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

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Trader Jose's Dark LagerTrader Jose's Dark Lager

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

Style: American Amber / Red Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-06-2008

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Reviews: 94 | Ratings: 175
Photo of Guppy314
2.91/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

From a bottle labeled "Best Before 041117" and as with Trader Joe's beers this is subcontracted (by Artesanas de Malta Y Cebada S. de R.L. de C.V.Texate). This pours a clear dark brown with a quickly dissipating off-white head. Malt-forward with caramel sweetness. There's decent carbonation, but the body is only moderate, but I feel it was well worth the $6.50 for a six-pack.

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Photo of Burly
3.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Ice cold and with lime, it is good for the price. I typically buy a six pack of the dark and a six-pack of the Trader Jose light beer, and alternate between the two until both are gone. It's getting harder and harder in Berkeley, CA to find drinkable beer at less than $6 a six-pack, so I buy at least one or two six packs of it a month.

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Photo of OldSwampy
3.52/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Translucent medium-dark brown with a light khaki head. Nose dominated by sweet caramel malt smell. Taste is mainly mild malts, pleasant, but not strong enough; the beer is fairly light-bodied and the flavor seems to dissipate too quickly. Mouthfeel lightly sudsy and then somewhat slick at the end. Quite drinkable if simplistic and a little watery.

The bottle I had said is was "BEST BEFORE 040417" which seems to be stretching things somewhat. It seemed fresh enough when I drank it on 27 June '16, but I can't imagine it would still be this good in nine months...? According to the label this beer was "BREWED AND BOTTLED BY CERVECERIA MEXICANA, S. de R.L. d C.V., TECATE, B.C., MEXICO" and thus not by a U.S. brewer.

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Photo of the_awesometeer
3.56/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured a reddish to dark brown with a slight haze. Had a fluffy white head that thinned out quickly. The beer has lots of visible carbonation. The only scent I really get it a mild toasty with a alcohol/ethanol. Wish it had a little more malt scent to it. The alcohol flavor does not come through though. The hops are very light and might have a little spice to them. The malts are also very lightly flavored but stronger that the hops. The flavors coffee and maybe even a little hint of chocolate are there but muted. Very easy to drink and not strong in flavor. The body is very light and felt slightly soapy in my mouth. Overall this is a good beer for the price.

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Photo of Suds
3.4/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a reddish Amber color with a cream colored head and a clear complexion. The aroma is faintly of cereal grains and the taste is balanced. A bit of malt is underneath, and the hops are restrained. Nice.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.33/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Toasty, roasty, dark and moderately robust, Trader Jose's Dark Lager takes a page out of the Vienna lager playbook, but inserts elements of red ale and German dunkel along the way.

Pouring a light brown color, its margins reveal bronze and golden hues through a sparkling clear body. Well headed momentarily, the froth subsides and leaves firm aromatics of toasted bread, light caramel, honeysuckle, and light sorghum behind. Its taste is toasted, partly malty-sweet and partly of grain.

As the lager flushes the palate, hints of cocoa and coffee pull from the dark sweetness and gives the taste a mild licorice, walnut and chicory herbal character. With the sweetness fading, in favor of a drier and more drinkable session, the lager finishes mildly woodsy, peppery and with a modest bitter hop bite.

Medium-light on the palate, the lager's smooth and dry trek makes it strikingly refreshing and clean for its moderately robust upstart. Finishing with and even-keel malt-hop balance, its final impressions are of mint, light sulfur and sweet toasted grain.

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Photo of Spikester
3.46/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber brown with good clarity and almost two fingers of off white head. Head leaves fairly soon but leaves a good amount of lace.
Smell toasted roasted malts with a hint of coffee.
Taste is dark roasted malts coffee hint of cocoa.
Mouthfeel is fine carbonation is medium. Finish is sweet and just a pinch of dry bitterness.
Overall a refreshing and tasty dark Mexican lager. Nice surprise. From an 11.2 ounce bottle brewed by Cerveceria Mexicana Tecate B.C. Mexico.

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Photo of Billolick
3.52/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, w/o freshness info

Pours darker amber, near clear, moderate head, and leaves a thicker collar.

Sweet malts and a hint of caramel on the sniff

Easy drinking and pleasant enough. Smooth and malts with caramel all over the finish.

Not bad for the price = $6.99 for the sixer = a decent value

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Photo of PhilHeinricke
3.88/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decent Dark Beer

I went through a dark beer phase. For years I was drinking dark beer. But with the recent craft beer wave I have been occupying myself trying out all these new beers from IPAs to wheat beer to saison. It's been a good ride. But I hadn't had a good dark beer for a while. Then I found this.

Anywhere I go I always check out the beer section just to see if they have anything interesting. I didn't realize Trader Joe's had their own beer line, and they're all very inexpensive. I picked this up along with something else. This is why I started drinking dark beer in the first place. It pours out a very nice head that has staying power. The aroma is good, but it's just not strong enough, and it's got a very pleasing taste with a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste.

