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Trader Joeís Vintage Ale 2009

Formerly brewed at Unibroue (Sapporo)
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Chambly, Canada


on tap


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RATINGS: 178   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.63   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9%
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Trader Joeís 2009 Vintage Ale
You might be used to seeing vintages on wine; not so much on beer. And thatís what makes this ale so special. Trader Joeís Vintage Ales were developed, crafted, brewed and bottled for us in limited quantities this year. Its flavor, color, texture and overall character are different from our Vintage Ale of 2008, and in 2010 it will be different once again.

The 2009 Vintage Ale
It is an opaque black color and features an impressive coffee-colored foam. In a glass, it boasts cocoa and malt aromas, with a subtle hint of lemon and ginger. A sip from that glass really brings out the best in this ale - malty and mildly sweet, with hints of cocoa, citrus and spices.

Trader Joeís Vintage Ale is ready to enjoy right away, chilled but not ice cold. Unlike many beers, though, this one will age for a few years, and its flavors will become more complex and interesting as time goes by.

Whatís that? Youíre a beer geek? We love that. Youíll love this. And we assume youíll want to know this is a dark ale on lees, 9% ABV (thatís Alcohol by Volume, for the non-beer geeks). Oh, and itís brewed exclusively for Trader Joeís, of course.

Best Before 09-12-2012

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
nbutler11 (1267) - Phoenix, Arizona, USA - DEC 16, 2009
Sample from a bottle opened by psprings -- thanks, Paul! I cannot believe this is $5. Pours a dark shade of amber with a dirty beige head. Smells of cardamom (at least thatís what Iím going to roll with), yeast, and pie spices. Tastes of further yeast, brown sugar, and ginger. Nice beer at a nice price -- woo hoo!

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
popery (1389) - San Francisco, California, USA - DEC 15, 2009
Nice BSDA from Unibroue. This beer is a flat-out great bargain for $5 per 750ml bottle. Itís not the best Belgian around, but itís one of the very best bargains in beer. The beer pours a very dark burgundy-brown with a big fluffy khaki head. The aroma didnít sit quite right with me at first, but itís improving a lot as it warms up. The signature Unibroue yeast is present with notes of soy sauce, brown sugar and holiday spices, primarily fresh ginger. The flavor is nice and dry, and the Belgian earthiness really blooms on the palate. The mouthfeel is typical of Unibroue, nice and prickly. Itís a very good beer and Iím going to pack away a few bottles for the cellar.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
deyholla (6568) - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA - DEC 15, 2009
Bottle. Poured black with a light brown head. Aroma had notes of sweet citrus, ginger and caramel. Flavor was sweet with notes of chocolate and caramel with a slight ginger undertone.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
CheersMate (1308) - Fremont (Seattle), Washington, USA - DEC 15, 2009
#800! 750ml picked up at Trader Joes in Midtown. At $4.99 a 750ml, for a premium Belgian Strong (9%) you canít beat that. What a nice dark brown color, with an off-white head. Fluffy head sticks around for some time. Nice spice and fruit aroma. Spices dominate the aroma. I get that slight lemon zing along with some juniper. I may be mixing the juniper with the ginger, but which ever one it is is definitely coming through in the aroma. This is a pretty pungent brew. Not much of a "Belgian" aroma to it. Dark fruit and yeast is muted. Flavor is a perfect blend of spice and Belgian. Nice dark fruit Belgian Strong flavor, but the spices are coming through more as the beer warms. That ginger/juniper flavor is everywhere. The dark fruit, and slight yeast flavor is there as well creating a wonderful balance in this Trader Joes beer. Completely amazed at this, and I am damn glad to have tried it. A little too carbonated for me.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Sickboy282 (1115) - San Diego, California, USA - DEC 15, 2009
Bottle- Pours a deep brown/amber hue with a semi-fine, lasting bubbly head and moderate lacing. Aromas of peppercorns, cereal, a touch of roasted cocoa and prunes. Hop bitterness on the palate is refreshing and is more apparent than typical of the style . But maybe my glass if still too cold. Mouth feel is medium bodied with flavors of spruce, hints of other spices (cloves), a touch of banana. Interesting flavor combo.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
demitriustown (1062) - Sterling Heights, Michigan, USA - DEC 14, 2009
750ml bottle: Aroma is fruity, yeast, dark fruit (Prunes or Raisins), and a light malt characteristic with a very light floral hop backing. Appearance is a dark ruby to brown color with a huge slightly tan head that lingers forever. Taste is dark fruits, yeast, nice spice notes, very carbonated, and some very light malt notes. Palate is bubbly and melds into an aftertaste of fruit and yeast. Overall, I really donít remember the other in the series, but this is a quality Unibroue product. Cheers!

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
badgerben (4391) - Blaine, Minnesota, USA - DEC 14, 2009
Dark brown color with a large head. Yeasty aroma with a hint of spearmint. Very malty taste. Caramel and some spices, predominantly cardamom. Bready when warming to cellar temp. Tasty, and for about $4.50, a steal.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
HonkeyBra (3318) - Lemont, Illinois, USA - DEC 13, 2009
Dark pour with big tan head. Nose of spicy coriander, chocolate covered orange, dark fruit. Some yeast. Flavors of chocolate covered orange, belgian spice. Nice mouthfeel, finishes sweet and spicey. For the price? Canít beat it.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
ben4321 (3846) - Hoboken, New Jersey, USA - DEC 13, 2009
Location: 750 ml bottle from Trader Joes (Short Pump), 12/13/09

Aroma: It has spice (coriander, pepper, etc), chocolate, dark malts, lemon, a bit of dark fruit, ginger, along with that familiar Unibroue yeast scent. The dark malts, fruit, and chocolate become more prevalent as it warms.
Appearance: This one pours a dark brown color with a rather large, bubbly tan head that fizzes down, leaving a smaller tan film atop the beer and just a few spots of lace on the glass
Flavor: Medium sweet with a strong malt presence and similar characteristics to the nose
Palate: The mouthfeel is rather fizzy from the high carbonation, with a medium body, and no ABV burn. Ultimately, it is just highly drinkable.
Overall Impression: This is my first of the Trader Joes Vintage Ales, but when I went in to the store and saw a Unibroue beer for this cheap a price I was certainly excited to give it a try. An interesting beer, something I would like to drink again with a little age on it to see how it evolves, but it works pretty well right now too. I like the familiar Unibroue feel that this beer has, as I personally enjoy their style, if you donít, I would be hard pressed to recommend this one to you. As far as temperature goes, it does open a bit as it warms, though it even a bit too cold, it is not what I would call muted. A fairly interesting nose leads to a fairly interesting beer.

**Just submitted a Photo for this one as well, as it was missing one.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
thegreenrooster (3189) - St.louis, Missouri, USA - DEC 12, 2009
Pour is a dark brown, darker than I thought it would be. A small tan head comes off the pour. Aroma is all things Unibroue yeast with a strong brown sugar. Flavor is some clove and spice with a nice vanilla aftertaste. A bit of alcohol hits you at the end but nothing to overpower. I would never remember what the previous years beer taste like but this is always a nice cheap treat at the end of the year.

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