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

Pours cola brown, light brown. Thin head. Nose on the lighter side too with lightly roasted malt. On the palate the same character is found with light roasty malt flavors and some dark bread breadiness. Light bodied but not watery. Smooth. Very drinkable.

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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 rKunda
3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My wife grabbed this for me from Trader Joe's from the free for all section. I don't know if I'd ever have tried it.

Pours a nice head from the bottle but it fizzled away quickly, almost like a soda, but not quite as quickly.

It smells really good. It smells slightly sweet to me, but you can also smell a fair amount of alcohol, too.

Taste has it's ups and downs, or rather those but in reverse order. The first sip was a little stronger than I was expecting... it doesn't taste nearly as sweet as it smells. After that, each sip was pretty pleasing. It tasted similar to the Stone offering of Highway 78 Scotch Ale (which I reviewed as one of my favorite beers ever!). Some sweet notes, some caramel, with a little spiciness.

It's not nearly as good as the Stone beer mentioned above, but it wasn't bad. I liked it. I liked it enough to buy it again. Whereas the Stone offering was $2.99 per 12oz bottle, for example, this TJ brand is $1 per beer. Regarding the whole, "you get what you pay for" saying, you get, I think, more than you pay for. Dollar for dollar, this is better than most other beers I've had in the price range. But it's not a craft brew from some of the awesome breweries, either.

It's well carbonated, perhaps a bit more than it should be.

Overall, I like it. I bought more and, while it's available, I'll likely get some more again. It's not my favorite, but it's a total winner for the price.

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

Deep red-brown, med. Pale tan head slowly shrinking to ring.

Aroma is strong dark bread with brandied stewed fruits, a little meaty. It is fairly good, definitely in style, but a bit off & not great.

Taste is slightly burnt toast soaked in brandy with fermented dark raisins, light sweetness (esp. up front) with bitter spicy raisin and hint of alcoholic heat taking over. It’s good, in style, but not great and it’s a bit heavy for the simple character. Feel is nothing special.

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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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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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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 imagese
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased 12/09 and cellared until today

A- DARK DARK ruby with a one finger eggshell head that leaves moderate lacing

S- Initial burst of molasses and bread. Faint chocolate malt and a slight sweet booze smell

T- Very sweet malt and a cola like taste. There is the SMALLEST hint of vinegar that pops in once in a while

M- Nice body. For how it smells with age, you would like a fuller body. Moderate carbonation brings the cola taste out

D- I bought two of these last year. Drank one fresh, and tossed this one in to age. Not sure I'd really buy this one again. Overall it's a great beer for the price, but there's many other options if you cross over to strong ales to satisfy your need for big and moderate priced brews

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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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Josephs Brau Winterfest from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.56 out of 5 based on 318 ratings.
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