Trader Joe’s Drive Thru Red Ale (Josephbrau)

Trader Joes Drive Thru Red Ale beer
Trader Joes Drive Thru Red Ale beer

As you can probably figure out now, I am a beer nut. I have been for a long time. Trader Joe’s has a reasonable selection of craft and mainstream beers. There are several local craft breweries stocked at my local Trader Joe’s with  prices lower than my local grocery store. Usually by about $1 a six pack. But what is the best deal is the Trader Joe’s branded beers. Some of them are as low as $6.49 a six pack in Washington state. A deal you can’t beat anywhere. Most decent craft beers are going from $9-$12 a six pack (2019) right now. This is another beer by Josephbrau which is just a rebranded label from Gordan Biersch in San Jose, California.

I have always been hesitant to pick up this beer. What even is a dry-hopped Red Ale. The BJCP describes an Irish Red Ale as: “An easy-drinking pint, often with subtle flavors. Slightly malty in the balance sometimes with an initial soft toffee/caramel sweetness, a slightly grainy-biscuity palate, and a touch of roasted dryness in the finish. Some versions can emphasize the caramel and sweetness more, while others will favor the grainy palate and roasted dryness.” And this beer hardly matches that description.

Trader Joes Drive Thru Red Ale
Trader Joes Drive Thru Red Ale

Red Ales are usually mild and have low hop aroma. So, for this beer they decided to dry hop it, which just means they put hops in after the beer was done fermenting to give it a strong hop aroma and flavor. Alcohol should be low, about 4-5%, but this beer clocks in at 7.2%! That is a strong beer. Almost double what a normal beer is. With all of that in mind, what did I think of the actual beer?

I popped the cap. The label is a little bit of a mess. Way too busy to actually understand what is going on here. The beer pours with a nice creamy head and a nice copper color. So far it looks like a Red Ale. The aroma is hops, a lot of hops and alcohol. I get a distinct whiff of booze. I usually don’t like my beers this strong. I like to drink but not get drunk so I tend to keep them lower on the alcohol scale. I could also smell a bit of caramel sweetness. When I took a sip, it was sweet and alcohol that hit me up front then the hops come through. It has a hefty palate and some nice caramel flavors come through after the hops. It kind of tastes a little like a Sam Adams Boston Lager. I can taste the Tettnag hops. They have a very distinctive taste. Again not very authentic for a Red Ale, but what the hey, this is America we can brew whatever we want!

Not the most refreshing beer. I’m not a fan of this mishmash, made up style. The alcohol and the weird tettnag hops just throw me off. I don’t recommend it.



  1. Totally different taste when purchased in cans. Beautiful flavor in bottle form. Skunky in cans. Ugh!!!!

    • That’s funny. It’s usually the other way around. The reason so many brewers are switching to cans for their expensive beers is that they are much better at preserving flavors than bottles do. I wonder if they changed the recipe or the brewers. Trader Joe’s probably cut corners to keep the cost down and that usually means a crappier product.

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