Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale | Trader Joe's Brewing Company

BA SCORE
85
very good
325 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage AleTrader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale
BEER INFO

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 BeerDocT on 11-02-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

BEER STATS
Ratings:
325
Reviews:
88
Avg:
3.8
pDev:
12.89%
 
 
Wants:
3
Gots:
42
For Trade:
3
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 325 |  Reviews: 88
Photo of Hopstout
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of CB2maltygoodness
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of jmmy3
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of leodarko
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of ejh06752
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of Thunderballroom
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of AliJ
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of WaKdawg
3.05/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

So this was my first time trying one of Trader Joe's Vintage Ales, I had heard good things about previous years and decide to pick up a bottle for the weekend, at 4.95$ it seemed like a bargain. I appreciated the subtle somewhat understated appearance of the bottle, no gimmicks here.

Had a little trouble getting the cork out which surprised me, I had been told Unibroue corks tend to pop right out. Eventually I was able to open it, though it had warmed up some, and poured it into a pint glass. It had a thick hearty foam (roughly 3 fingers) that settled somewhat. Right away I was struck by the rich spicy aroma, my sense of smell isn't great but this cut right through.

Unfortunately the taste really didn't live expectations. Despite the strong spicy smell (almost like pumpkin pie) it's was pretty mild tasting. No real alcohol taste which I guess is impressive for 9% ABV but the beer didn't have much flavor. Also felt like it left a "grittiness" in my mouth which was somewhat unpleasant. I can't really say that I disliked the beer but it didn't rock my world. I think I will try other Unibroue products (they cone highly recommended an I'm now near Canada which seems to help with availability) but I doubt I will get this one again.

 1,247 characters

Photo of smbslt
3.07/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Dark brown with cola colored highlights. Ashen head fairly tall with some lacing. Dried fruits dominate the nose and taste but very subtle. Watery feel was not enjoyable.

 172 characters

Photo of Foyle
3.1/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Appearance: dark reddish brown, 1" off white head, very light lacing
Aroma: strong fruit and clove/cinnamon spice aromas along with distinctive Belgian yeast. There is a also a somewhat medicinal alcohol smell.
Mouthfeel: medium bodied with a mostly wet finish.
Flavor: spices dominate (cinnamon and clove) along with some raisin and citrus rind flavors. The middle and finish feature cocoa, some earthy hops, and a warming alcohol presence.

 444 characters

Photo of GossageBrewery
3.15/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Poured this Belgian Strong Dark Ale from a big ass bottle into a pint glass. It poured a dark brown color, produced an average tan head, decent retention and it left a good amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma consisted of roasted malt and spices. Medium bodied, this ale has a foundation of roasted malt, dark fruit : figs, black pepper and other spices. Overall, I thought it was a little out of balance, to much spice- it needed a bit more of a malt backbone for my liking. Perhaps this would have been better if I would have let it age.

 544 characters

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

The beer is near black in color with a thin beige head. The aroma offers spices, mint, dark druit, yeast. The flavor is sweet and spicy, a bit overly so. Dark fruits and licorice with notes of anise. Not in the upper half of the style. Medium bodied with lingering spices and a touch of warming alcohol. Very reasonably priced, but you get what you pay for.

 357 characters

Photo of masterofsparks
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%

Photo of Thorpe429
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%

Photo of mwar
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%

Photo of JellyJacket
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%

Photo of fishguyac
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%

Photo of ElGallo
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%

Photo of Wizzman
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%

Photo of kojevergas
3.35/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Acquired at Trader Joe's Culver City a little over an hour ago for $4.99. 9.00% ABV confirmed. I enjoyed last year's release, so I'm excited for this one. 750ml brown glass bottle with hood and wire cap over a cork served into a 47cl New Belgium stem-goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are high.

Best before: 07/06/2015 (MM/DD/YYYY). Brewed by Unibroue for Trader Joe's.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Paired with Trader Joe's pretzel rods.

Satisfying cork pop on the open; no liquid upsurging or other issues.

A: Pours a 3.5 finger khaki colour head of nice thickness, cream, and retention. I wouldn't quite make the leap to "coffee coloured" per the label, but it's a nice khaki-beige colour head. Lacing is decent as well. Colour of the body is a solid nontransparent opaque black. Not jet black, but it's certainly dark. Looks pretty good. No yeast particles are visible; no bubble show.

Sm: Raisin and hints of fermented fruit. Grape. Lovely biscuity spicy yeast; this one doesn't shy away from its yeast in the aroma and I like it. Certainly lees. Dry caramel and a hint of roasted malts. A bit vinous. A touch herbal; maybe hints of phenol. It's to be expected. Stone fruit - maybe plum? Yes, plum. I get it when I look for it. Not at all a "bright" aroma, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's got dark fruit. In any case, it's a good aroma punctuated mainly by raisin. Candi sugar comes through as does crystal malt. An average strength aroma.

T/Mf: Spicy and fruity, with raisin drying the mouthfeel throughout. Brittle candi sugar comes through alongside stone fruit (plum) and other fermented fruits - maybe light fig. There's definitely a refined grape note in there that isn't necessarily raisin. Some biscuit malt and spicy biscuity yeast. The lees are bolstered in the second act here, and sort of muck up the balance a bit without adding much. Like homebrew pitched on a cake without adequate secondary fermentation. In this sense, the second act is overly full with the bland dead particles. Vinous, certainly - and the bitterness therein is tamed nicely by a malty sweetness that isn't quite part of the actual malt foundation. Maybe the sweetness is residual from the fermented fruit; it's hard to tell. Some smacks of pear or fig on the finish for a brief moment lends it a bit more character and complexity, but doesn't adequately turn the flavour on the climax. I'd like more of that note to brighten it up a bit. In spite of its yeasty qualities, it just doesn't feel all that alive. Certainly the malty sweetness would reduce over time, but I can't help but think that the lees character will slow the development of the yeast. It's balanced but the focus might be in the wrong place. It approaches acidic in the finish, even flirting with a dark red wine character, but it never quite commits.

