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Trader Jose's Dark Lager - Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Trader Jose's Dark LagerTrader Jose's Dark Lager

Educational use only; do not reuse.

89 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 89
Hads: 160
Avg: 3.29
pDev: 17.33%
Wants: 6
Gots: 9 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Lager |  5.30% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-06-2008

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (21) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 89 | Hads: 160
Photo of JohnQVegas
3.4/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into Sam Adams lager glass. Grabbed a few different lagers in a mix pack at TJ's, figured I'd take a nice sampling of the stock. Also, love the fact that there's no markup for single bottles vs six packs - liquor stores all over should take heed.

Pours a nice, dark mahogany color, bit hazy, with a two-finger head that settles quickly to a bout one-finger before deciding to stick around. Nice looking beer, all things considered.

Nose is actually quite nice - bit nutty, some dark caramel with a bit of a burnt sugar presence, treacle-y, faint dark fruit and a very light earthy hop note.

Taste isn't bad, though not quite as much going on as in the nose. Earthy from front to back, light burnt caramel and a bit of nuttiness pair with an earthiness on the finish that has just a bit of dark fruit going on. No real sweetness to be found in this one, which is unexpected. Just a bit of cocoa on the finish, along with a faint soapy, even stale note that comes and goes.

Mouthfeel is thin, but a bit creamy, with no real bite at all from the carbonation, just a a bit of a slick creaminess. Very lightly carbonated with a medium light body.

Drinkability could be worse. Some nice flavor going on, though a couple of off flavor also make things a bit weird. Not a bad beer though.

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Photo of mralphabet
3.31/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Dark amber in color, 1 fingers worth of fluffy white head that settles to a nice layer that sticks around for the entire session, lacing is wonderful. Great looking beer.

S: Sweet caramel malt, with a little dark fruit mixed in. Not bad.

T: Sweet malt right up front, hints of caramel, toast and nuts. The is a little dark fruit in the finish. Very little bitterness going on here. Finish is dry.

M: Light to mid bodied. Carbonation is sharp at first but simmers down as it warms.

D: Pretty low ABV, only a buck a beer, pretty good flavors what is not to like here.... Worth a shot. Nice summer time brew that is a little different.

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Photo of HBeezley
3.66/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Pint glass.
Pours a surprisingly nice dark amber. Forms a small head that recedes pretty quickly.
Smell: not bad. Like a mix of Roasted nut, chocolate, and a little hop.
Taste: OK, so. I once had their New Years vintage. Tastes sooo similar. Which is kind of sad seeing as they didn't change it up much for the new year (probably just made it stronger). Anyway, this is alright. Not bad. Not great. I mean, what you can expect from Trader Joes brand I guess. It's bready with a little sweetness just a little bit of some bitterness and then finishing with a little alcohol taste.
Mouthfeel: is decent. Not a whole lot going on there, but easy to drink with just enough to make it interesting and make me take another swig.
Drinkability: well, it's not fantastic but it's nice to drink. It's satisfying. Can't say I would ever go out of my way to buy it again, but not saying I would never buy it again. I actually probably will - mostly for the price. But if you want a mediocre dark lager for a cheap deal this would probably be it.

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Photo of flexabull
3.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$4.99 a six pack, sounds like a deal to me!

Bottle says brewed by Tecate.

Pours a dark amber color with a decent white head.

Aromas are of biscuits, toast, and light minerals.

Taste is clean and crisp, light cocoa up front, biscuit, toast, and some creamy malts. Finish is crisp with an easy mineral hop bite.

Mouthfeel is good, smooth with good carbonation.

Drinkability is also good, and is this beers strong suit. Easy to drink, refreshing, and with enough going on to make this kind of interesting as well.

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Photo of Boxus
3.63/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My family buys this a lot - it's cheap and pretty tasty, a simple but flavorful dark lager. Good with meats.

It pours a nice maroon brown, with a small head that recedes and doesn't lace much. The smell is light and coppery, as is the taste. It's very palatable but nothing really stands out about it. There's a nice caramel apple tone but it becomes a bit too sharp to be a highlight. It rests smoothly in the mouth and goes down easily, which makes it a nice choice for the price. A well-crafted value beer. Have one after work with a hastily prepared steak.

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Photo of tmoneyba
2.95/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured clear brown color with a large frothy off-white head that mostly lasted with good lacing. Moderate sweet malty aroma. Medium body with a thin texture and soft carbonation. Light sweet flavor with soft sweet finish of short to medium duration. Worth trying agian.

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Photo of FreshmanPour77
4/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 6-4-10
Reviewed cold from a bottle to a glass

A - Dark reddish brown, 2 fingers of foam, nice lacing ring, carbonation present

S - Roasted malts, caramel, and no hop aroma to speak of

T - Lighter bodied brew, smooth, malty with caramel sweetness

M/D - Pretty drinkable brew, another good one from Trader Joe's, a light bodied brew, nice and smooth with a good blend of malts and caramel, I recommend this brew and would get it again

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Photo of cdkrenz
3.19/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Decent and interesting looking brew. The head is a very pale tan on top of a dark brown body. The contracting colors are very appealing to the eye.

