Trader Joe’s 2012 Vintage Ale-Brewed by Unibroue

Trader Joe's Vintage Ale

Overall: A

Price: A+

Taste: B+

Type: 25 oz Bottle

9% ABV-0 IBU

When I spotted this beer at Trader Joe’s, I had a minor brain spasm, “A 9% Belgian Dark Ale on Lees.  That sounds like an Unibroue.  It can’t be Unibroue.  It’s 5 dollars. What’s that say on the back?  Wait…It IS an Unibroue.” Apparently Trader Joe’s does this every year.  But I should start by saying, I’m not sure it’s really quite as good as a regular Unibroue.  While it was certainly made by Unibroue at their brewery, you get the feeling their heart wasn’t entirely in it.  It’s not quite as refined as their other beers. Then again, it’s much cheaper.   5 dollars, for a 25 oz bottle of 9 percent Belgian dark ale? That’s kind of ridiculous.    It’s almost half the price of La Fin Du Mone, Don De Dieu, or any of the regular Unibroues.  And the taste isn’t bad, it’s actually very good.  Deep malt, with belgian yeasts, hints of dark fruit and caramel.  It pours a dark brown with a thick head. It’s just a little thin at the end. It’s the difference between a 12 year and 18 year old scotch.  This beer is still really good, by any standard of craft brewing, but when you’ve tasted the perfection that is Unibroue’s line of Canadian Belgians, I just don’t think this quite makes the cut.  All that being said, they have a different beer every year, so it’s always worth trying.  And for this price, I’d say it’s worth having around as a drinking beer whenever a friend comes to visit.

In Conclusion: I would thoroughly recommend this beer.  I think Trader Joe’s and Unibroue have done a wonderful thing here.  They’ve made a classy real Belgian that’s affordable and accessible.  I only wish it wasn’t just a holiday treat.

Food Pairing:  Baked Ham, Roasted Duck, or Quail, with grilled or baked vegetables.

On a side note, I wonder if this is what Ommegang’s Game of Thrones beers (read more in separate article) are going to be like?   I’d be ok with that.

“Beer was not made to be moralized about, but to be drunk.” 

– Theodore Maynard

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