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RATINGS: 186   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.64/5   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9%
Trader Joe’s 2009 Vintage Ale
You might be used to seeing vintages on wine; not so much on beer. And that’s what makes this ale so special. Trader Joe’s 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 Joe’s 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.

What’s that? You’re a beer geek? We love that. You’ll love this. And we assume you’ll want to know this is a dark ale on lees, 9% ABV (that’s Alcohol by Volume, for the non-beer geeks). Oh, and it’s brewed exclusively for Trader Joe’s, of course.

Best Before 09-12-2012

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
vyvvy (5008) - Florissant, Missouri, USA - DEC 10, 2009
After a couple of years of fairly disappointing releases for the Vintage ale (still good for the price) this is back to being one I like. Pours very dark with a deep reddish hue and a very large bubbly tan head. The aroma has the signature Unibroue yeast as well as ginger, dark malt, light citrus, anise and crispness. Medium / light body with medium sharp carbonation. The flavor starts with dark malt that has no bitterness, ginger, lemon zest, light sweetness and mineral notes. The finish gets a bit more medicinal, cocoa and minor abv warmth. Quite nice and very easy drinking for a 9% beer. Excellent bang-for-the-buck beer.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Tmoney99 (12404) - Cincinnati, Ohio, USA - DEC 9, 2009
Bottle from Trader Joe’s - Cincy. Poured dark brown color with a huge light brown head that mostly lasted and produced good lacing. Moderate to heavy malty, fruit and spice aroma. Medium to full body with a sticky texture and flat carbonation. Full complex fruit, ginger and malt sweet flavor with a long dark sweet finish with a small alcohol tone. Another good brew at a fair price.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
IrishBoy (3997) - Bakersfield, California, USA - DEC 8, 2009
750 ml bottle from Trader Joes! Nose of yeast, cloves, and cocoa. Very dark brown with a huge long lasting, glass lacing beige head. Flavor is lightly fruity with some dates and bananas, yeastiness, and allspice. One of the better Unibroues I’ve had.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
zizzybalubba (1691) - Raleigh, North Carolina, USA - DEC 8, 2009
750 mL bottle from Trader Joe’s in Virginia Beach. Muddy brown pour with a fizzy off-white head. Aroma of Belgian yeast, brown sugar, and light citrus. Banana, clove, and nutmeg are all very strong upon the first sip. Just a hint of cocoa on the finish. This is not your typical Belgian style beer. For the price ($4.99/bottle) this is hard to beat. Better than last year’s version in my opinion.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
SamGamgee (2452) - down the whirlpool, California, USA - DEC 7, 2009
75cl bottle. Almost black color with a fizzy light beige head. Yeasty, spicy aroma with a touch of chocolate, bright fruitiness reminiscent of pears, cinnamon apples, and sweet sugary syrup. The flavor is sweet and spicy with very low bitterness, some alcohol, and a sticky sweetness. Thin and chunky body with medium-high carbonation. A little like drinking cola with more spices added. Errs on the side of sweet and spice. Not that into this now, but this one will probably improve with some time, which I didn’t feel about last year’s.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
sethdude (705) - St. Louis, Missouri, USA - DEC 6, 2009
Pours deep brown with a large light brown head. Aroma is well-spiced, clove and cinnamon over light banana and apple skins. Flavor is initially banana, dry cherry, giving way to cinnamon and clove once again, a medium dark toasted note, mild alcohol, and a spicy, peppery finish. Very nice.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
mastabass666 (277) - California, USA - DEC 5, 2009
aroma is bright, fresh, caramel, earth, citrus toward the end. very dark brown, almost black pour into a tulip w/3 finger head. taste is cloves, caramel, hay, like a dark saison. very nice medium-full, mildly sweet palate. overall, not as sweet as previous vintages, the saison-like qualities make this great. bonus for only being $5 for 750 ml

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 16/20
RedSox2004 (1497) - Pacific Palisades, California, USA - DEC 4, 2009
Deep, deep mahogany red, almost black, with a nice tan head with very tight bubbles and spider web lacing. Dark fruit - plums, figs, cherries - on the nose, with yeast clearly evident. Complex flavor profile features everything you smell, plus some brown sugar, spices, black pepper. Malt sweetness is strong. The alcohol is subtle but warming. Medium bodied, very lively carbonation that dances on your tongue, very pleasant aftertaste. Another great Unibrou effort on behalf of TJs.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
Headbanger (3575) - Aurora, Illinois, USA - DEC 2, 2009
750ml bottle 12/2/09 (Trader Joe’s-Naperville)-Pours a dark brown almost black with a decent sized tan head. Aroma of yeast, coriander, pepper, lemon, ginger, and slight citrus. Taste of the same with more coriander and wheat being more prominent along with a big dose of chocolate. Thislight to medium bodied brew is very tasty and can’t wait to try one that is aged. Great job.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
BillKismet (3605) - Seattle, Washington, USA - DEC 2, 2009
Deep brown with an excessively carbonated body and a towering, airy Coca-Cola ice cream float head. Hearty aromas of deep caramel malts, dank beer, and Belgian phenols, pleasurably melded together. Clovey wheat soon swings to the forefront. Smooth body of caramel chocolate and subdued roastiness. Clove and wheat round it out the flavors in this full-bodied brew. Medium smoky clove finish and bittered ginger finish

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