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: 317
Photo of kylehay2004
3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Two finger head with excellent retention on a deep amber/brown mildly hazy body.

S: very malty with nut and caramel notes.

T: Lots of malt up front with a burnt toast and bitter coffee/toffee note in the finish. This causes a bit of a lingering aftertaste which is unwanted.

M: medium to full body, moderate to high carbonation. semi dry finish.

Overall: The aftertaste is a bit unpleasant and it was a little too dry but the aroma and malt presence is well done.

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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 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 LXIXME
3.53/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big light tan head settles into a decent lacing above a clear reddish brown colored beer.

Dark roasted malts, darker spices, and even black licorice appear in the aroma of this winter brew.

Dark roasted malts with some sweetness with just a bit of hops sneaking in the taste, there also seems to be a touch of alcohol making it's presence known.

A not quite dryish aftertaste the bring with it some of the tastes on this medium bodied beer.

A decent but sort of lack luster taste, seems to be missing something that would make a person search out more of this stuff.

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Photo of zeff80
3.63/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, bubbly caramel color with a tan, foamy, three finger head. It left some decent lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of sweet caramel and malted barley. It had a subtle floral aroma.

T - It tasted of biscuity malt, sweet caramel and toffee. It was syrupy sweet.

M - It was soft and smooth. A light to medium-bodied beer.

D - This was a pretty good. I am impressed by Trader Joe's cranking out a pretty good dopplebock.

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Photo of nickfl
3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours with a small head of light tan foam on top of a clear, amber-brown body. The head settles quickly and leaves decent lace.

S - A sweet aroma of caramel malt with some brown sugar and a hint of allspice.

T - Dark malty notes up front with caramel and some cola character. Very sugary through the middle with a bit of cinnamon and clove as well as brown sugar. Finishes with darker notes of burnt caramel and perhaps a hint of roasted character.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - Not bad, the malt character is nice up front but becomes a bit cloying by the end of the glass. In the end, there are much better dopplebocks out there than this one

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Photo of chinchill
3.57/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottles served in pint glass 1+ month before "Best by" date (lightly revised with a fresher bottle in Nov. 2014)

A - deep mahogany color; clear; thin off-white head with brief duration but lasting ring.

Nice aroma of roasted and caramel malt.

Malts are also main components of flavor, but some spiciness as well. Not very sweet overall, and definitely not as sweet as the aroma [IBU = 28] but plenty of caramel and brown sugar flavors.

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Photo of mactrail
3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Warm and malty dark lager.

Very nice mahogany color in the tulip glass. Rich and nutty malt is pretty much the story. Rather sweet and in line with the style. Caramel Sugar Daddy sucker. Hops make a brief appearance and leave a nice bitterish aftertaste. Then the sweetness sticks around.

Bargain winter ale. I have found it very drinkable over the years.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.64/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle - $1.17 at Trader Joe's in Roswell, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a russet-ruby-hued body with a smallish, light beige head.

Smell: A harmonious co-mingling of toasted bread and nuts with a fruity hint of both harvest apple slices and Sun-Maid raisins brushed with caramel and flecked with chary roastiness.

Taste: Well toasted bread crusts and barley grains given a modest brushing of dark caramel sauce and brown sugar. Slight nuttiness throughout. Mingling of ripe apple and plump raisins provide a noted fruitiness. Spicy, earthy hops that, along with a hint of roasted grains, provide a reasonable amount of bitterness. Drying, slightly warming finish with a lasting, if light, apple taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation.

Overall: Hey! Wait a minute. Wait just one damn minute! This is curiously reminiscent of the Gordon Biersch Winter Bock... E-mails to the brewery have gone unanswered.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.95/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Glowing blood orange (more blood than orange) with copper kettle edges. The upper third of the glass is filled with a whipped creamy crown that is equal parts pale gold, pale orange and beige. The fine curtain of lace that is forming from the top edge downward is just beginning to tear in spots. This is an attractive dopplebock for sure.

The nose hits all the right notes, but is too laid back. I'll try again once the two fingers of foam has fallen to a thin film. What I can appreciate now is caramel malt, earthy German hops and no alcohol. As hoped for, time amplifies and expands the aroma quite nicely.

Winterfest isn't the biggest and boldest doppel in the world, but it's damn tasty in its own right. Since I have the November '06 version, I'm thinking that one year of rest has smoothed things out a little. Of course, it might be even better when young. Like the nose, alcohol isn't an issue at all.

