The budget for the first fiscal quarter of 2014 contained a top-down command from upper management prohibiting the purchase of 22oz 'bomber'-beers due to an insufficient ROI* and general loss of productivity.
"What if it only costs $4.99?" - Trader Joe's
"Please proceed with the transaction" - Upper Management
Emboldened by executive authority, I procured a bottle of Trader Joe's 2013 Vintage Ale. (A little background: Unibroue has apparently produced a version of this for TJ's every year since 2005, and there are interesting vertical tasting notes out there)
This is a very age-able beer - it has the trifecta of being bottle-conditioned, roastier than BBQ, and enough alcohol to kill grandma (~9%, my grandma's a lightweight).
This beer pours a very serious head - that bottle conditioned yeast isn't slacking off. It reminds me of dense root beer fizz (cane sugar, not HFCS). At this point there is a 4:1 foam/brew ratio, very little of which is due to an improper pour, I promise. I wouldn't worry about this going flat within the next couple years.
The aroma is rather alcohol, but blackberries - EDIT - blackcurrant sweetens a licorice base significantly. It smells like someone drowned tiramisu covered in blackcurrant candies and cardamon in sweet dry vermouth. Grandma's drunk again.
The taste is sweet, but the aftertaste is very dry. However, describing this as vermouth-esque would be diametrically wrong, due to a very oily mouthfeel - I'll be able to feel this on my teeth later. It's really delicious though - a lot of well-balanced spices, including cloves and some cinammon, although the alcohol certainly tips the scale a little further than it should. Aging this beer a bit would hopefully balance it out nicely.
Overall, I really liked this beer, and my wallet absolutely loved it, so there's that.
*ROI is financial jargon for Not As Many Samples As A Six-Pack