Josephs Brau Winterfest | Trader Joe's Brewing Company

203 Reviews
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Josephs Brau WinterfestJosephs Brau Winterfest

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

Style: Doppelbock

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Formerly known as Josephs Brau Winter Brew

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-14-2008

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Reviews: 203 | Ratings: 319
Photo of celldog
4.7/5  rDev +32%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one of my vavorite beers. Gulden Drak is my favorite, so I like the darker brews. The great thing about this is the price of $1 a bottle at Trader Joes. Why pay more for a great winter brew when you can get this one. Usually only avaailable Oct through Feb.

The flavors in this beer are very satisfying, and you forget that for about the price of a bud, you are enjoying a great beer. If you live within 20 miles of a Trader Joe's this is worth the drive. ALso, you can mix and match beers at TJs and create your own six packs.

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Photo of MadeInOregon
4.7/5  rDev +32%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Spoiler alert!: Previously known as "Trader Joe's Winterfest" here in California, this beer is actually brewed by Gordon Biersch--as are all of Trader Joe's line of beers. So, if you want to avoid paying 9 or 10 dollars for Gordon Biersch's "Winter Bock" then be smart and go get this clevely disguised beer from your local Trader Joe's for $5.99! You're welcome.

That being said, I've had this beer probably, oh, 15 times now and it is one of the few beers that tastes equally delicious ice cold or at room temperature. It is tasty, smooth, warming, and very drinkable. I don't think I could have more than 2 in a row due to the 7.5% alcohol, but this beer is one of my favorites; top 3 without a doubt.

It looks like a nice, standard winter warmer though the khaki/white head is strangely quick to dissipate and leaves little lacing while drinking.

The marvelous flavors present are dark chocolate, raisins/dates, maple syrup, and a little vanilla, all with a mild hoppiness.

Josephs Brau Winterfest (AKA Gordon Biersch Winter Bock) is good to the last drop and has never let me down in the 5 years I've been enjoying it. So don't hate. This is a good drinkin, quality beer. The only reason people wouldn't like it is because they like bitter, hoppier winter warmers, which this is certainly not.

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Photo of apwilla
4.7/5  rDev +32%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I waited all year for this to get back to store. I am buying 3 cases this year, as it stores pretty well. I Bought only one last year and ran out around august. Can't let that happen again!

This beer has notes of big, toasty malt. sweet, almost chocolately with a nice touch of alcohol. An absolute steal for $4.99/6 pack

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Photo of RBorsato
4.6/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Guess I'll stand out there on my own with this one as I often do... but maybe this should be in the Winter Warmer category and people wouldn't be so harsh on it.

Solid brown color with a nice full light brown head and nice carbonation with slow bubbles. Smokey, roasty, dark Munich malt aroma and flavors. Lots of robust roasty full flavored characteristics that you don't normally associate with a true Dopplebock but they aren't really selling it as one either... Medium-full bodied, smooth, and warming.

So good for a winter warmer that I went back and bought a case...

Per bottle label: 28 IBU

Batch #: WF005
Tasted: 11/25/05

($5.29 / 6-pack)

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Photo of Jtschupp04
4.5/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours smoothly, off white, light weight, coarse head that settles quickly over a dark amber red.

Bouquet is lovely, first reaction is malty but after a few more good whiffs all I can think of is a rum or dark fruit. Cherries, raisins, raspberries. Alcohol present in tail of aroma.

Surprisingly creamy and heavy with alcohol. Reminds me of a belgian strong ale. Personally i highly favor the taste in this beer. Dark fruit notes and very light malt.

It reminds me of a belgian strong ale but its not as thick and retains typical carbonation of a lager.

Very drinkable, not filling like belgians. Definitely could drink more than one especially with cheese and/or desert.

