Last Thursday night, The Alemonger invited me over for a tasting of his recent Craft Beer purchases from Trader Joe’s. We are no strangers to Trader Joe’s at the G-LO residence, and go there every so often to purchase their unique and usually fine quality food offerings, so when the opportunity to try some of their beers came up, I just couldn’t say no. Of the seven different beers in the photo above, we managed to try five.
Since I know very little about the Trader Joe’s Craft Beers, and since there is very little information about their beers on their website, I will skip the usual, “Here is what the brewery has to say about this beer” section and just get on with our reviews.
Beer #1 – Newton’s Folly Authentic Draft Cider
- Alemonger says: Tasted as though it came straight from a bottom dollar grocery store generic apple juice container that sat out in the heat for a week or so. One plus: there wasn’t half a worm floating in it
- G-LO says: Overly sweet. Flat. Think Mott’s Apple Juice with a splash of vodka. Hard Cider can be delicious and refreshing. This was neither.
Beer #2 – Josephs Brau Bavarian Style Hefeweizen
- Alemonger says: About as faithful to the flavor profile of a German Hef as it is to a Norweigan rabbit. Nothing worked. All of the flavors were off the charts. No head retention either. Simply terrible.
- G-LO says: Way off balance. That classic German Hefeweizen taste was overblown with cloves. There was so much clove that it tasted like it was added as an afterthought. Lacked the crispness that I long for in a Hefeweizen. Wet cardboard aftertaste.
Beer #3 – Simple Times Pilsner
- Alemonger says: Pilsner? Really? Makes Miller’s claim “taste a real Pilsner” seem plausible. Reminded me of what you might pour out of the bottom of an open Fritos bag if it were left out in the rain, i.e. corn juice. And not the high fructose variety either! At least THAT can be really tasty.
- G-LO says: Bland bland bland. Where is that hint of bitterness and maltiness that I crave from a Pilsner? This one made me long for a Bud/Miller/Coors. At 67 cents a can, I say throw in 8 more cents and buy yourself a can of soda.
Beer #4 – Mission Street India Pale Ale
- Alemonger says: Not a top notch IPA by any standards, but far from a weak immitator. They may be once removed from Firestone-Walker, but the “big brothers” don’t let this brewery stray too far from standards brewed at the the Big House. For the price, a respectable value IPA.
- G-LO says: Finally! A drinkable and downright enjoyable beer! Firestone Walker makes this for them. Their Union Jack and Double Jack IPAs are fantastic. This isn’t that, but it’s still quite good.
Beer #5 – Boatswain American IPA
- Alemonger says: Thank god I found a really cheap fuel to fill my grill lighters because I’m sure that’s what these guys really meant the liquid in the bottles to do. Easily the worst “IPA” I’ve ever had. Felt bad even subjecting the drain to it.
- G-LO says: IPA? But where are the hops? Bland and flavorless. The less said, the better.
So there you have it! Five very different beers from Trader Joe’s, and four out of five were highly disappointing. In case you think we’re being overly harsh, here are a couple more opinions…
- A Tasting Stroll Down the Trader Joe’s Beer Aisle by Josh Noel of the Chicago Tribune
- Trader Joe’s Picks Run From Top Notch to Totally Tasteless by Tom Atwell of The Portland Press Herald
Have you tried the beers from Trader Joe’s? Let us know in the comments below!