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

very good
320 Ratings
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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 UCLABrewN84
4.04/5  rDev +7.7%
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 scootercrabb
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of wrycon
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Heavily carbonated on the pour. Quite dark, almost black, but there's light on the edges. Looked more brown when poured. Nice finger of head that stays. Very tight lacing. Smells much lighter than its appearance. Some raisin, some mahogany, a little banana, some currant. Smells light some funk lingers underneath. Many flavors clash in the front - cinnamon, earthy malt, maybe plum, and then the clouds part and a robust sweetness holds court in the middle. Finishes with a spicy, nutmeggy (not a word) slide. There's considerable carbonation throughout, making it a very flavorful, but lighter brew. This is my first Trader Joe's Vintage Ale and I'm pleasantly surprised.

Like It? Yes.

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Photo of Vierenner
2.21/5  rDev -41.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours nicely but the aroma and flavor leave something to be desired. Not a pleasant experience. I'm only drinking enough to write this review and the rest goes down the drain. This is my second review of a Unibroue product ... first one didn't turn out well either.

 265 characters

Photo of Tschnab
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- a dark red hue with a thin film of off white head. Sporadic lace clings to the glass.

S- lots of Belgian yeast and a good amount of wheat, plums, sugar, cherries.

T- a yeasty but sweet dark ale that warms on the way down. It has a slight spice character with a good winter fruit note.

O- what a good brew for the price! Thanks to my grandparents for picking me up a bottle.

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Photo of mklinger
2/5  rDev -46.7%

Photo of brewerburgundy
3.29/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

25.4oz bottle, Duvel tulip, 2011 vintage.

Enormous head, pinkish light brown, widely spaced bubbles, billowing. This year's Vintage Ale is darker than I recall the last two years, more resistant to light, with more red.

Gimme that old distinctive Unibroue yeast. This super phenolic strain is spicy and funky in a raw herbal way, not like Brett at all, but just a very foreign smell. It's totally dominant, root beer is the only other aroma.

No surprise, the yeast is the dominant flavor too. Sweet malts, root beer, sarsaparilla, cranberries, and candi sugar skulk. I'm just not a huge fan of Unibroue's house strain that they use for their darker beers. Things kind of end up like overripe bananas.

Thin for the size and lack of outrageous alcohol, I find the mouthfeel of this beer really quite dull. The super carbonation that made that enormous head had fled.

Maybe I've tightened up my reviewing closer to a C average since last Christmas, but this years really isn't so much to my liking. It's one-dimensional.

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Photo of jmechy
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
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 ChrisPro
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%

Photo of ruckus232
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml brown bottle poured into a goblet

Appearance: Dark brown in color with a large amount of tan head that stays for a long time.

Smell: There is a slight hint of apple complimented with a spices similar to a Weiss beer.

Taste: It has a spiciness that is actually a little less powerful then the smell but quite good. There is a little bit of a fruity taste and also maybe a slight alcohol taste.

 402 characters

Photo of KidRagnarok
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of kdown
2.5/5  rDev -33.3%

Photo of n00blar
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of BeerManDan
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

When poured there was a fair amount of light tan foam, with very little lace on the side of the glass. The color was a very dark brown. The smell of roasted malts and spices and a hint of rasins, caramel are evident in the aroma. But the taste was of roasted malts, semi sweet/bitter/sour spices, that leaves the palate wanting more. Not as balanced as the 2010 Vintage Ale. But, still drinkable and not that all unpleasant of an Ale!

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Photo of Swervine44
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of jpro
3.48/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750mL bottle from the local TJ’s - it looked pretty crazy in the store and for $4.99 I couldn’t resist (especially seeing that it was brewed by Unibroue).

A: Pours a dark brown, with a massive khaki head. As the super bubbly foam dies down it leaves no lace, but manages a nice half-finger of creaminess throughout consumption.

S: Sweet malts and spices. Dark bread and candied fruit aroma seem to dominate the nose.

T: Very sweet breadiness here. Spices are interesting and almost overpowering - seems like there’s some ginger in there on the finish? Dark fruit, especially cherry, is also evident as the taste leans almost towards sour about mid-palate. A very interesting brew - a bit all over the place, but interesting.

