Trader Joe’s 2013 Vintage Ale

While filling my basket with smashed bananas, peanut butter pretzels, and Punjab Choley, I bottlecame across the end cap display of TJ’s holiday release. I tried this beer last year and was woefully underwhelmed, but tossed the bottle in my cart a few days ago and figured What the hell…I’ll do it for my readers. 

Here’s what I discovered:


Pours a dark cola brown with no chance of light shining through. The ample head is khaki brown and sticks to the side of the glass.


Lots of spice. Definitely Belgian-inspired with the banana, malt, cinnamon, and yeast coming headthrough strong.  There’s also a cola scent and some dark fruits.


Taste follows the nose for the most part. Belgian heavy with some hints of booze. Slightly toasted with raisins, figs, cloves, and molasses.  I was afraid this would not be a balanced beer and was pleasantly surprised.


Considering the color and taste, this had more carbonation than I expected and was pretty light on the tongue.  Would have preferred a more robust and thick mouthfeel.

Numbers:bottle and glass

I think I paid $6 for the 750mL caged and corked bottle.  It’s brewed by Unibroue in Quebec, which is no big surprise. Tastes very similar to some of their sweet (flavor) Belgian concoctions.  It packs a 9% ABV.

Final Thoughts

Much, much better than last year. This makes a decent session Belgian (yeah, yeah, 9% is too high for a session…don’t judge), but would also make a great intro beer for someone just getting into the style.

Next time I’m at Trader Joe’s, I’ll buy five or six more bottles. Cellar a few of them, and enjoy the rest during the cold season.




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