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 explosivebeer
2.36/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This beer had a slightly yeasty aroma coming off a very modest head. The dark amber lager is crisp and subtly sweet. It seems to have potential, but doesn't quite live up to it. It's not a bad beer, but not particularly good either. Apparently this is brewed by Gordon Biersch. It seems like Trader Joe's could do better.

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Photo of SilentSabre
2.38/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I wasn't terribly impressed with this one. Poured a clear reddish-brown pretty average for the style. Not much head, but there are some patches of sand coloured foam. Smell is very subtle. There are sweet malts present, but they're so faint. So much of a good doppelbock is great aroma to me. I love the powerful caramel/roasted malt smell that so many have; this is nearly bereft of this. The first thing I notice is a halfway decent caramel malt flavour which is quickly overpowered by a pretty offensive bitter/spicy hop flavour. Quite spicy, actually. This would be a great attribute in another beer, but not a doppelbock and clearly, from what I am gathering, not *this* doppelbock. Mouthfeel is fairly average and on target for the style. Overall, I'm am delighted that I didn't spend money on this thing. As I always say, though, I *am* glad that I was given the chance to at least try it out. Not for me.

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Photo of 4000qtrap
2.4/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Source/Serving: 12oz. bottle.

Smell: Raisins, brown sugar, and a little chocolate and brown bread.

Taste: Raisin and ripe fruit sweetness up front. In the middle there is a sharp bitter and alcohol bite that isn't terribly pleasant. Finish is more raisins, chocolate, and potentially some (fusel?) alcohols at the finish. Very full bodied.

Notes: Can't beat the price, especially for a beer of this style....but I'm just not a very big fan.

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Photo of DogFood11
2.45/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I love the dopplebock style so I had to pick this up at trader joe's, must be a fresh palate as the season is right and it was presented on the end of an aisle with about 20 cases out for the picking. I swiped a sixer up for some sampling.

Pours a deep purple to brown with a decent head and nice carbonation support.

Serious Toasted bread to the point of borderline smoked. Doughy at times. Taste was the same as the smell although the smoked flavors come through more in the taste. Malted sweetness up front and then Bammm smoked wood...

Notes: I was hoping that this winter-dopple would have some spices,cinnamon,cloves or something but it ended up being just a sub par dopple that has issues all around.

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Photo of 1759Girl
2.46/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance> Tootsie roll colored brown with a flaxen head. Pours a big head. Clear. Not too lively in appearance.

Smell> Sweet, alcoholic, slightly metallic.

Taste> Starts sickeningly sweet, begins to taste like a lager, then punches with a taste of a penny, then finishing with a sweet metallic hang. No me gusta. Complex but not nice.

Mouthfeel> average

Drinkability> no thank you

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Photo of MisterClean
2.53/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

12 oz from fellow hop head Andrea who doesn't like Belgians. Could this be a hint?

A - Dark brown, black, light chocolate foam, dissipates quickly.

S - Plum, raisins, figs, and brown sugar.

T - Plums, raisins, figs, and earthiness.

M - Sour, light earthiness, and light carbonation.

D - Great if you may be constipated. All kidding aside, seems like Trader used an ill-advised yeast for this concoction. Not bad, but not a doppelbock.

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Photo of rodney45
2.71/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Dark amber with a cream colored head that remains for the entire duration.

S: Grains, oatmeal and alfalfa hay.

T: Burnt and bitter toast are the first notes i get. Alcohol seems hidden, and so do any sort of hop profile. Sour and agressive. I agree with a previous review that said, a medicinal bitterness. It lingers throughout the beer, and it almost tastes like old vitamins, or the way a health food vitamin isle smells. It gets slightly sweeter as it warms up.

M: Sharp and sour, moderately carbonated. Medium body.

O: It seems to be an odd example of this style. Its not that it is bad, it just seems unfamiliar and medicinal. Personally would not purchase again, esspecially since you can get better offerings from trader joes for the same price, id rather stick with the pale ale, or ipa... both good examples of their own respective styles made by trader joes.

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Photo of Ricochet
2.72/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I have not been impressed with Trader Joe beers, and I was less inpressed whit the bottle of Two Buck Chuck Wine that everybody raves about, but that's another story. I want to like this beer because it has elements that say it's good to me, but , something seems amiss.

It appears rosy amber, but seemed like an average brown ale, with a head that quicly left the scene. It smells sort of bread like, with some of the burnt malts making themselves known. Mouth was thin but very liquor-like, almost like this beer is crying to drink it at room temperature. As it warmed, it didn't taste as good. Actually, I was not impressed with this.

It was very malty and had a heavy alchohol twinge, and there was licorace and a little coffee taste, and I so wanted it to be a porter, but it was thin like a lager. There was raisin notes but the heavy alchohol just was too damn strong. Last one I tried, I don't know if I was in a non-beer mood or what, but I dumped it.