The next time I'm in the area I'll be stopping into Trader Joe's to pick up some more of these.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.02/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

From the 12 fl.,oz. bottle. Sampled on July 25, 2015

Nice look chestnut brown pour with little to no head.

The aroma has some sweet caramel malts and a roasted sort of character but nothing vibrant.

The body is light.

Like the aroma there is a sweet caramel malt taste to start but also a kind of dank cellar thing. Mild to no hop finish. Nothing too exciting here.

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Photo of transitionbikes93
4.78/5  rDev +44.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

First off, I love dark beer. From Stouts to Red Ales, there is just something about that malty flavor.... and I am going to review this beer with other similarly priced/quality beers, free of bias.

Look- Poured into a 16oz pilsner glass, pours a nice clear brown with a 3/4 inch off-white head that lasts a few minutes then dissipates to a small ring around the edge, no/minimal lacing, high carbonation.

Smell- Honestly, doesn't smell like much. It has a definite beer smell to it, with hints of toasty malts, but it's very light to the nose.

Taste- Thank goodness the taste doesn't follow suit to the smell. By far the best tasting beer in this price range yet. I was expecting something very light, but I was pleasantly surprised. Starts out smooth, not much hop presence/bitterness but those malts... toasty, slightly sweet, and ends EXTREMELY smooth. I am very impressed.

Feel- Moderate carbonation, it's looks more carbonated than it is. Again, pleasantly surprised, as darker beers typically do not have much carbonation. Very clean on the palate.

Overall- an excellent beer. Easy to drink, tastes fantastic, and that price, 6.49 a sixer, is very reasonable. Besides, it's at Trader Joe's, which is arguably the best grocery store ever. I highly recommend it.

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Photo of CIBoy10
3.1/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Solid non-offensive brew that is very affordable. There is cheaper stuff out there that is similar (Busch Signature Copper Lager). Overall I would recommend it.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Trader José Dark
12 oz. brown glass bottle, coded "102513AFL 08:56" on 24 April 2013

Notes: Clear, brown body beneath a thin, short-lived head of off-white. Lacing is average. Aroma expresses dark caramelish malt with a hint of nuttiness and some background hops. The flavor follows suit, and it's basically a straightforward lager with a solid caramel component. Light-medium in body and gently crisp. Moderate bitterness. It finishes fairly short and dry. Given the price it's hard to argue against it as a fall-back beer, at least for one or two while watching a game or cooking dinner... times when you don't want to focus on your beer, when you just want something refreshing at hand. This is a beer I'd buy for a backyard BBQ just so that the newbie beer drinkers can try something other than Yuengling Traditional.

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Photo of papat444
3.33/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Best before 09.09.15.

Caramel malt aroma, same in flavor pretty much. Decent head with some lacing; slight murky amber body. Good start with crystal malt and caramel but doesn`t hold my interest. Still, for the price point, way better than a bland BMC.

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Photo of vanessalee
3.51/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Great for an inexpensive craft-ish lager. Amber color is pretty, nice to drink out of a glass. Not too bad of an aftertaste for a lager, due to richer caramel notes. Not to sweet, nice smell.

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Photo of SFNC
3.25/5  rDev -1.8%

Leftover from a get together, I was expecting a possible drain pour, but it's really pretty good. Overall some pretty good character and decent flavor. Carmamel upfront with a whisper of hops to being it back to Earth. Compares very well against Dos Equis dark and Modelo. I guess you never really know.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.52/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Seattle Beer Week pint glass. Pours a medium to dark mahogany amber with a thin ivory head with good retention and light lacing. Aroma of sweet caramel malt with hints of molasses and biscuit. Flavor is dark sweet malt, hints of nuts and molasses, light grassy hop finish. Light bodied with good carbonation. As expected, a lightly flavored dark lager, flavors are pleasant and malty, but subdued. Nothing to seek out, but a decent cheap dark lager as presented.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.54/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Type: 330-ml. (11.2 oz.) bottle
Glass: 9-oz. plastic cup
From: Trader Joe’s in Mission Valley (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $5.99 for a 6-pack
Purchased: Sept. 23, 2014
Consumed: Sept. 25, 2014
Misc.: N/A

Poured a brown, dark caramel, murky color with 2-to-3 fingers of khaki, tan head. Very good foamy circular lacing along the sides of the cup. Above average-to-very good retention of nice foaminess on the top all the way down. (Sight - 3.50)

Smelled lager or pilsner notes up front, followed by porter notes. Got corn, skunky malts, cereal, then caramel, toffee, chocolate and some roasty malts. (Smell - 3.75)

Taste wasn’t as nice as the smell, but similar. Got caramel, toffee, roasty chocolate malts, roasted nuts, chocolate milk, earthy malts, boozy corn, cereal and some grassy hay. (Taste - 3.50)

