Josephs Brau Oktoberfest | Trader Joe's Brewing Company

186 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 186 |  Reviews: 105
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 jibjib513
1.75/5  rDev -43.7%

Photo of TastyTaste
1.8/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance: Medium to dark gold color, not a whole lot of head. Much too light for the style. Plenty of visible carbonation.

Smell: Light grain and cookoed veggie smell.

Taste: Funky and sour lactic flavors, the hops get lost in the sour flavors. Malt is unpleasent. A bad Oktoberfest, even for the price.

Drinkability: One of the lesser beers I have tried from TJ's, avoid.

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Photo of Zorro
1.99/5  rDev -36%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This beer is a clear orange colored ale with a skimpy white head.

Smell is not much. Mild hop aroma and a little sweetness.

Taste is mildly smoky and mildly sweet with a little Nobel hop bitterness to it; and that is about it.

Mouthfeel is average.

Not much to taste here don't bother.

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Photo of barnzy78
2/5  rDev -35.7%

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.

 836 characters

Photo of balconybrew
2.09/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Pours a clear orange with a small white head.

The aroma lacks. You can barely taste the hops and minimal malt.

The taste is slighty sweet with minimal hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is average, nothing special.

I didn't even finish the first one. I wouldn't have another.

 279 characters

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.

 495 characters

Photo of yelterdow
2.31/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Thanks to friends who live near the Westfield Trader Joe's location that carries beer and wine. Batch number J8001, with the date 08/21/06 lasered on. Sampled at just over fridge temperature in a pint glass

Appearance- Pours a clear light to medium amber, the quickly rising head tops at a full two fingers with audible volume. It settles nicely to a fluffy mat, with the beginnings of some good lacing setting up. Very attractive overall.

Smell- Lesser than usual caramel malt nose, with a touch of fresh bready sweetness. Hints of toast and what smells like a dose of corn.

Taste- Unfortunately, there is an overpowering skunkiness that eclipses the potential positive aspects of the beer... there's a big, macro-like character that magnifies whatever adjuncts may have been used here. Notes of toasted malts and caramel do appear, but masked behind a wall of mediocrity and rugged hop bitterness. Not impressed in the least.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- The initial feeling in the mouth is a sharp, piranha-like attack on the lips and tongue... like a newly opened bottle of seltzer water, it reeks of artifical carbonation. It doesn't settle down until it's been in your mouth for way too long, which seems like an eternity. Avoid this offering completely, as there are too many excellent alternatives readily available.

 1,332 characters

Photo of blackearth
2.33/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Purchased at Trader Joes. Pours a light amber body with a thin white head that quickly fades. Aroma of lightly toasted caramel malt. Mouthfeel is light with a crisp carbonation. Flavor is astringent and slightly skunky. Drinkability is quite poor. Won't be getting this again.

 276 characters

Photo of likestoswallow
2.33/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle.

A: Pours a light amber color with a small off-white head.

S: The aroma is a mess, it is relatively weak with corn, molasses, rock candy and saccharine.

T: Very sweet with lots of rock candy, biter almonds, brown sugar and lager yeasts that remind me of macro stuff.

M: The palate is thin and watery. The finish is long with lingering rock candy.

D: Way too sweet for me. If you love overtly sweet beers then this for you, otherwise skip it.

 463 characters

Photo of bluebrew17
2.33/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Picked up a six pack of this beer at Trader Joes... Pour was nice, decent white head. Color is medium amber. There is a hint of diacetyl on the sniff, and a taste confirms. This beer was alot like carbonated popcorn. Very buttery. I'm fairly sensitive to diacetyl so its hard to get past to get to any other flavors.

 316 characters

Photo of 1fastz28
2.36/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

pours a very clear copper color with average carbonation and a nice frothy head. smell is of malt and unfortunately corn, not much else in the nose, little if any hop scent. taste is unflattering, first sip has a slight malt kick to it, after that its alll water. by the time i had the first sip the head was gone leaving a whole glass of sub par beer. second sip i notice a tiny bitterness at the end but this beer leaves much to be imagined. has a real pretty color to it, but unfortunately thats about it.. should of known better for a year-round made oktoberfest.

 567 characters

Photo of stephendr
2.4/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Clear amber color – white frothy medium head , but short duration – nose of fruit , malt , grapefruit , floral , and slight various grains – taste of bitterness, malt , floral , and skunk – slightly acidic , bright body – aftertaste slightly bitter with hopps , citrus , and malts lingering

 295 characters

Photo of JBogan
2.43/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured a medium golden color, with almost no head. No lacing at all left in my glass.

