Josephs Brau Winter Brew
Trader Joe's Brewing Company

Josephs Brau Winter BrewJosephs Brau Winter Brew
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German Doppelbock
Ranked #233
Ranked #42,766
3.58 | pDev: 12.57%
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States
Josephs Brau Winter BrewJosephs Brau Winter Brew
Notes: Also known as Josephs Brau Winterfest
View: Beers
Reviews: 214 | Ratings: 343 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.75/5  rDev +32.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

WinterBrew has a medium, khaki head, a clear, red-brown appearance, and some lacing. Aroma is of dark-roasted malts, bread crust, and syrup. Flavor is of brown bread crust, raisin, date, and possibly figs. Mouthfeel is high medium, and WinterBrew finishes surprisingly crisp.


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Photo of FBarber
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark ruddy brown color albeit it clear. One finger tan velvety head.

Aroma is bready with some light dark fruit notes and a slight nuttiness.

Taste is similar - bready, lots of dark fruits, with a slight hoppy bitterness on the back end.

Feel is light, smooth and quite drinkable.

Its a nice doppelbock - sure its not as good as most of the imports, but its really well done and sticks to the style.

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Photo of steveh
4.25/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2019 - 20 Update to this beer in conjunction with the Doppelbock group tasting.
Found fresh stock for the winter of 19-20 at the local TJ's; best by 03/25/20.  $6.50 a six-pack (no typo) Brown longneck with the less than stellar new labels "Josephsbrau" is using (bring back the cool village graphics!).  Poured into my short Becher.

A -- Clear, deep chestnut color with a creamy light tan head that settles rather quickly to a persistent cap.  The head revives easily with a swirl.

S -- Bready and earthy malts with a distinct pepperiness -- even lightly phenolic character -- from alcohol.

T -- Rich, breadcrust character up front followed by the peppery alcohol and a nutty note.  Some mellow dark fruit notes back and into the aftertaste.  There's a solid bitterness, lightly herbal, from hops, but its role to curb malt sweetness is more worthy than any real flavor addition.  The aftertaste is of dark bread crust, mild dark fruit, and the peppery alcohol.

M -- Mouthfeel is slick and syrupy with a medium-robust body.

O -- This year's offering may not be as drinkable as past years', but it still follows the Doppelbock style book very well.  Rich malt, warming alcohol, and the right hop balance to keep the higher malt content from becoming malt soda pop.  This one still stands shoulder-to-shoulder with many imports -- and far above many others from either side of the world.

2010-11 Update to this beer.
A -- Deep chestnut with ruby highlight and a tan head that settles slowly.

S -- Dark, crusty bread with vague, peppery alcohol back. Pretty big character for a clean lager.

T -- Same dark, bready malts up front that start sweet and finish dry from alcohol -- yet slightly sticky from unattenuated malt. Nutty breadiness lingers in the aftertaste with the vaguest of dark fruit character. Very nice to style.

M -- Medium body with a smooth to slick mouthfeel.

D -- Highly drinkable for anyone looking for a good, German-style Doppelbock to fill their glass. An American micro making a good Lager, how 'bout that?

As you may, or may not, know -- TJ's German-style lagers are brewed by Gordon Biersch and there is always a parallel beer at GB in order to find ingredient info: | 4.5 | 4.5 | 4 | 4.5 = 4.42

2008/09 Notes:
A -- Deep brown with ruby highlights and a very resillient tan head.

S -- Mild toasted malt character with some clay earthiness and dark fruit notes back.

T -- Toasted bread and some alcohol spiciness in the flavor. Sweet maltiness without being cloying, nice melanoidin character in a U.S. version of the style. Dark fruit and earthy character back, some vague hop bitterness in the finish.

M -- Smooth to slightly syrupy mouthfeel with a medium to light-heavy body, nicely dry finish.

