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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 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Nephilium (1694) - Cleveland, Ohio, USA - DEC 2, 2009
Decent aroma, slightly sweet, with the Unibroue yeast noticeable in the scent. As previous years, pours with an obnoxious head for the first glass. This has a dark brown color, with a gigantic light tan head. The flavor is quite balanced. Touches of sweet milk chocolate and a bit of spice, the alcohol is really well hidden. Very soft on the palate, with a bit of slickness. For $5 a bomber, you really can’t go wrong on this one.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
nuplastikk (5785) - Madison, Wisconsin, USA - DEC 2, 2009
750ml bottle. Deep opaque brown-black color beneath a lusciously thick beige head. The aroma is pretty wild, funky sour ginger, maybe some warm pepper notes. Ginger flavor comes through well enough, despite being saturated in sweet black chocolaty cocoa. Sort of like an awkward Dark Saison. Very unique tasting beer, but light and fluffy on the palate, never sticky...well maybe a touch in the aftertaste. Almost like a dark Stille Nacht. Bonus points for the low price Ɣ.99).

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
asedzie (786) - San Francisco, California, USA - DEC 2, 2009
Bottle. Pours deep brown, almost black, with a thick khaki head. Aroma has tons of citrusy corriander, some mild bitter orange peel, backed by very slight Saaz hop. Flavor is much the same, focused on the corriander, with a bit of additional spice flavors, very nicely weighed against lightly roasted hops. Mouthfeel is all bubbly carbonation, which I like in my belgians. Bittersweet chocolate flavors on the finish, along with some lingering citrus. Much more spice focused than last year’s, as always superb for the price.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
scrizzz (2223) - Bothell, Washington, USA - DEC 1, 2009
UPDATED: DEC 18, 2010 Incredible aromas of dark chocolate, candied orange, ginger and nutmeg. Very impressive. Very dark brown, tall airy head that fell to a half an inch and stayed there. Modest lacing. Full young Belgian yeast up front, dark chocolate grit, warming heat in the finish with a thin slick mouthfeel and some pine. Wintergreen? Seems young and a bit spread out, and at 5 bucks I’m buying a few of these to drink over time, seems like a smart investment. 121810 After a year, gushed a bit upon opening, lively spontaneous oatmeal head, rocky with large bubbles. Holds up to the original notes, didn’t seem to age much.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
andyhwcinc (1846) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - NOV 29, 2009
Aroma for this year’s TJ Ale is not unlike a traditional Unibroue ale, traditional Belgian sourness with a hint of chocolate. Upon first pour, had a head that filled about half of my pint glass that dissipated over a couple of minutes. Taste is of traditional Belgian yeast & candi with a malt undertone, very well balanced. The checkout lady @ TJ’s said that this years batch is much better than last years, and while I can’t comment on last year’s because I didn’t try it, this year’s is pretty damn good.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
LtDan (1806) - Los Angeles County, California, USA - NOV 28, 2009
Appearance: Pours black with a slight reddish hue at the bottom of the glass. The head starts out with a inch big tan head that subsides to a 1/4 inch. Aroma: Lots of spice such as cloves and ginger, some candi sugar sweetness and some dry malt too. Taste: Burnt malt, roasted malt, cloves, ginger, candi sugar, and that trademark Unibroue house yeast. Mouthfeel: Full and very fizzy. Overall: A great treat with a new spin on it for 2009. I am enjoying that bit of ginger and the darker malts compared to previous years.

   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 (2736) - 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 (3018) - 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.

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