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Photo of McLaren
4.5/5  rDev +26.4%

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 steveh
4.42/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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:

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 StAnthony
4.4/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I'm pretty new to the world of bock, and this was my first taste of a style that I've become obsessed with. My wife brought this home for me from a TJ's that had just opened up in the neighborhood and I can't thank her enough. Very rich and malty with a full body and exceptionally smooth mouthfeel. Strong cocoa on the nose that carries through to the tounge and a sweet caramel finish. Goes down extremely smooth for the high (doppel) alcohol content and has a pleasant warming effect that lives up to its seasonal name. You get a surprise when you stand up, but that's the sign of a great bock, eh?

Unfortunately, like TJ's popular "2-Buck Chuck" (Charles Shaw wine), the quality varies. My second six pack had a medicinal aftertaste that I hadn't detected in the first. But, also like Chuck, it's worth the chance.

I don't have many doppelbocks to compare it to, but for my tastes, this is a solid pick.

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Photo of marcel
4.38/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This Winterfest Dark Double Bock Lager of JosephsBrau was a surprise for me. I had been putting off trying it and finally opened it in the heat of summer.

I don't use the leather, fruit, malty, etc. nomenclature. What I can say is that I invite you to do a blind test with this against the dark double bock of Ayinger that I find excellent! I believe you'll be favorably impressed.


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Photo of tgbljb
4.35/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep reddish brown color with moderate creamy tannish head. Great retention.

Smell is extremely pleasant. there are strong notes of dark fruit (plums, figs). Very rich character.

Taste is also way above average. There is a strong dark fruity malty presence in the flavor. Sweet, without going too far. Very refreshing.

Strong taste retention, with many enjoyable flavors.

This is the way a doppelbock should taste. I wish I had bought more than one. Price was great too (99 cents for a single)

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Photo of kmcnair
4.32/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma - Rich maltiness and complex melanoidins, slight fruity dark dried fruit like prunes, subtle noble hop aroma. Clean with no unusual fermentation aromas. Very bread-like. Quite nice.

Appearance - Deep garnet to brown color, small tan head of white bubbles that fades into a halo quickly but retains well. Quite dark but excellent clarity.

Flavor - Melanoidins, rich malts, clean with no diacetyl. Slight chocolate and dark dried fruits. Moderate hop bitterness and a hint of noble hop flavor. Sweet, but well balanced.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full bodied, medium carbonation, slight warming of the palate, creamy texture.

Overall Impression - Rich and flavorful, a very nice example of a Doppelbock. Well balanced, creamy, smooth, easy to drink... and for $4.99 a six pack, this is a hell of a bargain!

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Photo of gruberbeer
4.31/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An inviting caramel amber color, this beer is delightful insofar as it has complex flavors, including dark roasted grains, a hint of orange zest, and maybe even some anise. The head resolves into a ring of white around the glass, but don't let that visual thinness fool you. It is packed with goodness. I highly recommend this beer. It can stand on its own without food but definitely goes well with lamb or rosemary flavored meats.

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Photo of GMB
4.28/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Even a slightly-gentler-than-standard pour of Josephs Brau Winterfest yields a 2-inch head whose color reminds me of the slightly yellowed paper of an antique book. The beer's body appears, at first, a beautiful dark tawny with cranberry highlights, but, when held up to a strong light source, it morphs into a brilliantly luminescent orange-red. Carbonation is gentle. The head falls a bit quicker than expected, but leaves behind a thick, inch-high ring of lacing and a quarter-inch disc of craggy foam.

Dark caramel and bourbon come to mind as I fill my nose with this beer's sweet scent. Somewhere in the background lurk floral and herbal aromas, too. Let's see if the latter are more assertive on the palate.

Bourbon, dark raisins, roasted caramel, and a touch of black pepper are primary flavors. Repeated sips reveal hints of coffee and bittersweet chocolate. Alcohol is assertive, warming, and, most importantly, well-integrated. This makes Winterfest an outstanding wintertime beer. After warming, the taste and creamy mouthfeel remind me of a Teacher's Pet. Superb.