Drinkablilty is, well, at 4.99 should be okay in my book but this wasn't a very drinkable beverage. I have tried other bocks and they seemed to do this style a bit better. Yes, this would be better than a malt liquor or bland lager for flavor, but compared with it's style, not good.

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Photo of Murrhey
2.73/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a taster glass. Reviewed live.

A- Quarter finger head with a quickly evaporating retention. Tan head with large bubbles that escapes quickly. Dark orange-brown color with nice clarity.

S- Nut brown sort of smell, toasty malts with toffee tones that are in brown ales normally. Nice little fella.

T- Nut brown with heavy malts and light on hops. Interesting taste, but nothing so special.

M- Medium bodied and fairly dry finish. Nice feel.

O- Not a great beer, but nice finish and nice overall.

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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 mikeg67
2.77/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle from Trader Joe's. Pours dark red to brown with a tanned, rocky, long lasting head and lovely carbonation. Aroma is not very appetizing - with piny hops and bready malt in the balance. Taste is similar plus alcohol. Body is medium, crisp and somewhat oily. Finish is long and earthy. Well, this is not Ayinger Celebrator.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.78/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Best consumed before 5/21/12.

Pours a clear copper color with a 1 inch foamy tan head that settles to a thin cap. Thin rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, caramel, and some fruit aromas. Taste is of toasted malt, caramel, dark fruits, and an interesting band-aid flavor. A slightly assertive and medicinal bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a higher level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is not a very good beer in my opinion based mainly on the off band-aid flavor coupled with the assertive hop bitterness.

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Photo of witflee
2.79/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a syrupy stream into a clean beer glass and imagined some hot pancakes underneath would be a fitting palate-cleanser. But despite its sugary-thick appearance, it produced a pretty head, nice reddish-brown body, and stick my nose in, I smell cherry candy dissolved in oolong tea. Already I feel a bit green around the gills. Into the mouth, it discovers a sweet and peppery amalgam of thick liquid Zantac® flavored with things that don't sound appealing, like rose hips and chamomile. Perhaps if I were a starving monk enduring the days of Lent I might be more charitable towards this liquid bread, but as it is, I need a ham-on-rye sandwich to abrade my tongue and get this strong sweet brew off my taste buds. If this beer review doesn't make sense, i wrote it after full consumption of the 7.5 ABV brew, whew!

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Photo of hopsaplenty
2.86/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep amber with loads of carbonation streams. Short, quickly thinning head of sandy colored and small bubbles which thins to a brief collar leaving no lacing. Smells slightly sweet and modestly malty, with raisins, plums, and almost jammy. The taste is also initially sweet and finishes with notes of alcohol. Raisins and plums along with hints of clove are also present. Light body for a dopplebock, and a rather thin mouthfeel. Didn't seem quite to style, but was still enjoyable.

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Photo of Pecafaced
2.88/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- A dark red ruby color with a decent amount of head retention that dissipated fairly quick. The beer left a nice lacing along the glass.

S- very sweet, hints of biscuit. No hop aroma detected.

T- a sweet taste initially, followed by the biscuit flavor and then a bit of alcohol towards the end. A decent dry finish.

M- not a bad mouthfeel. This beer is well carbonated.

D- For a 7.5% ABV is pretty drinkable. The alcohol is not as upfront as some beers with that much volume. Probably wouldn't buy it again but its drinkable.

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Photo of Minkybut
2.88/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was a dark coca-cola colored brew that poured a head with big bubbles. The head only lasted a few seconds. The beer smelled a little on the sour side, don't know if it was suppose to be like that or not. Taste was not sour thank goodness but it was Sweet tasting. I'm going to have to try this one again to be sure about it. Their beers are usually pretty good.

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Photo of hammer09
2.89/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A friend recently gave me one of these to try. Trader Joe's Winterfest Dark Doublebock Lager pours a dark, reddish-brown with a thick, foamy head. Beer appears clear, but slightly syrupy, and lacing is well developed. Smell is malty with some sour overtones that detract from the overall aroma. However, there is a very nice caramel aroma beyond the sourness. Taste is very malty, but the overall character is somewhat muted. It's not bad, but I expected more pronounced flavors. Mouthfeel is generally flat, sticky, and unappealing. This would benefit from a little more carbonation. Overall, Winterfest Dark Doublebock Lager is drinkable, but this beer could use a little more flavor and carbonation to offset some of its bland characteristics.

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Photo of johnnieoz
2.91/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Part of my Trader Joe's Doppelbock taste-off

JB Winterfest vs. da Optimator

$5.99 plus tax for a six-pack.

A: Looks just like da Optimator, reddish brown tint, off-white head that is a bit bolder than da Optimator's.

S: Sweet, sweet, sweet. Smells like molasses and dark bread. Too sweet for me.

T: Pure malt: caramel and syrup. Hint of, that was the bitter taste of tonight's LA air.

