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Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale 2010

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


on tap

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RATINGS: 185   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.53   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9%
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Unique and limited edition, this Belgian style ale is crafted once a year as a special treat for those of you who appreciate flavorful, bottle-conditioned ales with character. This year’s vintage: a rich, dark and full-bodied ale with a fine and generous coffee-colored, beige foam. It’s ready to enjoy right away and you may also wish to cellar a few bottles. It will evolve interestingly well, developing more complex flavors as the years go by. Keep bottle upright in storage. Best before 9-10-2013.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
csteele2144 (125) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - FEB 21, 2012
Black pour with a large tan head. Yeast dark fruits and malts on the nose and a taste to match. Another great vintage.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
superspak (2919) - Michigan, USA - DEC 21, 2011
750 ml bottle into tulip, best before 9/10/2013. Pours almost opaque dark brown color with a nice 2 finger dense khaki head with great retention that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Some nice bits of lacing cling to the glass as well. Aromas of big clove, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, dark candi sugar, ginger, dark fruit, molasses, and spicy yeast. Nice and interesting aromas; tons of spices going on here. Taste of caramel, molasses, dark fruit, clove, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, candi sugar, and big yeast spiciness. Lingering notes of dark fruit, molasses, candi sugar, and spices on the finish for a bit. Medium bodied with fairly high carbonation, but it doesn’t hurt the drinkability at all. Fairly creamy and smooth drinking; with a fairly prickly mouthfeel. Alcohol is well hidden with nothing but a slight warming noticeable. Overall a damn nice spiced Belgian dark ale. Unibroue rarely brews a bad beer.

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
Dfonorow (1667) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - DEC 6, 2011
Pour is dark brown with a slight tan head. Aroma is somewhat musty - yeast, dust, and some slight sweetness. Flavor is quite cloying, tons of molasses and cola flavors. Body is spicy and hoppy as well but the sweetness just overpowers it. Highly carbonated. Little to no alcohol presence.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
FlacoAlto (3810) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - NOV 22, 2011
Tried November 2011
A careful pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet Tulip produces a glass filling, dirty brown tinged, dark tan colored, initially four finger thick, but then quickly glass overlflowing head; this leaves some light, wispy lacing as it slowly subsides. The beer is a dark, concentrated, opaque, sort of black color, it seems to have tinges of concentrated brown / purple to it. The foam that was rescued from overflowing tastes a bit like concord grape-juice. The beer smells predominantly of sweet spices and fruit; it reminds me of clove, cardamom, a light concord grape soda note and a bright raisin note, though really the cardamom note seems to be the most noticeable (though not by a huge margin). Backing notes of a slight grain husk character and toasted brown bread are noticeable the more you dig for them. As the beer warms up the cardamom becomes more piquant, perhaps taking on a ginger like edge to it.

The beer feels light bodied and effervescent as it first hits my palate. The beer has a light sweetness to it up front, but this gets accentuated as it rolls across the tongue by a sweet spice and fruit character. Notes of cardamom and clove linger on the palate in the long finish, and there is perhaps just a wisp of toasted brown cracker character. The fruit reminds me of concord grapes and raisins. The spice character has a slight woody black pepper note to it, a touch of nutmeg, though it really is dominated by the cardamom and then clove character. The clove is likely from the house yeast, and there is also an earthy, sort of coriander like note that is distinctly from the Unibroue house yeast character.

A pretty tasty beer, it is a little too focused on the spice character, which isn’t surprising given the house yeast character, but it is nicely drinking all the same. The light mouth feel, is perhaps the best thing going for this beer (though the visual presentation is quite striking as well).

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
BelgianBeerGal (3256) - Panama City, Florida, USA - OCT 29, 2011
75cl bottle from TN. Sure its not dry hopped with ground unicorn horn, filtered through a rainbow or aged in a barrel of pixie dust but you can get this quality Ubrue for ten bucks. Sometimes nice is good enough. By the way, it tastes like Christmas in a glass.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
adnielsen (9536) - Fort Collins, Colorado, USA - OCT 27, 2011
Bottle @ home, courtesy of Armin. Thanks. Dark brown appearance with a light tan head. Very spicy, mint, nutmeg, light cinnamon, mild chocolate caramel aroma. Fairly spicy Christmas beer- mint, evergreen, cinnamon, nutmeg- chocolate, caramel flavor. Pretty nice holiday beer.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
seymour (1518) - Maplewood, Missouri, USA - OCT 13, 2011
UPDATED: NOV 10, 2011 Tasted bottle into tulip glass. Poured an opaque, very dark reddish-brown, almost black color with crazy thick beige foam, extremely persistent, fine Belgian lace. Strong perfumey aroma of unidentifiable spices, which is driving me crazy. I even waited until I’d sampled it on multiple occasions to write this review. I’m pretty sure it contains nutmeg and grains-of-paradise, but I know there’s stuff in there I can’t recognize. It was too much for me at first, but it grew on me the more I obsessed about it. Other aromas include pepper, clove, citrus zest, alcohol. A complex grainbill as indicated by flavors of malt, baking bread, toast, roasted barley, nuts, caramel, molasses, plums, black licorice, dried cranberries, refined hops bitterness. Very fruity, tart and tangy, with a pleasant bittersweet aftertaste. Exquisite bottle fermentation lends tiny, spritzy, aromatic bubbles. High ABV% is less warming than you’d expect. Profoundly spicy, not for everyone, but I love it.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
Beershine (5218) - The Sunshine State, Florida, USA - SEP 26, 2011
Bottle in LA...brown black with scant head. Super spicy, but also sweet in a walnut cake/mincemeat way. Has a cola with Unibroue yeast character. Smooth but too sweet overall.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Oakes (12854) - Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA - SEP 6, 2011
I guess this would have been about 9 months old. Dark brown. The aroma is rich and figgy, with a light spiciness. Earthy, raisiny with light fruits. Decent complexity, and clean, without too much of that Unibroue yeast.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
hershiser2 (1271) - Charlottesville, Virginia, USA - AUG 27, 2011
Pours dark brown with a gigantic brown head that’s VERY frothy. Smells of sweet fruits and malts. Tastes of bubble gum, dark fruits, and burnt malts. Slightly gluey flavor as well.

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