Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Brewer: Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec, Canada
[Editor’s Note: I wrote this post about a month ago and recently discovered I had failed to put it up, hence the reference to a “December evening in front of the fire.” I was going to update it, but decided against tampering with the original integrity of the piece. Deal with it.]
Trader Joe’s has been making a push these days as a place to be taken seriously for microbrews. At my local store I’ve seen brewers such as Sierra Nevada (not just the Pale Ale) and 21st Amendment pop up. They’ve also had some pretty big players (Firestone Walker, Gordon Biersch) contract brew several house labels for them.
Their Vintage Ale is brewed by Unibroue, the great Belgian-style specialist from Canada. Now, I’m not much of a Belgian ale guy. I’m trying my best to appreciate the various Belgian-inspired styles, but more often than not they are simply too sweet for me. Being a hophead, I crave the bitterness. But I don’t mind a Belgian ale now and then. For me, TJ’s Vintage Ale is one to enjoy. It’s a nice ale to drink, and at only $5 a bottle it’s a great way to venture into Belgian territory without dropping too much cash.
It pours a very dark brown, almost black, with aromas of banana, raisin, cloves, maybe some allspice. It has that funky Belgian sweetness that I’m still trying to appreciate. But there are elements of toffee and maybe nutmeg that give it interest, with a light mouthfeel that makes for easy sipping.
TJ’s 2012 Vintage Ale is a quality brew made by a quality producer, and it works well on a December evening in front of the fire.