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Josephs Brau Summer Brew | Trader Joe's Brewing Company

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Josephs Brau Summer BrewJosephs Brau Summer Brew

Brewed by:
Trader Joe's Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Kölsch

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Zorro on 06-13-2009

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Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 142
Photo of NeroFiddled
3.99/5  rDev +29.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Josephsbrau Summer Brew
12 oz. brown glass bottle, "BEST CONSUMED BEFORE: 10/19/15"
$1.17 @ Trader Joe's #766, Tampa, FL

Brewed in the Köln style, Josephsbrau Summer Brew is golden in color, medium in bodied, gently malty and floral and spicy.

It's slightly hazy in the glass, which is unusual, but OK; and it's frothy white head displays a fairly good retention and better than average lacing.

Floral notes greet you in the nose over a straightforward, delicately grainy malt. A subtle note of apple fills in alongside, and some spicy hops float in the background. It's clean, pleasant, and welcoming.

The malt and hop combine well in the flavor, exhibiting themselves clearly, but also melding together almost seamlessly, polished to a shine by the delicate fruitiness that thinly coats it. A stiff bitterness balances it, and in combination with the spicy hops it finishes dry and refreshing.

All in all it's a fairly good rendition of the style, and given the price it's hard to beat.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
3.88/5  rDev +25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

JosephsBrau Summer Brew has a thick, off-white head, a clear, bubbly, golden appearance, and heavy lacing left on the glass. The aroma is odd- sweet, cream cheese and ironized soil. Taste is of sweet toffee, cream, light lemon zest, and a prominent, floral hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is heavy-medium, and JosephsBrau Summer Brew finishes semi-wet and highly drinkable. Overall, this is very interesting and delicious, although with its complexity and body, it doesn’t really seem to fit as a Summer beer. A must-try beer, though.


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Photo of droomyster
3.77/5  rDev +22%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear gold with a small white head. Aromas are pretty subdued but are good: a lemony hoppiness with faintly honeyish maltiness. These same notes come through on the palate, where the flavors are also subdued but are very natural tasting and well-balanced. It's nothing special but it's a fine representative of the kolsch style. A nice choice for sweltering weather.

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Photo of mpyle
3.68/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

App - rich golden color, great clarity. Coarsely carbonated, and the largish white head has limited retention.

Aroma - nice noble hop smell, slight apple fruitiness.

taste - Limited ale fruitiness up front, but hop dominated from midmouth onward. Surprisingly sharp hop bitterness. Tastes much more like a pilsner than a kolsch-style beer. Tasty, but not to style.

MF - Medium body and med-high carbonation. No astringency or warming.

A very drinkable beer, particularly if you like hops. Not the lightest tasting kolsch-style beer, and much more reminiscent of a german pils.

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Photo of MattyG85
3.63/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass. Label says best by 10/29/12.

Appearance: Pours a bright and clear golden straw yellow with lots of rising bubbles. Big four finger white head with good retention. Leaves lots of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A fairly sweet and bready aroma. Pale malts, wheat cereal grains, and lots of yeast. Hints of biscuit and crackers. Light hints of citrus lemon and orange. Also some subtle floral hops lingering. Malts are quite noticeable although the citrus is subdued for the style.

Taste: Bready, yeasty, and fairly sweet. Lots of pale malts and cereal grains with yeast. Some notes of cracker and biscuit. Subtle hints of banana, citrus lemon, and orange. Very light floral hops in the background. The bready elements are the most noticeable here.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Crisp, creamy, and very smooth.

Overall: A decent take on a Kolsch. Nice malt elements. Could of used some more citrus zest.

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Photo of DerekP
3.6/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This style is probably one of the tougher ones to review: lighter style, easy to find flaws, etc. How do you judge the look? There's some decent head retention, and looks like it should (yellow/gold).

It smells biscuity, a little sweet, and floral. The taste is the most flawed area overall, but still enjoyable; there just happens to be an astringent back-end that stands out sometimes.
Mouthfeel is light-medium.

Worth the $6.49-99 that I paid for it without regret!

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.58/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours crystal clear dark yellow topped with an off-white craggy head that is constantly being fed with lots of medium sized carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass.

Nose is biscuit grain and tiny hops.

