Josephs Brau Oktoberfest | Trader Joe's Brewing Company

105 Reviews
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Josephs Brau OktoberfestJosephs Brau Oktoberfest

Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Märzen / Oktoberfest

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.30%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-13-2006

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Reviews: 105 | Ratings: 186
Photo of diechipmunk
3.06/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Not bad. Has a nice caramel\toffee flavor, good balancing bitterness, moderate head and a creamy mouth feel. A slightly unpleasant sharpness in the finish, but overall pretty good and a great price.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brown color, plenty of clarity, but not much head, 1/6". Aroma gave some nuttiness.

Taste smooth, yet a bitter mouthfeel beyond style. Caramel, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, toffee, tea leaves, tobacco.

If it was smoother, it would be above average.

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Photo of MyThoughtsExactly
3.54/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

L: Copper redish color with a thick puck of head.
S: Crisp lager smell with a little sweetness.
T: Crisp and refreshing malt taste wit some hop bitterness in the finish.
F: Light bodied with a good amount of carbonation in the mouth.
Overall a decent beer and shall I saw good considering the price point.

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Photo of Mitzvahman72
2.23/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

With a light copper color, it has a nicely bready, slightly sweet aroma, but boasts an off-grassy leaf hop that tries to weave within the malts. There is also a slight metallic tinge with the good mouthfeel. It seems as though the hops are used to make the beer tastes more like a pale ale than a traditional lager. Not as fresh as the Oktoberfest from Karl Strauss and Sprechers, but it’s an interesting attempt to be the Alley Cat from Lost Coast Brewing and the Marzen from Sudwerk Brewing.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.1/5  rDev +31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

JoesephsBrau Oktoberfest has a thick, creamy, off-white head, a hazy, fairly bubbly, copper appearance, and a bit of lacing left behind. The aroma is of sweet bread crust, and the flavor is the same, with sweet syrup and low bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium, and JosephsBrau Oktoberfest finishes crisp and refreshing.


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

All-around OK. Not my favorite seasonal from TJ's -- their spring and winter ones are much better -- but for a buck a bottle, worth a try.

This one has the rich, roasted malt character I like about Oktoberfest. Compared to Sam Adams, it's a little lighter and not as sweet. Some grassy hops. Drinkable, crisp and refreshing.

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Photo of constantine_272
3.69/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Nice dark copper color but with a sad weak head. Medium carbonation. Rich wheat bread, on the nose with a nutty sesame, sunflower and walnut. Taste is malty with a bready wheat bread. A carbonic mineral undertone with a a mild dry leaf and earthy bark dust lingers through the middle. A tangy crisp earthy hay flavor finishes nicely with a long honey sweetness that lingers with the tingly texture. After the first sip, I thought this beer was so-so. After about a quarter the way through, I'm really starting to enjoy this. The tangy lightly hopped finish is wonderfully refreshing and leaves you craving more. It's also light an smoothe and easy drinking. I could picture drinking a liter stein of this and not feeling too bad afterwards also.

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Photo of Spikester
3.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Clear golden orange with one finger of white that falls quickly but leaves some fair lace.
Smell toasted malt with a bit of caramel.
Taste is same as the smell with the addition of lots of grassy herbal hops.
Mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation. Slightly bitter finish.
Overall a pretty good beer maybe not quite as balanced as I would like. There is just the slightest hint of sour grape skin in the aftertaste. That could be from the rather forward noble hop character.

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Photo of MNishCT77
3.36/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

12 oz. bottle purchased at Trader Joe's in Foggy Bottom, NW D.C., unknown brewing/packaging date but purchased about two months ago, poured into my Snallygaster 2014 mug, drank over 30 minutes

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Photo of bushbeer75
3.24/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz brown bottle - best consumed by 4/24/15

Joseph Brau Oktoberfest poured out into my mug a very clear gold hue. Atop sat a 1-finger off-white head that dissipated to a ring of lacing. The smell is light caramel malt and very light grassy hops - a little disappointing. The taste starts out with a light breadiness and caramel then hops appear leaving a light bitter grassy aftertaste. Mouth feel is medium-light with moderate carbonation.

