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 Erish
3.55/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I poured this 12 oz. beer into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Best consumed before 03/08/11.

A: clear medium to dark mahogany color, fizzy tan head quickly falls into a good cap with decent lacing.

S: sweet, almost cookie-like malt, smells a bit like an almond crescent cookie! Also, a hint of generic yeast funk and clove.

T: sweet bread, nuttiness, the middle opens up to a little bit of earthiness/yeast funk, but not a lot, there is also a light clove/allspice note in there, the finish finally releases a hit from the grassy hops, and it lingers with some sweetness.

M: medium-bodied, creamy texture, moderate carbonation, and a fairly long finish.

D: It has decent doppelbock character, but it is a bit incoherent. What do you want for a buck a bottle? Not bad to try.

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

A - Dark mahogany. Thick tan head with great retention and very good lacing. Incredibly clear.

S - A hint of caramel, and sweet, bready malts. The aroma is promising.

T/M - Full bodied, with frothy effects from the carbonation. The flavor has a lot of sweet roasted malt with a slight over ripened banana flavor. The beer finishes pretty well balanced with a bit of hop bitterness coming through at the end. It's not very complex but what's there is good.

D - An incredibly drinkable beer at less than $6 per 6-pack. I've only started trying out the Trader Joe's beers in the last two weeks and I have to say that I have only been impressed with the level of quality for the price. This is a very drinkable beer, but I can't let the price determine the drinkability. The flavor could be more complex, especially considering the high ABV. To drink more of something with this much alcohol on a week night I need a good reason. The simplicity leads me to move to something else that doesn't pack such a punch.

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Photo of afinepilsner
3.62/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle
7.5% abv

Josephs Brau Winterfest was dark amber in color with good clarity. It had a light tan head with average retention and minimal lacing. The smell was dark malt, a touch toasty and with toffee and caramel. The taste was quite malty with a little dark fruit a bit toasty. It was sweet upfront and finished semi-dry. The body was medium with medium carbonation. Drinkabity was above average. This is a decent Doppelbock for a cheap price.

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

A chilled bottle is poured into a glass mug. The liquid is brown with some ruby notes. Lots of carbonation bubbles are visible. A thin tan foam head was present as I poured, but quickly disappeared. It now looks like a mug of Coke. The aroma is slightly sweet and full of winter spices. Dark and chocolate malts provide a good base for this beer. Some alcohol and bitterness comes forward at the finish. It works well and reminds you this is a stronger beer. The beer is medium bodied and has a lot of carbonation. A coat that is a little bit sticky is left behind. Although this beer is a tad strong, it drinks very easily. I could easily make my way through a few bottles on a cold winter night. This isn't an exceptional beer, but for the price, it is very good and worth checking out.

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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 dcook11
3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I good beer for a good price, and with the exception of a few flaws, a fine example of a dopple bock. Poured into a pilsner glass the beer produces no head, no carbonation to speak of, and no lacing. The smell is of carmal and malt sweetness as well as chocolate and dark fruit. The taste is malty with a light to medium body with drinkability being moderate.

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

Poured from a bottle into a Pilsener Glass.

Look - very dark red color, clear, with about 2 fingers of foam that dissipates slowly. Good carbonation.

Smell - malty and chocolatey. Somewhat smokey or toasty.

Taste and Mouthfeel - Chocolatey in taste too, with a thick feel, somewhat like molasses. Sweet beginning and finish, with a heady middle. Texture is actually surprisingly thin, but still more toward the creamy side.

Drinkability - not a bad brew, but not very complex either.

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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 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 katan
3.26/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz into a pint

A - Pours a very clear, but dark brown color. Light to zero head formation, down to a very little mocha colored film.

S - A combination of malty 2 row and caramel malts, along side a smooth bready yeast note. Very light overall.

T - Starts off with a smooth, sweet malty backbone. The adjuncts start to show, more grainy, some toffee and caramel. Mid-stream builds some bitterness. Finishes with some alcohol warmth, and an odd off flavor that seems to remind me of band-aids. A grainy finish.

M - Moderate beer body, strong lager like carbonation. Finishes mostly clean, just a near imperceptible sweet film.

D - Moderate drinkability. Very sneaky on the ABV, as most DBs can be. A little filling. Flavors are generally not overwhelming.

A solid offering, with the only surprise being the off flavor.