It's certainly smooth and wet, but coarsens in the second act to coax out the flavours. This is a good effect methinks. Good thickness - staying on the light end for most beers of this style and ABV. At least there's something light about it. I'd by no means call it refreshing, but it's enjoyable to drink. Certainly its complexities come through. Though its subtleties are perchance not as subtle as Unibroue might like. The label mentions "roasted malts and spices". I have no idea where those are, but I don't get them.

Noble hops are minimal in their flavour contribution; that shows here - and so much the better. This flavour profile doesn't call for hops, even if they're background and floral.

It's maybe a bit too viscous and chewy. You'll feel the sugars if it touches your teeth. Not sure that's a bad thing, but you can tell it's got that tingly sugary coarseness that rottens.

Dr: A very drinkable brew for the well concealed ABV. I expected a bit better from Unibroue, but this is quite delightful at the $4.99 price point. Any cellar could use one or three of these, especially at so low an investment. I'd like to try it with one or two years on it; it's a bit young now. By no means a bad brew, but it has potential I feel I wasted by opening it now. A solid beer for the style and one I'll enjoy finishing. Give her a spin and see where she takes you.

B-

 4,397 characters

Photo of dhannes
3.36/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a bottle with 11 months' worth of aging into a standard pint glass.

A=Dark, reddish brown with larger, 3-finger eggshell head.

S=Spice...nutmeg or allspice.

T=Similar to a porter's rich cream malt backbone, but nutmeg and cherry present...at times, it reminded me of cherry cough syrup. Alcohol taste present much of the time.

M=Lighter body...felt flat...also a slick feel to it.

O=I was somewhat disappointed in this beer and would not seek it our or buy it again...for numerous reasons, it was too much of a chore to drink.

 543 characters

Photo of Chaney
3.41/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up two of these today. Only $4.99? For a Unibroue? Nice!

Served in a Port City shaped-glass because I don't own a Unibroue one. Fail!

A: Poured a dark, burnt cocoa brown, with a very frothy, beige head that died down quickly for it's 2 finger state.

S: Sort of a minty, cough medicine-like disposition, understated, yet still present. The more I dug, I definitely got ginger.

T: I didn't like the fact that the raisony, dark fruit-like quality was washed over with this intense ginger component. Way too much spice for my taste.

M: VERY carbonated for such a high octane brew, but I actually dug that about it. Not sure why. The lacing was mildly splotchy and the spice component was through the roof.

O: Not a big fan of ginger, so I guess I'm a bit biased. Still, this was a well-priced, yet one-dimensional brew.

 830 characters

Photo of mactrail
3.44/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color with a modest head in the tall Petrus goblet. Moderate carbonation. Something of a musty aroma.

This has that classic taste that all Unibroue products seem to share. Distinctive yeasty flavor with a seriously dry finish and a bitter edge. Raisiny but not too sweet. Roasted fruity malt. Dark hints of chocolate add some pleasure. Seems to get better as it warms up and you get used to the taste.

This is an interesting big brew at a bargain price. From Trader Joe's in San Diego.

 499 characters

Photo of elNopalero
3.48/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This pours a deep intense dark raisin-date color with a foam capping that dies down quite rapidly. There’s an aroma with evident stone fruit, mostly figs and raisins as well as some …plums? And wet leather? Just barely. There’s also an alcohol-warmth in the aroma that is fairly evident once it warms, and slightly off-putting.

The flavor has more of those stone fruits in combination as well as a touch of dark chocolate and some hints of a piney-medicinal finish. Juniper, perhaps?
The body is slightly on the lighter side for the beer itself, as I would have appreciated more body and a tad more heft to match the flavors and the alcohol’s strength.

Every year I buy this. It’s from Unibroue and it’s dirt cheap and I find it hard to resist a deal like that. But after finding this year’s version so disappointing, and feeling underwhelmed by last year’s as well, I’m thinking I need to restrain myself come next year. But who knows, maybe some more time on this edition will bring out some more depth and complexity.

 1,040 characters

Photo of RossCain
3.48/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked a bottle up last night at Trader Joe's; for $4.99 I couldn't resist. Popped the cork (stubborn little thing) and poured into a Tulip:

A: Comes out of the bottle with an aggressively bubbly head colored in shades of hazel. The beer itself is more of a murky, charred brown. Settles with a nice cap which hugs the sides of the glass. Sudsy bubbles swish around the edges of the glass on each sip.

S: When first poured, the nose immediately wafted with an almost pungent aroma of yeasty spice, but more on the kind of infected. As the beer settled for a moment, these notes mellowed out, permitting a few more pleasant aromas come through: raisins, candied plums, maple syrup on toast.

T: The beer hits the tongue with unabashed sweetness: dried and candied fruits such as cherries and plums, Belgian yeasts, and a certain doughy malt character. A touch of nutmeg and toasty malts prop up the middle of the profile. I like the flavors, but there is almost too much of a sweetness to consider this a nice balance. Spicy in the finish with a bit of a peppery kick. A year in conditioning will do this beer some good. I liked it, I just felt it could less packed with the rush of sweet notes.

M: Finishes dry from the spices with not much hint of the 9% abv. The bottle conditioning at this beer's young age really put the carbonation over the top which is just unpleasantly prickly at this point.

O: Not a bad beer at this point, I just see it getting better with age which will hopefully mellow out some of more aggressive flavors.

 1,543 characters

Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.8 out of 5 based on 325 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.