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

Label: Batch number 12:54 WF114 10/26/06.

Pours as a dark chestnut brown hue topped with a frothy beige dense beige collar slowly vanishing to a coating.

Toasted malt nose of fresh baked bread along the lines of pumpernickel with some maple syrup sweetness. Grainy Earthy balance with a final hint of Rauchbier smokiness.

First swigs: Sweet sugary caramel initialy fronts the flavor, leading towards a toasted grain maly, grainy buttery waffles and syrup. Light butter pecan ice cream. Quick rauchbier smoke essence that zips into a fast finish.

Solid medium bodied chewiness with a quickly disolved aftertaste. Tad of a tacky grainy tongue coat.

Last swigs: El cheapo 6 pack alert! $7 a sixer of 7.5% ABV 12 oz'ers. Wow!

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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 uberabr
3.34/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance is a deep burgundy, great carbonation and good lacing. Head is minimal. The smell is subtle and moderate. Lagery and a tad on the minty side, with some sort of odd sweaty malt fragrance. Not the most pleasant thing i've ever smelled, but it's subtle. Taste is dry-on the parched side- but there's a pleasant caramel/molasses, some yeasty butter, plum, apples and grape.

The complexity is nice, but I just can't get over this mild sweaty quality and the parchedness. Somehow it's still quite drinkable though.

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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 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 rallison
3.51/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark red/brown color with a 1 finger head that recedes.

S: Some bready malts, that's about it.

T: Nice bit of caramel sweetness, with some carbonation to balance it. While tasty, it's a bit one-dimensional.

M: Medium body with some carbonation to lighten it. Slightly sharp mouthfeel at the swallow.

D: It's tasty and easy enough to drink - I'll often have a couple of these.

This is a good solid $5/sixer doppelbock. It's no Celebrator, but it's enjoyable, if not a bit on the boring side. Make sure it's not too cold when you serve it - it needs to be on the warm side for the body to feel full enough.

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Photo of schusterbauer
3.34/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

dark cranberry red/light caramel brown. smells of caramel, smoke, alcohol, bread pudding with rum sauce. taste is one-dimensional: a mix of malts, caramel, cinnamon and spice, dark fruits. none of these elements make themselves known above the overly-even blend. slightly bitter on the finish, which diminishes the nice candy sweetness. reserved in the malt department. smooth in the mouth, and medium bodied. drinkable, and forgettable. that said, it's under $6 for a six pack, and a nice way to mix up the winter beer rotation.

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

Rumor has it this is just Gordon Biersch's Winter Bock repackaged and retailing for 25% less (six pack for $3.99 at Trader Joe's in San Mateo). Yet the TJ version gets a lower rating on BA.

Whatever the story is, this is an excellent beer. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Celebrator glass. Rich brown color with deep ruby highlights. Medium head, lacing sticks around forever.

Taste is wonderfully bracing, fresh, rich Euro-style malt. A bit of sweetness, but this is not a sweet beer. Hops are enough for the style, but certainly not the star attraction. Avoids that metallic tang common to some German examples, but still tastes "German" in a good way. Mouthfeel might be a bit viscous for the style, but it's not inappropriate for the season.

An excellent beer at an even better price. Don't miss it.

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Photo of Greenfloyd
3.83/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Trader Joes strikes again....

This doppelbock poured into my glass with a chocolate raisin color, followed by a quickly fading light brown head. Smelled of rich roasted malts and sweet bread. At 7.5 percent, this beer packs a lot of punch to accompany the rich dark fruit, sweet, heavy malty undertones, and a low hop presence in the quick finish. A decent medium body fills the beer soul. This beer paired very well with beef stew, and works well with a pot roasts as well...Enjoy

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Photo of balconybrew
3.33/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a nonic glass...
Poured a dark redish amber. Good head that feel fast and left a little lace. Smells smoke and caramel. Medium carbonation. You can taste the dark and caramel malt. I couldn't taste the alcohol. It's not bad for a TJ's brew.Mouthfeel is good but a little light for the style. Drinkability is okay. You could probably have more than one.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.38/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a mug, the beer pours dark brown with about an inch off-white head. It smells like caramel and smoke, but not much else as the aroma isn't strong at all. It tastes like roasted/smoked malt, caramel and dark fruit. Mouthfeel is medium and a little bit slick. Drinkability is OK, but not great. It's an OK beer, but there are much better dopplebocks out there. But with that being said I'd try this again, it's not bad.