Take notes, brewers. This is what a strong beer should feel like. Winterfest's full, malty body and creamy-as-steamed-whole-milk foam are like holiday gifts on the palate. They're complemented by the sharp cut and warming effect of alcohol.

As I finished this bottle of Joesphs Brau's Winterfest, I thought, "Damn, I should've picked up a six-pack." 'Nuff said.

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Photo of GPayne757
4.28/5  rDev +20.2%
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 meisterkirke
4.27/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer reviews as a "B" from Trader Joe's and an "A-" form JosephsBrau Winterfest Lager. Could it be we don't like it as much when it comes at reasonable price?

The Winterfest is a nice Christmas time six-pack in bottles. it has a nice dark translucent brown color, good finish and not too heady. I like this beer and it is a nice price for the season.

I would rate as a b+ or a-.

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Photo of GeoffRizzo
4.17/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown, traces of light red in color. A light head that dwindles into a non-moving ring that clings to the edge of the snifter. Dark malts, large sniffs of alcohol and some rye toasted bread on the nose. Defines the style from the start. Medium carbonation, thick and creamy Munich malts and caramel coupled with dark chocolate. Roasty malts, traces of English like hops with some chestnut and dark fruit flavorings. Medium bodied, with obvious intense just mentioned flavorings during warming. Very sweet and clean doppelbock, and a darn fine offering from TJoe's! Go get some!

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Photo of Pauly2X
4.17/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Dark ruby mahogany with a one finger head.

S- Rich, sweet, dark carmel with a light hint of chocolate.

T- An iteresting intermix of rich caramel and bittersweet chocolate. The flavors mellow and mix a little better at midpoint, and are followed by a very light noble hop note. Smooth rich finish.

M- Nice rich full body, and great smoothness.

D- C'mon, it's a dopplebock!

A nice solid example of the style. The best I have had from Trader Joe's.

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Photo of alexgash
4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle. 2008/2009 edition.

Pours a clear, clean ruby with lighter edges. Creamy finger of tightly-packed, dirty khaki head. Nose of plummy fruits, rum-raisin bread, sweet Concord grape puree, cookie dough, and light cooked vegetable notes. Toasted grain and roasted malt at first blush, followed quickly by fruity malt sweetness. Bread pudding and milk chocolate mix in, adding some complexity. Spicy, slightly herbal hop bitterness in the finish. Medium-full body with a slightly syrupy feel. Pretty damn good actually. One of the best Trader Joe's beers I've had.

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Photo of stpadddy
4.09/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The dominant experience in this beer is apple, apple, apple.

I poured this 12 oz bottle into a wine glass. It had a beautiful reddish-orange hue. No head. Deep color, the appearance of a dark interesting beer.

The nose is of candied apples, almost a mulled cider. More floral than one would expect from such a deep colored beer. A winter garden.

The taste also is of apples, but spiced with hints of nutmeg and brown sugar, clove and orangepeel. Would be very good with minced meat pie.

This is a very nice holiday beer, to be enjoyed with Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner as well as dessert.

Well done TJ's (or GB).

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Photo of gbarron
4.07/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up on the recommenation of several trusted sources who also report that this is the bottled version of Gordon Biersch's winter bock offering.

Appearance - dark chestnut brown, with reddish hues. Perfectly clear, you can see through the glass, little bubbles of CO2 coming up the sides. Head an off-white collection of fine bubbles, slowly disappating to form a little foamy sea atop a dark ocean. Light lacing all the way down.

Smell - sweet, malty, chocolatey, caramel smell. Some noble hop aroma, but not alot. Malt dominates the nose. Some toasty malt smells.

Taste - initial taste very sweet malt, followed by some muted but very present noble hop spiciness. Saaz? Tettnang? Not sure. Starts out very, very sweet - almost like drinking liquid caramel or some sort of sweet flavored bread. Hops followup. Very tasty, seems to me to be right down the alley for a double bock.