M: Light mouthfeel and quite fizzy. Not the most enjoyable combination - it feels just about like champagne in the mouth. Again... interesting.

O: A very odd beer - it has a lot going on in the taste department... maybe too much? I guess if you spice the heck out of something, it might as well be a Belgian strong dark ale - problem is there’s just a bit too much going on here. An interesting beer, but it would be nice if it was a bit more “traditional” (hold the ginger, vanilla, clove, etc) - which is kind of what I was expecting given the brewer. But, that being said, its still an interesting brew, and will definitely start a conversation if shared with friends.

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Photo of guild337
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of PangaeaBeerFood
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Saw this on the shelves at my local TJ's for $4.99 and had to grab one.

It pours much like a Belgian Quad, with average levels of carbonation, an attractive brown color with red accents and a fluffy tan head with excellent retention.

The aromatics really just out of the glass at you, sweet and fruity with some grassy notes and subtle hints of alcohol. Smells very similar to my recollection of Trois Pistoles, which I'm sure is due to Unibroue's signature yeast strain.

The flavor is more subtle than the nose, and probably more subdued than the average quadruple, but enjoyable nonetheless. It's very fruit-forward with a chalky sort of dryness in the finish and brandy-like warmth as you swallow.

Mouthfeel was noticeably thinner than other BSDA and moreso than I'd expect from something of 9% ABV, but it didn't detract from the experience.

Overall, an excellent brew that's made outstanding by the price tag. Easily the best buy I've seen in beer, ever. A must-buy for those seeking holiday beers on a budget.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into NB snifter.

A: Pours a very very dark mahogany brown that barely shows red when held up to the light. The light tan head is billowing and very active, and a full 3.5 fingers of foam filled my glass despite a careful pour. After waiting a long while the head finally receded into a thick fluffy film that held great retention and left rings and streaks of clinging lacing down the glass.
S: Huge notes of spruce and pine forest, sweet candied fruits, fruit skins and fruit zest, followed by scents of sarsaparilla, juniper, coriander and other greens and spices. I get a hint of grape as well.
T: Sweet but not cloying fruits are more noticeable than the nose. The grapes, along with dried raisins and caramel, provide a strong backbone. The forest from the nose isn’t as green or potent in flavor, but the spices (and spicy yeast) come through very nicely, especially in the finish. The finish also contains flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and lightly bitter earthy and herbal tasting hops. The aftertaste is sweet with candied sugar and maybe just a hint of chocolate and dark bread.
M: Medium-full body, creamy and ample carbonation with a fluffy and fairly thick mouthfeel. The nearly double-digit alcohol is just barely noticeable.
O: I enjoyed this a lot. For the price, it’s hard to beat. This tastes like a holiday themed winter warmer mixed with a traditional Belgian Dark. Definitely worth an impulse buy while grocery shopping.

 1,461 characters

Photo of Shibbykaiyai
3.38/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A decent strong dark belgian. I buy 12 or so each year, usually celar-ing one or two for later in the year when I am looking for something more potent than the usual summer ales.

Pours nicely, darker than planned. The brew is contracted from Unibroue, so it has to be good. And this one is just that, good. Nothing spectacular like years past. But a nice, solid, once in a lifetime (since they change it each year) tasty brew. I wouldn't necessarily cellar any of it, but a nice brew to enjoy when you need a break from christmas or winter ales.

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Photo of guillemiro
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%

Photo of BeerBodisafa
4.5/5  rDev +20%

Photo of sweemzander
3.06/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a tulip.

(A)- Pours a pitch black color. Some tan froth and lace.

(S)- Funky with some spicy(cardamon?) and floral bits. Earthy too.

(T)- Again, some earthy spice and floral bits. Maybe even some signs of Brett?

(M)- A good carbonation level. An interesting balance of funk, spice, and floral bits. Interesting, but a bit weird.

(D)- A funkier version for the style for sure, but fun and intriguing too, but a bit strange.

 469 characters

Photo of Stouttyme
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 320 ratings.
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