Mouthfeel is creamy and almost thick with carbonation...a bit too much for me.

Taste is similar to the smell but much more so. Biscuit grain first then sharp citrus hops that tingle the tongue. Neither a sweet nor a bitter brew. Simply crisp and refreshing..best at really cold temps.

Lots of drying after you swallow almost forcing you to take another sip...then another. Aftertaste is all about the dry citrus hops.

Another good bargain beer from Trader Joe's.

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Photo of zeff80
3.58/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a clear, bubbly, pale gold color with a white, two-finger head of bubbly foam. It did not leave any lace but that's not uncommon for the style.

S - The aroma was uninspiring. It was mostly caramel and grain aromas. There were hints of floral notes, too.

T - Better than average flavor. It has a sweet caramel taste with a mild spiciness - hints of pepper and yeast.

M - This one is really sharp and crackles on the tongue. A light bodied, easy-drinking ale.

D - I scored the drinkability high because I could see myself grabbing it again and again on a summer day. It's light and tasty.

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Photo of mactrail
3.56/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I guess this could be called a Kölsch, given the way the neighborhood is going. A bitter edge to it, rather thin as expected. Not much fragrance, which would seem to be essential in this fragile style. Lovely mouthfeel with good carbonation. Pleasantly quaffable but a total lack of any malt character, which may be in keeping with the style. Still it's a better choice than most of the anemic lagers and certainly a bargain if you're looking for a light beer and have a Trader Joe's handy.

Best by date is 1-22-12. New and rather attractive label.

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Photo of asabreed
3.52/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Straw yellow, little carbonation, and a head that looks like it's going to stay, but the bright white dies down fairly quickly, leaving a quick amount of scant, spotty lacing for a minute before it's gone.

Smell: Honey, herbal lemon, tea leaves, a bit of metallic bitterness, some earthiness. Seemingly some adjunct sweetness in there too, and a bit of biscuit.

Taste: There's an odd, metallic, almost husky bitterness to this that's a bit odd, and doesn't seem like it's the hops doing their thing. That said, it's got some decent malt sweetness, though it mostly seems like diacetyl and adjunct, along with some herbal lemon and honey flavors. Finish doesn't last too long, though I don't think it's intended to.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and clean and refreshing, with nice full semi-creamy carbonation for such a light body.

Drinkability: All around above average for me, but nothing more. Could definitely have a few of these. Though it does lack a lot of flavor, maybe I've just never had a great version of the style, because I find many of them this way. A step above a BMC brew for a solid lawn-mowing beer.

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Photo of tjsdomer2
3.5/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Clear golden with some good head.

Smell: Caramel malts and lemon. Not particular strong, but it's pretty pleasant. I wish there were more of the smell though.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Like the smell, I like the caramel malts and lemon here. Good creamy mouthfeel, but a bit of a metallic taste as well. That's definitely a downside. I do like the vague hops bitterness in the background though, but I wish there were more.

Drinkability: A few of these make for a good barbeque.

Overall: A smooth, fairly clean summer beer perfect for the barbeque.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.5/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Seattle Beer Week pint glass. Pours a light golden amber with a thin white head that dissipates to a thin film and ring around the glass. Aroma of neutral malt, wheat and slight citrus sourness. Flavor is slightly tart bready malt, citrus and light wheat, finishing with wheat and grassy hop bitterness. Light bodied. A light, refreshing, but unremarkable summer beer. Light and low malt for a kolsch, but the light color and flavors are within the kolsch universe. A bit astringent in the finish, but pleasant and drinkable for a light summer beer, as advertised.

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Photo of DJW
3.5/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Disclaimer - I work at Trader Joe's, but not on commission or kickback (that I'm aware of - let me know if there's an opportunity!)

Brand new 2011 version (just arrived at TJ's in Redmond, WA, this morning). Label is updated and looks nice, now for the contents...

pours into a nice 1 finger head, dark golden, great clarity. rim of bubbles and light lacing upon drinking half a glass.

nose: light. a little herbal/earthy hoppiness.
taste: light grain, a little funk?, light bitterness on finish
mouthfeel: med to med-high carbonation
drinkability: yep. the dry finish brings you back for another sip, and another. w/ bbq brats, pulled pork, burgers - I'm going to heat up some baked beans quick-like to placate the bbq thing. update: great with the beans.

overall: very drinkable beer. I have book knowledge about Kolsch beers, but not having been to Germany, haven't had an authetic one. I've had Hale's and enjoyed it, but that's about it. That said - I'd be OK with this in my fridge for friends coming over during warm weather.

