Choose Your City
Change City

The six Trader Joe's beers you should be buying

We did the research for you. You're welcome.

Plus, Orange Chicken.

Jamie Loftus

First, the good news: We’re deep enough into the month that we can all agree to finally drop this “sober January” charade. It was cute while it lasted, and it may even have saved a couple brain cells here and there, taken a few millimeters off the odd waistline, but it’s time to get back in character. We’re drinkers, you and me. And hurray for that!

But now the other news: Just because we’ve put our high horses back in the barn for another 350-day nap doesn’t mean our wallets have recovered from their year-end holiday hangover. So it’s time to get thrifty, which means it’s time to hit the Trader Joe’s beer aisle.

Every smart shopper knows Trader Joe to be a top-notch purveyor of frozen burritos, mini peanut butter cups, and forced pleasantry — Why thank you, kindly cashier, for validating my choice of mini eggroll flavor! What time do you get off work, and do you have a microwave? — but not all are brave enough to sift through the store-label beer aisle to separate the drinkable from the otherwise.

Fear not; that’s what I’m for. The following six selections represent the best of the good Trader’s multi-dozen-deep beer portfolio.


Mission Street IPA. This 5.8-percent alcohol-by-volume IPA doesn’t wow you with a showy explosion of fruity new-world hops, but it displays nice grassy, earthy, biscuity, old-school aromas along with some spicy caramel and candied lemon peel. $6.99 per six-pack.

Stockyard Oatmeal Stout The oats add a soft, creamy texture to complement the bitter espresso, dark chocolate, and toasted almonds flavors in this legitimately good stout that’s worth buying even on payday. $6.99 per six-pack

Boatswain Twin Screw An 8.4-percent ABV double IPA with notes of light lemon, toasted nuts, caramel, and brown sugar. It’s certainly not special, as imperial IPAs go, but it’s plenty good enough for $2.29 per 22-ounce bottle.

Mission Street Hefeweizen Clean, unfussy interpretation of the classic German wheat beer, with prominent banana, clove, and citrus flavor. $6.99 per six-pack.

Providential Golden Ale This 7.5-percent ABV Belgian strong pale ale is brewed under contract by Quebec’s esteemed Unibroue. Bready malt, honey, and tart fruit augment the traditional Belgian yeast esters. $5.49 per 750mL bottle.

Vintage Ale 2015 This year’s rendition of the annual holiday release, also from Unibroue, is a 9-percent ABV Belgian dark ale redolent of clove, cinnamon, light chocolate, and dark fruit. $5.49 per 750mL bottle.