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

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Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale
Very Good
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.

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 320 |  Reviews: 123
Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: single finger frothy head with decent retention and some lacing on a dark body with some light getting through.

S: mostly dark fruit, mostly red apple and plum, and clove.

T: dark fruit, mostly raisin, plum, cherry and fig. Nice breads, banana, spicey and zest note as well

M: moderate to high carbonation. medium bodied.

Overall: This is a very drinkable member of the genre. Not too sweet, complex and flavorful.

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Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of Texasfan549
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.04/5  rDev +6.3%
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 kjkinsey
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of spycow
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of djrn2
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of kojevergas
3.82/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml brown glass bottle with hood-and-wire cap over a cork served into a Weizen glass in low altitude Orange, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given what I've heard about this beer. I really hope it lives up to the hype. Acquired at Trader Joe's (obviously).

A: Pours a three finger head of fair cream, nice thickness, and great retention (especially for the high ABV). Colour is a solid nontransparent black. Generally appealing.

Sm: Lees, yeast, roast, and spice. Maybe raisins and plums; certainly dark fruit. Rich and inviting. A pretty strong aroma. Very pleasant and intricate.

T: Spice and yeast (or lees, if you prefer), with dark fruit esters - maybe plum and/or raisin. Really impressive. Very yeasty, but it isn't biscuity. It does add a lot of character to the body. It's nicely subtle, and I imagine the subtlety would only improve with age. Complex enough, and delightful to drink. Some light wine character towards the finish. Bravo. Rich and almost exquisite.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Not too thick or too thin. Suits the flavours nicely. Not over or under carbonated.

Dr: A bit difficult to drink just given the flavour boldness. There's nothing wrong with that. I'd love to try this aged. It's got a great subtle flavour to it that I really dig.

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Photo of brentk56
3.28/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown color with ruby highlights; an inch of tan does an adequate job of leaving a smattering of lace

Smell: Molasses, prune, charred black bread and cloves

Taste: Burnt brown sugar and prune flavors, up front, but there is an excess of clove and sour off-flavors, in the middle; the sourness dominates the finish, as well

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: In order to make the price point, I suspect Unibroue makes some compromises with the ingredients, particularly the malts; this beer strikes me as not having the body or the robust complexity of even a mid-tier BSDA

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep burgundy color ale with a huge light brown foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma consists of caramelized Belgian malt with some coriander and the famous Unibroue yeast ester. Taste is also a well balanced mix of caramelized Belgian style malt with some coriander and some light peppery notes with the famous Unibroue yeast ester. Body is full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Doesn’t stray away from the brewer standards which is a good thing knowing how he masters the style.

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Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of chinchill
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml cork & wire bottle. "Best before" July 2016 date on bottle.
"Unibroue" stamped on the cork and cap ... a sufficient reason for me to buy this annually. A crescent wrench worked nicely to unseal and help remove the firmly seated cork.

Pours opaque, dark ruby-dark brown with a moderate size, foamy cappuccino-colored head that has excellent retention and leaves decent lacing.

I note that I can repeat a portion of my review of the 2010 version: "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 beer is a bit over-spiced [nutmeg or similar] for my taste. ... some raisin, prune and other dark fruit notes are evident."

The complex aroma correctly suggests that the the beer is lightly sweet. High ABV is decently hidden in both taste and smell.

M: smooth; very good, medium carbonation; high ABV mostly hidden excepting some warming and a light tongue bite.

O: A fine winter brew, with plenty of spicy complexity to enjoy in both the flavor and lingering aftertaste, and at a good price for a 750ml Unibroue.

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Photo of nickfl
4.42/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Poured with a large, three finger head of light tan foam on top of a dark brown body with some amber highlights. The head settles slowly and it deposits average lace on the glass as it recedes.

S - Caramel, toffee, and Belgian yeast notes of coriander, cinnamon, banana, and clove.

T - Caramel, toffee and dark fruit up front with notes of plum, clove, and red apple. More toffee and raisins in the middle with a bit of cinnamon. The beer finishes with a nice combination of spicy and fruity yeast character that works nicely with the dark sugar of the malt.

M - Medium-thick body, high carbonation, and a very dry finish.