S - Medium roasted malts and little else.

T - Moderatly roasted barley with very little complexity here. There's a sutle nut and bread flavor but nothing that really stands out as significant.

M - The feel is rather watery as I would expect from a brew boating an origin of Mexico.

~ This is a brew that would go down well while hangin' on the boat or while socializing at a picnic.

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Photo of cnally
3.61/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a deeply brown, mahogany colored beer in the body with a small bubbled white head that has no lacing.

Aroma is much about nothing, very subdued sourness with a bit of toasted marshmallow and malt.

A surprising toasty burnt nut flavor right up front, with a latent bitterness from the hops, but again, subdued. Takes the characteristics of pumpernickel bread and almond. Not too bad.

Feel is medium in heaviness and the carbonation has a bite to it.

Much like many of these Trader Joe's beers, they are just a fantastic value. You won't find your socks blown across the room, but you will be amazed you only paid a dollar for it.

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Photo of LXIXME
3.18/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark red almost like a lighter version of a red wine, this beer has a initial big light brown head that quickly dies leaving a light lacing that slowly dies off.

A light aroma of smoked caramel malts, with some hints of a sour almost citrus source. The taste is a light caramel smoked malt with a light hint a sourness coming through. A light dry smoky aftertaste is kind of appealing

This beer is bad but at the same time it really doesn't stand up to a majority of the west coast small and micro beers, but at the same time it's a cheaper beer and Trader Joe's seems to go through a lot of their product.

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Photo of Cadyfatcat
2.87/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Very roasty on the nose with notes of caramel and rot. Pretty dark brown with small lacey head. The taste is very maltcentric, sweet but roasty malt, very little hops seem present in bittering or flavor dept. I would say style wise this is more akin to a Euro Dark Lager. Many dark Eastern European lagers I've tasted were very similar to this - to its credit though this beer does have a richer and more dynamic taste than most of those beers. It probably owes this to higher quality ingredients and freshness. Not my favorite style of beer, but not bad for $.90 I paid for it as a single at Trader Joe's.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Fratto for sharing this beer.

The beer pours a clear brown color with a white head. The aroma is malty with a lot of biscuit and bready malts. The flavor is more of the same, with a lot of lighter malts. No real hop presence. High carbonation and low-medium mouthfeel. Pretty basic lager here, nothing special, but not terrible.

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Photo of MTNboy
2.56/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma: It has a little of a vinegar odor

Appearance: I had to pour it extra hard to get a decent head but with that being said it great retention. It was a dark caramel color with a bit of a reddish hue.

Tastes: Plastic like taste. There are some tones of caramel and coffee. Almost like a light and cheap bock. It has a woody aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and slick.

Drinkability: Average.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Jose Dark pours a clear and bright reddish amber with a half inch of off white foam. This settles to a surface film which keeps nicely given the support of the 'invisible' carbonation.

Clean and moderately rich lager nose with some light caramel malts. Touch of smoke/roast is there but subtle and balanced. Touch of muddled hops when aggresively agitated.

Flavor follows the nose with a subtle caramel presence and a hint of nuttiness/toasted grain on the finish. Otherwise offers a light brown ale sense. Nice smooth feel, unoffensive yet unobtrusive. Decent drinkability and almost ale-like.

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Photo of CHSLBrew
2.88/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

A-Dark copper, pretty much brown beer, but still quite clear. Tan head rose off the pour, but reduced relatively quickly to sparse bubbles.

S-Toasty, almost chocolatey malts, with a hint of bready sweet and spice.

T-Bready, toasty sweet malt, just a hint of chocolate near the finish, which is overall residually sweet in a toasty way. Bitterness is present, but doesn't impose on the toasted malt. Overall, toasty-sweet with a hint of something almost musty detracting from an otherwise crisp flavor.

M-Moderate-light body is smooth, but still present on my palate. Carbonation is medium level.

D-Drinkable, but not an impressive brew.

One bottle of a mixed sixer I received from my parents for my 26th birthday.

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Photo of kjyost
3.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a good dark brown colour with a quickly disappearing head. It smells of a sweet maltiness with no hint of hops.

There is a lingering sweetness reminiscent of a malt liquor, but the beer has a refreshing level of bitterness. This is a decently cheap beer that you could drink a good deal of in a sitting if desired.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.68/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

09/09/09- Purchased at Trader Joe's in San Mateo, CA.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with no freshness info. Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance- Deep copper colored pour with a 1/2 inch head that hangs around for a bit. Some very light lace markings left behind.

Smell- Some toasted caramel malts, a dash of hops and some light alcohol notes.

Taste- Heavier than expected and sweeter than expected caramel roasted malt flavor. Just the right amount of sweetness. Hops linger, but are not much of the flavor. Lightly bready.

Mouthfeel- Kinda creamy and lightly thick. Slight hop punch in the aftertaste.

Drinkability- Kinda impressed with this one. One of the better tasting red lagers I have had recently.

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Photo of plaid75
3.18/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a medium amber hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retention and decent lacing.

The smell featured a light earthy caramel.

The taste consisted of sweet corn, caramel and some soft cocoa.

