Scrolling Headlines:

UMass football selected to finish fourth in MAC East preseason poll -

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Legislature overrides Baker’s UMass budget cut -

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Report: UMass football’s Todd Stafford arrested Saturday morning in Stamford, Connecticut -

Monday, July 20, 2015

UMass names Molly O’Mara newly-created associate director of athletics for communications and PR -

Monday, July 20, 2015

Baker approves state budget, UMass to receive $5.25 million less than legislature’s proposed figure -

Friday, July 17, 2015

UMass bathroom policy to provide comfort, safety for transgender and non-gender conforming students -

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Long-time UMass professor Normand Berlin, 83, dies -

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

UMass professor and poet James Tate dies at 71 -

Thursday, July 9, 2015

State legislators propose budget, UMass could receive almost $532 million -

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cause of death determined for UMass student Chloe Malast -

Monday, July 6, 2015

Nick Mariano, Zach Oliveri transferring from UMass men’s lacrosse program -

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Four months after banning Iranian students from certain graduate programs, UMass announces new measures to ensure compliance with U.S. law -

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Justin King sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison -

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two future UMass hockey players selected in 2015 NHL Draft -

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Supreme Court ruling clears way for same-sex marriage nationwide -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Former UMass center Cady Lalanne taken 55th overall by Spurs in 2015 NBA Draft -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Second of four men found guilty on three counts of aggravated rape in 2012 UMass gang rape case -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Boston bomber speaks out for first time: ‘I am sorry for the lives I have taken’ -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

King claims sex with woman was consensual during alleged 2012 gang rape -

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wrongful death suit filed in death of UMass student -

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Trader Joe’s offers delectable liquor

Admit it: you love beer.

Courtesy of Andrew Sheridan

Sure, liquor is quicker, and wine may make the ladies blush, but deep down inside, you know it’s always been beer. Like Marc Antony and Cleo, like Wall-E and Eve, the passion between college kids and beer is one for the ages.

Luckily, this world is friendly to the smitten suds-fan, and once a year one specialty retailer writes a love song to the sweet malty nectar. Forget Grimm. Forget Fifty Shades. If you want to get dark with your love story, look no further than Trader Joes 2012 Vintage Ale.

Trader Joe’s, the private-label giant better known for their tasty guacamole and dirt-cheap wine, have once again released their annual TJ’s Vintage Ale. The retailer has spent the last half a decade building their reputation for good-quality beer (even going so far as to carry non-Trader Joe’s brands, what a shocker!).

This year’s offering, brewed by the Quebecoise Unibroue, is a Belgian-style dark ale, and it is well worth the pomp with which it’s released.

A well-roasted, full-bodied variant on the classic Belgian Strong, the dark is an uncommon style on this side of the Atlantic, so those who enjoy it should take advantage of this rare opportunity.

Unibroue, famous for their La Fin du Monde, are French-Canadian brewers with a decidedly Belgian bent. While they put out a number of blondes, strong ales and specialty brews, few are as hearty as this annual treat.

Served in a 750ml bottle and clocking in at 9 percent alcohol by volume, it should be readily apparent that this beer is not to be trifled with. It is bottle-conditioned, meaning that it undergoes a secondary fermentation after the bottling process, and this makes it suitable for aging if you don’t happen to be thirsty in the next few years.

Although the champagne-style cork makes it harder to get open than a bra on prom night, this pitch-black behemoth is well worth the effort.

It pours with a frothy cappuccino head, topping a body so dense that no light can escape its gravitational pull.

All joking aside, this beer is as full-bodied as they come, but it manages not to be so heavy that you can’t finish the bottle.

While one might expect the flavors of a porter or dark lager, the Belgian character comes through loud and clear. It starts with the sweet caramel goodness of dark-roasted malt, which soon gives way to more subtle notes of coffee, chocolate and Christmasy spice. The hops are strong enough to make themselves known, but the pumpkin pie-like spices definitely play first string.

Unibroue really shows its true colors at the end, as it finishes with the fruity, yeasty character that one might expect from a Chimay, Duvel, or yes, La Fin du Monde. Even this, however, bears a darker quality than usual, recalling ripe plums or chocolate-dipped bananas. If that makes it sound more complicated than your typical brewski, that’s because it is. Even in this season of dark roasts and malty browns, a beer this complex and deep is hard to come by.

Available (of course) at your local Trader Joe’s, this spicy seasonal treat is a fine example of the breadth of flavor and style in the world of beer. For those who love dark caramel flavors, it is tough to top the 2012 Vintage. And in this most romantic of seasons, one could hardly ask for a finer tribute to our eternal flame, the Beer.

Andrew Sheridan can be reached at Andrew.p.sheridan@gmail.com.

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