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Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale 2009

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


on tap


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RATINGS: 180   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.62   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9%
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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 5/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
tekhna (118) - California, USA - NOV 27, 2009
Really interesting citrus, an almost ginger bite on the sides of the tongue. A little sweet. The cocoa isn’t too strong, but very nice. Some chocolate on the nose, yeasty. A tad overcarbed? Gorgeous head, nice color. Couldn’t get the cork out. Overall nice beer. A bit thin, but nice. Especially for 4 bucks.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
MrBunn (2510) - The Wet Side of a Dry Town, Pennsylvania, USA - NOV 27, 2009
Bottle. I guess I stumbled into Trader Joe’s the day after this arrived. Not a bad bit of luck. Anyhoo... pours a dark brown with a huge cola fizz head. (I still find Unibroue heads obnoxious. Aromas are a mix of nuts, earthiness, cola, and a kind of odd presence that is almost like garbage or something, although I know that’s not quite right. Cola and booze come out pretty strong in the flavor with an earthy/nutty finish and aftertaste. Mouthfeel is pretty thin and a little warm from the higher ABV. This is pretty decent (especially for the price.)

   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
sbroome (149) - Burnsville, Minnesota, USA - NOV 27, 2009
coffee-colored head, but no coffee flavor. pours with way too much head due to the high carbonation. is this beer or champagne? after making it past the foamy head, you first notice how crisp and light this beer is. taste is mild roast with something else that i can’t fully describe. maybe burnt carmel or over-toasted bread. certainly nothing too special.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
mjg74 (2492) - La Mesa, California, USA - NOV 26, 2009
Dark amber in color upon pouring. Mostly foam. Somewhat roasty nose. Some yeastiness with a good amount of spice. Flavor is somewhat dry up front. Some chocolate and roastiness. Good spiced flavors. Somewhat sweet. Very prickly. Pretty tasty.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Rusty (1537) - Mesa, Arizona, USA - NOV 26, 2009
Bottle from Mesa, AZ trader Joes. Pours a deep brown with a huge active light brown head. Aroma is chocolate, belgian yeasts, esthers, spices, and as much as I hate to say it Unibroue’ish. Flavor is roasted malt chocolate, belgian yeasts, esthers, ginger, dark fruits, candi sugar and other spices. Lots of prickly carbonation and very lively on the palate. One of their better renditions of the vintage ale.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
sjolles85 (104) - Tampa, Florida, USA - NOV 25, 2009
Bottle from TJ’s in creve coure mo. Really a great drinking beer. Dark pour with large white head. once you taste it you really know it’s a unibroue product. Nice belgian funk to it

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
bhensonb (11531) - Woodland, California, USA - NOV 25, 2009
Bottle from Trader Joe’s in Sacramento, CA. C&C. Cork came off with a pfft. Pours really dark brown with a 5 finger tan head. Sort of a bayberry aroma. Really smells a bit like a Xmas candle. Medium body with frothy carbonation. Flavor seemed evergreen, but suddenly it is definitely ginger. And some sweet, pretty dark, roasted malt. Finishes malty, but the ginger tends to balance that. Chocolate starts coming out after awhile. The head keeps doing interesting things. This year’s ale is really out there. Far, far out there.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
badlizard (5537) - Berkeley, California, USA - NOV 24, 2009
Dark brown with a foamy off white head. Sweet chocolate, toffee, cola nut, and citrus aroma. Tastes of orange, spice, chocolate nibs, and mild coffee in the finish.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
beersearcher (2382) - Glendale, California, USA - NOV 23, 2009
Aroma is not malty or roasted. Rich smelling. Pours dark brown close to black. Alot of plum type flavor in here. A faint touch of spice. The cheeks warm up but only after a few sips. Really nice.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Cornfield (5552) - Oak Forest, Illinois, USA - NOV 22, 2009
I picked this up at the Trader Joe’s in Orland Park, Illinois. It poured a nearly opaque dark brown body, having some mahogany around the edges and a tall, fizzy tan head that settled down fairly quickly. The aroma was dominated by the ginger. Beneath it was some dark lightly roasted malt, a spritz of lemon, and a suggestion of cocoa powder. The flavor was an improvement, although it took on a medicinal turn with a heavy handed spiciness. Very carbonated and gassy. The finish had a gingery dryness. Okay.

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