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 ckapp
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of grubefresh
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of ElGordo
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 750ml caged and corked bottle into a Maudite snifter. Body is a deep brown color topped by a small amount of creamy tan head that has some decent staying power but doesn't leave any lacing. Nice aroma of dark, sweet malt, some holiday spices, dark fruit, candi sugar, and the tangy notes of the Unibroue house yeast.
Palate is sweet and complex. Lots of dark fruit (raisin, prune, blackberry), a touch of roasted malt, and a little bit of candi sugar are the primary flavors up front. Notes of clove and cinnamon, bready yeast, and a faint touch of hoppy bitterness. Finish is a bit warming from the significant booze content. Body is rich and creamy, a good vehicle for the assertive and complex flavors. I've got a few years of this saved up in the cellar, I need to try doing a vertical tasting sometime soon.

 829 characters

Photo of elNopalero
4.45/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It’s a malty-dark cocoa color in appearance with a healthy topping of foam. Great bouquet with lots of floral, spicy, earthy aromas. Full flavored with mushy berries (thinking mashed blackberries with orange zest, like what I topped holiday waffles with), perhaps figs? Dates? Thick, dark, fruit more savory than sweet is what I’m getting at here, followed by some spices (not chili/peppers—more like mulling spices) and a hint of rootbeer. There’s a clove-banana-rootbeer (sarsaparilla?) finish too. The effervescence keeps this light, and it holds together as it warms over an hour. This is a steal for $5. Even at twice the price it would be a good deal since it’s a terrific brew.

Trader Joe’s annual release of this beer is one of the reasons why I’m always willing to take a chance on their other contract brews. By this point I’ve worked my way through and back on their store brand beers and had more than a fair share of duds—but also found some real gems. Count this among the best of them. Try it if you can find it.

 1,046 characters

Photo of ikantspel
3.2/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750 ml into a duvel tulip

my 3rd review of the night and these strong beer are already kicking in.

picked this bad MFer at at trader joes. felt like a trader to my country going into that hippy joint, but a beer made by unibrouw i cant pass up

pours a dark oak with a lively frothy head and some strong lacing

spice, medicinal phenols, toastyness, and some slight coriander in the nose

herbal spices, followed by some clove, and some belgian yeast in the taste,

alittle too carbonated for my taste, but not bad for a "generic" BSDA. maybe a couple years of aging will do this brew well

 593 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This could be a fun one. It's brewed by Unibroue, which is a good omen, and it's relatively cheap ($4.99 for a 750 ml). Enough with the anticipation, on to the beer:

...wha?'s recording? oh....It features a dark buby brown color that's polished like marble, and thick forming, creamy color of beige that crumbles to a thin lace. I am weak to Unibroue yeast, and that yeast strain in evident in the aroma. Pleasing buttery pears, vague clove, spiced cinnamon apple, apple pie, "love pie". All this is making me hung...thirsty.

The yeast comes up again in the beer's taste. In this case, it's probably a good thing, because there doesn't seem to be much malt at work underneath. Whatever. Spices are at work, but in a controlled way. Pears, figs, and cinnnamon apples at play. It turns out to be a tasty one, despite "only" having a medium body and semi-bubbly carbonation.

This is a more than respectable beer to come with the Trader Joe's monikor, and one of the better values you'll find among strong Belgian styles.

 1,028 characters

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

Trader Joes can't go wrong with having Unibroue brew their winter seasonal. Had this on several occasions this winter. Cheers!

A: Poured into a pilsner glass. Pours almost pitch black, with a tan head that sticks.

S: Smells very spicy, with a malty sweetness and alcohol there as well.

T: Brown sugar and slight fruitiness with a lot of spices, maybe ginger and coriander? Alcohol is well hidden and comes in for the dry finish.

M: Medium body with a lot of prickly carbonation.

O: Hardly any complaints. Tasty, cheap and great with food.

 543 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very dark brown colored beer that passes almost no light, medium sized tan colored head.

Smell is spicy with a strong coriander scent. Little bit of sweetness but not to much. This smells mostly of coriander and allspice berry.