The mouthfeel was typical of the style.

Overall a decent lager with a surprising amount of flavor.

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Photo of asabreed
3.47/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Lighter amber-brown color, off-white head, not a lot of lacing or retention.

Smell: Mild chocolate, coffee, and residual adjunct sweetness, with flashes of nice roasted malts also too.

Taste: Warming up close to room temperature, this brings the mild chocolate and roasted coffee flavors out, which I like. Finish is a bit of residual sweetness, biscuit, and mild chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Expected lighter to medium-bodied, maybe a bit sticky, with decent carbonation.

Drinkability: A Negra Modelo clone, and a much cheaper one at that. I have no side-by-side comparison, but this is refreshing enough, and light but balanced with flavor. For $6 a 6-pack, a darker brew like this ain't too bad in the summer.

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Photo of ruckus232
2.96/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 Ounce brown bottle poured into a mag

Appearance: Dark brown but still transparent with 1/2" of off white head and a little lacing

Smell: It has the corn/rice flavor that is familiar with the Adjunct American Lager but with a sweet malted flavor in the background

Taste: There is a slight toasted bitterness initially that changes into a nice sweet malted flavor.

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Photo of porterwoobie
3.36/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass.

A: reddish brown color. white head.

S: malty aroma, hint of some some spices

T: malty and sweet. some caramel flavors.

MF: light body, medium carbonation. smooth drinking.

Drinkability: not bad. i would buy this over its "clone" negra modelo.

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Photo of SiphonKing
2.95/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A Trader Joe's six pack (with Tecate listed on the bottle as the brewing company, interesting). Billed as a "Negra Modelo" clone of sorts it is a little light in body and mouthfeel. A Vienna lager it may be but not one that really satisfies the pallette and makes me want numerous bottles. Malty, slight caramel, and a hint of sulfur.

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Photo of GreenCard
3.48/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: dark copper/reddish-brown, good clarity, thinnish layer of off-white suds that fairly quickly dissipate

Aroma: black tea, malt, corn husks, brown sugar

Flavor: biscuity malt profile with hints of rust, coffee, burnt caramel and grain husks; finishes semisweet with a smooth maltiness in the finish

Mouthfeel: light body, perky carbonation, crisp

Other comments: Negra Modelo is one of my favorite beers from "South of the Border". This cheaper version from TJ's isn't too bad of a clone.

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Photo of AltBock
3.11/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle with a label that shows the consumer a beautiful Mexican sunset. Along the sides of the picture are some native Mexican artwork. In the middle of the label is the name of the beer in big bold white letters and the word "dark" in smaller fiery orange letters with a black background. Under the "TR" in Trader is a stone tablet that says "Imported from Mexico" in red letters. The top of this tablet looks like the famed top of the Alamo. To the far left of the label is the barcode and brewer and to far right of the label is the mandatory US information. Don't let the Trader Joe's name confuse you. It was brewed and bottled in Cerveceria Alta in Tecate, Mexico. No date, but if you look closely at the bottom of the bottle, you'll find an inked batch number. Mine was smeared, so I couldn't read what it said.

When poured into a Dogfish Head pint glass, this "Dark" Mexican beer appeared to be a dark brown color, but when it was held into the light, this beer was actually a dark amber color. I liked this beer's cool color. On top of this dark amber brew was a long lasting 1/4 of an inch creamy head of pure white foam. Since it was long lasting, they only time it receded was when I took a sip of the beer. When it did recede, it left behind plenty of milky white streaks of lace. Great appearance!

I thought it was funny that this beer smelled a little like that corn bread that you can get at Mexican restaurants. Well, that is if they malted the corn first and then mixed in some bread later. I had to take points away because that's all this beer smelled like. There was nothing else in the aroma. No hops or malt, just the scent of corn bread.

This beer tasted nothing like corn bread. Instead, the beer was malty. Not malty with malted barley, but malty with corn and rice. It was mostly corn though. I hate to cut the taste review short, but that was the only taste this beer had, malted corn with a little malted rice. Well, for the sake of things. Lets just say that it tasted like "beer."

This was a light bodied beer with a sweet watery aftertaste of malted corn and rice. Like the initial taste, that was it for the aftertaste. Since the aftertaste was watery, this aftertaste will leave your tongue in a flash! Don't get use to it.

Despite all my negative words about this beer, it wasn't all that bad. It's just that there wasn't much to it. You know what? I would rather drink this over a certain famous flavorless clear bottled Mexican beer. If this beer has one really good quality to it, it's the fact that this beer is cheap as hell. I only paid a dollar plus tax for this beer. If you got a pocket full of change you want to get rid of, then think about getting a single or two of this beer.

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Photo of rowew
3.55/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is obviously a Negro Modelo clone, and it tastes pretty much like you'd expect. Taste is malty with a slight hint of some cooked vegetable flavor. I know its sacrilege around here, but ice cold with a lime, this one could hit the spot with some spicy mexican food. Nothing too exciting, but for a cheap grocery store beer I enjoyed it.

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Trader Jose's Dark Lager from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
76 out of 100 based on 89 ratings.