Mouthfeel - moderately thin, lager-ish. Sweetness lays on your tongue a bit, then fades. Some bready chewiness. Dryness in the end.

Drinkability - I'm rating this high on the drinkability scale for two primary reasons: good price (around $5) and a quality product. I wish TJ's would offer this year round. I would love to drink several of these, but the malty sweetness becomes a bit filling after a couple.

Overall - reminds me a lot of Moretti LaRossa. A very sweet, malty beer, with a dry, hoppy finish. Very tasty. Highly recommended based on the price and availability.

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Photo of Chaz
4.07/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Medium-firm pour into a goblet produces a firm, medium-tan head of average duration. Minimal lacing. Poured cold fron the 'fridge, but seems like this one will be tastier as it warms, so I allow it to warm. Brilliant pale brown in color, with minimal (visible) carbonation. Nose is pungent and malty, with notes of iodine, caramel, and ripe red apple. Also exhibits a slightly metallic tang. Sweet, tangy and slightly bitter at first, along with a slightly unctious quality. Fairly bitter; bitterness lingers and does a great job of offsetting the almost intense malt sweetness. Notes of caramel and fruit which are evident in the nose are all but prominent on the palate, and there are some light honey notes that linger nicely, appearing just after the lingering hop bitterness. Seems a little bit thin, but the mouthfeel begins to come around as the bold, fruity malt notes are accentuated by the type of oiliness that I appreciate in this style. Alcohol is warming to be sure, but not overwhelming. Drinkability is very good, even dangerously so. Overall a very well rounded beer, not to mention an absolutely tremendous value. This one's worth buying by the carload. Bottled 11/06/06, sampled 2/11/07.

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Photo of AGuyWhoBrokeBad
4.06/5  rDev +14%
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 Troyone
4.05/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber color with minimal biege head and too difficult to see the sediment and action.

Has mostly a caramel malty aroma with some hints of molasses.

Creamy caramel malt taste with molasses, florals, and butter in the background.

Medium/full bodied, creamy buttery and resinous feel, with lively and fizzy carbonation.

An outstanding bargain at Trader Joes for a buck. I can enjoy this session of a Doppelbock all day especially knowing what I paid for this.

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Photo of SawDog505
4.02/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 13 oz tulip, best before 4/14. Pours mahogany, with a half inch light tan head, that leaves nice lace behind. Smell vanilla, oak, dark fruit, alcohol, bready, and toffee. Taste is very complex, less aggressive than the nose, with everything from the nose being represented, oak, vanilla, and the breadyness are most dominant. Body is medium, plenty of carbonation, a touch dry which I expect, and gives down easy enough, but seems larger than its 7.5%. Very nice example and an impressive winter warmer for an amazing price!

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Photo of MattyG85
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams "Perfect Pint" glass. Label says best before 04/13/13.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown with hints of ruby and amber. Lots of rising bubbles and a big four finger light tan head with good retention. Leaves a lot of creamy lacing around the glass.

Smell: A very bready and dark biscuit like aroma. Roasted and toasted malts with hints of biscuit, chocolate, caramel, toffee, yeast, and toast. Hints of nuts and brown sugar. Also some subtle spices. Pretty earthy with some hops in the background. Very bready and straightforward.

Taste: Very bready, nutty, and creamy. Dark roasted malts with a a taste of biscuit, caramel, toffee, chocolate, toasted bread, and yeast. A good kick of nut flavors. Some sweet brown sugar. Light undertones of apple and dark fruit. A decent backing of earthy hops. Pretty creamy. A good bready and nutty taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a medium to high level of carbonation. Very creamy and smooth. Finishes somewhat dry. Alcohol is hidden well.

Overall: A pretty decent bock. Nice malt driven taste that is pretty nutty. Very creamy and smooth considering the higher ABV.

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Josephs Brau Winterfest from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.56 out of 5 based on 319 ratings.
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