D - The yeast character is spot on for the style and the dark malt is full of complex, dark sugars that work perfectly with the fruity notes. Very drinkable with a dry finish that really hides the high alcohol content, this is a really nice Belgian beer, I would not have guessed it came from North America, let alone that it was brewed for a grocery store chain!

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Photo of mactrail
3.67/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Totally black in the snifter. Big foam-up at first pour but subsequent sloshes are fine. Fairly coarse head. The sudsy mouthfeel is the most pleasant part of the experience. Slight fruity touch of dried figs and old red wine. Surprisingly light bodied. It goes down easily, leaving only a faint burnt raisin toast flavor. Hops are pretty much undetectable. A little aroma of alcohol and something like grapes or jam.

Seems like a typical Unibroue offering. Some are great and some are like this, a hard to understand stew with some dark yeasty nonsense going on.

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Photo of smcolw
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge beige head which settles moderately, but in a lumpy fashion, leaving minor spots on the glass. The liquor is ruby, brown where bright light barely makes it through the center of the glass.

Strong earthy aroma with lots of corriander, star anise, cinnamon and all spice. Light alcohol nose.

Tastes very much like a Quad. Smooth (but spritzy) darker malt flavor upfront. The spices described above jump almost immediately. The swallow is brandy-like with some warming from the alcohol. The body is full but the carbonation is equally high, so it balances out.

Despite the Trader Joe's name, I would encourage others to try this. I imagine in a blind taste test this would test well against even its Belgian brethren.

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Photo of nathanmiller
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle - $4.99 at Trader Joe's in Roswell, Georgia.

Best Before: 07-06-2016.

Appearance: Pours out a near black body with a airy, lofty head stand, light khaki in color. Plenty of head from a little, light pour; good thing I'm using the Duvel glass here.

Smell: Mixed fruits spritzed with alcohol and mixed with a variety of raw sugars, then, a sniff of wafting ground cloves and orange peel followed by notes of burley tobacco, aniseed, and banana.

Taste: Toasted crusty dark bread dosed with dark brown sugar, dark candi sugars, a shot of cola (potentially with a doctorate degree), and a blend of finely-ground spices. Moderately sweet. Clove and redolent, bitterish citrus peel carrying over from the nose. Hints of star anise, spruce tips, allspice. More spicy and less fruity here in the taste, though the banana is making a good showing. Teeny tiny sliver of hops here simply blending into the spice tastes. Sweetish, spicy, well-carbonated finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Lively, effervescent carbonation -- there will be burps.

Overall: An agreeable brew from the simple, understated packaging to the taste to the price tag. Sadly, I've developed the habit of keeping the Vintage Ale in mind until it's actually released, then, only remembering when it's long gone. Not this year, thankfully!

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Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of dvmin98
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of mikesgroove
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

very dark, almost a hazelnut color of brown, with a slightly reddish tint to it. Very hazy and cloudy and with a good amount of sediment running through it. A good two inch plus of head

alcohol presence here, but not in an overpowering or derogatory way, more of a subtle, just letting you know it was there. Lots of dark spices here. I could pick up even some dark fruits, plums and maybe even a bit of grape very nice warming feeling coming over as I took the first sip. Lots of mellowed yeast here. Some apples and plums, maybe a fig mixed in seemed to bring out the lighter notes. Meanwhile, underneath that was a deep caramel like flavor that blended in with a earthy or bready like back. Very complex and yet remarkably smooth.

 735 characters

Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of chippo33
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%

Photo of imperialking
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

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

Poured into an Ommegang flute. Pours a very dark red brown amber. Two finger light brown head dissipates quickly to a thin film and heavy ring around the glass that has good retention. Nice lacing. Aroma of dark fruit, Belgian yeast and spicing, light citrus. Great flavor of dark, light and dried fruit, assertive but well integrated spicing with cinnamon and clove dominant. Finishes somewhat dry with a sharp kick from the spices, hops and active carbonation. Medium bodied with slight creaminess supplemented by spicy carbonation. Not quite as intense as the Unibroue main line up, but very pleasant and enjoyable to drink. An incredible bargain for a decent Belgian strong dark at the price.

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Trader Joe's 2011 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 320 ratings