I keep being sort of spellbound by Trader Joe's beer. I mean, having a store-branded beer is kind of rare in itself, yet here Trader Joe's has a wide selection of it, some brewed by established breweries, others by their own "JosephBrau".
I have no idea if JosephBrau only exists in name only or not, but their Stockyard Oatmeal Stout is very good. This is definitely not another Simpler Times Lager and for a buck a bottle, it's a great deal.
It pours a deep dark brown, though not quite black, with about a finger or so of tan head. Lacing and retention are good. The nose is quite pungent, with roasty notes and a delicate sweetness lingering in the back.
That roastiness carries over to the flavor, and dominates pretty heavily at that. Somewhere toward the back there's a bitter taste of chocolate alongside a sweet creaminess. In fact, the mouthfeel here is surprisingly creamy. I guess I had expected something thinner -- that tends to be the case with more generic stouts -- but this is one of the creamier ales I've had in a while. In that sense, the Stockyard lives well up to its oatmeal label.
There's no way around it, this is a very good ale. It's a steal for the price. You may or may not have your issues with Trader Joe's, but frankly, you should check Stockyard Oatmeal Stout out if you like good beer.