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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 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 Redrover
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz brown longneck poured into a heavy mug. The beer is a dark brown with a tan head and decent lace patterns.

The nose is of sweet, slightly smoky malts and some dark fruit.

The taste is also sweet and warming. There is some coco, raisins, and a touch of caramel. The taste is also a bit smoky with some sugared plums. Not bad at all!!

The mouth is clingy and medium bodied. This is a great sipper and went well with the hardy food I was having. I did not notice much alcohol, so the brewer did a good job of masking the 7.5%

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Photo of ndekke39
3.53/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank this from a 12 oz bottle from batch #WF012, bottled on 10/21/06. Pours a dark, ruby red color - slight haze to liquid. Very small white head - almost no retention. Smells of dark toasted malt - very smoky and even meaty, like a Rauchbier. Tastes very much the same: toasted malt, smoky, hints of molasses. Slight bitterness to it, otherwise very little taste of hops. A little bite from the fizz. Light mouthfeel - a tad watery for a Doppelbock. Easily drinkable, and a good beer - it could just use more complexity to it.

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Photo of Bierman9
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed from a 12oz bottle, with a lovely, snowy scene on the front of the cathedral in Salzburg, Austria. Back label says batch 12:57 WF117, and bottled on 06NOV06.

I gave her a hard pour into a Rapscallion chalice, producing a thin, fine head comprised of tiny, tight, tan bubbles. The liquid itself was a clear, beauteous shade of deep garnet, with a few enclaves of carbo making the trek topside. Aroma is made up of some nice malty, toffee-ish notes, plus what seems to be a dash of cinnamon. Nothing suggesting hops appear anywhere in the nose. Body was medium, though I would have liked it to be a bit thicker, imo. Still smooth and easy on the palate.

A bit of light caramel malt hits the tastebuds, along with a little tinge of spices. Winter warmer or bock? Hmmm.... Sweetness coats the mouth, and the flavor exhibits touches of hops where the aroma did not. There's some light, floral action going on at the finish, lasting nicely. Not a whole lot of complexity here, but fairly decent. I wouldn't call it more than a "good" bier, moreso one in the middle of the pack.

Thnx to Artied2 for procuring this in the DC area over Christmas and lugging it home safely via the "friendly skies".


overall: 3.85
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 3.5


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Photo of jasonjlewis
3.71/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I got this as an added bonus on a trade with David Eddie. I poured it into a flute glass and it didn't have very good head and retention. It is decent. It has a great smell. It has a decent flavor with a lot of malts. The alcohol is a little too overbearing but it is fairly balanced for the style. This beer has decnt drinkability, but it is nothing spectacular. I'm still happy that I tried it though.

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

A - this doppelbock is dark coca-cola brown in color, with a thin tan head that dissiaptes into a ring of fizz very swiftly, not much in teh way of carbonation

S - darl raisins big and up frotn with a strong alcohol kic, and soft molasses undertones

T - raisins like from the aroma, with a nice blend of roasted malts and smokiness to back it up and drown out some of the alcohol taste

M&D - rather sweet and creamy, nice and smooth, especially for a higer ABV, a nice doppelbock, though i am doppelbock spoiled in CT, the land of the LIberator, but this is decent

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

appearance: Cream colored, chunky head with decent retention. The beer is a medium reddish-brown in color.

smell: Uprfont I get considerably sweet caramel apple aromas with a touch of nutty, toasted grain. Slight German-like metallic note. Low hop profile. Hints of sweet tree fruits and banana bread.

