Sometime in the past year, we noticed that Trader Joe’s had started expanding their store-brand beer selection. These craft brews are priced at about $5.99 per six pack - so not quite the Two-Buck Chuck of beer, but not as pricey as many six packs these days. Curious how these beers stack up? Let’s start with the bock.
Beer Details: Hofbrau Bock from Trader Joe’s Brewing Company, San Jose, California. (7% ABV, 22 IBUs)
Appearance: It pours a burnished orange-gold with good clarity and strings of bubbles streaming through the liquid. What little head there was melted down to a thin scrim of foam on the surface.
Aroma: Sweet, malty aroma. Some faint banana in the background and maybe a touch of spice. Mostly it smells like candy.
Taste: At first, this beer simply tasted sweet - like light brown sugar or soft caramels. A slightly spicy banana bread flavor gives it some depth and a creamy mouthfeel makes it feel substantial. There is some lemony-herbal hops bitterness around the edges and in the finish, but the toasty malts are really the star players here.
All in all, not a bad beer. It’s a bit one-dimensional, but definitely decent and drinkable. It’s also clearly a bock-style beer, so we give TJ’s props for bringing out something with character. For $5.99, you could definitely do a lot worse!
Food Pairings: Given its sweetness, you could go two ways with this beer. You could pair it with something light and acidic, like a salad tossed with a vinaigrette dressing or salmon spritzed with lemon. Or you could save it for dessert. It would be very nice with grilled summer fruit or a nice custard like flan or clafouti.
Have you had this or any other Trader Joe’s beer? What do you think of it?
Related: Beer Guide: What's a Double Bock?
(Image: Emma Christensen)