Costco Entering Craft Brew Beer Battle

By on January 31, 2008 @ 6 PM (90 Comments)

There’s an article over at Advertising Age detailing an interesting development in the craft brew beer market – Costco, one of the top warehouse club stores (along with Sam’s Club and BJ’s), will start offering it’s own private label (Kirkland Signature) line of craft brews.

Kirkland Signature is Costco’s store brand (or private label brand for those in the industry). It’s their attempt at branding a line of their own discounted products to live somewhere in between the category of “generics” and “premiums” (think of the box of rice that’s just a white box with the word “RICE” on it and then think of Uncle Ben’s – the Kirkland brand is somewhere in the middle). The Kirkland name comes from the fact that their corporate headquarters used to be in Kirkland, Washington.

Their four initial offerings will be:

Gordon Biersch, the same company that brews private-label beers for Trader Joe’s, will do the brewing.

The main question asked is who will it affect most? The sub-premium mass market brands (i.e. Busch) or the more premium craft brands (i.e. Sam Adams). My gut tells me the premium craft brands may feel the pinch more because they run smaller batches and would tend to feel any shifts in consumer demand more than a large company like AB, who has the revenues to more easily absorb it and can create more of their own craft brews to help combat it.

Update: March 2011

We’ve officially reviewed all 4 beers and have added links to the beer names above. Overall – it’s an excellent value of a 24 pack. The total cost is around $18.99 or about 79 cents per bottle and there’s a six pack inside of each kind of beer. You won’t beat that price anywhere for the quality of beers you get. It’s also a really great way to get people trying new stuff.

Now for a little more background on the brewing:

The Kirkland beers are contract brewed by one of two different breweries that are somewhat obscured – East Coast beers come from New Yorker Brewing out of Utica, NY. You won’t find anything on the web about them, but some astute BeerFathers readers note that it’s actually done at the Sarnac Matt Brewing Company facility (also known as FX Matt Brewing Company).

For the West Coast beers those come from the Hopfen und Malz Company out of San Jose, CA. Again, you won’t find anything on the web about them, but it’s actually done at the Gordon Biersch Brewing Company (since Costco headquarters are on the West Coast, it makes sense they would have started with Gordon Biersch first and then expanded to an East Coast operation).

You won’t find the Kirkland beers on either of their sites and that’s the way Costco likes it, as evidenced by the fact that they used assumed names on their packaging (really taking it to the next level). That’s what contract packaging is all about (it’s not hard to tell now that Son Beer Love actually works in the packaging industry).

Many thanks to all our astute readers who were able to dig around and find what’s going on.

Costco Entering Craft Brew Beer Battle Rating: 3 out of 10 (?)


90 Comments (Add Your Comments)

  1. Dave says:

    Kirkland Beer huh? Well, most of the Costco branded stuff is usually pretty good quality and Gordon Biersch isn’t half-bad. If this price is right it’s worth a try….now if this were Sam’s Club beer….well, I might be a little more leery.

  2. Blake says:

    Yeah, I picked up this beer at a local San Diego Costco the other day… It was about $18 for a case. The price is definitely right. It came with four different beers, Hefeweizen, Amber, Pale, and something they call German Style Lager. I tried the Amber and it was like a cross between Red Trolley and Fat Tire… not to bad, but a little thick for a amber brew for my tastes. I will definitely try another one tonight.

  3. Rick Knasin says:

    I picked up my second case at Costco and I do really like this beer. I too have heard this is from Gordon Biersch brewery in San Jose. I traditionly drink Samuel Adams beerb ut have found this to be an acceptable substitute.
    Rick

  4. Mike Conway says:

    I saw Kirkland craft beer today in Costco’s Antioch store and felt, no way. Is there nothing sacred from the the big box stores?
    To me craft beer means brewmasters with seasoned recipes, art, and hopes to win an award, (they all seem to win at least one).
    Wheither it be Costco, Sam’s Club, K-Mart, Sears, Macys or any other big name retailer that can have their name put on a beer bottle takes the “spirit” out of the spirit.
    As good as it might be, I won’t even try it.

  5. Isaac says:

    I tried the beer and found it to be protty good and the price is right also. It is a good change of taste when needed. The four brews are the right ones and I was surprised at the Hef. cause Widmyer has always been tops to me for the Hefs.