mouthfeel: Medium carbonation and body.

taste: Sweet caramel malts with a touch of roasted and toasted grain in the background. Notes of various light and dark tree fruits as well as ripe banana bread. Light noble hop flavor and bitterness.

drinkability: easy enough

picked up a sixer in Chagrin Falls while visiting family over the holidaze

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

12oz single carelessly left in my fridge by blackie, probably from cleveland or something. bottled 10/30/06

appearance: poured into wide mouth wine glass...medium garnet body, cola-esque, tan cream head with little lacing

smell: sweet dark apple, caramel malts, light smoke, earthy. average doppelbock aromas

taste: I haven't had a doppelbock in a few months i dont think...smoked apple? big caramel malts, fruit sweetness, light booze. Not as much complexity as i look for in the style but its not too bad

mouthfeel: a bit on the light side of the spectrum, rather creamy

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

Appearance: The pour is dark amber with fiery highlights, topped by a tan head that quickly fades and eventually dissipates.

Smell: The aroma is mostly made up of toasted malts and grains with a hint of caramel and coca.

Taste: The flavor is sweet at first, featuring toasted malts and a bit of caramel. The middle becomes somewhat roasty, with roasted malts and faint notes of coca. Fruity esters, grape and currant, come out for the finish. Sweet toasted malts and cereal grains are always present.

Mouthfeel: It's lighter than most doppelbocks, but it's still medium-bodied and fairly sticky.

Drinkability: It's not my favorite style and it's not a particularly great example, so I'm glad I only bought a single.

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

Minimal initial aroma. Poured a crystal clear, ruby brown color with a rich, tight bubbled, lingering pale tan head. Malty with maybe a bit of plum or fruitcake in the up front sweetness. Despite the maltiness, it is not a cloying sweetness. Won't say it finishes dry, but doesn't linger back there forever. And as the beer is very clean tasting and nice, any linger is pleasant. Mouthfeel no more than medium, and is perhaps a little light for the style. However, it is a darn easy drinking 7.5% ABV beer. And at $5.49 per 6 pack, it is well worth a look.

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Photo of joe1510
3.95/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. Bottle
$5.49 6-Pack

Winterfest poured crystal clear garnet into my pint glass. Tiny carbonation bubbles rise from random points along the bottom. A top the body sits a dirty white head thats creamy. The head fades to a 1/4" cap. This is a really nice looking beer with the clarity. Surprised to find it that way.Leaves small patchy lacing.

Smell is along the lines of a dunkel with a strong smell of banana bread with maraschino cherries. There is big doughy malts along with the breadiness. This beer is loaded with malt. Smells like a meal. Slight wafts of alcohol as it warms. Very nice.

Taste is much the same as the smell. The huge amount of doughy chewiness overtakes everyting else. The banana is less in the taste but still present. Pleasant warming alcohol character on the finish. I like this one. Solid.

Mouthfeel is the only drawback. Medium bodied but thin. Coats the mouth but could use a little more body or creaminess. Slides through nicely though.

Drinkability is good. The thinner mouthfeel actually helps the drinkability. Nice beer to enjoy on a cool evening with the slight warmth it gives off.

Winterfest is a surprisingly good beer. Especially for the price. At $5.49 this is hard to beat on value. I wasn't expecting a beer of this quality from Trader Joes. I picked up their Vintage Ale brewed by Unibroue along with this so I'm looking forward to that. I wouldn't hesitate to pick this up again. Good find.


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Photo of BeerSox
3.32/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into pint glass.

Clear copper color with a thin fizzy light tan head that doesn't last very long. Thin spotty lacing.

Malty with molasses and dark fruits. A little bit of alcohol comes through.

Mostly toasty malts with a bit of a honey like flavor. A little bit of hop character, but not much. Sharp on the tongue. The finish is clean with some of the malts lingering.

A good dopplebock, but I'm used to something a little thicker (fuller bodied) than this one. But, at less than $6 a six pack at Trader Joe's, it's a good one to try.

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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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