Starts out semi dry and spicy in the mouth, coriander with dry spice drop candy flavor. Pleasant warming of the chest from the alcohol. Additional tastes of brown sugar, clove and mint. After a while I taste toffee candy. Not the best beer Unibroue makes, but it IS a Unibroue beer.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall a tasty and very affordable beer. Not the best beer Unibroue makes, but Unibroue doesn't really make bad beer.

 652 characters

Photo of kenzak
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of 4000qtrap
3.03/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Source/Serving: 750mL bottle

S: Very phenolic. Ginger root beer/cola woth clove is really predominant with hints of cinnamon, allspice, fennel, and Jagermeister.

T: The ginger root beer and clove note from the nose hits strong at first. Bitingly phenolic, it’s brash but fairly pleasant. Neither bitter nor sweet and on the dry side throughout. In the middle this note softens and becomes more like cola mixed with ginger ale. The clove melts with a bark-like note and there are some raisins hiding in the back. However, its complexity is underwhelming given the over the top spicing covering up any nuance from the yeast. Finish has a tacky/sticky mouthfeel even though its fairly dry, with ginger, cinnamon, and reminiscent of pumpkin pie and. As it warms I get a light, pleasant burst of smokiness.

Notes: Like the previous Trader Joe's Vintage ales, the spicing is fairly rough and overwhleming when fresh. I'm happy to leave room in my cellar for a few bottles of this to sit for a year or two and and I expect it will be right on.

 1,042 characters

Photo of homebrewhawk
3.23/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml corked and caged bottle served in a Blvd. Tank 7 tulip. Pours a deep brown with a massive big bubbled, dark tan head. Lots of carbonation. Herbal/spicy aroma, some dark fruits. Maybe some spruce. Bottle conditioned. Lots of Belgian spice, some malt sweetness. Still getting spruce. Medium bodied. Clove in the finish. Spices seem to overwhelm this one, could use a little time to fade.

 391 characters

Photo of rtaps
2.92/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours black with a decent khaki head minimal retention and lacing

spicy, dark fruits, yeast like aroma

a spicy yeast dark ale, some dark fruits and sweet malts are present but you have to look pass the spice

medium bodied and highly carbonated

overall i feel this was kinda of a carbonated spicy mess

 306 characters

Photo of ohtheguilt
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of grantino9
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of rfbenavi80
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

 537 characters

Photo of Stoffel
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of Reaper16
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL bottle served into a snifter

Pours a russet brown color with plenty of crema colored head composed of fairly large bubbles. There's varying tones of brown here, and it looks like a pretty nice example of the style.

The aroma isn't beating you over the head with anything, but all of the things you'd expect to smell have their subtle day in the sun here. There's raisin and date; there's some gingersnap cookie; there's plenty of dried ground clove. Some dark syrup smell too -- like some diet version of molasses.

The taste is also subtle. The clove flavor blends well with the cookie & fruitcake malt profile. There's some dark fruit flavor here, but it is very soft and distant (unlike the sharpness in some BSDAs).

It's thin for the style. It's this beer's only real drawback. It feels insubstantial in body, and the high level of carbonation exacerbates that feeling.

Overall, this is a very solid beer in the style, especially when you consider the price. This beer, of course, is brewed by Unibroue, and you can really tell just by drinking it. It is lighter and less overtly flavorful than Unibroue's normal lineup, but not really any less good for it.

 1,173 characters

Photo of pfullah
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%

Photo of PowDay
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of sym3tri
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of morganhowell
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of PaBeerLover
5/5  rDev +31.6%

Photo of Drinkerofales
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown, almost black with a giant mocha colored fluffy head that dissipates to a ring quickly with minimal lacing.

Smells like spice and malted roastiness, with and undertone of crisp hops.

Tastes a little like toffee from the malts, followed by a gingerbread taste, allspice, and cloves taste most prevalent. Leaves a roasted spice aftertaste that's nice. Spice flavor comes out more as it warms.

A very carbonated beer, in a good way, it makes it feel light. Doesn't coat the tongue. For a 9% beer, it feels smooth and easy drinking.

I liked this beer, and so did my wife, which is a surprise, since dark beers aren't her thing. This beer is very festive, great spice content doesn't overpower or assault the nose, but tastes enough to get into that holiday mood. I liked feeling like gingerbread was in the oven and I was already eating the first batch.


 877 characters

Photo of CelticAleMan
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of americanbelgian
4/5  rDev +5.3%

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