I don't usually care for Munich malt, but I don't mind it here. That's probably because there's enough else going on that it doesn't dominate. The flavor profile consists of dark caramel, earthy tobacco, a hint of cocoa and wonderful dark fruitiness (fig jam) that might be my favorite part of the whole shootin' match.

The mouthfeel has a pleasing lagery smoothness that borders on creamy. However, it needs to be a bit heftier if it hopes to earn a bit score from me. Warming almost, but not quite, gets it where it needs to go.

TJ's Winterfest Dark Double Bock Lager is a user-friendly doppelbock that has no shortage of complexity. I don't usually go crazy over the lighter versions of this style, but this one hit me just right. I have no trouble believing that this stuff flies off the shelves each autumn. Thanks for the quality extra, Talisker.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

dark brown with a good two inches of off white tan colored head. This faded and nestled own leaving a thin film and some side glass lace. The smell was nce and smoky with a bit of an earthy grain mixed in. A touch of some caramel and sweetness as well. The flavor was very tight. Crisp clean and efficent flavor, lots of malt, nice smoky flavors with a touch of caramel.

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Photo of russpowell
3.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was apparently born on 11/29/06

Pours an effervescent walnut/chestnut shade with 2 fingers of offwhite colored head. Good lacing & excellent head retention

S: Corny & toffee notes

T: Breadyness, spicyness & boozeyness upfront. Brown sugar, toast, maple syrup & dryness as ths warms. Finishes dry,a touch grainy, with toasty & brown sugary notes. I'd rate this a little higher but there's sight cardboard edge surfacing evey once in a while

MF: Medium bodied & low carbonation

Drinks very easy, the best $5,00 a sixer (or 3 .5 littlers) dopple out there? For sure west of the Rhine! This is more like the beer's I expect from trader joe's! If there a TJs here, I'd certainally take advantage of this beauty more often

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Photo of smcolw
3.52/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reddish brown in color, clear. Very little head and relatively no lace.

Sugary sweetness in the aroma department, almost like making caramels. Very little hop.

Nice and sweet like a good double bock. I detect some hop. Obviously high alcohol, while still maintaining a solid body.

One-dimensional, but still a good anchor for this style. I wonder how a blind tasting would go. I'm always more impressed with this than I'd expect. It's a solid entry in this style. I wonder if I'm approaching this from snobby level--don't know. Still, I like this dobblebock. For the price, it's superior.

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Photo of Jason
3.55/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz brown bottle with a batch # that means nothing to me on the back label.

A- Quick to foam though the bubbles crawl through the viscous liquid. Great head retention, big sticky patches ... clarity is great as well.

S- Super malty aroma, faint caramel, brown bread and creamed coffee nose.

T&M- Just as viscous as the appearance as the carbonation rolls around the mouth of this full bodied brew. Decent malt character, lots of toasted malt flavor with very little depth after that. Mild yet sharp bite from the hops help to even the playing field. The alcohol is a bit too predominant in the malty finish with a hint of clean fusel.

D- Not too shabby, this is a sure thing for $5.29 a 6-pack, though after one bottle I feel like I need to switch to something else.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

So much Brett Favre on right now. Nothing to do with the beer, just an observation. Speaking of the beer, it pours a clear garnet-brown topped by a short finger of ecru foam. The nose comprises wheat, graham crackers, chocolate syrup, molasses, and cinnamon. The taste runs very similar, with the addition of rye bread and a stiff orange-peel kind of bitterness that cuts down the spine. The body is a stolid medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slightly grainy feel. Overall, a pretty nice d-bock, but the strange bitterness is not only out of place, but also rather off-putting. Beyond that, this ain't so bad, really.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

03/06/07- Purchased at Trader Joe's in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 12oz bottle. Batch number and package date on the back label...nice. Poured into my Englander pint glass.

Appearance- Kind of a cherry-chestnut colored pour. Fairly clear. Not as dark as a doppel should be. Looks kinda watery. Head retention is very nice though and leaves a nice 1/5 inch creamy off white head throughout. Dots of lace are left behind.

Smell- Thick chocolate malty smell with hints of dark fruit. Slight mix of a doppel and english barleywine scent? Whatever it is, it's pretty nice.

Taste- Tons of chocolaty caramel goodness. Medium to heavier roasted malt backing. Almost to the burnt point, but not quite. Creamy, pretty thick and very flavorful.

Mouthfeel- As stated above. Thick and viscous. Goes down like a low grade molasses...quite a sugary coating left behind.

Drinkability- The best TJ's beer I've had to date. Very impressed. Definite bargain for $4.99 a six pack after the holidays on closeout. Wouldn't take it over a Celebrator, but it should be a staple in a every day doppelbock household if near a TJ's.