D -- Exceptional drinkability for a beer of this strength -- dangerously tasty. This will stand up to any of the Bavarian imports.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Bottle from Trader Joe's Bedford.
Pours a brilliantly clear deep auburn color with a tightly bubbled off white head that dissipates quickly. Spicy aroma more of a winter warmer than dopplebock. Fake caramel sweetness. Astringent bitterness.

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Photo of defunksta
3.65/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark amber color with a medium off-white head. SRM of 19. (3.75)

Aroma: Some cherry and red apple. Then a distinct bubblegum aroma. Some dark bread richness. A hint of dark fruit, caramel, and then mostly a caramel after that. (3.75)

Flavor: Mild on the flavor . Some silky caramel, followed by fig and molasses. A hint of nutmeg and cinnamon. The flavors are mild. It finishes with a generic caramel sweetness and mild stickiness. (3.50)

Feel: Medium-bodied for the style. Low-carbonation. Finishes with a generic sweetness and stickiness it leaves on the palate (3.25)

Overall: This beer is pretty average. The aromas were nice, but sort of flat on the flavor.. There just wasn't much there in terms of flavor. Just bubblegum and molasses. I will have to try it again sometime, but this one isn't one to rush and pick up for the season. (Final Rating: 3.33)

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Photo of TwoTrees
3.87/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Trader Joe's brews have come to mean thus: A solid beer at a solid price.

The Winter brew Double Bock holds true to this maxim. A dark ruby red, deep rich malt, underlying sweetness with hints of chocolate, leather, and red fruit. Slightly elevated carbonation make a touch lighter in body. Is it a Celebrator level doppel? No. But, at just over $6 for a sixer, it is a very good beer at a great price. If you enjoy bocks, don't miss this one!

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Photo of jmbranum
4.3/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Purchased at Trader Joe's in OKC. 12 oz. bottle poured into a glass. An exceptional value at $6.49/six pack. A good winter warmer. Fairly rich. Some caramel and slight maple notes. Not incredibly complex but good for its price point. Some spices and hops. Full mouth feel.

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Photo of Pegasus
3.77/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: A dense, thick tan head of nearly two inches crowns a clear, reddish-amber body. Small geysers of bubbles drift lazily to the surface. Thick streaks of lacing, like rivers across a map, line the glass walls.

Aroma: Molasses, dark bread, caramel, and spicy alcohol dominate the aroma, there are also hints of dark raisin and bitter apple rind.

Taste: Opens with abundant dark bread notes and caramel. a little dark fruit presents soon afterward, mainly raisins, but some ripe plum as well. Also noted is a little bitter apple rind. Spicy, warming alcohol, too, offers its contributions. Finishes with a mild spicy note' of cloves, nutmeg, and orange rind.

Mouth feel: Soft and very full, with the barest hint of carbonation.

Drinkability/notes: Very, very good. Its not Celebrator, to be sure, but its quite well-made, very drinkable, and cheap, $6.49 for a six-pack. What's not to like?.

Presentation: Packaged in a twelve-ounce brown glass long neck bottle with a pry-off crown,, served in a Samuel Adams Boston Lager Sensory glass. Purchased at Trader Joe's for $6.49 a six-pack, a drop-dead bargain.

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Photo of Smakawhat
3.4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Poured from the bottle into a pokal style glass.

Real nice looking dark amber style bock lager. Deep red with chestnut brown hues, and a creamy three finge tall khaki like head. Good staying power up there too with a creamy appearance, and nearly island top crown. Fine bubbles, and a touch of sheeting lace. Very nice looking big bock.

Aroma is kind of ordinary however. Dry grains, and a faint touch of powdery like caramel senses. Plays a little with milk chocolate angles and even a touch of powdered cocoa. Howeve, that powdery quality seems to be in every facet of the aroma on this beer which comes out weird, almost like an instant drink.

Palate is quite neutral and very dumbed down. Touches of light caramel on the front palate, following an almost steely washing milk chocolate flavor. Thick bodied and nicely supportive but the base flavors are just not really noticeable. Bigger doppel character not really noticeable, if perhaps a touch of slight heat which is tolerable.