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Photo of steveh
4.42/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010-11 Update to this beer.

A -- Deep chestnut with ruby highlight and a tan head that settles slowly.

S -- Dark, crusty bread with vague, peppery alcohol back. Pretty big character for a clean lager.

T -- Same dark, bready malts up front that start sweet and finish dry from alcohol -- yet slightly sticky from unattenuated malt. Nutty breadiness lingers in the aftertaste with the vaguest of dark fruit character. Very nice to style.

M -- Medium body with a smooth to slick mouthfeel.

D -- Highly drinkable for anyone looking for a good, German-style Doppelbock to fill their glass. An American micro making a good Lager, how 'bout that?

As you may, or may not, know -- TJ's German-style lagers are brewed by Gordon Biersch and there is always a parallel beer at GB in order to find ingredient info:

2008/09 Notes:
A -- Deep brown with ruby highlights and a very resillient tan head.

S -- Mild toasted malt character with some clay earthiness and dark fruit notes back.

T -- Toasted bread and some alcohol spiciness in the flavor. Sweet maltiness without being cloying, nice melanoidin character in a U.S. version of the style. Dark fruit and earthy character back, some vague hop bitterness in the finish.

M -- Smooth to slightly syrupy mouthfeel with a medium to light-heavy body, nicely dry finish.

D -- Exceptional drinkability for a beer of this strength -- dangerously tasty. This will stand up to any of the Bavarian imports.

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Photo of celldog
4.7/5  rDev +32%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one of my vavorite beers. Gulden Drak is my favorite, so I like the darker brews. The great thing about this is the price of $1 a bottle at Trader Joes. Why pay more for a great winter brew when you can get this one. Usually only avaailable Oct through Feb.

The flavors in this beer are very satisfying, and you forget that for about the price of a bud, you are enjoying a great beer. If you live within 20 miles of a Trader Joe's this is worth the drive. ALso, you can mix and match beers at TJs and create your own six packs.

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Photo of droomyster
3.98/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I consider this is a better-than-average doppelbock and an excellent value. Pours a very dark brown, with glimmering mahogany where the light shines through. A nice sized greyish tan head is also impressive given how rarely doppelbocks have a decent showing of foam. Aromas a very sweet, mostly toffee-ish with some dark fruit. Promises to very chewy, as indeed it is upon tasting. Again, strong toffee notes, lots of toasted malts, hints of roasted almonds. Has a bitterness on the back end that balances out the sweetness.

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

Single bottle poured into a tumbler. I suspect that this is the same beer as the Dark Doublebock Winterfest listing, but I'll put the review here since this is what the beer shows on the label.

Appearance: Dark reddish brown color, plenty of bubbles coming up through the beer. Not much of a head on this one, but there is a persistent thin foam film across the top the whole way down. Some lacing towards the bottom of the glass, but not a lot.

Smell: Caramel, malts, and a hint of raisin/prune/fruit at the end. Quite appealing.

Taste: Sweet malts and caramel flavors up front, mild bitterness at the end and then some lingering raisins and malt aftertaste. Very strong on malts here, but not cloyingly sweet. The alcohol is completely hidden, I can't detect it at all. I think I would like it more balanced with some other bitter and non-sweet flavors though.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is muted in light of how much I see coming up in the glass. Nicely thick and coating of the mouth and refreshing.

Drinkability: I think I like a bit more of that roasted malt in my Doppelbocks, but this is good. I can't see myself having more than one in an evening though.

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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 hoegaardenhero
3.55/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: sort of a purple/red brown with a light ring of tan foam and a few splotches

s: sweet prune syrup; light grape jam; light coffee and chocolate; sort of spice

t: very similar to the scent; prune syrup; some toffee; chocolatel; light abv; spiced rumcake

m: tiny bubbles (in my beeeer); medium mouthfeel; a little cloy

d: an interesting very pruny take on the doublebock; for a buck a bottle at tjs its pretty awesome; hopefully this will encourage people to buy some other doublebocks- it is definitely the most adventurous of the tjs beers but definitely not the best

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

Pours a middle brown color with a sparse head. Not much lacing or retention. The nose is reasonably strong and spicy, with notes of brew salts, cardamom, and cloves. The taste is definitely bargain basement, especially with the thin and overly carbonated mouthfeel. Caramel malt sweetness mixes with the Munich malt sweetness, which can't be overcome by anything the hops can bring. the spicing is high as mentioned, and it's augmented by the peppery alcohol. Not a bad beer for the price but I'm happy with just one.