J.B. Oktoberfest is average for the style - nothing more nothing less. At about $6.99 a six- pack it sure is better than most macro lagers.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.39/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Modern Times pint glass
From: Trader Joe’s in La Mesa (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $9.99 for a variety 12-pack
Purchased: Nov. 25, 2014
Consumed: Nov. 25, 2014
Misc.: Best by Feb. 10, 2014

Poured a caramel, amber color with three fingers of off-white, rocky head. Good amount of bubble streams coming up from the bottom. Very few spots of foamy lacing on the sides of the glass. Average retention on the top all the way down. (Sight - 3.75)

Smelled roasty malts, dark nuts, caramel, light hazelnut, honey, light buttery malts, dark toffee and maple walnut. (Smell - 3.50)

Taste wasn’t quite as good as the nose. Roasty nuts, earthy, grainy malts, caramel, honey nuts, light hazelnut and maple walnut. (Taste - 3.25)

Medium body. Thin texture. Average carbonation. Abrupt, nutty finish. (Feel - 3.25)

Not too bad overall for the style. Nothing spectacular, but nothing horrible. (Overall - 3.50)

3.39 | 77 | B-

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Photo of creepinjeeper
3.96/5  rDev +27.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a dimpled mug
Look - Amber in hue. Translucent. Head settles quickly. Lots of lacing on the beer and glass.
Smell - Malty. Wet bread. Burnt toffee notes.
Taste - Little bit of hop bitterness. Solid malt backbone.
Feel - Crisp, clean nothing lingers.
Overall - Solid oktoberfest/marzen style for the price.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.29/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - Pours clear and golden orange in color with a finger width beige head. Sub-par retention, resulting in a thin, broken layer of surface suds. Virtually no lacing.

Smell - Notes of caramel malt and touches of lightly toasted bread; equal amounts of grassy hop and lesser floral character round out the aroma.

Taste - In tune with the nose. Caramel and lightly toasted breadiness met quickly by the grass hop character. Hops strengthen in the finish, leaving a bitter grassy aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Light to medium body with moderate carbonation. Goes down easy enough before a semi-dry finish.

Overall - Fair Oktoberfest. Probably a tad too hoppy for the style, but it's drinkable in the least. Frankly I'd look for other options before buying this again.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
2.85/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Oktoberfest pours an amber color with a large frothy lacing head. There is a metal like aroma. The taste is overly sweet, apple juice like flavors, with hints of metal. Tough to stomach, flat feeling. Overall its overly sweet, fruity and metal like, not the best.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.48/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Seattle Beer Week pint glass. Pours a medium to dark coppery amber with a two finger off white head with decent retention and lots of lacing. Lots of carbonation. Aroma of bready and slight toasted malt, hint of grassy hops. Faint sulphur. Flavor is dominated by sweet bready malt, light caramel with a grassy, slightly toasted malt finish. Medium bodied with a hint of creaminess. Pretty much delivers on what it advertises; an inexpensive marzen style fall beer. Too sweet for the style, but drinkable. Surprisingly pleasant body. Might do if you hit Oktoberfest time with a tiny budget. German beers are already so reasonable, that it seems to be an odd thing to get cheap about.

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Photo of TheMarkE
3.49/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Copper colored, like a shiny new penny. Decent foam and lacing.

Smell: Bready malts, caramel.

Taste: Bready malts, hints of caramel.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, slightly creamy.

The Verdict: Not bad. Trader Joe’s affordable take on this Autumn style is about what you would expect, and nothing more.

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Photo of GMB
3.52/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A standard pour of Josephs Brau's Oktoberfest yields an amber body and a thick. off-white head with some staying power. Neither the body nor the head are especially impressive. The former is a bit lighter than I expect from a märzen. The latter doesn't stick around as long as I had hoped it would. Still, though the head falls quickly, it leaves behind a thin crown of foam that's sticky and appealing.

The nose is malt-forward, which is typical of the style. The malty aromas aren't as bold as I had hoped they would be. Let's see what happens when we put this beer on the palate.

