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Beer Profile

  • Brewery: Unibroue
  • Website:
  • Country: Canada
  • State:
  • Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
  • Malts:
  • Hops:
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • IBUs:
  • Tasting Notes:
  • Preferred Glass:
  • Food Pairing:
  • PHM Grade: B

Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale 2009

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Michael: This morning, after pushing the shovel down my snow-covered driveway for the last time, I stood sweating, aching and wished it was kosher to drink beer in the morning. While I acted on my better instincts and vied instead for a piping cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, I was bound and determined to have a brew later that day. As winter has begun its rampage across most of the nation, so too have the seasonal beers. One in particular piqued my interest at my local Trader Joes. While TJs is known more for their fresh produce and smiling checkout clerks than their beer, I was intrigued. The back of the label further captured me, as it was brewed with the help of Unibroue Inc (made famous in my mind, by their La Fin Du Monde). The beer itself poured jet black with a two finger tan head. While there was something distinct on the nose, I couldn’t quite name it. The taste was a balanced combination of nutty chocolate and hints of lemon. The citrus is what lingers and for a 9.5% abv brew, the alcohol was hidden well in a smooth finish. As it warmed, it sweetened, and by the last few sips it was filled with cola and vanilla undertones. I enjoyed it, but my pocketbook enjoyed it even more. A 750ml for $5 can’t be beat! Keep it on hand for the holidays, or put it down until next year, either way it will warm you on a cool winter’s eve. Grade: B+

John: Anything but the dregs! I learned something by reviewing TJ’s Vintage 2009 Dark Ale on Lees. I learned what lees meant. Lees are the deposits of yeast and sediments at the bottom of the tank after fermentation. Dregs in other words. But this brew doesn’t fit the normal definition of “dregs” as in the dregs of society. This low cost brew (5 bucks for bomber) is a nice, cheap beer that pours black, rich and with fizzy head. I kept this cellared for over a year and anticipated a below average beer but was pleasantly surprised. Once I got past the fizzy head that quickly disappated the aroma of this ale grabbed my attention. It was citrusy and bright. The fruitiness seemed to dominate and the sting remained throughout the session. Since it was a bomber I spend the afternoon sipping this 9% ABV drink. The mouthfeel was thin but a dryness remained for some time after the bottle was empty. It left little after taste except for this dryness. The mystery fragrance and taste is ginger and cloves for those of you scratching your head. There is some lemon as well. For those of you who think you are above Trader Joe’s give their selections a try. You’ll be surprised at the quality of their beer. Of course when you have Unibroue brewing your beer it’s hard to go wrong. PS Don’t be shocked at the final pour it is only the dregs. Grade: B

Overall Grade: B

  1. Goin to TJ’s tonight. thanks!

    Matt — December 10th, 2009, 2:15 PM
  2. Ok, finally made it to Trader Joe’s and grabbed this. FYI beer lovers, although the do not have an extensive beer collection there, I was happily informed by one of the workers that it is completely kosher to just grab any beer out of any six pack and mix your own. They price the individuals relative to the 6-pack price so I just started plucking out beers and walked away with about 12 individual beers, the most expensive costing me $1.75/ 12 oz bottle.

    Matt — December 23rd, 2009, 9:33 AM
  3. That’s great! I had no idea. Nice tip.

    Michael — December 23rd, 2009, 10:00 AM
  4. I opened my bottle of this last night in gleeful anticipation after sharing two high ABV Belgian ales with a buddy. Michael, I think I know what the distinct aroma was that you couldn’t explain: Marinara sauce, just loaded with Italian seasoning. Sound gross? Mine was. I drank a full 12 oz of it before pouring the rest down the drain. How a beer could actually possess that aroma and taste is beyond me. I truly hope I had a “dud”, but I was terribly unimpressed. The mouthfeel and finish of the beer were good, but after the aroma had done its nasty job, it didn’t matter what the mouthfeel and finish were. Did you pick up on what I’m talking about or was my bottle just bad?

    Matt — January 15th, 2010, 9:16 AM
  5. Bummer, Matt! Nope, I didn’t pick up the Italian flare, but I bought a couple other bottles and might be cracking open one of them tonight. I’ll sniff my best and let you know.

    Michael — January 15th, 2010, 9:55 AM
  6. Deal. i’d be thrilled if you DONT smell a S^%#load of oregano. Let me know!

    Matt — January 15th, 2010, 10:30 AM
  7. Well, thanks a lot. You ruined a perfectly good beer for me! Actually, it wasn’t quite as spicy as I thought it would be, but was also quite a bit more so than I first thought. I’m hoping it will settle down a bit over time, as I bought one for the ‘cellar.’

    Michael — January 20th, 2010, 5:12 PM
  8. I am looking for Moose Drool Beersold at Trader Joe’s. What store carries it?

    Nancy Farrell — November 7th, 2011, 8:24 PM
  9. Nancy … Moose Drool is a Brown Ale made by Big Sky Brewing Company in Missoula, Montana. It’s a great beer. Whether or not you can find it depends on where you live. We can get it here in Chicago because it is distributed here. Check out to see if it’s distributed in your area.

    Taylor — November 8th, 2011, 12:03 PM
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