As you may know, I'm not a fan of Trader Joes beer. Our selection is way too boring for a company that promotes anything but dullness in the shopping experience. However, in mid-November every year, they do something right- they release the Trader Joes Vintage Ale. This series of beers is brewed by one of the better breweries around- Unibroue. Every year, Unibroue changes the recipe. Sometimes (like 2006) it's really tasty. And sometimes (like 2009) it just plain doesn't work. But that's part of the excitement of trying a new vintage ale. You really never know what you're going to get. So without further ado, let's get to the 2010 Vintage Ale.
The beer pours an extremely dark brown with lighter brown tinges when it's held to light. An impressive mocha colored head caps the beer and sticks around for a while. The smell is full of that characteristic Unibroue yeast (a distinctively strong and sweet yeast). Along with the yeast, there are some pleasant hints of dark fruit. Already, I can tell this is going to be an upgrade from last year.
I took one sip and was relieved. So much better than last year! The Unibroue yeast is coupled with full flavors of black licorice and plum along with some bready malts and hints of fig and brown sugar. The beer is well balanced and definitely feels like it could age really well. The mouthfeel is a bit light but pretty much dead on for a Belgian Dark Ale. Nice work, Trader Joes.
Final Grade: A