The taste is much fuller and richer than the nose suggested. Sweet, roasted malts dominate. Faint notes of bittering hops keep the bold malt from outstaying its welcome, but don't get in its way. This is a rich, sweet beer that begs to be sipped slowly.

The mouthfeel is almost too full. Foam is pleasantly rich and thick. But the beer's body does feel heavy on the palate as I make my way through the bottle.

If you're curious about the Oktoberfest/Märzen style, I encourage you to pick up a bottle of Josephs Brau's rendition. It has all the characteristics we expect: thick, sweet, medium-toasted malts balanced with moderately bitter, moderately aromatic noble-type hops. There are much better renditions out there, but this one does the job nicely.

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Photo of dhannes
2.71/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Poured @ about 50º into a Perfect Pint.

A=Dark golden color, but no reddish tint; great cream colored head.

S=Hint of malt, but also uric acid/urine.

T=Tangy, sour, sharp...not robust nor creamy...seems like too much hops. Too sour (I checked the date and it said best consumed by 2/11/14). IBU stated 25, which I am finding a bit hard to believe.

M=Just the right amount of carbonation...body was great for a standard lager, but a märzen should have more body and robustness than this.

O=I don't know why I expected more out of a $5.99/6-pack beer...I fell for the package copy, which greatly oversold this beer. Not worthy of buying as a märzen or a lager. Another one requiring apple cider to turn into a snakebite.

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Photo of ExaltedNecrosis
2.07/5  rDev -33.4%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle poured into a stein.

A - Clear brownish orange, one finger of off white head. Looks like highly carbonated apple juice.

S - Smells like an adjunct lager. A bit of corn and the smallest hint of caramel.

T - Definitely not what I was expecting. Tastes like a corn adjunct lager, with an offputting metallic flavor. There's a hint of caramel at the end, with a bitterness to round it out.
I have no idea why this is called an Oktoberfest.

M - Its most redeeming quality is the mouthfeel, which isn't even that good. High amount of fizzy carbonation, which almost makes this refreshing. It's still on the thin side, and nothing like the Oktoberfests I'm used to.

O - I'm glad this only cost me a buck, as I definitely won't be getting it again. My worst Trader Joe's beer to date. I'll stick with with their oatmeal stout.

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Photo of BillV
1.4/5  rDev -55%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

I hate blind dates, but I am stubborn.

Let me explain: I saw this beer in my local Trader Joes and was excited to buy and try. Hence, my beer blind date.

First, lets talk about what a Marzen is supposed to be: A rich, slightly malty beer with a slight hint of toasted character from Vienna malt. No roasted or caramel flavors are present, and the beer has a fairly dry finish. Noble hops are present though should be only lightly perceived in the finished beer which is decidedly malty.

This beer should not have been called an Oktoberfest / Marzen. It looks similar to a Marzen, but after you get it in the glass, you can see there is something disturbing right away about the look of it. While the color, slightly amber and burnt orange sits for a few minutes, it takes on the appearance of what I can only compare to a sports drink of the same color.

The nose is your first real clue right off the bat, though. The hint of malt and toasted characters are not there. Instead, what I encountered was a bitterness and a highly carbonated scent that does not seem to subside. Again, I felt like this might be some kind of weird fizzy drink. On the first sip, there was a slight, very slight hint of malt but that was quickly beaten down by a bitterness that washes over your tongue that does not fade into a cozy Noble hoppy-malt daydream like a real Marzen would do.

Instead, I found myself quickly trying to get rid of this, guzzling it down to try and get rid of it; too proud to just pour it down the drain and too stubborn to believe that I had spent money on this with such high expectations only to be let down. I felt as if my palette was on some nightmarish blind date that was going increasingly wrong with every moment and I just wanted it to be over. As I quaffed it down trying not to wince now at the bitterness that was fully ensconced in this brew like an encounter with an ex-wife, I could only try and hold on to the fantasy of returning the rest of this remaining six pack to the front curb of Trader Joe's with a curt nod and a tight smile as I spin my tires and peel off into the night.

