Every Trader Joe's Beer, Ranked by Great Divide's Head Brewer

Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Trader Joe's is a store full of secrets, delicious food you can't get anywhere else, and a ton of cheap wine we got sommeliers to rate for us. And since TJ's is a haven for cheap booze, we decided to give its beer the same treatment. We bought every single one of its beers -- with the exception of its gluten-free beer, for obvious reasons -- and got Ethan Osborne, the head brewer of the fantastic Denver brewery Great Divide, to taste them blind and rank them. There were 29 of 'em, but only a few are totally worthy of replacing Two Buck Chuck as your go-to booze to buy from dudes who wear Hawaiian shirts.

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Taste-test ground rules

All beers were given to Ethan in a tasting glass without him seeing the label, and he was asked to rate them on two criteria: taste and whether or not he'd order another one. Is this 100% scientific? No. Is this 100% a great way to learn if you should buy one of TJ's beers over another? Of course. Bonus: all of these 29 beers cost $40.37 before tax -- you can stock up.

Trader Joe's Jumping Cow Amber Ale
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29. Jumping Cow Amber

Amber ale, 5.5%
Price: $1.17
“Good malty aromas in here, but it's just bitter with no malt to actually back the bitterness up. It lingers in your mouth. Very little flavor.”

28. Boatswain IPA

American IPA, 6.7%
Price: $2.49
“A really astringent bitterness followed up with zero malt and too much carbonation.”

27. Peter's Brand Classics

Dutch-style pilsner, 5%
Price: $1.34
“Smells like a mass-produced American light lager. Very, very light. Very little flavor. Bland. There's really not anything going on.”

26. KBC Blueberry Ale

Wheat ale, 4.6%
Price: $1.17
“That one is super fruity. I'm getting Sweet Tarts, Froot Loops, fruity candy out the ass. Pixie Sticks! You know those chewy, sour gummies you'd eat as kids? They were like pieces of spaghetti that were sour. That is exactly the smell I'm getting here. I was expecting a sour, almost. I guess this is an IPA? I'm not crazy about it. There's not enough malt to balance the beer out.”

Trader Joe's Josephsbrau Vienna Style Lager
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25. Josephsbrau Vienna Style Lager

Vienna lager, 5.7%
Price: $1.17
“Nice red-orange hue to it. Fairly light, malty aroma. I don't pick up many hops on the nose. Certainly an ale -- a bad attempt at a pale ale.”

24. Name Tag Classic Lager

American pale lager, 5%
Price: $0.67
“A little bit of cardboard taste. Kinda stale. Bit of an unpleasant finish -- kinda lingering.”

23. Oranjeboom Premium Lager

Euro pale lager, 5%
Price: $1.34
“Kind of a nutty aroma. Bland. This is a pilsner, I'm guessing. Very, very light pilsner. Very little hop character aroma.”

22. Boatswain Chocolate Stout

American stout, 5.4%
Price: $2.49
“Definitely a lot of dark malts. From looking at the beer. It looks like it's thin and over-attenuated -- not enough residual sweetness left over in there. Bad head retention."

Trader Joe's Josephsbrau Dunkelweizen
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21. Josephsbrau Dunkelweizen

Dunkelweizen, 5.2%
Price: $1.17
“Based on the smell, I'm guessing this is a dubbel. Definitely Belgian-style. I get a fair amount of dark fruit in there, with some light spice. Not one of my favorite styles.”

20. Josephsbrau Bohemian Style Lager

Czech pilsener, 5%
Price: $1.17
"Another light beer -- a fair amount of flavor for being light though. Got a bit of hops, a little bit of malt in the backbone. The body's almost there, but it's just a little short of where I want it to be.”

19. Trader Jose Premium Lager

American adjunct lager, 3.8%
Price: $1.09
“Picking up a little cardboard. It's a little oxidized. Tastes like a Mexican lager. Still has that refreshing, crisp, clean flavor, but it tastes like it's been on the shelf a little long.”

18. Stockyard Oatmeal Stout

Oatmeal stout, 5.2%
Price: $1.17
“Very dark in color. I'm going to have to assume it's a stout. Definitely get a combination of roasted chocolate malts and black malts. Low head retention. It's got a bit of that dark malt astringency that typically comes with a stout. I still would call this too thin. You get malts, but it's attenuated too low. There's not enough malty backbone to really back up the flavors in the beer. That's why you get that nice aroma, or that nice initial flavor, and then it kind of evaporates in your mouth."