M: Not as full as I would expect from a 7.5 % ABV doppelbock. Just a bit too watery. Goes down smooth, no aftertaste. Oh yeah, more carbonated than da Optimator.

D: Respect to TJs and their braumeister Joseph Brau. Nice that they gave this style a shot. It's $2 less than da Optimator, but if you have $2 to spare, I'd Opt for the German.

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Photo of MisterDeeds
3/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown with hints of red showing through. A quick tan head vanishes quickly, and the bubbles continue to peck through the murky brown surface.

Smells malty with a roasted sweetness in it. Caramel?

Taste is sweet and malty. Some caramel malts, and a touch of dark mollasses maybe. A nice bready aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is very thin, alomst non-existent. Not what I'd expect from a Dark Double Bock.

Overall it's not terrible, but to me it seems more like a Marzen or an O'fest, than a Double Bock. But what do I know? Brewed by someone somewhere for Trader Joe's, it isn't the worst beer in the world, and certainly worth the price of $5.99 for a sixer.

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Photo of acemathew
3/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma is nice and malty the Marzen comes through in the pour smells like Christmas.

The dark tones are ruby reddish to dark copper. The head pours big and strong but doesn't hold on for long.
The taste is great nice and malty and some chocolate.

The mouthfeel is thick and warm it has a lasting feel.

The finish is OK can't wait to get to the nest one.

I haven't had many Dopple Bocks let alone a bock at all. Lagers you know. But this is really good and inspiring. I wish to make something like this for next winter. The price/value is remarkable with 7.5% and it is brewed in CA.

I wont change my original comments but this is adjunct beer.

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Photo of ELN
3.05/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

i was gonna say that i don't like the bock category very much and then i was gonna say that i'd never heard of this brewery but it's just a trader joes name joke again! ahh!!

serving type: bottle
appearance: drink from the bottle. COOL!
smell: dark. label says "dark" and "caramel"
taste: chocolate, grapes, slight citrus?
mouthfeel: not very heavy. i going to give it a 2.5
drinkability: i came with an open mind but this just doesn't get me beer-happy. these things have a awkward off-putting taste and it's a strange category you don't see much of. i wouldn't buy a sixer of it but if it was free then yes i would have another!

7.5% the big winner. :)

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Photo of kojevergas
3.06/5  rDev -14%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Port Brewing taster glass in me friend's gaff in low altitude Orange, California.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Paired with pizza and breadsticks from Pizza Hut.

A: Pours no finger at all, with a floater that indicates only fair thickness and slight cream. Retention is obviously awful (~<10 seconds). Colour is a nontransparent amber. No visible yeast particles.

Sm: Amber hops, clean malts, and cream. A very simple mild strength aroma. Not particularly enticing.

T: Amber hops and malts. Very simple indeed. Not at all complex or subtle. No real spices. Maybe some toasted malt. Decently balanced but badly built. Disappointing, without any complexity. Predictable and boring.

Mf: Smooth, wet, a touch thin, and adequately carbonated. Isn't tailored to the flavours specifically, but suits them generally.

Dr: Drinkable, but boring and dull. Too simple for the style. I wouldn't have it again, but for the .50 cent price tag it's nice enough. Hides its slightly high ABV well.

Low C+

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.08/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Tried one of these beers that my dad offered me from his 6-pack. Poured a toffeish brown/black. Smelled like licorice, with vanilla notes a decent amount of malty sweetness followed by the welcomed bubble of cold lagered carbonation to help the flavor along. Although I wasn't expecting this Dopplebock to be up there withe Ayinger Celebrator, but for a 7.5 % beer, the overall flavor scheme was subdued. Not up to my expectations, but would definetly buy this beer though.

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Photo of Hautacam
3.08/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Dark amber..large head..foamy...reduces to a collar.
Smells good...malt , alcohol ..prunes ?
Tastes pretty good at first...sweet, malty,caramel...maybe some vanilla...touch of hop..but at the finish a faint metallic taste and aftertaste that is spoiling this for me....damn....I really wanted to like this...I love TJs, and the price of this is great.
Mouthfeel is medium..low carbonation.
Not too drinkable for is enough.
I have a few samples of their other beers to's such a good deal if they're any good at all....and I would like to try a different batch of really was good right up until the finish.

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3.13/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pint glass: Pours amber brown, 1 finger head fades out right away.

S: Smells strong, pure alcohol.

T: Alcohol, hint of molasses, slight caramel aftertaste but mainly alcohol. Not much else covering it up.

M: Feels like your drinking a shot of bourbon. You get a little bit of that burn.

D: Not for sipping, not much taste here. Drink it fast & get a quick buzz. I recommend drinking this one straight from the bottle, it's a lot better that way. A bit too metallic for me but it is worth giving it a go. I've yet to taste a very good bock but I haven't been looking for one either.

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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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