Beer Run: Costco Signature Handcrafted Beer

Costco is one of my favorite stores.  I love walking around, checking out the new stuff, and eating the free samples.  They also have a great selection of craft beer (sadly, no samples).  The day I was there, they offered Widmer Hefeweisen, Ninkasi Total Domination IPA, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and Mirror Pond Pale Ale.  If you're into the "King" of beers, they've got Bud as well.

I'm also a big fan of Costco's private label brand, Kirkland Signature.  In my experience, Kirkland Signature offerings are as good, if not better than the name brands, and are usually sold at a lower price.  So I was pleasantly surprised to see a huge pallet of Kirkland brand beer.

Costco engaged Hopfen Und Malz Brewing Co, a contract brewer from Santa Jose, CA to brew and bottle the beer.  I conducted a web search for this brewer, but strangely couldn't find anything.  Many in the blogosphere believe the Costco beer is actually brewed by Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., who happens to have a brewery in San Jose.  An arrangement with a large craft brewer like Biersch makes sense given the huge volume needed to supply Costco.

In Oregon, a case of 24 bottles was $17.99!  That was only slightly more than a case of canned Bud!  Each case has 6 of the following:

So while this is a great price, how do they taste?  We will soon find out, as I will be reviewing each of these.

Have you had tasted Costco's Kirkland Signature craft beer?  Did you like it?  What do you think of Costco selling craft beer?

1/15/11 update:  I finally finished reviewing all four of these beers.  Personally, I'm not crazy about them.  However, Costco is wise to enter the craft beer segment and I think they have a lot of potential.  The big question is who is Costco trying to attract with these beers?

If they're going after the industrial lager swillers, I expect they've got a hit on their hands.  These beers are orders of magnitude better than the standard Bud or MillerCoors fare.  However, if Costco's trying to attract craft beer drinkers, I don't think this current incarnation will do it.  They need to reformulate each of these beers if they want to win over the craft beer crowd.  However,  I expect they're targeting the Bud and Miller crowd.

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  1. Evidence of the brewery, Santa Clara County fictitious business name certificate 503301, owned by Gordon Biersch

  2. Here in Japan they're putting in the aforementioned Pale Ale and Amber Ale, and IPA and a Belgian White. This last one isn't much of a white, and the others are pretty decent, especially considering the price of craft beers here. I'll buy them again.

  3. IPA, Amber Ale, Pale Ale and Belgian White also offered in Ohio. My friends and I agree the Pale and IPA are the best of the bunch. Amber is okay, and the Belgian is like a stale Blue Moon. All four are brewed and bottled by the New York Brewing Co, in Utica. For 20 bucks a case , we basically get 24 for the price of 12 of the popular national brands of Ales. I'll keep drinking them as long as Costco keeps selling them!

  4. I've really given these beers a chance, weekly Costco shopper and have tried 2 cases. My conclusion is they are horrible. I primarily drink IPAs and from the NW. What I found is all 4 have the same after taste, which is brutal, almost sweet. It is hard to distinguish which of the 4 you are drinking as they all finish the same. Costco wine and liquor are great, but this selection is lacking. They actually do taste tests with real breweries and re-brand them as Kirkland, so I am shocked this is the best they could do. Costco please get some some people involve that know real beer. Look at Stone, Elysian, Widmer and if you want a German lager look at Becks.

  5. Anon, I'm in total agreement with you. I love Costco. Normally, Kirkland Signature items are better than the name brand competition. NOT the case with these beers. I believe Gordon Biersch brews these beers. I'm not a big fan of their beers either.

  6. Just tried this sampler.

    I agree with Anonymous in the aftertaste.

    The "brew master" seems to have a fondness for Warrior hops, but left it too long in the boil.

    Just about the only thing to these are the bitterness. Absolutely no balance with the malt.


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