laces thickly.

The nose is boozy phenols, light berries, plenty of Belgian yeast spice with notes of cinnamon and clove.

Prickly full carbonation (over-carbonated, perhaps) and a thin body uncovers some grainy, lightly spicy malt and some berry tones. Alcohol present but not overwhelming by any means - still a touch numbing on the palate. More of a dry finish. Not terribly complex, but a very reasonable Belgian strong dark.

It's still a Unibroue-contracted beer. It's $4.99 for a 750mL. It warms up well, though I can't say it's really worth cellaring. Wait it's $4.99 a bottle. Cellar away. 2009 was the first year I had it and it hasn't been replicated since.

 786 characters

Photo of Bierguy5
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle, 9% abv. Best before 7/6/16. Deep brown in color, with an airy tan head. Head retention is pretty nice. Ruby edges when held up to the light.

Slight roasted malt aroma combines with some darker fruit in the nose. A bit of a Belgian yeasty, spicy and earthy note. Not overly complex, but nice.

Darker malt, with a bit of a caramel feel, and just a slight roasty feel. Darker fruits, with some raisin and fig notes. Yeasty notes give an earthy feel at the end.

Medium body, but the ample carbonation gives a much lighter feel. Alcohol is very well hidden. Not very complex, but still tasty and a great value.

 626 characters

Photo of railman
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Found this at Trader Joes for 4.99. Knowing that it was brewed by Unibroue made it all the worthwhile.

Pours a very dark almost black hue with minimal carbonation and head.

At first whiff it reminds me of Coca Cola with raisins.

Tastes like it smells, Coca Cola with raisins maybe some spice mixed in.

Medium body in the mouth, not much else going on.

Overall it was worth the price although I was a little disappointed
with the flavor. Not sure if I would purchase again in the future.


 501 characters

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle served in a tulip glass.

L - dark brown with a creamy off-white head that hung around leaving trails of lacing.

S - yeast, dark fruit and spices.

T - sweet dark fruits and yeast finishing dry and slightly tart.

F - medium bodied with good carbonation and a smooth feel.

O - quite good for the price, I'll get a few more bottles of this one before it's all gone.

 379 characters

Photo of tastybeer
3.57/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep, dark, murky brown in color with large foamy beige head. I almost thought it was black initially. Not much lace sticks around once the head fades to a thin layer, though a nice looking beer none-the-less. Aroma matches color in darkness. Fruits like figs, prunes, purple grapes, raisins, and apples, wallowing in sweet chewy malt. A little licorice, some apparent alcohol, and spiciness throughout. Spices are all over...maybe some fresh ginger, perhaps cardamon, possibly coriander? The alcohol is more apparent in the flavor, though not a deterrent. Seems slightly whisky-like. Plenty of dark fruit tastes as in the smell, but a bit sweeter than I expected. Not quite to the level of cloying. There's some balancing tartness through the finish. Body is full and texture is syrup-like. Feels like a heavy beer which in this case seems neither negative or positive. Given the sticky denseness of this I am drinking this down at a faster than expected speed. Overall a pretty interesting beer. Not mind blowing but pretty decent.

 1,033 characters

Photo of rand
3.57/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From bottle to tulip

Taken from notes

A: Dark red-brown in color, foamy effervescent head that sunsides surprisingly fast. Moderate patches of lacing.

S: Ripened fruit, booze-soaked raisin bread, earthy multigrain malt-sweetness. Alcohol is vibrant and prominent.

T: The flavors follow, cherries leading the ripe-fruit profile. Butter rum and raisin bread-laced malts balance, while plenty of funky tart tones accent the profile. Boozy but not biting, the brew easily quaffs with small sips.

M: Medium bodied, tending light. Ample carbonation yields an effervescent feel.

Fairly true to the style, more nuanced as the beer warmed. Not the best of the TJ's vintages, but delicious as usual.

 698 characters

Photo of ndepriest
3.57/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into a snifter.

It's pours pretty dark, but there's some light around the edges. Tons of carbonation.

The smell is dark fruit and yeast with a mild sweetness. The taste is similar to the smell. Lots of dark fruit, and the yeast gives it that distinct Unibroue taste. The carbonation is very present in the mouthfeel. It's a bit distracting and odd that it's still so carbonated after 1+ year of age.

Overall, not bad, especially for the price. I have a couple of others bottle that I'll hang onto for a while longer to see how they turn out. For what a bargain it is, I recommend it.

 595 characters

Photo of AgentMunky
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750mL bottles into a cervoise glass. Stamped G20112317Q. Best before 6 July 2016.

A: Corked very tightly with a Unibroue cork and cage. Head is off-white and fizzy. It churns and fades fast and completely. The beer itself is incredibly dark, almost black, but is actually barely translucent and blood-red in direct light.

S: Winey, musty, and spicy. Corriander and...clove? Bay leaf?

T: A very spicy, noticeably strong BSDA. Though the flavours are strong -- mostly darkish, fermented fruit liberally laced with the aforementioned spices -- they persist only a short time and leave very little notable aftertaste.

M: The mouthfeel is dry, spritzy, and, again, vageuly wine-like.

O: I feel that it's better than my rating indicates, but it's not a particularly strong showing for a BSDA. Perhaps, as the label indicates, it will benefit from aging. As is, it's overspiced, overlight, and underwhelming.

 920 characters

Photo of amphion1065
3.52/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

 1,006 characters

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of sym3tri
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of dvmin98
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of cbgbslev
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of ejm3
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of TeamUgly
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of ChrisPro
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of mportnoy
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of dugly2ugly
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of grubefresh
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of fatbatcat
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 66.3% out of 100 with 320 ratings
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