Up from the Cellar – Vintage Ale from Trader Joe’s 2010

The private label beers at Trader Joe’s fall into two camps. The “Really cheap and it Shows” and the “I Can’t Believe They aren’t Charging More.”

The Unibroue beers fall into the latter and I have squirreled away 2010-2012 vintages that were labeled as Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale. I will only review the two oldest though. Maybe save 2012 and get 2014 to compare against each other.

Here is what I said about this beer years ago, Aroma is not malty or roasted. Rich smelling. Pours dark brown close to black. Alot of plum type flavor in here. A faint touch of spice. The cheeks warm up but only after a few sips.

Now it is time to see how 4 years has treated this Canadian Dark ale with spices…..


First off, the cork came out beautifully. Two seconds later it was a grade school science fair exhibit that delayed my drinking whilst I cleaned up sticky beer from the counter.

Once I had it in the glass, the smell of cherries and plums greeted the nose. Almost juice like in aroma. A pretty taupe pattern of lacing on the glass. Taste wise, the Belgian yeast influence seemed to have faded a bit. There was a bit of thinness too that I don’t remember from before and the booziness isn’t as apparent. After the fruit notes the biggest flavor is a wine tannin hit. The spice which was faint has completely left the building.

Coming in at 9%, this beer shows signs of losing strength. Still plenty of flavor here but the complimentary notes which rounded out the taste are gone, leaving a more acidic ale with a fruit focus in its place.


The Verdict – I think I let this one sit for a year too long.  The fruit forward nature is a bit too much.


Looks like Trader Joe’s is having Unibroue add to the private label beers that they supply with the coming soon Providential Belgian Golden Ale.

Not only can you get Unibroue branded beers at a discount at the chain there private label offerings are an absolute steal for the high quality you get. Just avoid the Boatswain beers. Not good.

Unibroue Tasting

If you weren’t at Bottle Rock in Culver City on Monday then you missed a treat. Unibroue was pouring 7 beers plus a special for only $15.00. Here are my thoughts…

Blanche de Chambly
– bubbly and carbonated. Light straw in color. Had a wine aroma. Easy to drink. Not as spicy as I would like in a white beer.

Ephemere – bubbly as well. Apple taste was not as pronounced as in previous bottles. Nice farmhouse aroma. One of favorites.

Don de Dieu – caramel smell. Triple Wheat ale. Lovely orange-golden color. A little spice on the back end. Probably my second favorite.

Maudite – very alcoholy even though less ABV’s than the Don de Dieu. Complex but not in a good way. Flavors seemed to fight each other.

La Fin du Monde – very similar to the Don de Dieu but with much more of an alcoholic bite to it. Beautiful golden color.

Trois Pistoles – lovely dark color. Not much aroma. Better balance of flavors than the Maudite.

La Terrible – biggest ABV of the bunch but also very lovely. Nice lace on the glass. Dry.

As a special treat, there was a Unibroue beer served up that you cannot get here in Southern California. La Seigneuriale. What they call a Belgian Strong Pale. In English it means, Lord of the Manor. Very nice amber with lots of competing flavors that don’t get in the way of each other. It is my bronze winner of the night.