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

BA SCORE
85
very good
325 Ratings
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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
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 325 |  Reviews: 88
Photo of crewfan1952
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of TWM
1.95/5  rDev -48.7%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Started rough- as I poured from the 750ml bottle, it was so carbonated I couldn't get a smooth pour so it foamed like crazy. 4-5 finger head, nice dark rich color, visible carbonation rising through the little bit of liquid that fit under that massive head.

Smell- normally, I like fruit. In fact, I eat a lot of fruit. Somehow, the fruit smells in this beer were a turn-off. I figured out what it was: the compounds (carboxylic esters) that give fruit its scent and part of the flavor were mixing with the esters of the spices and the whole thing smelled artificial. I'm not accusing TJ's of adding fake flavors, but the results of this fermentation with these ingredients smelled very similar to an artificial, synthesized ester. Think "Runts" candies without the sweetness and a little clove.

Taste- a little better than the smell (thank heavens...). The heavy spicing and aforementioned ester taste competed with what I believe is a pretty darn good ale flavor, the combination not flattering either component. The taste changed through each mouthful- it started very sharp (not generally good for a dark ale) as the high carbonation dropped the pH, then rising to a somewhat sweeter, excessively scented finish.

Feel- as carbonated as any beer I've had recently. Felt sharp at the beginning of a sip, and the escaping carbonation flooded my nasal passages with the clove-cinnamon-spice scent that lingered, feeling like a coating of something greasy, after the liquid was gone.

Overall- I wish they had re-made the 2011 ale, that one was much better. If nothing else, having tried this one will make me appreciate dark ales that respect what makes this kind of brew so unique and good... and won't treat them like some winter-spice, flavor-free mass-produced lager by cramming whatever sounds seasonal into the tun.

 1,827 characters

Photo of DotBier
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of deuce9259
2.98/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Serving Type - Bottle to Unibroue Tulip

Appearance - Deep brown color that pours a thick head....looks like plenty of carbonation.

Smell - Strong spices and Belgian-style aroma. Strong malts, clove, coriander, pepper...some fruit.

Taste - Toasted malts, standard spices I get from a Unibroue brew.

Mouthfeel - Way too carbonated IMO. Not quite enough in the body. It gets a little better as it warms....even though its still pretty light.

Overall - Not bad for the price, but don't think I will be bent on getting it next year. I liked the 2011 version much better. Have an extra 2012 and a 2012 that I'll probably sit on for a little while longer...maybe some of the spices will die down by then.

 703 characters

Photo of jeanphony
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of sbanacho
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of dbell23
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of ElGallo
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%

Photo of JellyJacket
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%

Photo of jrohrbacher
4/5  rDev +5.3%

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 LXIXME
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big light brown head settles into a nice lacing above a really dark brown to black colored beer.

Black licorice and dark wine with spices and dark roasted malts aroma.

The black licorice and wine aspects seems to outweigh the roasted malts, spices, and darker fruits in the taste of this 2012 Vintage Ale.

A lighter dry aftertaste that brings with it some of the darker tastes this full bodied beer had to offer.

Quite different tasting, a nice change of pace but I don't think I want to drink this as my regular beer.

 522 characters

Photo of JohnBender
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of smithj4
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of Lob
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale
750ml bottle, corked and caged, "Best before 07/07/2015"
$4.99 @ Trader Joe's #719 in Omaha, NE

I saw this at the Trader Joe's in Omaha, NE and immediately recognized it as a Unibroue beer. How I could do that with so many European beers available in the same bottle, I don't know, but upon closer inspection it has the Unibroue cork so I was right in the end. It's got a pretty nice painted-on gold label, and maybe that was what did it. I was quite surprised at the price, just $4.99 for a 750 ml bottle, and I figured I was saving at least $3, and probably more like $4 or $5. The back label reads "Trader Joe's Vintage Ale - Unique and limited edition, this Belgian style ale is crafted once a year as a special treat for those who appreciate flavorful, bottle conditioned ales with character". Upon opening it and smelling it I knew it wasn't the "17" that I'd been hoping for, but it certainly wasn't bad. Upon tasting, I thought it might be the "Trois Pistoles" but it seems bigger than that. Anyway...

It pours an opaque, very dark, almost black-brown body that reveals only russet brown highlight along the upper edge. The head is a fizzy tan head that drops fairly shortly and leaves only a minor lacing of spots and splashes behind.

The aroma suggests green cardamom, light cola, clove, a hint of dark chocolate, some brown sugar, a hint of dark fruit, some floral and grassy character, and a light touch of maltiness.

The flavor follows suit with the addition of some nice dark caramel and heightened notes of dark fruit that include: raisins, fig, dates, and a suggestion of currant. As is often the case with Unibroue beers, it presents itself as more of a complex-but-balanced 'round' of a beer rather than a more 'spiky' ale that delivers its components piece-meal and at different intensities across the palate. There is some transition to it, however, and it starts sweetish and fruity, but anchored by spice, and it finishes spicy and dry (although the alcohol is well-cloaked) yet coated in fruit (with more skins and pulp than juicy) with a light hint of anise.

In the mouth it's full-medium in body with a delicate but zesty carbonation that warms to caress the palate rather than lend zing.

For the price, it can't be beat; and within the pantheon of Belgian style beers it still ranks right up there. Not to be missed at the price, but certainly worth trying regardless.

 2,432 characters

Photo of CWhite
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of augustgarage
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a caged-and-corked 750mL bottle into my Trappistes Westvleteren goblet. Unibroue produced of course.

Nearly opaque seal brown liquid with a smattering of pale tan suds. Average retention, pasty lacing, faint legs.

Lots of stewed fruit, toasty malt, and a surprising vinuous quality suggesting blackberry wine and clove-studded oranges in the nose. Ester-heavy.

Sweet/sour palate entry that unfurls into increasing complexity, albeit restrained throughout. The flavor profile remains rather heavy handed with dates, honey, berries, cherries, oranges, and so on. The malt bill is interesting and flavorful, though the overall impact is not as well integrated as I would like. Somewhat lacking in the yeast department too. Finishes a touch sweet with a faint nuttiness.

Soft, medium-bodied, with a little warming flourish and a gentle effervesence.

Tasting more and more like a watered-down, rushed-to-the-bottle version of one of Unibroue's regular offerings (e.g. Trois Pistoles), perhaps this would improve with some age, but I would skip buying a case this year. Still, not a bad ale, and still a good value.

 1,126 characters

Photo of prisoner1572
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of ejh06752
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of WhitmansNiece
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of mychalg9
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

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

Saw this at Trader Joe's and was skeptical until I saw it was brewed by Unibroue which has some damn good beers. Decided to give it a go.

A: Dark brown. Explosive head that does not fade. Leaves great lacing.

S: Spicy, a very smooth herbaciousness. Alspice, clove, nutmeg. Those more earthy kinds.

T: As with the smell, very herbal and earthy. Probably the only beer this herbal that I like. The balance is great. Alcohol is not present at all. Good finish with a hint of malt.

M: For this high of an ABV and with all the big flavors the mouthfeel is great. It goes down smooth with great flavor development. If anything it's a little on the thin side.

Overall this is a really great beer. Huge flavor notes are kept in check. The beer is smooth and tastey. I would recommend grabbing it.

 805 characters

Photo of DrJaws
4.75/5  rDev +25%

Photo of ambruns1979
4/5  rDev +5.3%

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