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Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale 2006

Formerly brewed at Unibroue (Sapporo)
Style: Abbey Dubbel
Chambly, Canada


on tap


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RATINGS: 220   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.61   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9%
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Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale is a dark Belgian style beer of great distinction produced by traditional top fermentation methods resulting in a rich and full-bodied flavor. The Champagne-like effervescence and smooth mouth feel are the result of a natural secondary fermentation in the bottle obtained by the use of a carefully selected yeast culture. This vintage ale commences with a rich head of foam, followed by a smooth dark flavor with a hint of roasted malt delicately balanced by subtle notes of noble European hops. True to its Abbey style, this year’s vintage closes with a long, complex and subtly spiced finish. Brewed once a year in limited quantity, please enjoy Trader Joe’s 2006 Vintage Ale. This ale will age exceptionally well over time, developing more complex flavor as the years go by. Exclusively bottled for Trader Joe’s. Best Before 08-28-2009.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
jazz88 (2564) - San Francisco, California, USA - NOV 28, 2006
Bottle from San Francisco (9th St.) store. A very dark brown to black color with a lush lasting creamy foam light brown head. A strongly spiced aroma with bread and Belgian yeastiness. I found the flavor more complex and interesting than the aroma, although still the flavor was not multidimensional enough to vault it into a great ranking. A dry, fizzy carbonated front with a light fruity malt finish. A smooth malty, spiced, nutmeg, cinnamon, banana, and malty bread flavor.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
Tmoney99 (11075) - Cincinnati, Ohio, USA - NOV 25, 2006
Bottle from Cincy store. Poured dark brown color with a large light brown creamy head that diminished slowly and produced good lacing. Good malty, fruit and spice aroma. Medium body with a sticky texture. Full complex fruit and sweet malty flavor with a long fizzy finish with a small alcohol tone. Good brew at a fair price. I will get another bottle to age for a year.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
SDbruboy (1864) - San Diego, California, USA - NOV 25, 2006
750 ml bottle from TJ’s Pacific Beach - $4.99!!!. Pours dark brown and opaque with brick higlights and a huge fluffy head. Aroma is roasty with dark dried fruits, notes of black rye bread, brandy, spice, molasses and bittering herbs. Sweet, dark fruity malts dominate with a nice tart counterpoint - fruity and yeasty, figs, molasses and sourdough bread, bitter herbs and a some noticible alcohol. Medium to full body, gently prickly carbonation. This was good and quite drinkable now, but will likely be quite nice with a couple of years aging.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Metalhead (632) - Lake Zurich, Illinois, USA - NOV 25, 2006
Aroma of mild yeast,spices,hints of dark fruit,spices. I did not find this brew very complex yet still tasty. It reminds me of a crossbreed between 2/3s Unibroue 2005 and 1/3 Great Lakes X-mas ale. Very smooth and the 9% abv is well masked. The finish was a bit short lived. If you like beers with holiday spice you should enjoy this. I bought a case and killed 2 bottles over a couple hours or so. Whooppee!

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
Naven (1000) - Poway, California, USA - NOV 22, 2006
This beer IS heavy on the spices, no doubt. But, the spices don’t seem to be overwhelming to me, and overall, it’s a nicely balanced ale. Rich, creamy and filling. At $4.99 a pop, I have no complaints.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Saarlander (1686) - Saarlouis, GERMANY - NOV 22, 2006
Abit mellower to me than last years version, not so much of a bite to it, but still plenty of alcohol, that creeps up on you. More of a spice character to this years, a plus for me, very nice slow drinking brew, I like it! A great bargain @ 4.99 at Trader Joes, Upland,Ca

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
Bartzilla (551) - La Mesa, California, USA - NOV 22, 2006
I’d say the spices are a bit more than subtle with this one. I got a nice wallop of nutmeg, which I don’t particularly care for. I imagine aging this stuff would be the way to go, but I just can’t really get into spiced ales. I liked last year’s offering much better.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Hopgeek (90) - San Diego, California, USA - NOV 21, 2006
Aroma - Rich, purfume like malty aroma, dark dried fruits, subtle dark cocoa, cherries, banana esters, bready, yeasty, biscuity. No discernable hop aromas. Very strong esters. Slight hint of plastic-y phenolic. Appearance - Dark brown hue, opaque. Creates a long lasting off-white mousselike head that is very long-lasting (>5 min). Flavor - Extremely complex malt profile. Dark dried fruits - raisins, cherries, dates. Sweetness in the front but dries out in the finish. Phenolic clove-like quality is well balanced w/ fruity esters. Slight salty taste on the sides of the tongue. Malt focused, yet well balanced. Mouthfeel - Medium to full bodied. Warming. Medium-high carbonation. Peppery texture on the palate. Creamy, dryess in the finish. Overall Impression - This is an excellent example of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. With a bit more body, some tuning of the slightly off phenolic quality in the flavor and changing the sodium levels in the water profile, this would be nearly all 5s! For $5.99 @ 750ml you can’t beat this beer. Another great beer from Unibroue, highly recommended.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
mjg74 (2492) - La Mesa, California, USA - NOV 20, 2006
Bottle from TJ’s La Mesa. Pours a very dark opaque brownish color. Spices dominate the aroma. An almost medicinal spice aroma. Some darker fruit are buried in there somewhere. Very spicy nutmeg or cloves. Almost numbingly spicy. Some dark fruit comes to light at the very end. I think this is a really nice winter warmer. Alcohol blends in nicely. It doesn’t really seem subtly spiced, it seems really spiced.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 16/20
beernightscout (37) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - NOV 18, 2006
Is there a beer NOT brewed in limited quantites? When unlimited beer is invented, please tell me, along with Bob and Doug McKenzie. Anyway, this limited quantity beer is excellent in a really raw way. If you like your Belgian-style beer simple, headstrong, and sweet, or if you just like really strong flavors, you’ll like it. The nose can make you drunk, with sharp alcohol, spicy smelling esters, and an obvious sweetness. Color is as dark as a stout, with a huge head. Taste is simple, very sweet with all the yeast flavors knocking any possible malt and hop flavors out of bounds. The alcohol presence is huge, and yes, the beer is effervescent like a sparkling wine. Maybe as this ages, it will balance out more. But that’s not saying the flavor is bad, I really liked it. I drank the whole 750 ml bottle waaaay too fast. Good thing I got three more, since they’re only $4.99 a bottle. FYI, palate is a five because if the beer was heavier -- it’s medium bodied, with the aforementioned effervesence lightening it up even more -- it would be too cloying; they hit the palate on the head perfectly.

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