Comes across like a very dumbed down bock with little character and flavor. Drinkable and perhaps cheap, but not giving up the goods.

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Photo of Lingenbrau
3.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A little darker than a lot of dopplebocks but very nice nonetheless. A good light tan head stays afloat and laces well.

The aromas and flavors are pretty spot on. Very toasty and sweet, caramelized, with hints of spicy and earthy hops.

A bold sweet flavor with medium carbonation. Barely a touch of bitterness in this, but the alcohol is well hidden.

A great bang for your buck dopplebock, but not quite up to par with the classics. I buy it a few times every year and am never disappointed. Prost!

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Photo of brewerburgundy
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, red wine glass, best before 4/2/18. It looks like the name has reverted to Winter Brew.

The color is somewhere between garnet and cola. This winter brew has a tall khaki head on the pour and retains a nice cap.

Sweet bread, plum, crisp lager yeast, and a little booze.

Woody, sweet malts play with a solid bitterness. There is some herbal hop flavor to go along with it. It reminds me of raisin bread; bread and caramelized raisins.

Slick and almost medium bodied, this Doppelbock has it all. Yep, there are the lager bubbles.

Trader Joe hit it with this one. This is a very good Doppelbock even though they label it "Dark Double Bock Lager" for the uneducated.

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Photo of jeffdr123
3.64/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

From Trader Joe's around the corner in Chicago. Above average beer for a low price, so it gets points for value. Dark caramel look prepares you for the sweet flavor. A little flat and a little thin, but a respectable winter warmer.

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Photo of Beginner2
3.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Very effective strategy, this Trader Joe's.
Find or develop a decent recipe, contract brew it for competent QC and sell it nationwide in your stores noted for good quality and great value. This dobblebock fits that strategy. Not the best on the market, but certainly one of the style's best handful of values.

Looks ask to be drunk on a winter day, dark, a little brooding. Smells greet me with all sweet bock malts.
Tastes are the same initially, but hops finally push through for balance. Nicely done.
Feel starts balanced and bubbly enough, but a little dull and perhaps a bit off (this was a month past the Best buy date.) My solution to the off-taste is to eat crackers.

Overall, this winter brew needs depth to be great.
But, I'm a great fan of TJ's strategy for bringing a crafted taste at a price that change the habits of the masses. Isn't that the lure that crafters need? TJ is making a bigger market for good taste.

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Photo of Profundobaso
3.97/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L - translucent, light brown color. Light head. Great color though
S - Caramel, gingery. Some spices
T - Very smooth. Initial sweetness, followed by a wave of spice. Alcohol is detectable, but not overwhelming.
F - Has some complexity, but leans on the thinner side. Would benefit from a bit more carbonation in my opinion.
O - TJ's beers has always been really great value, and this is definitely one of their better selections. The beer is delicious and certainly worth the price

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Photo of zeledonia
3.45/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Tasted 9 December 2015.

Pours a deep, clear, medium reddish brown. Lovely color. Half a finger of off-white head, decent retention and lacing.

Smell is rich, bready, and sweet. Brown sugar, bready yeast. Not super complex, but nice.

Taste is solid. Starts out mildly sweet, a little thin-candy-sugar like. Lacking the depth I want. A bit of dark fruit, some herbal bitterness. Okay, not great.

Feel is okay. On the thin, slick side. Enough carbonation. Doesn't hurt, doesn't help.

A decent doppelbock. Could use some more variety, depth, complexity, whatever you want to call it. Rather thin and simple.

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Photo of AGuyWhoBrokeBad
4.06/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Trader Joe's has done it again! This is a great value at $6 for a 6-pack. A very solid, very smooth, malty and dark beer. Lots of flavor and a great solid looking color.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
3.54/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2 X 12oz bottles, dated almost a year apart. Notes after tasting) Both poured a rich amber color, with a small amount of beige colored head. Not too much to the aroma. The year-old version was too sweet for me, almost cloyingly sweet, but the malty-ness and sweetness were nicely balanced with fresh one. The year-old one had a sticky mouth-feel.