Medium body. Creamy texture. Average-to-lively carbonation. Long, slightly roasted bitter finish. (Feel - 3.25)

A lot better than I thought it would be. I don’t know what I was expecting, but for this style this was pretty good. (Overall - 3.50)

3.54 | 80 | B

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.3/5  rDev -0.3%

A: Pours a crystal clear dark reddish brown in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and some amber + crimson highlights. The beer has a half finger tall sudsy foamy light beige that reduces to a medium sized patch of medium thick film surrounded by a very thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of dark malts and some slightly nutty malts. Hints of floral + earthy hops.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of dark malts with a light to moderate amount of nuttiness. Light amount of caramel sweetness. Slightly metallic in the finish. Very light hints of floral + earthy hops which imparts a touch of bitterness which fades almost immediately.

M: Light to medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Crisp.

O: Not bad but not anything special - better than some of the others from Trader Joe's and enjoyable, especially for the price.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
2.25/5  rDev -32%

Trade José Dark Premium Beer has a thin, cream-colored head, a clear, reddish-brown appearance, some bubble streams on the side of the glass, and almost no lacing left on the glass. The aroma is nonexistent. Taste is of a slightest little sweetness, but also pretty much nothing. Mouthfeel is light to medium, and Trade José Dark Premium Beer finishes easy drinking, refreshing, and flavorless.


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Photo of illpass78
3.7/5  rDev +11.8%

11.2 oz bottle poured into a Libby craft glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with a vanilla-colored one-and-a-half-inch head. Nice lacing on the way down.

Aroma: Big malt presence along with caramel and some grass.

Taste: Pretty tasty amber lager. Caramel and malt dominate the flavor. It has a bolder, richer flavor than I'd expected. Good for fans of malty session lagers.

Mouthfeel: It's easy and refreshing, but that doesn't hold back flavor.

Overall: This is pretty clearly Trader Joe's Dos Equis Amber analogue, and it's much better. I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer this to dumb Dos Equis.

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Photo of Act25
3.35/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A: Pours a clear, dark mahogany body with a short white head and a little lace. 3.5

S: Prominently sweet-smelling, malty nose with notes of caramel, toast, and lots of raisins, dark fruit.

T: Dominant sweet caramel, with hints at toast, grain, nuts, char, and fruitiness. toasty finish. 3.75

MF: Medium and carbonation.

Drinkability: If you like caramel, malty beers, this is a good session ale. Great price, great flavor. Best beer I've ever had from Mexico. Better than Modelo or 2X amber. Can some one share a better beer from Mexico?

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Photo of lou50rp
3.26/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark crimson color with little head or lacing. Good carbonation
Smell is muddled, malty but nothing distinct.
Taste is malty and a bit sweet, nothing distinct
Light to watery mouthfeel, acceptable for a beer of this type
Overall, nothing spectacular. Good average session beer. Price is good.

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Photo of artoolemomo
2.74/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

Appearance- Pours up a fair amount of head which seems to have pretty good retention. The head is off white/light beige with hints of yellow while the body is a dark amber which glows a dark orange when held up to the light. The body is translucent. The head does indeed take some time to dissipate while leaving behind some lacing. There is some sheeting above the half a finger of foam that remains.

Nose- Fairly weak. I got notes of caramel from the bottle but it's mostly a minimal amount of sweet malt and grain from the glass. I also get the slightest bit of roasted malt from the bottle. Other than that, the aroma is pretty nondescript. The roasted malt seems a little burnt and sour.

Taste- Roasted notes with subtle hints of bitterness. Weak notes of caramel as well. This thinness is pretty much true of the entire beer. The flavor profile definitely lacks presence. Some grain, biscuit, and bread notes- all very weak. The roasted malts echo the nose and show some burnt notes on the palate. All and all, this is a pretty boring beer. There aren't any really negative aspects but there also aren't really any positive ones either. As the opens up, the burnt aspects of the caramel and roasted malts become more apparent. The flavor profile is quite watery. Pretty much a failure in this department.

Mouthfeel- A little more than light bodied with some creaminess and light carbonation. Perhaps the most notable quality of this beer.

Drinkability- Fairly watery and low on taste with a good mouthfeel. Very drinkable but also very boring. It is also cheap.

Overall- I didn't really expect much and didn't get much. I picked it up as a sample of the style but it seems to be a pretty poor example. The supposed heavy malt bill is nonexistent.

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Photo of TheMarkE
3.5/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Dark copper, moderate foam and lacing.

Smell: Sweet caramel malts.

Taste: Sweet caramel malts with hints of coffee. Not much of a hop presence.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, slightly creamy, with a mild copper aftertaste.

The Verdict: Not bad. Much better than the Trader Jose Lager. This is Trader Joe’s affordable version of a dark Mexican beer. If you like Modelo Negra and the like, give this a try.

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Trader Jose's Dark Lager from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.31 out of 5 based on 175 ratings.
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