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Photo of wedge
3.43/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear solid yellow with a soft, lumpy white head that fills up the rest of my glass. Nice biscuity Pilsner malt aroma, sweetness, noble hops, and a subtle fruit note. Sweet grain and peppery/grassy flavor with enough hops to add a crispy bitterness to the finish. Light and refreshing.

For $6 a 6-pack, I'll take this to the pool or beach over your average macro lager any day. Not the most exciting beer in the world, nor is it a great example of the style (seems to be more of a Pils), but it's an inexpensive summer beer and in this NC heat, it's pretty satisfying.

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Photo of soupyman10
3.42/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a darker than normal copper color with a smallish head on top. Surprising amount of fruit in the nose, mixed along with the to-be-expected grain and malt. Not sure what fruit, exactly - maybe some apricot or citrus. Taste is similar - stronger than expected, although not really particularly good. Sort of a dirtiness that comes along with the too-strong carbonation. Overall, its not a terrible beer, but not one I'd go back to quickly.

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Photo of steveh
3.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Hadn't seen this available at TJ's in the past, and since it's one of my favorite styles -- and has Josephsbrau San Jose on the label (denoting Gordon Biersch), I had to give it a try.

A -- Clear gold with delicate, off white head. Thins fast, but revives well (Kölsch beers don't always hold a head).

S -- Mild citrus character with vague graininess back. Some mild DMS with warming.

T -- Light cracker breadiness, subtle fruitiness, with some crisp & bitter noble hops in the finish. Somewhat lighter than other Kölsch I've enjoyed.

M -- Crisp mouthfeel with a light body.

D -- Good drinkability, if a bit bland. The hop bittering in the finish saves it.

The Overall Impressions section at BJCP on this beer states, "To the untrained taster easily mistaken for a light lager, a somewhat subtle Pilsner, or perhaps a blonde ale." And I thought exactly that on the Pils side, though I've had others of the style that tend toward a little more character.

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Photo of Zorro
3.38/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear straw colored beer with a small white head that doesn't last.

Fruity and malty smell with quite a bit of biscuit malt scent. Hops just aren't a standout here and I can't ID anything from smell. Would guess noble hops because of the style.

Starts out Grainy and near neutral sweetness and light dry grassy hops leave you with a well-washed palette. Light beer with out a lot of heft to it, just a dry wet beer for hot times of the year.

Mouthfeel is light.

More drinkable than say a Budweiser, this has a bit more flavor. No a great beer but good for its stated purpose of Summer Brew.

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Photo of Bajasith
3.37/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

- Brother-In-law brought me this brew along with my usual order of craft brews...
- Poured very clear golden hue with a slight one finger frothy head...
- Smell was that of an iced brewed tea with a hint of lime, not lemmon since lime has a certain bitterness to it, along with malts coming threw in the end...
- Taste was very mellow as the slight bitterness of the hops and roastiness of the malts allowing a hint of caramell sweetness. Very pleasing to the palate as its not to heavy. Small price makes this brew style very drinkable here in the 110 degree weather...

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Photo of Mosstrooper
3.31/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into 500ml Wiehenstephaner World Cup glass.

Appearance: Clear, pale golden color with a large, thick white head that dissipates somewhat quickly and leaves behind heavy spots of lace.

Smell: Pale malt and grassy smells.

Taste: Begins with a sweet grainy flavor, finishing with more grain flavors and a bitter grassy flavor.

Mouthfeel: Light body, heavier carbonation, and a clean, refreshing finish.

Drinkability: A pretty bland beer overall, but it only cost me 20 cents, so I'm not complaining. This would make a good refresher and, at the price I got it for, it's still worth it. If you can get it that cheap, it's at least worth the tasting.

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Photo of StonedRugger
3.31/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I saw this beer at the Trader Joe's check outs a couple days ago and at $3 for 6, I figured what the hell. This is my only experience of Kolsch so far. Judging by other reviews I need to search out others to see what a Kolsch is meant to be.