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Photo of morebeergood
3.48/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a single for $1 at the TJ in Brookline. Poured into pint glasses. Light brown in color, with a hint of red. Sizable white head. Smell was a bit spicy, such as cinnamon and coriander. Reminded me a bit of a winter warmer. Taste was good but not as intense I was hoping for. More of a lager, than a doppelbock. Mouthfeel was also a bit thin for me, as I like my winter beers a bit more hearty. Also surprised to see this beer at 7.5% abv. Not a spectacular beer, but not a bad choice at $5.99 a six pack.

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Photo of MadeInOregon
4.7/5  rDev +32%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Spoiler alert!: Previously known as "Trader Joe's Winterfest" here in California, this beer is actually brewed by Gordon Biersch--as are all of Trader Joe's line of beers. So, if you want to avoid paying 9 or 10 dollars for Gordon Biersch's "Winter Bock" then be smart and go get this clevely disguised beer from your local Trader Joe's for $5.99! You're welcome.

That being said, I've had this beer probably, oh, 15 times now and it is one of the few beers that tastes equally delicious ice cold or at room temperature. It is tasty, smooth, warming, and very drinkable. I don't think I could have more than 2 in a row due to the 7.5% alcohol, but this beer is one of my favorites; top 3 without a doubt.

It looks like a nice, standard winter warmer though the khaki/white head is strangely quick to dissipate and leaves little lacing while drinking.

The marvelous flavors present are dark chocolate, raisins/dates, maple syrup, and a little vanilla, all with a mild hoppiness.

Josephs Brau Winterfest (AKA Gordon Biersch Winter Bock) is good to the last drop and has never let me down in the 5 years I've been enjoying it. So don't hate. This is a good drinkin, quality beer. The only reason people wouldn't like it is because they like bitter, hoppier winter warmers, which this is certainly not.

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

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Dark, clear, sienna color with a thin tan head, sorta fizzy. Lot of banana bread in the aroma, with some bread crust, nuts and toffee. Flavor is dark wheat bread, earthy hops, light fruitiness. Tastes like it was fermented with an authentic German yeast. A little mineral/astringent character. Body is too thin for a doppelbock and lets the alcohol come through a bit. One of the better TJ's beers though, easily.

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Photo of gruberbeer
4.31/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An inviting caramel amber color, this beer is delightful insofar as it has complex flavors, including dark roasted grains, a hint of orange zest, and maybe even some anise. The head resolves into a ring of white around the glass, but don't let that visual thinness fool you. It is packed with goodness. I highly recommend this beer. It can stand on its own without food but definitely goes well with lamb or rosemary flavored meats.

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Photo of tredaug
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Good-looking color, but little head retention and lacing - thus, fairly uninteresting.

Smells something between dark-roasted barley and miso; light euro hops.

Tastes like Guinness - minus most of the bitterness all of the nitrogenated smoothness.

Light like a lager, with a nice barley flavor that covers the alcohol flavor (7.5 ABV) more the colder it is. Very fitting for a winter beer. To make a basis of comparison, I'd say this covers the alcohol taste at least as well as Duvel, considering the difference in alcohol content.

Overall very drinkable. If you don't imbibe daily, one beer will be pretty effective (and pleasant) as far as taking the edge off. Tastewise, it's much more than just tolerable.

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Photo of happygnome
3.18/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: pours a brown color with about a quarter inch of head that disappears quickly leaving a small trace of lace around the edge of the glass as the level of beer drops. a small amount of carbonation can be seen rising to the top
s: toasted caramel malts hints of breadiness strong hop notes for the style
t: toasted caramel maltiness followed by a nice hop bitterness which seems a little strange for the style
m: medium bodied beer with little carbonation

overall, this is an enjoyable beer but i dont know that ill get it again

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Photo of meisterkirke
4.27/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer reviews as a "B" from Trader Joe's and an "A-" form JosephsBrau Winterfest Lager. Could it be we don't like it as much when it comes at reasonable price?

The Winterfest is a nice Christmas time six-pack in bottles. it has a nice dark translucent brown color, good finish and not too heady. I like this beer and it is a nice price for the season.

I would rate as a b+ or a-.

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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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