While I have had other Joseph Brau beers which I thoroughly enjoyed and even raved about---having sought them again on several occasions--this beer will definitely not be one of them. This alcoholic fizzy drink should be renamed and branded along with similar type drinks appropriately sold in convenience stores in college towns.

When I finally finished the beer, I was clearly angry at something having swallowed the bitterness of some disgruntled Teutonic brewer somewhere who obviously hated Oktoberfest and had nothing but contempt for anything festive or joyous in the way of celebrating this fine, time honored tradition which the German people wholeheartedly wish to share with each and everyone of us.

This is not an example of an Oktoberfest style beer. If you are looking for another, better example, then please refer to the Beeradvocate website as there are many other fine examples for you to read about and try. I may try and use the remainder of the six pack to experiment with to try and find a workaround to the bitterness that ruins this beer experience for me and for others, I suspect.

I hate blind dates, though I am admittedly stubborn, I try to see the best in the worst of things and to this beer attempt, I can only say that it might be recoverable if the brewer could reformulate it. But there are too many other fine examples of Marzen to spend too much of your valuable time worrying about it.

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Photo of jpro
2.51/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Single 12oz longneck from TJ's. Poured into a standard shaker pint...

A: Best by 2-18-13 printed on the label... Brassy gold; two-finger, cream head; nice layer of retention sticks around, leaving some specks of lace.

S: Bready malts; rich caramel malt / light toffee / butteriness; no noticeable hop character.

T: Light caramel malt; a touch of white bread; virtually no hop flavor, although there is some dryness on the end (barely).

M: Medium body; lower carbonation; thin, though; lacks character.

O: Looks good, but things went downhill from there; maybe a good option for an Oktoberfest party... Drinkable, but boring / lacking.

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Photo of augustgarage
2.79/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Harriet pils glass. Best before February 2nd, 2013.

Brilliantly clear Princeton orange liquid with a lasting thin white cap. Pasty lacing and good retention.

Sweet dusty malt aroma without the character or toastiness of the best examples of the style. Not-unappetizing, but bland.

Slightly toasty and sweet lager with low vegetal (grassy) elements and a subtle metallic/adjunct element as well. Some decent malt notes and a low bitterness are present, but neither can hide the imperfections. Finishes dry but with a lingering cheap-breakfast-cereal element in the aftertaste.

Medium-light bodied, well carbonated, and just a touch slick.

One of the more disappointing offerings from this Trader Joe's contract brewer; I suppose this was meant to be imbibed in such quantities that its deficiencies would go unnoticed, but I can't say I'd reccommend it.

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Photo of chinchill
3.21/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, BB dated Feb. 2013, of Josephs Brau Oktoberfest from TJs served in a Sam Adams lager glass.

Pours clear, golden-amber in color, and with an impressive, authentic looking off-white head. The head evens leaves substantial sticky lacing on the glass, however, it has limited retention. Very fine-grained visible carbonation.

The mild scent [2.75] is rather unremarkable and not enticing. The flavor is certainly better, with a decent malt base and good sweet/bitter balance. Better, stronger and more lasting aftertaste than expected.

M: medium-light body; medium+ carbonation; semi-dry finish.

O: A respectable American Märzen that is true to style and low cost.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.81/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Best before 2/20/13.

Pours a clear dark orange with a foamy orange-white head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grain, and some slight caramel aromas. Taste is much the same with an assertive and medicinal hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty poor beer that has an unbalanced bitterness that isn't very pleasant.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.03/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle courtesy of fthomasl pours a clear gold color more in line with the newer festbiers as opposed to traditional marzens. Fluffy white head does not last too long, but does leave nice lace.

Nose is grainy, fresh, slightly sweet caramel popcorn...a little buttery even. Probably dome diacetyl issues but that is not always a bad thing.

It definitely has diacetyl issues, but I don’t mind it much in a beer like this. The butterscotch flavors behave well with the light, grainy malts. Not much of a hop presence, even considering the style. I don’t think the beer is all that great, but I won’t have a problem finishing the bottle and actually am enjoying the butterscotch flavors.

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Josephs Brau Oktoberfest from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.11 out of 5 based on 186 ratings.
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