Josephs Brau Winterfest | Trader Joe's Brewing Company

319 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 319 |  Reviews: 203
Photo of Pehlman
3.4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Nice red with low head retention. very little lacing. quite clear. can see the bubbles rising within the beer.

S: Dark fruit immediately. slight prunes with a very very slight burnt aroma.

T: Strong malt flavor with a bit of a sour/bitter finish. Not bad. Interesting.

M: Carbonation is a bit stong off the bat but settles quite nicely. Coats the mouth nicely as well.

D: A decent beer. Not one I would look for but one I would drink if handed one.

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3.61/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

You get three fingers of active biscuity tan bubbles from the pour. Fades leaving no lace. Body is a very deep opaque brown in color. Nose is soft and realatively vague but does have some zesty spicy notes along with rustic clay, and burnt molases. Taste is consistant with the nose with added dark fruit including dark black cherry. Dark burnt malt carries some sweetness and over shadows the soft spices. Mouthfeel is dusted with spice and slightly thick. Nicely drinkable.

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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 wedge
3.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark copper-brown with a tall, yellowish head of foam. Mellow bocky aroma...dark German malts, banana bread, and caramel. A little too "airy" maybe. The flavor seems to have the right components: heavy on the malts, some toast, berries, maple syrup, and a bit of brown bread. As it warms, the flavor really starts to come out. Medium-heavy body and light carbonation make for a pleasantly smooth mouthfeel, drying out a little in the finish.

Surprisingly, this seems to be an decent version of the style. The first few bottles I had a couple months ago didn't impress me very much, but this is actually pretty solid. The price is right, especially when TJ's is trying to sell off their winter stock for something like $3.00 a six pack. Nothing "off" though thankfully, at 7.5% it's held up nicely.

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Photo of josiahschlender
3.24/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours an rare dark amber color... it's quite clear with a minimal off-white head.

Aromas are pretty interesting! Lots of fruitiness to me. Dark fruit like figs or prunes with a little bit of banana. Along with the fruit, there is a strong sweetness to the smell.

Flavors are more balanced. I notice a bit of roasted malts above the sweet dark fruit and banana. Moderate amounts of bitterness, there are a lot of things going on in this beer, but it doesn't all work together very well. It has lots of complexity and intensity, but little harmony among the flavors in my opinion. It feels somewhat thin, as well. Maybe a little more creaminess would have helped it.

It's probably obvious: I have mixed feelings about this beer. I've tried two now, and came away with the same impression. It's worth a try, especially at its price point, but I've had enough and will move on.

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Photo of TheBierBand
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A friend of mine purchased a sixer of this for me (after all, I talk about beer a lot!). I poured it into a pint glass and was gratified with a 1-1/2" head of off-white foam. The head dissipated rather quickly to a thin cap leaving only slight lace on the glass. The beer is a deep caramel/amber color and has great clarity.

The nose on this is quite typical and heavy on the malt influence. It also has some sweet caramel and a earthy, musty character.

Taste is just like the smell. It finishes with a hint of bitterness and a slight fusel alcohol rush.

Mouthfeel: appropriately carbonated... somewhat rich and hearty... not as much as my favorite doppelbocks though.

Drinkability: Yeah... go for it... good value. Easy to put a few back.

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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 Overlord
3.68/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found this beer at Trader Joe's. The purchase price was intriguing: 2.99 for a sixer. Most intriguing, indeed.

Pours a darkish hue of brown with red highlights. Light tan foam head. Mouthfeel is surprisingly robust and "chewy."

The over aroma and flavor of this beer is sweet, sweet malt. Big caramel malt base, maybe some brown sugar, maybe some molasses, but it stops shy of being cloying.

A good doppelbock that has reminded me that I almost never drink bocks, doppelbocks, or even lagers anymore. Kind of a shame: apparently I'd missed them.

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Photo of marcobrau
3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Found this for $3.99 a six-pack at my local Trader Joe's and couldn't pass it up.

Pours a fairly dark brown with plenty of carbonation forming a voluminous off-white head. The head slowly falls leaving spotty lacework. An eighth-inch of foam persists with each sip. Very smooth. Smells bready with faint whisps of chocolate. Starts out a touch watery, but firms up a bit with bittersweet chocolate and malt flavors surfacing, followed by a touch of a bitter finish for the style (perhaps some of this coming from grains as the label states this beer has just 28 IBUs). Rather tawny in the finish as well, especially as this beer warms up.

Certainly not bad for less than a buck (on clearance, of course). Remember it's cheap, but it'll catch up with you.

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

Small capped bottle.
It is a dark brown, good looking "shiny" brew with a tan head that shows good retention and lacing.
Pleasant aroma consists mostly of caramelized, sweet maltiness, nuttiness, and even some noticeable fruity and earthy hoppiness.
Medium to full in body, it has a lively, almost "spritzy" carbonation that gives it a nice feeling, and a grainy, caramel malty taste that shows an eventual hoppy, earthy layer that keeps it interesting.
part of a bock tasting, this one comes right after another trader Joe's that was a big disappointment; this one will keep my options open for this contract beer. Well done.

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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 wagenvolks
3.15/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into a three philosopher's goblet.

A fleeting, off white head vanishes in under fifteen seconds, leaving nothing more than a miniscule ring of tiny bubbles. The body is dark russet in color with a slight amber tint; bright ruby red when held to the light. The nose immediately picks up a super-sweet, candi-malt backbone, as well as some spicy hops and fresh cedar.

