Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

E-mail: Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale, Ordering Grilling With Beer…

By William Brand
Saturday, December 30th, 2006 at 11:36 pm in Uncategorized.

I just picked up several bottles of Trader Joe’s 2006 Vintage Ale at their Emeryville (CA) store. I had not noticed it before. Maybe I missed mention in your emails.
$4.99 for 750 ml bottle. I have to remember to drink it before 08-28-2009!

I certainly enjoyed the 2005 and am planning to set aside at least one of that year.

BTW, I can’t get the” Grilling With Beer” book by Lucy Saunders at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I’ll call a couple of more local places before I order it directly.

Cheers & beers,

Hi John...this is from my Dec. 14, 2005 column:

Last note: I found two fairly spectacular beers in recent weeks. First is Trader Joe’s 2005 Vintage Ale***. It’s a 9 percent, Belgian-style, strong ale made by Unibroue in Chambly, Quebec, Canada. This is not Unibroue Edition 2005*****, although it’s about as strong. That’s a wonder with great depth, notes of licorice and port wine. The TJ version is a simpler beer with a charming effervescence I believe comes from the addition of brewer’s sugar, a common Belgian additive. At $4.99 for a 750 ml bottle, it’s a steal.
The second is Silver Jubilee 25th Anniversary Belgian-Style Farmhouse Ale***, made by North Coast Brewing, Fort Bragg, CA, for Whole Foods to celebrate the chain’s 25th anniversary. Made in the Belgian saison style with a Belgian yeast that gives the beer its characteristic earthy background. Lively 7.3 percent beer with a taste of lemon and citrus. Extremely pleasing and pleasant. $6.99, 500 ml bottle.
Late Note: The brewers at Unibroue told me that TJ’s is a contract job and completely different. “Not the same beer at all,” they said. I thought for $4.99, it was a decent beer.

How To Order Grilling With Beer

Oh yeah John. Lucy Saunders self-published the book, so the big chains have ignored it. They’re wrong. The recipes are dynamite. Just call her, that’s the best way to order. Her number is (800) 760-5998, or e-mail
Have a Happy New Year!!

You can find my review of Grilling With Beer in my column; A Barrel Full of Christmas Gifts here. I posted a couple of recipes from the book on down this blog at the Dec. 13 post. Check it out. Lucy knows and loves beer and she’s a hell of a good cook.

Finding Good Beer in San Diego County
Hello Bill,

A friend of mine emailed me the information on Old Stock Ale 2005, Fuller’s Vintage Ale and Duvel you sent him. I lived on the Peninsula in San Mateo Co. for over 50 years and have recently moved to San Marcos, CA 20 miles north of San Diego. You e-mailed my friend Jack a list of Bay Area retailers that sold the aforementioned ales. My request is if you know of any retailers in the San Diego area that sell these ales I would appreciate knowing their locations. We have a few local breweries in the area, however, they do not have the product you described in your email to Jack.

Tony, San Marcos, CA.

Hi Tony. You know, Pizza Port Brewing Co. has taken over Stone’s plant in San Marcos. They make some incredible beer, some under the Lost Abbey label, and may have a tasting room or a place you buy their beer. Their address is: 155 Mata Way, San Marcos. Phone: 760-891-0272.

About Duvel, etc:
The best thing to do is to call Duvel’s Southern California distributor and ask them where to find Duvel in your area. Any store that stocks Duvel is almost sure to have Old Stock Ale.

The Duvel distributor is: Wine Warehouse, 6550 Washington Boulevard, City of Commerce, CA 90040, 323-724-1700

Also, here’s what I found in an Internet search and one caution, I have never visited these places. Good hunting.

Costa Mesa
Hi-Times Cellars, 250 Ogle St., 714-650-8463
Has more than 400 beers, walk-in beer room, much chilled beer. Also sells chocolates, cigars (walk-in humidor), has a wine bar and the largest temperature-controlled wine cellar on the West Coast.

Cork & Keg, 625 First St., 760-436-2255

Holiday Wine Cellar, 302 W. Mission, 760-745-1200

Los Angeles
Beverage Warehouse, 4935 McConnell #21, 310-306-2822

Corti Brothers, 13038 San Vincente, 310-476-1223

Wally’s Liquors, 2107 Westwood Blvd., 310-475-0606

The Wine House, 2311 Cotner Ave., 310-479-3731

San Diego
Mesa Liquor & Wine Co., 4919 Convoy St., 619-279-5292
More than 1,000 beers. Plenty of Belgians.


If you are ever in San Diego Pizza Port has the best pizza around. I miss North Beach Pizza. Yes their beers are excellent. They have two locations. The Encinitas location approx. 5 miles north west of the San Marcos brewery and Carlsbad location is approx 10 south west. (Also they’re in San Clemente). I will have to check out their brewery in San Marcos.
Tony, San Marcos

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  • Mark

    What a great blog. I’m new to homebrewing (2yrs) and certainly new to Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale… Hello, I’m hooked. Although I know a bit more about beer in general than the average Joe, I’m still newer to some of the hidden treasures that are out there. Specifically, dubels. Now I don’t believe that Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale is a ‘dubel’…but wow…the similarities are striking if that’s the case. Anyway, the finer points of the true, and original, nectar of the Gods have me hooked. CHEERS!!!

  • Ron

    Trader Joe’s has been carrying Czechvar (Budvar from the Czech Republic).

    On January 8, 2007, Budvar announced that they had jumped in bed with the Devil, Anheuser Busch, signing a distribution agreement, thereby dumping the US importers. As a result, the same week, the price of Czechvar INCREASED 45%. I emailed the brewery (, thanking them for “rewarding” those who assisted in popularizing their product, explaining that the 45% price increase immediately led to a 100% purchase and consumption decrease on my part.

    That email was the only communication to Budvar that went unanswered. I guess the bastards are a bit uncomfortable with the new PR. :-)

    Trader Joe’s carries another Czech beer, BrouCzech (, a reasonably good beer, and communication with their importer, Eurolink, has been fantastic.

    TJ’s also stocks Topvar, which is from Slovakia and, like Pilsener Urquell, is part of the SAB group.

    Lastly, a couple or three thumbs up for TJ’s Hofbrau and Bohemian. Their other house brands are on my “to do” list. :-)