Josephsbrau Winter Brew

Review Date 3/3/2007 Last Updated 12/19/2019  By John Staradumsky

I got a flyer in the mail from the Trader Joe’s upscale grocery store chain. Trader Joe’s offers a line of higher end and organic foods at very reasonable prices, and one had just opened in Marietta, Georgia, not far from where I live in Atlanta. I decided to check them out, and took a ride on over while doing the Saturday shopping.

One of the things Trader Joe’s sells is beer. They offer imports as well as local and national microbrews, and even sell some beers under their own Trader Joe’s label. Actually, they had quite a few private label offerings, and since they had singles, I snapped up one of each to try as many as I could.

And now, I’m upset with myself for doing that. Why, you ask? Because I wish I had bought more than a bottle of their heavenly Winterfest Double Dark Bock Lager. Here’s why.

Trader Joe’s Winterfest Double Dark Bock Lager pours to a deep reddish chestnut color with a thick, creamy tan head formation and absolutely divine nutty chocolate nose. The body is rich and sweet though not quite so thick as some other examples of the style, most notably the German ones.

It does, however, absolutely explode with chewy, chocolate-nutty melanoidin rich malt flavor. Sweet and wonderful dark Munich malt notes with suggestions of molasses just overwhelm the tongue in an extravaganza of what beers really can be like. Balanced slightly in the finish by a gentle kiss of grassy hops, the beer is still a tad on the sweet side. A pleasant warming sensation from the 7.5% alcohol content is apparent too.

And so, I sit here wishing that I had more of the stuff. And of course, they only had one six-pack left, one that will undoubtedly be gone when everyone learns the secret of Trader Joe’s beers. What secret, you ask? Why, these beers are really made by none other than California’s Gordon Biersch brewery, and the Winterfest described above is none other than their renowned Winter Bock.

I should, of course, have noticed the sly take on the “GB” label, replaced here by a “TJ” with a stalk of barley in between the letters. But I didn’t, and now I’m paying for it. But you don’t have to. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, and they still have some of this amazing beer, buy it.

And did I mention it’s just $5.99 a six-pack? A really and truly amazing buy indeed.

Update 12/19/2019: It's been almost ten years now since we moved to Canton, and away from my beloved Trader Joe's market. I don't get back down near one often enough; less so at Christmastime when Josephsbrau Winter Brew is sold. As you might have gathered, this is the new name for Trader Joe's Winterfest. It's still a dark double bock lager, it's still wonderfully chocolaty and toasty nutty, still made by Gordon Biersch (the JB logo mimics the GB logo of that brewery), and still a real bargain. It's been over 12 years since I raved here about Trader Joe's Winterfest, and can you belive a six-pack of this wonderful beer only set me back a dollar more ($6.99) than it was going for in 2007? The beer has an alcohol content of 7.5% by volume with 28 IBUS. Josephsbrau Winter Brew is a must buy if you find yourself in a Trader Joe's this winter. It's worth making a special trip just to get some.

I'll leave you with these words of wisdom from Trader Joe's on the side of the six pack carrier:

Josephsbrau Brewing Company's winter brew is a rich, dark bock, inspired by the brews Bavarian monks brewed to lift their spirits during the long fasts of Lent. Dark roasted Munich and caramel malts worked wonders for hungry monks. Our winter brew is sure to do the same for you.


And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.