Malty aroma, maybe some wheat. Nothing really jumps out though.

Tasted like it smelled, and again without any one flavor that stands above another to distinguish itself.

Very thin feeling in the mouth, with almost no carbonation.

I suppose it's a drinkable beer, in that you could probably pound a number of these easily if taste wasn't a big factor.

I was going to pick up a six pack from Trader Joe's, but at the last moment saw some singles in a refrigerated section and decided to give that a try first. I'm glad I did. It's priced cheap but still not a beer I'd go back to.

 669 characters

Photo of Bolivian22
2.5/5  rDev -19.6%

Photo of CuriousMonk
2.5/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

From fall brew ranking notes: Pours a medium amber color from a 12oz bottle. Small to medium sized white foamy head. The aroma is caramel and sweet but kind of mild. Light to medium bodied Marzen. The malts are caramel, bready and sweet. The hops are earthy and spicy. Touch of tobacco and some tea. Lively carbonation. It's a little thin and watery and there is an off flavor I can't quite place. Its not really unpleasant, but I do not think I ant to drink this one very often. Mouthfeel is thin. Finish is clean and crisp. Aftertaste is slightly sweet. Can't recommend this brew.

 582 characters

Photo of OldTime
2.5/5  rDev -19.6%

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.

 639 characters

Photo of GossageBrewery
2.56/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Poured a clear copper color, produce a thick white head, excellent retention and left a nice amount of lacing. The aroma consisted of sweet malt, and caramel. Medium in body, this ale consists of toasted grain, and finish's with a small amount of hops. Overall, not a great example of Oktoberfest. Prost!

 350 characters

Photo of goschool
2.58/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Another cheapo Trader Joe's single.

Appearance: The pour is clear copper with a quickly fading foamy off-white head.

Smell: This isn't the world's most aromatic nose. It is malty, but it's doesn't present the fruity character that's fundamental to Oktoberfests. Instead, this has a bit of caramel malts and a hint of hops.

Taste: This has two major problems. One, it's one dimensional and two, it's not particularly good (It's also not much of a O-fest, but style guidelines aren't really important to me). The one dimension is sweet caramel malts. What's left of the flavor profile is composed of a sour taste and a tiny trace of hops.

Mouthfeel: It's just barely medium-bodied with fizzy carbonation.

Drinkability: I wish Trader Joe's would focus more on quality than quantity in their beer aisle.

 806 characters

Photo of CharlesDarwin
2.6/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

12 Oz Bottle - Dec 20, 2007. Aroma drips of honey and Munich Malt. Lightly dusty. Pours a bronzed gold, with white creamy head. Flavor is a washed out, lightly skanky Munich malt. Traditional but lacking. More honey and a gooey hop cone pollen chewiness at the back drop. There’s some awkward bitterness for no apparent reason. Coarse. Thin.

 343 characters

Photo of Overlord
2.68/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours amber with an off white head.

Mouthfeel is thin, somewhat watery. Smell, and taste, is malt and barley. But, not much of it. I don't mind a simple tasting beer so long as that flavor is robust and powerful. This isn't it. You can't have a mild tasting beer that's also simple; might as well just call it a macro-brew and be done with it. I'm not sure what they were going for here, but there's little to write home about.

 428 characters

Photo of malcontent
2.68/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Nice looking golden-red color however the head on an Oktoberfest should be far more rubust than this and the lacing is barely satisfactory.

Sweet-smelling grainy quality. Almost like an American all-malt lager. Not promising.

It essentially IS an American all-malt. Almost no complexity although it comes up short of completely falling on its face by being overly sweet. Still, there's only a little hop flourish in the end to save it.

Bad mouthfeel. That's being honest; thin on carbonation and for a style that usually should feel full in your mouth, this one just barely exists.

You could drink it but I'm not sure why you'd want to. If you're at TJ's and feel compelled to buy one of their/Beirsch offerings go with the Bock or the Bohemian instead.

 765 characters

Photo of BeerSox
2.7/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle into mug.

Crystal clear amberhue with a one finger light tan head that settles to a thin cap.

Very light cracker like malt aromas with a little bit of brown sugar.

Once again, light bready malts with maybe a little bit of hop flavor coming through. Light bodied with good carbonation. The finish is a touch of lingering grain.

Not an awful beer, but it's not what I want out of an Oktoberfest. Light flavors with characteristics that wouldn't fit with any style.

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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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