  6. Mike (the drunkard) says:

    I bought the Kirkland case of 24 beers today from Costco and have tried 3 out of the 4 beer types so far. They taste like the microbrewery beers and I could definitely get used to them; they are tasty! Normally I buy the Corona or Heineken so this is nice to save $$$.

  7. Mike Z says:

    I tried it and found no distinct differences in flavor between the four. I was truly dissapointed. I’m takin the rest back for a refund. I had a choice between the Sam Adams variety pack and the Kirkland. I should have spent the additinal $6 for Sam’s.

  8. darnell says:

    I’m drinking a Kirkland Amber Ale as I write this. It’s pretty good and that’s from someone living in the microbrew capitol of the US – Portland, Oregon. Recommend it! It seems strange that Costco is doing this, but Kirkland products usually are fairly good – they have a high quality standard. Price is right, too.

  9. Rodney Lyon says:

    I bought my first Kirkland case yesterday… the Hefe
    is now gone ( and I do NOT nomally drink Hefe…) and I am looking forward to the rest of the case. Gordon Biersch is one of my favorite brewers… and if the rest of the case matches the Hefe then I am going t be one happy beer drinker. When you consider the retail price and availability of GB brands basically the Kirkland label gives you a two for one….not a bad deal…….

  10. Jeanette says:

    I’m sipping on a German Lager from Kirkland right now.
    I’m a bit of a beer connoisseur. And I dare say this is a good every-day beer as far as handcrafted beers go. I wouldn’t say it was a special occasion beer, but given that my favorite beers are ones like Mac & Jack’s African Amber, Deschutes Mirror Pond and/or Black Butte Porter, Rogue Chocolate Stout, or The Ram’s Total Disorder Porter, Fat Tire, and Alaskan Amber… this is a good box of beer to keep your fridge stocked with for ordinary consumption.

  11. Larry Lagerberg says:

    It’s funny how perception affects the quality of the experience. I truly believe if this beer was marketed as a start up micro brew and sold at your local liquor store the perceived quality would be much higher. But, the sometimes warranted dislike of corporate giants, I believe, has muted the response of these beers. I think they’re all very good examples of each style. Then you factor the price… I’m sold.

  12. Matt Keedy says:

    Gordon Biersch huh? The beer says that it is bottled in Utica, NY. I was hopeful that this is an offspring of the Saranac Brewery in Utica. Perhaps a partnership?

  13. Brian says:

    I think that new Kirkland series of handcrafted beers are excellent! I live in the Boston area, and the bottles say that they are bottled in Utica, New York.. From what I’ve researched, that means that this is definitely being made at the Matt Brewing Co., which makes Saranac and Adirondack Beers. It’s certainly possible that Costco has hired several microbreweries around the country to make their beer for them (I’ve read that people on the West Coast think that their beer is being made at the Gordon Biersch Co. in San Jose). Anyway, I don’t know if their beer tastes different, but the stuff that we’re getting on the east coast is awesome. Thanks Costco…

  14. Bryce says:

    I live in Florida and just bought my first case today. Today (10/24/2009) is also the first day i have ever seen the “Costco Craft beer” at Costco. (I’m there once a month.) Yeah my box says New York Brewery, Utica, New York.. I consider myself a novice beer connoisseur, I’m a big fan of crafts, micros, and local brew pubs. Only tried the Amber and i liked it. I would be interested to learn more about who is brewing this stuff, anyone have details????

  15. Dan McMurtrie says:

    Just picked up a case of Kirkland this weekend here in South Florida. The New Yorker Brewing Co. is the Saranac-Matt’s-Utica Club or West End Brewing Company of Utica, NY. The Matt’s family still runs this 100 year old brewery. They make Saranac, Utica Club and contract brew for about 50 other companies like Brooklyn Beer, Mississippi Mud and now Kirkland on the east coast.
    They had a big fire last May in the canning and bottling plant at the brewery. The canning floor was destroyed and has been rebuilt and opened just recently. The bottling lines received some damage and were reopened shortly after the fire.
    If you are ever in Utica, take the brewery tour it is pretty good.

  16. Kevin says:

    When I first heard that Costco was producing their own Kirkland Signature brew I was a bit reluctant. I picked up a case for $18 and was pleasantly surprised. The Amber, Pale, German and Hefeweizen were all very good. Each one had a good finish. 2 days later I am heading back for another case. Costco comes through again!!!

  17. Gary Tillotson says:

    I bought a case. I admit I have a bias to local.
    That said, the Pale Ale and the Hefenweizen and the Amber Ale are ok.. not remarkable.
    At this point in my life, the most awesome beers are Cold Spring Ebony Wheat and Sam Adams Octoberfest.