But I'm judging this beer as a Summer Brew since that is what it is called and why Trader Joe's is trying to get them sold before they go bad.

The smell is not good. It smells like any Macro you've had. Thankfully my nose does not work particularly well. I bought the beer because Summer Brew means light and good for sessions or parties where my penchant for high octane IPA's work less well over a few hours drinking.

Crisp moutfeel with a sweet nose and a bitter, and somewhat dry, finish. The bitterness of whatever hops were used stands out, but the aftertaste is not bad.

Appearance is meh, yellowish, very clear. I poured into a pilser and got a fair amount of lacing and lumpy head with bubbles continuing to rise from the bottom.

I put appearance at the end because the first two I had were out of the bottle and having poured the third, I think it might actually taste better in the bottle. A Kolsch? Other members say no. A drinkable beer? Yes. Accept it as a summer seasonal more than a Kolsch and enjoy it...and get them cheap now (October) before they are gone.

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Photo of mikeg67
3.3/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle from Trader's Joe. Pours golden with a lasting, foamy, white head and medium carbonation. Aroma of grassy hops, some biscuit malt and lemon. Taste is similar but more balanced. Slight off sour notes. Medium, slightly crisp body. Medium, dry finish. Not bad.

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Photo of KrisPaulk77
3.3/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I have to say, "Meh..."
The beer poured a moderate yellow, with a rapid fading white head. Lacing was not even a consideration. You could possibly pass this off as a macro-lager by appearance alone in my opinion.
The smell had some malts to the front, a little sweetness present. Not bad by any stretch, but not anything spectacular either. There was a little grassy-ness in the nose that kind of said, "Yeah, we gots hops in here." I noticed a skunky aroma for a moment, but it faded. It was noticible in 3 of the 6 bottles in my six pack.
The taste was fairly middle of the road. Again, not bad, but not great. A little sweetness here and there, with a mild bitterness and some floral notes.
I would definately recommend this to my BMC drinking compadres. I see it as a pretty good gateway beer out of MacroLand. It's not a bad beer. The price on it was good, and thinking of it as a grass-cutter brew, I probably have it again.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.3/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My house on July 8, 2012. Bottle into pint glass. One-to-two fingers of head. Light pale straw color, a bit darker than the Plznr. Grayish white lacing with average retention.

Smelled light notes of lemon grass, wheat, corn, banana and bread.

Tasted similar to the nose with a tad more bitterness. Reminded me of the Plznr that I just tried. Got corn, wheat, lemon, honey, banana and bread. Bitterer finish, a bit surprising for a name of SummerBrew. A little bit of sweet caramel in there as well.

Light body. Thin texture. Average carbonation. Long lasting smooth finish.

Maybe a bit better than the normal summer beer, although this was slightly different. Very, very similar to the Plznr.

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Photo of popery
3.3/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm no expert on the style, so I will gladly defer to future reviewers, however this beer is just alright to me. The beer is a transparent, light golden liquid with a puffy white head. Lacing fairly coats the sides of my makeshift stange, but head retention on the liquid is fair at best. The smell is average all-malt lager with a fair bit of caramel sweet malt, like a slightly sour dessert bread dough. Generously stated, there's a floral note in there along with some grassy, spicy hops. The flavor doesn't have enough of the fruitiness that makes a good kölsch. That said, it's certainly a not a disagreeable beer. I would definitely pick it over a macro lager. The caramel malt and the grassy hops give the beer a fair if mild character. The mouthfeel could be a touch smoother - there's a touch of graininess, but overall it's an easy drinking beer, a good cheap beer for a hot day.

Note: Sorry, I got the name a bit wrong. It should be "JosephsBrau Summer Brew" like their other Trader Joe's contract beers.

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Photo of UPMD_Bill
3.29/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

I like the kolsch style in general for the summer season, and this one is another great value from TJ's. Only the second Kolsch I rated and I think I liked Lancaster's better but I can't quite articulate why. But this has all the right elements. A little floral/spice character, clean, light and refreshing.

On second tasting, I think the Josephs Brau has a bit of a sour / medicinal finish - more pronounced in some bottles than others. (All were fresh though.)

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Josephs Brau Summer Brew from Trader Joe's Brewing Company
3.09 out of 5 based on 142 ratings.
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