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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: 147   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.57   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 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
decaturstevo (5015) - decatur, Tennessee, USA - FEB 23, 2013
Brown pour with tan head and lace. Aroma is dark brown sugar cough syrup and sweet malt. Sweet brown sugar, sour malt and earthy bitter. Medium bodied but fizzy.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
mcberko (6419) - Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA - FEB 8, 2013
750mL bottle, pours a deep dark brown / black with a medium beige head. Aroma is very spicy, with cardamom, coriander (almost curried spices), and Belgian yeast. Flavour is extremely spicy, with loads of coriander and cardamom, Belgian yeast, and some mild dark fruits. This one is dominated by the spices though, too much so. Probably my least favourite of the Trader Joe’s Vintage ales.

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
RSRIZZO (1853) - Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA - JAN 16, 2013
750ml cork & cage bottle (courtesy of Headbanger) poured into a Trappist glass at 40°. Color is near black with mellow carbonation and a small tight head. Aroma is light on malt with some spices showing. It has a medium body with a crisp mouth feel. Flavor comes in with a bit of malt and caramel then it hits you with Christmas like spices. After taste lets the spice come up a little more. Overall I am a little disappointed, this has always been a good brew but this year they added a bunch of spice that killed it.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
alexsdad06 (5408) - Ohio, USA - DEC 26, 2012
750 ml bottle shared by shigadeyo. Pours dark brown with reddish highlights. A large fluffy rapidly diminishing beige head. The aroma is sweet malty, herbal and fresh spices with the characteristic Unibroue yeastiness. The flavor is sweet caramel malts, allspice, herbal with yeast. These are usually clean and tasty, yet nothing really stands out. Good for what it is and the price point.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
daleharshman (908) - San Diego, California, USA - DEC 21, 2012
750 ml bottle purchased a year ago at Trader Joe’s in Escondido ($4.99). Pours into my Unibroue tulip glass a dark brown with some vague reddish highlights and three full fingers of beige foam. Aroma of freshly grated spice, sticky dark fruit, orange peel, and Unibroue yeast. Flavor of spice (ginger, allspice and perhaps some nutmeg and clove), caramelized bananas, candied dark fruit (as in fruit cake), dark bready malts, medicinal-type herbs, and Belgian yeast. Good prickly carbonation and well-concealed ABV. This is really very similar to the 2009 and 2010 editions (perhaps spicier for 2011). But it’s still a festive ale that always goes well with the holidays and end of year. (124, 756)

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
oc4111 (119) - USA - DEC 16, 2012
Pours a dark cola like color with and active mocha colored head that leaves very little lacing. Aroma is that typical Unibroue yeast, dark fruit, and a hint of spice. Mouthfeel is surprisingly clean considering all the sweetness. Decent hint of carbonation makes it possible.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
nielsedd (75) - Wisconsin, USA - DEC 16, 2012
Bottle. Pours a deep deep brown with a nice frothy layer of beige head that diminishes to almost nothing. Almost no lacing. Smells sweet: bread, yeast, dark fruit. Tastes good...nice spice to compliment the sweet fruit and bready flavors. And of course, yeast is very present in the flavor. All-in-all, a very good Belgian beer.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Damico (2579) - Royersford, Pennsylvania, USA - DEC 4, 2012
Aroma brings soft, sweeter bready notes. Pours unclear dark chestnut colored with a big amount of sediment on the bottom and humongous foamy beige head on top. Flavor brings bready notes from yeast. some caramel malts, spices but not "overclovey" and a delicious creamy body.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
5000 (6300) - Hardened Liver, Washington, USA - DEC 4, 2012
Bottle:   Deep brown, large frothy eggshell colored head, halfway decent lacing.   Spicy nose, slight dark pitted fruit, and what appears to be Kaffir lime leaf?   Some interesting spices at least.   Spritzy up front, signature Unibroue yeastiness, soft dark pitted fruit.   The 9% ABV is well hidden.   Doesn’t last long, seems to fall off somewhat quickly.   At least its clean.   Body and mouthfeel are moderate.   Not very assertive overall, spicy in a sense that is a little hard to discern, but past experiences say Lime leaf.   Tiz okay, but this one needed more dark pitted fruit in my opinion.   Not as good as some of the other prior years.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
v8powered (125) - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - OCT 27, 2012
Saved a 2010 and drank in October of 2012. Strong yeast is still present. Malty and a touch of bitterness from the Belgian yeast. Light pear and apple notes with a touch of Carmel. Some corriander flavor as well. Didn't taste much different than the 2011 I taste the other night so the agin doesn't do much with this one, at least in less than 3 years time. Still a great deal to get a Unibrau beer label for Trader Joes for $5.99 and 9%. ---Rated via Beer Buddy for iPhone

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