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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Trader Joe's 2020 Vintage Spiced Ale

2020. There's one for the books. Appropriate to end the year with a product that actually has "2020" in its name, dontcha think?

Now, I'm not sure if I'm doing this right. If this were a bottle of wine, we'd want it to age a few years and then in, say, 2025 or 2030, we'd be like, "Hey let's break out that bottle of vintage '20 we've got in the cellar," and then we'd reminisce about this most ridiculous of years. Incidentally, that's one of the gifts I got Sonia this year for Christmas—a wine rack that we keep in the basement. I even assembled it myself. We totally have a wine cellar now. We're fancy like that. Actually not really.

We keep one row of pseudo-fancy local stuff on the top rack. The rest is filled in with cheap wines and random selections like, well, this spiced ale. I wouldn't call it "cheap," but for $5.99, it's not exactly gonna break the bank, either. It's a top rack bottle for a bottom rack price. I mean, granted, it's not even wine...it's dark ale, but the shape and size of the bottle fit our wine rack perfectly.

So since I'm fairly certain most ales don't improve with age, let's see what we've got going here. Ooh. That is spicy.

Upon pouring into my pub-style pint glass, the head was a little out of control. I like to think I'm decent at pouring like a bartender, where you have the glass basically horizontal at the start of the pour and then you slowly upright the glass as the liquid falls to the bottom, so as to minimize the agitation of the beverage, thus reducing the amount of unwanted foam on top. However, I may have to reassess my pouring skills after serving Sonia and myself about 1/2 pint of beer and 1/2 pint of foam each.

Nevertheless, the foam and the beer were both tasty. The ale was fairly spice-forward with a sort of clove and allspice blend. There was something cinnamony in there, too, but it definitely had the flavor of a beer, rather than that of pumpkin pie or a scented candle. It was a bit creamy, malty, and it tasted festive and unique. It poured a deep brown color, nearly completely opaque. It was moderately carbonated—not too bubbly and not too flat. 

It's 9% ABV, so definitely on the stiffer end of the beer spectrum. Overall, we both liked it. I guess Trader Joe's mixes things up from year to year as far as these vintage brews are concerned, but this one was good enough that I'd definitely check out next year's offering, as well, whatever it may be. 2020 was a very interesting year and I have a sinking feeling 2021 will be, too. So grab an interesting libation or "take a cup of kindness yet" and have a happy New Year!

3.5 stars from me. 4 from Sonia.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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