Josephs Brau Winterfest | Trader Joe's Brewing Company

202 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: 202 | Ratings: 318
Photo of Profundobaso
3.97/5  rDev +11.5%
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 -3.1%
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 +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 HopsAreDaMan
3.54/5  rDev -0.6%
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 +12.4%
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 -0.8%
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 +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 BucannonXC5
3.81/5  rDev +7%
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 +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 Samuel_Adams
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%

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 +5.3%

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 +12.4%

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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Photo of ThaneMcC
2.75/5  rDev -22.8%

Review of Josephsbrau Winter Brew 2014 bottling with consume by date in March2015.

A: dark, reddish brown, minimal white foam which resolved quickly
S: yeasty, strong malt, an off putting sour/bad fruit smell and odd medicinal smell
Taste: cloying, malt forward with metallic taste, really odd flavor, minimal hops
Mouthfeel: good carbonation and texture
Overall: tried two different bottles, and both had an odd flavor profile - not terrible, but not particularly pleasant.
Would not purchase this beer again.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brownish red with ok head and lace.

Aroma and flavor are heavily malt, caramel, bready, and dark fruits. Sweet with molasses and brown sugar, yet amply bitter to give it some balance, tho no notable hops flavors.

Body is medium to full and slicky, sweet, with a caramel finish.

It's an interesting brew, probably quite good if dopplebocks are your thing. I'm not a huge fan of the style, but certainly I want to try more of Trader Joe's brews.

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Photo of 360logic
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

S: Roasted malts, coffee grounds, dulce de leche.

T: Toasted whole wheat bread, caramel, woodiness, pumpernickel.

M: Moderate thickness, medium chew, mild carbonation and a little stickiness going down.

A great doppelbock for about a dollar a bottle.

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Photo of a0lbudman
3.48/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-brown with a tan head that faded fast
S-no one aroma hits you strong, but the malt comes through with a little toasted smell and a slight noble
T-toasted malt is strong with some noble hops and a strong warming that stays til the end
M-full body and low carbonation
O-this beer was good

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Photo of illpass78
3.87/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep, dark but clear red with an off-white head that starts out huge and gradually recedes down to a quarter inch. Lacing is significant. Looks like a good beer.

Aroma: The aromas aren't as strong as I had guessed. Not very boozy despite the 7.5 ABV. Some biscuit and caramel and roastiness in the nose, but not very pronounced.

Taste: Follows the nose at first, but much stronger. A very flavorful beer. It's very malt-forward and has some nice toasty, bready balance. The hops are also very much there - it's more bitter than I'd anticipated, but in a satisfying way. Definitely a tasty beer all around. Doesn't taste boozy, either, despite somewhat high ABV.

Mouthfeel: The beer has some enjoyable heft to it. It has a solid body and is easy on the palate despite the hop presence.

Overall: I liked this. The next doppelbock I have will definitely be measured against this one. I'm not certain that I see this as a "winter" beer, because it doesn't really scream "winter" at me, but it doesn't really have to. This beer could be a good starter for folks looking to get into "big" beers, because it's very easy on the palate despite the higher-than-average ABV.

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Photo of PEBKAC
3.2/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

$1.09 for a single from TJs. Damn inflation. BB: 3/15/14

Rounded pint glass. Crystal clear garnet/tea-ish body. Fluffy, light tan head.

Smells of buttery caramel corn & charred bread. Sticky spilled beer & booze.

Aspirin bitterness is the first & last thing you taste. Sweet-ish brown bread middle. Burnt nuts. Dry, pithy/popsicle stick finish. Starchy. Boozy. So-so carbonation.

Cold. Cold is sometimes enough.

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Photo of ExaltedNecrosis
3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into tulip glass.

A - Pours a clear dark amber / brown with a finger of fizzy off white head which dissipates rapidly.

S - Has a sweet malt heavy aroma, with caramel, toffee, toasted bread, and nuttiness.

T - Caramel up front with toast, toffee, molasses, and other dark sweet malts. There's a bit of nuttiness in there as well. The alcohol is present in the taste, too.

M - A bit thin with low carbonation. Even though it has a thin body, it is somewhat sticky. There is a noticeable alcohol warmth.

O - It's a decent doppelbock, though an excellent value considering the $1 price. Nothing special, a good sweet and malty brew.

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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 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 LiquidAmber
3.71/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Celebrator pokal. Pours a dark, ruddy amber with a one finger light tan head with good retention and lacing. Very light aroma of caramel malt and dark fruit. Flavor is caramel and toasted malt, dark fruit, light nuts and a charred smoky element. Finishes with light hop bitterness and lingering smoky malt. Medium bodied with a hint of creaminess. An interesting take on a doppelbock and the smokiness was appropriate for the winter theme. Finish was a bit attenuated, but overall a pleasant winter bock.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle pours a near-perfect 2/3 beer 1/3 head ratio! Pours a clear, dark crimson color with a gorgeous cap of tan head. Nice retention and even better lace.
One of the best looking beers I have had in quite awhile.

Nose...not so much. Ever opened one of the rotten in-shell peanuts at the ball park? Kinda a musty burnt flavor/aroma? Yea...thats this, along with a sweet, dark malt-extract syrup smell.

Taste is near-burnt caramel and a touch of roast and dark chocolate. Not bad...a little on the astringent side, but not too bad. Not sure how many I could drink at a time, but a nice affordable doppel is not always a bad thing. Its better cold than warm, for what its worth.

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Photo of mjpolzin
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was a pretty tasty, decently complex, malty winter beer...but it wasn't special.

This one comes pretty cheap from Trader Joe's (and in this case was a gift). It tasted about like I expected. It was a solid dopplebock-type beer with a little holiday spice mixed in. To me, it is the perfect session winter beer but I can't rate it any higher than that.

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Photo of barczar
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brilliant deep amber with garnet highlights and a frothy one inch khaki head that slowly dissipates, leaving sheets of lacing.

Melanoidins dominate the aroma. Deeply caramelized malt, molasses, tar, licorice, and dark fruit esters form the aroma.

Flavor is sweet, then turning a touch sour and bitter in the finish. Deeply toasted breadcrust forms the base, with hints of dark fruit popping up throughout. Nutty, caramel malt, chocolate, and brown sugar add sweetness, with light roast character surfacing at the end.

Body is fairly thick, with carbonation on the low side, and substantial alcohol warmth.

Interesting, fairly complex malt flavor. Esters are a bit overly pronounced. Also a bit sweet and hot, but it's a winter brew.

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Josephs Brau Winterfest from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.56 out of 5 based on 318 ratings.
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