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RATINGS: 153   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.59/5   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9%
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 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
bitbucket (2165) - Kirkland, Washington, USA - JAN 9, 2012
Pours a mahogany brown color with a creamy tan head. Aroma of spicy caramel and chocolate. Taste dark fruit, figs, caramel, chocolate, coriander. TJ’s usually does a good job, but for five bucks, this year’s version is amazin, Wish I would have bought more.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
andyhwcinc (1854) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - JAN 8, 2012
Purchased at Trader Joe’s in Chicago, IL; enjoyed at a new practice space while recording a song for a new band. Appearance is pitch black with a rich, bubbly off white head. Aroma of Belgian yeast, clove, banana, dark fruit, smells nice. Taste is nice, rather smooth, you can tell it packs a punch, not really hoppy at all, can’t get much of a bitterness out of it, not as carbonated as last years version (maybe I got a better bottle???). It’s still pretty great esp at the price point!

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 1/5   OVERALL 13/20
HomeBrewHawk (464) - De Soto, Kansas, USA - JAN 5, 2012
750ml corked and caged bottle served in a Blvd. Tank 7 tulip. Pours a deep brown with a massive big bubbled, dark tan head. Lots of carbonation. Herbal/spicy aroma, some dark fruits. Maybe some spruce. Bottle conditioned. Lots of Belgian spice, some malt sweetness. Still getting spruce. Medium bodied. Clove in the finish. Spices seem to overwhelm this one, could use a little time to fade.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
cbkschubert (2901) - BFE, Arizona, USA - JAN 2, 2012
750 ml bottle from Trader Joe’s (Tucson) - Pours a hazy brown color with a one finger thick light tan head. Light lacing. Aroma and flavor is fruit, spice, and yeast. The spice a sweetness lingers in the finish. Medium body. A decent beer.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
larryLSB (509) - 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 (516) - 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 (3542) - 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 (1903) - 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 (8637) - 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 (3100) - 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.

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