Trader Joe's beer
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17. Boatswain Heavy Lift Vessel

American strong ale, 7%
Price: $2.49
“The aroma is kind of plain. It tastes like an attempt at a maltier beer that they still didn't get enough malt into. I get a little bit of biscuit in there. A little bit of Munich malt. Too bland for my liking.”

16. KBC Porter

English porter, 5.6%
Price: $1.17
“Good roasty chocolate notes on that. A little hop character, but fairly well balanced. I'd say that this is a nice beer they've made. Not nice -- I won't give them that much credit. It's a beer they made.”

15. Fat Weasel Ale

American strong ale, 7.1%
Price: $1.09
“I get a bit more hoppiness in here. Better balance between bitter and malt. This is probably a pale ale or an IPA.”

14. Mission St. Hefeweizen

Hefeweizen, 5.2%
Price: $2.49
“It has some Belgian esters, but it's [overall] bland.”

13. Simpler Times Pilsner

German pilsner, 5.5%
Price: $0.67
“It's very clean, bright, refreshing. It is lacking a bit in flavor. [Pause] I'd definitely order another one.”

12. Boatswain Twin Screw Steamer

American double, 8.4%
Price: $2.49
“Pale ale or an IPA, I'm guessing. Not enough malts to back up the amount of hops that are in here. Smells nice -- pine, maybe some peach. But as far as taste, it's a little more on the bland side than I would prefer.”

11. Trader Jose Dark Premium Lager

American amber, 5.3%
Price: $1.09
“There's some pretty strong Munich malt flavor coming out of this, so I've gotta say it's a German-style beer. Some type of imperial lager. Finishes fairly clean. Not much hop aroma or flavor. Malt-driven, but not much malt driving it.”

10. Mission St. Brown Ale

American brown ale, 5.7%
Price: $2.49
“There's a decent amount of malt there. I get a fair amount of chocolate in the back of it. This is fairly nice. It's a mediocre beer with some chocolatey aroma and flavor.”

Trader Joe's Black Toad beer
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9. Black Toad Dark Ale

English brown ale, 5.3%
Price: $1.17
“Nice roasty nose to it. Bit of chocolate malts in there. Clean -- low hop profile. Smooth. This could be a Scotch ale.”

8. Simpler Times Lager

American adjunct lager, 6.2%
Price: $0.67
“Definitely getting that lager taste. Very crisp, clean. [I think] that's a malt I'm picking up.”

7. Josephsbrau PLZNR Czech-Style Lager

Czech pilsner, 5.4%
Price: $1.17
“I definitely get some hop character in the background. It finishes clean. A bit bland, but it does finish nicely with some hops. The hops that come through that I get are fairly fruity, maybe a bit piney. A touch of grass in there.”

6. Trader Jose Light Premium Beer

Light lager, 4%
Price: $1.09
“Got a pretty citrusy aroma. Definitely picking up hoppy flavors. A bit bitter. Decent amount of flavor for a beer [like this].”

Trader Joe's beer
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5. Josephsbrau Heller Bock

Maibock, 7%
Price: $1.17
“It's refreshing. Lemon and lime notes. Definitely lemon-lime fruit is what I get with this.”

4. Josephsbrau Summer Brew

Kolsch, 4.8%
Price: $1.17
“I get some nice lemon peel. Definitely an ale. Refreshing, light.”

3. Mission St. India Pale Ale

American IPA, 6.1%
Price: $1.17
“IPA for sure. One of the best beers we've had. Very flavorful. Has a little malt to it. Fairly balanced.”

2. Josephsbrau Bavarian Style Hefeweizen

Hefeweizen, 5.3%
Price: $1.17
“Definitely a Belgian beer. Getting some nice ester profile. Picking up hay, some spices -- coriander, chamomile. For a Belgian, it's clean. I pick up clove. I think it's a hefeweizen. A good beer -- it's tasty.”

Trader Joe's Mission St Pale Ale
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1. Mission St. Pale Ale

American pale ale, 4.6%
Price: $1.17
“This is a nice pale ale right here. Smells great. It's a pale ale or maybe a light hoppy ale. I get Centennials, maybe Citra hops used in there. Well-balanced. This is a nice beer. Tastes good -- finishes crisp and dry. Big fan. I could drink quite a few of these.”

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Lee Breslouer is a contributor for Thrillist and could also drink a few of those Mission St. beers. Follow him to more obvious statements at: @LeeBreslouer.