I didn't know what to expect from the year-old version of this beer, but I found I liked the fresher version better. Regardless of age, although I would happily drink this beer if offered to me, I would not seek it out.

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Photo of UPMD_Bill
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid all-around double bock for the winter. Great value for the money.

Nice roasted caramel aroma with some spice (ginger? anise?). Malty but clean, with some mild hop balance.

Note: the bottle I saved until March wasn't as good as I remember it being earlier in the winter. So it may not keep as well as I hoped.

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Photo of MartyMaltose
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from Trader Joe's. Think 2 parts Paulaner Salvator, 1 part George Killian's. Solid winter enjoyment for people who want to save a buck here and there.

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Photo of GPayne757
4.28/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a $6.49/6 pack bombshell. Nice sweet and malty inviting nose. The feel of this beer was just right, nice carbonation. The taste on this was dark malts, little notes of caramel, with a tad of bitter/sweet finish. The finish stayed around for quite awhile. Very impressive for a bargain beer. Seek it out!!!

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.81/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Stone Ruination IPA pint glass
From: Trader Joe’s in La Mesa (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $5.99 for a 6-pack
Purchased: Dec. 19, 2014
Consumed: Dec. 19, 2014
Misc.: Best consumed by April 28, 2015 at 10:50 a.m.

Poured a dark caramel, auburn, clear color with 1-to-2 fingers of dark khaki tan head that thinned out rather quickly. Some bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass. Below average spotty lacing on the sides of the glass. Below average retention on the top. (Sight - 3.75)

First whiff on the nose was a pleasant sugary caramel smell. Also got a good dose of toffee, roasted malts, some Oktoberfest elements, brown sugar and molasses. (Smell - 4.00)

Tasted similar to the nose, maybe slightly worse. Got roasty bitter malts, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, light maple walnut, tobacco notes and raisins. Also nutmeg and cinnamon late. (Taste - 3.75)

Medium body. Sticky texture. Average-to-soft carbonation. Abrupt finish. The 7.5 pct. ABV is well-hidden. (Feel - 3.75)

This was a pretty good Doppelbock, although most Doppelbock’s taste pretty good to me. (Overall - 3.75)

3.81 | 86 | B+

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Photo of McLaren
4.5/5  rDev +25.7%

This beer will be gone right after the holidays, not to return until Thanksgiving next year. Too bad. I was afraid it might taste sweet, because of the seasonality, but my fears were unfounded. Richly malt, with a hint of spice, very smooth. This is a four-part beer for me. It starts sparkly, quickly takes a spicy bite, then just as quickly hunkers into a malt, and finishes almost creamy.

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Photo of Samuel_Adams
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

My first time trying this beer, and I am pleased. A nice malty flavor, the head lasts for a long time....finish is smooth and as one reviewer noted, I too can sense a bit of heat on the finish. Almost no hops, or at least not an in-your-face hoppy aroma. I do get a bit of the winter spice flavor...maybe nutmeg or allspice....but not as noticeable as in some beers. Color is a dark copper, darker than an amber but lighter than a say a porter. At $5.99 per six pack, I think it would be impossible to beat unless you want a different style.

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Photo of ricke49
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

nice dopplebock at 5.99 in oregon. not sure if it's any different than other in-house dopplebocks that TJ has as offered - doesn't possess any specifically "winter" chacteristics but it's a bargain - and it hides it's ABV very well.... no undesirable off flavors or chemical transgressions. good winter staple for budget minded folks. I'll be aquiring more.

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Photo of lanman
4/5  rDev +11.7%

Just appeared at my local Trader Joe's for 2015. Past couple years the name is Winter Brew; previously it was Winterfest. The label alludes to the style of Belgian monks to get through "the long fasts of Lent". At least in the east it does not last that long. If you want it, you better buy before February. Very smooth dark lager. I could not smell or taste any alcohol, as in some low-cost doubles ($6.99 in NC).

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Josephs Brau Winter Brew from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 343 ratings