To put it plainly, the flavor is too sweet. It's not necessarily bad, but there's just not a good balance here. Caramel malts and candied sugars overpower any traces of hops, while an ill-timed alcoholic sting coats the sides and back of the palate. Something is just "off" about the carbonation level, too, as this beer leaves the mouth dry & sticky. There is a decently hoppy finish, however, but it's far too little, too late. Overall, I wouldn't recommend this beer unless you were looking for a cheap dopplebock to try. For the most part, you get what you pay for at Trader Joe's.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.44/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at Trader Joe's in Cary for a buck, a price at which I'd try almost any brew, I must admit. The color is a dull medium brown with a reddish tint and zero, head, lace, or even a cap. It looks like flat cola. Uninspiring to say the least. The nose is faint dark fruit, basic brown malt and some backround sourness.

The taste is bolder and more flavorful than the nose, which is good. Heavy caramel malt, grainy sugars, and some more dark fruit give some heft and body to the beer. Not much for balance, but this is a doppelbock. Texture is a little weak but the aftertaste holds up reasonably well.

This is nothing extra special but it is a tolerable, affordable dark beer so that's something right there. Worth a shot if you like bocks.

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

The Trader Joe's Winterfest Doppelbock has been relabeled JosephsBrau as others have said. I poured mine into a tulip glass, very little head and no retention. A rather clear dark red/brown.

Aroma is mostly sweet toasted malts, caramel, bready yeast, and raisins.

Taste is raisin, plum and caramel along with a strong malt and sugary sweet flavor. Not very complex.

Mouthfeel is semi light but coats the mouth pretty well and is pretty smooth going down. Not a lot of alcohol present.

Actually pretty drinkable but a tad on the sweet side for me, so I wouldn't have more than two in a row probably. A decent beer, especially for the price and I would buy again.

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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 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 InsolublePancake
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a nice reddish brown color that includes a decent but very short-lived head.

S- Tons of malt in the aroma, as should be the case with any doppelbock. Nice bready aromas, pretty straightforward.

T- Malty sweetness upfront with a decent spicy hop kick in the middle. Aftertaste is of bread and crackers with a bit of lingering hop bitterness.

M- Pretty full, almost a bit syrupy, but not too much so. Carbonation is low.

D- The full body and, to some extent, the alcohol inhibit the drinkability a bit, but it's still decent. I might have another, but not more than two.

Nice, solid effort. Perhaps it lacks the complexity of some of the elite examples of the style, but it still provides that solid malt character that we all know and love. Plus, it's cheap (like all of these TJ brews) at around five bucks a sixer, so you really can't go wrong. If you like malty beers and live near a Trader Joe's, I suggest picking some up. Recommended.

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Photo of dfillius
3.59/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank a six-pack over a few nights. Served in a UK tulipish pint glass and later in a conical standard pint glass
A: Contract brewed by Joseph's Brau in San Jose. Beautiful crimson with hints of brown. Nice crystal clear appearance, good for a lager. Little tannish head, but great retention and nice amount of head appears upon swirling.
S: Biscuit, bread, crisp, lager smell, fresh cooked pasta, slight alcohol, faint metallic smell.
T: Cooked vegetables, sweet and roasted malts
M: Leaves a coating around the edges of my mouth. 7.5% and heat is present.
D: Great drinkability, alcohol is not too strong, and the flavors are not too thick.

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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 AlexJ
3.84/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent pour, dark mahogany with a substantial beige head that is both thick and lasting. Spot on.

Aroma is dark caramel, light golden fruit, dry cocoa, and an earthy noble hop notion.

Flavor is on the mild side foir this style, but still very authentic and tastey. Chewy dark caramel and dusty chocolate with dark, dried fruit and earthy spice. Nicely hopped finish of earthy and leathery wood.

Body is a tad on the light side for a Dopple but there is no trace of alcohol and this is very easy to drink. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

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Photo of eberkman
3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep orange-brown with a light tan head that keeps its body fairly well. Lots of roasty malts and spices in the nose with perhaps a hint of dark fruits. Taste is caramely malts up front with some dark coffee backbone and a mildly bitter finish balanced out by some spiciness. Mouthfeel was a little thin and watery -- more than I'd like in what should be a fairly hearty winter brew. And the sweetness can be a little cloying to have several of these. But all in all, it's an enjoyable relaxer on a crappy winter day after spending the morning digging out my driveway.

Certainly not bad for the price -- which is true of almost all of TJ's house brands.

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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 montageman
3.82/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. Bottled on 10.04.06.

Trader Joe's is a great place to find little gems like this. At $5.99/6 pack & brewed in style that is usually much more expensive, Winterfest is a very nice take on the dopplebock. Appearance is similar to a carbonated iced tea, but not cloudy. Smell is dominated by roasted sweetness followed by some distinct coffee notes. Taste is like perfectly burnt caramel with a crisp finish that doesn't quite fit here. Mouthfeel feel is well carbonated, but I tend to like more body in this style. An easy drinking dopplebock especially when the price is considered. Recommended.

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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 a10t2
3.25/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz brown bottle with a batch number and date (WF117, 11/06/06).

A: Very clear, light brown, with a faint reddish, almost purple coloration. Lots of carbonation to feed a thin off-white head that lingers and leaves minor lacing.

S: Toasty malt and not much else, maybe just a hint of earthiness.

T: Light for a doppelbock, with little in the way of residual sweetness. Some more toasted malt and a little chocolate in the background. Lots of hot alcohol over the back of the tongue.

M: Viscous, as befits a big beer, but with too much carbonation to be really enjoyable.

D: For 7.5% ABV, it sure goes down smooth, but the alcohol is too prevalent to be enjoyable in the long run.

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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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