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Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale 2011

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


on tap

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RATINGS: 149   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.56   SEASONAL: Special   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 ale 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 the bottle upright in storage. Brewed with a delicate balance of noble hops, roasted malts and spices, this is a remarkably smooth ale with a wonderfully complex finish. It is best served slightly shilled, around 53 degrees Fahrenheit and pairs exceptionally well with grilled salmon steaks, curried lamb, beef or tuna au poivre. Crafted and bottled exclusively for Trader Joe’s

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
larryLSB (439) - La Selva Beach, California, USA - DEC 30, 2011
Poured from 750, dark brown with med light tan head. Complex nose, with much going on, boozy, raisins, bubblegum, spicy licorice, but as it warmed, it seemed to come together somewhat. Sweet tasting, cola like. Overall it was average, I am going to pick up another bottle and see how it ages next year.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
magdalar (513) - Zurich, SWITZERLAND - DEC 30, 2011
Bottle. Pours a dark brown with a big offwhite head. Smells of Christmas: nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and various other spices. Taste is a medium sweetness with a definite spice. Texture is creamy. Soft carbonation. Fun she’s tingly. Not bad, but too christmasy for my taste.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
alexanderj (3334) - Branson, Missouri, USA - DEC 28, 2011
Bottle; poured a dark cola brown with a very large light brown head. Aroma of herbs, yeast, cocoa, carmal, and alcohol. Flavor was quite herbal, almost medicinal, but not quite band-aid. Not really a favorite flavor profile of mine, but ok overall.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
seymour (1478) - Maplewood, Missouri, USA - DEC 27, 2011
Tasted from corked bottle into tulip glass. Poured a hazy, deep brown color with lively tan foam, excellent retention, lace, even some alcohol legs. Some light bread and perfumely hop aromas, but almost entirely masked by high-powered caramelized sugar, banana and layers of spices: pepper, clove, perhaps some nutmeg and licorice? Some dark fruit esters but not much. Despite what has been written by others, I didn’t pick-up much malt complexity, roasted barley, chocolate, coffee, toffee, or tartness. Flavor was much less sophisticated than I expected; not really malty or hoppy at all, and as such, barely beer. Just lots and lots of dark candy sugar and pungent "Belgian" spiciness. Where is the subtle balance of artisinal characteristics? I usually love these Trader Joe’s Vintage ales, in fact everything Unibroue brews, but this one was my first disappointment. The problems don’t seem like the type that will improve with aging, either, so I won’t be saving a bunch of these as usual. Hopefully the 2012 vintage will be more delicately crafted.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
bb (6861) - Alamo, California, USA - DEC 27, 2011
Bottle. Dark brown beer with a tan head. Malt and light roast aroma with light chocolate, light dark fruits, and yeast. Malt and caramel flavor with yeast, spice, and light citrus. Medium bodied. Citrus and malt lingers with caramel, yeast, and light spice.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
tgncc (2891) - Bellmore, New York, USA - DEC 27, 2011
These beers are always a pleasure. Aroma is chocolate, belgian yeast, dark fruit, molasses. The appearance is opaque bown, off-white head. The flavor is fruity, chocolate, spicy, yeasty. The finish is noble hop bitter, some pepper and spice. Medium in body. Very good.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 17/20
monk191 (1088) - California, USA - DEC 25, 2011
These Trader Joes Ales never disappoint. We have been Enjoying them for the last 3 years, and this one is the best batch. Fruity sweet smell, and a dark carbonated pour. Taste is very smooth, with a malty flavor, but not as sweet as last year. Lots of complexity. We will be letting a bottle sit for a few years. ---Rated via Beer Buddy for iPhone

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
badlizard (5537) - Berkeley, California, USA - DEC 25, 2011
Bottle. Black with a big foamy tan head. Musty aroma of chocolate, cola nut, allspice with tastes of chocolate, caramel, cola nut, and sweet spice with a thick almost syrupy palate.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
BMan1113VR (7871) - Los Angeles, California, USA - DEC 24, 2011
2011 (obviously) 750ml with a best before of 07-06-2016. Always a joy when I see this beer each year for such a reasonable price ($4.99 this year). Pours with a silly sized (massive), creamy, tan head over a near black (very deep brown) body with low clarity. Very pretty belgian lace with good retention as well. Aromas are of Unibroue’s unique house yeast. Clove, cardamom, candied orange peel, brown sugar, brandy, molasses, light roast, leather, chocolate, fig, plum, candied pear. Very floral and inviting overall. Flavors are fruity, estery, chewy, fudge, leather, marmalade, light roast, molasses, curacao orange, clove, mild esters and some alcohol. Brandy. Complex. Light umami as well. Mildly bready malt character. Ginger as it warms. Lively bubbles, nicely dry, a touch of belgian yeast tartness, fruity, complex, long duration. Medium warming. Excellent!

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
HonkeyBra (3525) - Lemont, Illinois, USA - DEC 22, 2011
750ml. bottle from Trader Joe’s. This still remains as one of the the best deals in craft beer at under 5 bucks a 750ml bottle. Dark brown pour with nice kahki head. Aroma of spice, belgian candi sugar, belgian yeast, caramel. Aroma is spice, caramel, belgian yeast, slight roast. Mouthfeel is a fuller than it was last year, medium bodied. Solid, nice carbonation. This is a better showing than last year, and a solid if unspectacular beer.

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