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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 9/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
BeerandBlues2 (10099) - Hanover, Maryland, USA - JAN 17, 2010
Bottle shared at RSRIZZO’s winter gathering. Pours dark brown with a bubbly, fizzy light tan head, low retention with fair lacing. Aroma is heavy caramel, toffee, and cookie malt, floral hops, perfume, dates, plums, oak, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Flavor is sweet caramel and toffee malt, dark fruit, spices, wood, and sarsaparilla. Full bodied, heavy carbonation, and a sweet finish.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Drake (9001) - Free Union, Virginia, USA - JUL 19, 2010
C&C 750 mL bottle from the Glen Allen, VA Trader Joe’s. Pours a clear but very, very dark brown appearing black in the glass. Large tan head fades quickly but leaves a nice ring around the edge of the glass. Aroma of toffee, tropical fruits, citrus, lots of spice, and a bit of cocoa. Big spices in the taste including coriander and ginger, some nutty notes, chocolate and citrus. Medium bodied. Nice sipping beer.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
JoeMcPhee (8622) - Toronto, ON, Ontario, CANADA - JUN 9, 2010
Deep brown pour with a thin amber head. The nose is loaded with sweet plummy fruitiness. Very Unibroue-ish. Lots of chewy sweet malt and a little bit of earthiness as well. Raisins, plums and a heavy yeasty spiciness. Dried spices.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
jercraigs (8071) - Toronto, Ontario, CANADA - MAR 6, 2011
2011-03-04. Very dark brown body with a modest tan head. 3+ Pleasant aroma, dark malt, mild spice is vaguely anise like but not quite, light alcohol. 7+ Flavour is similar, sweet dark malt core, anise/herbal character is well integrated. Smooth medium bodied palate. Recalls Trois Pistole with more spice character. Enjoyable. Bottle shared by HogTownHarry/Garthicus

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
BMan1113VR (7874) - Los Angeles, California, USA - JAN 4, 2010
Bottle (Cheap...$4 something...$5 with tax...for a (9% Unibroue beer? Hellyeah!). Pours with a near black boy and a fluffy and large light brown head. Aroma of metal notes, cocoa, milk chocolate, coriander, berry notes (slightly tart), thistle and ginger. Taste of milk chocolate, spice, alcohol, metallic notes, malted milk, lavender and lots of sweetness. Lively bubbles, medium body, playful alcohol. For some reason I don’t think this will age as well as the 2008 (in the long term). That said I would wait about 6 months (summer) on this one as it is still a bit rough around the edges. A great buy!

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
mcberko (7244) - Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA - DEC 26, 2012
750mL bottle, pours an opaque dark amber brown with a towering foamy beige head. Aroma of spices upfront, bubblegum, licorice, and some mild candied sugar. Flavour of spices, dark fruits, brown sugar, and some caramel. Complex, more spicy than the last couple of vintages, with medium carbonation that brings out the complexity perfectly. Great stuff, but inferior to the last couple of vintages.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Ughsmash (7184) - Pewaukee, Wisconsin, USA - APR 22, 2010
Thanks to Blake for the 750mL bottle! Poured clear mahogany with a dense, easily-resuscitated beige head. The aroma picked up sweet, toasted plums and vinous notes upfront over a little caramel/molasses blend for support.. redder fruit skins, toasted oak, and a little vanilla around.. spicy, tart, and intriguing. The flavor found more of the fruits, both as toasty sweetness at the core and sourness around (joined by vinous and oaky notes, peppery yeast, and again a little vanilla).. a bit green on the back-end.. peppery yeast and fruity notes over sweet molasses on the finish. Medium-bodied and very well carbonated on the palate.. spicy and well-balanced.. this was very drinkable and tasty.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
CaptainCougar (7132) - Columbia, Maryland, USA - MAR 2, 2010
Pours a transparent dark copper amber with a stringy-lacing off-white head. Has a semi-sweet toasty dark caramel nose with some doughy Belgian maltiness. Starts with good dark caramel maltiness and some light fruity esters and chewy Belgian yeast before a drier fairly complex finish. True to style and enjoyable, what I tend to expect from them every year.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
MesandSim (7118) - London, Greater London, ENGLAND - DEC 11, 2010
A Mes rate. Bottle thanks muchly to Leighton.
Almost black, murky brown with a superb beige head and lace. A stunning blend of vanillary cake, port and sherry and other vintagey type stuff (even though it’s not that old), amazing sweet yeasty notes and Christmas type spice with some huge syrupy coca cola cordial type stuff. Madness. Big spicy finish with more than a lick of ginger. The finish is pretty outstanding to be honest. Such epic length and really good development. Each sip leaves me wanting more. Plenty of people think I’m mad but I’m really not a fan of this brewer generally but this is a great drink.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Ibrew2or3 (7107) - Tempe, Arizona, USA - JUN 1, 2010
Courtesy of kiefdog. Pours murky deep muddy mahogany with tall tan head. The aroma goes from apples to spices and then to a tart spiciness. The taste is sweeter than the nose with apples, spiced apple sauce and honey followed by a spicy to spicy tart sensation. Pretty darn sweet overall.

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