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Photo of Tone
3.47/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with short head and poor retention. Lacing is non-existent. Smells heavily of malts with the lager background. Fits the style pretty well. Tastes of a sweet roasted malt up front with a slightly sour lager aftertaste. Low carbonation, smooth body, roasted malts stay with you for a while. Overall, not bad at all for a Trader Joe's - easy to drink for a Doppelbock.

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Photo of tempest
3.72/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A good imitation of a doppelbock, but just that - an imitation. There's no head or lacing after the first few minutes, but the aroma is quite enticing and makes up for the appearance. Has definite bock-like aromas and flavors with rich caramel and a bit of fruit. Mouthfeel is a bit odd, but its still fairly drinkable. Worth a try,

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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 Gueuzedude
3.72/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Labled as JosephsBrau Winterfest
Pours with an initially two-finger thick, lightly browned, tan colored head that sit on top of a dark, burnt amber colored brew that shows a brilliantly clear, concentrated cranberry color when held up to the light. Malty smelling, though not nearly as rich as I might have expected from a Doppel Bock; the malt smells a bit fruitier and without that thick, chewy malt complexity and richness that is typical. The aroma smells of rum soaked raisins, prunes, some dusty cocoa hints and some herbal hop spiciness. Fairly simplistic for a Doppel Bock.

Somewhat light bodied up front, but it does pick up a heft to it as it moves across the tongue. Sweet, with a concentrated fruit character reminiscent of prunes & dried figs. A touch of dark malt adds some sharpness, a touch of cocoa and a hint of roast astringency to the finish. Some herbal hop notes and bitterness also adds to the light astringency in the finish. A bit creamy textured, but a light carbonation cuts through that sensation a bit. Hints of vanilla, rum and melanoids add some depth to the flavor. This really does have a nice, quite noticeable, though certainly supporting, hop character to it; I like the herbal notes and even the lingering, even biting bitterness in the finish adds quite a bit of balance to the dominant malt character.

The flavor is not nearly as week as the aroma made me thought it would be. It is perhaps not one of the best examples of the style, but is certainly a good example and much better than others I have had.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.66/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle from Trader Joe's labeled as JosephBrau's

A: Wow, this looks nice. A clear, dark mahogany/crimson color. A large, bubbly khaki colored head that quickly dissipates to a bubbly film and leaves nice layers of lacing
S: Caramel, malt as expected and some light coffee but in the end there is also a slightly sour smell I can't place that takes away from the aroma.
T: Roasted malt flavor dominates and finishes with a slight coffee taste. Very pleasant, none of the sourness detected in the nose. Slight hop taste in finish balances the sweetness.
M: A little thin and watery up front but medium carbonation and hop bitterness at end makes up for it. Also creamier than expected.
D: Nice looking and tasting doppelbock. Nothing remarkable but for $5 and whatever a 6 pack at Trader Joe's well worth having around. I could drink a few of these easily.

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

This stuff is made in San Jose, so that pretty much means this is Gordon Biersch Winter Bock with a different label slapped on it.

This is a clear brown beer with more than a shade of red color to it. Tan head but nothing is really notable about it so I didn't note it!

The smell is sweet and quite figgy and full of raisin aroma. A little fruity scented mostly cherry.

The taste begins bland and bitter. Not all that much to the taste mostly a bit of grass and lots of spent malt grain husk and lots of tannins. Bock with lots of tannins in it describes this beer to a T.

The mouthfeel is OK.

Drinkability is a big.... pass me something else after one of these. I have had outstanding Bock beers and this is certainly NOT one of them. Sure I would pick this over a Budweiser but not over an everyday regular craft beer like a Sam Adams Lager. Not something I would really recommend.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.53/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours brown with a medium off-white head, good retention and lace.

S: Heavy malt with a hint of fig, pretty standard smell.

T: Lots of dark bread, brown sugar. Light grassy hop character.

M: Medium to full-bodied with a frothy carbonation. Somewhat cloying at times.

O: For a $6 6er of dopplebock it's quite a deal. To style and well made. Nowhere near the greatness of Salvator or Celebrator, but at this price point I'm happy.

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Photo of weeare138
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to hopdog for this..
Appears a dark, semi-transparent, dark brown with a light beige head that fizzles out. Spotty lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, herbs, smoked peat, brown sugar, and cream.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with dark fruit, roastiness, and toasted nuts along the tongue.
Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied, syrupy, and sugary.

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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 317 ratings.
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