  18. Eric says:

    Can anyone on the west coast verify what is on their label. I am in Michigan and it says “brewed and bottled by New Yorker Brewing Co. Utica New York” I googled “New Yorker Brewing Co.” and didnt get any good results. I too am pleasantly surprised by the taste and quality of the beer. I didnt have very high hopes as I tend to think of myself as a beer snob. The IPA is quite smooth :)

  19. Gary Tillotson says:

    oops… I forgot to mention .. the entire case I just bought is brewed by
    “New Yorker Brewing, Utica, NY” . Somebody said San Diego was involved. Not now anyway. Utica did the inventory I bought this week.
    pps Just because I prefer Cold Spring Ebony Wheat and Sam Adams Oktoberfest does not mean Costco-Kirkland Specialty Brews are less than stellar. After all, art, and beer … are in the eyes of the beholder.

  20. Gary Tillotson says:

    well, when I Google…it looks to me New Yorker Brewing, Utica is…Saranac-Matt Brewing Company..could be wrong. Give them a call tomorrow.

  21. Kendy says:

    I’m in Atlanta and my bottle says New York Brewing Company. I too love the cool microbrews (Dogfish Shelter Pale Ale, Oskar Blues Gordon and Stone IPA being my faves), but this is a perfectly-acceptable “every day drinker” kind of beer. Just like I find great $5 bottles of wine at Trader Joe’s for drinking on a Tuesday, so too will I pick up the Kirkland case for six-pack consumption between my husband and I on a Wednesday night like tonight. I’m curious to know who brews it, but honestly don’t care. It won’t make me like it any more to learn it was a cool microbrewery and it won’t make me like it any less if I find out Coors makes it. I like the beer for the way it tastes, not for how cool it makes me look to drink it. And the price definitely makes it taste GREAT!

  22. Bill says:

    I bought my first Kirkland case in mid-October, mainly because I read the beer was made in Utica, NY. Now in Atlanta, I lived in Utica for some time, and visited family nearly every summer. I became a big fan of the Saranac brews and believe the Kirkland brand is equivalent. There is only one brewery in Utica, the FX Matt Brewing Co. They brew several successful Saranac varieties. I believe they are the second oldest brewery in the nation. Kudos to Costco for this brilliant product introduction – they realize people are trending away from the light beers and other junk. Real tasting beer is in. I’d be interested in learning how they selected the Utica brewery. All I can say is they knew what they were after and selected a winner. I hope the product is very successful and they also market the beers individually rather than combined. Yippee!

  23. Dono says:

    Just tried the Kirkland band this weekend. Very impressed. Yes it is from Utica. Intially I thought the Hef was the least fave. The pale is very good. Comparable to Sierra Nevada.The German lager very good and the Amber lager is excellent. Hey $18 per case for this level of quality can’t be beat. I’m dying to do a blind taste test with some friends.

  24. Don says:

    I’ve bought a couple cases of this beer over the last couple months, and have to say that they are excellent beers for the price. I agree with a poster above who said this is a good, solid beer to keep stocked in the fridge, but not necessarily the one you want for special occasions. But everyone has their own preference. While they are tasty, as microbrews should be, they are on the mild side, which I think leads some people to say they taste little difference between the four varieties. The Hef is extremely mild compared to other Hefs, but that’s not to say it is bad. Its actually a very smooth, crisp beer. The pale ale is unmistakenly an pale ale, however, as a hop head, I like stronger IPAs. The German Lager and Amber Lager are solid beers. I’m in the northern Virginia area, so mine come from the Matt brewery in Utica, NY.

  25. GRANDPASTOCK says:

    Just finishing my first case – All I can say is WOW. I’ve been a Kirland brand fan for years and tried this on a whim – AWESOME stuff. I’ll put it up against Sam Adams and at 5.5%, its as good as some of the Canadian brews that I used to get from Ontario. My borther sure wishes he had a Costco in Augusta, GA…..

  26. Robert says:

    Just got a casr at Costco in California. Saya it is brewed by Hopfen Und Malz in San Jose, CA. I little research says it is actually Gordon Biersch.

  27. Fan of Sam says:

    I bought a case of the Kirkland beer last week and found that it’s well worth the money. I’m usually a pale ale & ipa drinker but branch out every now and then. I’m on the east coast, and mine was brewed in Utica. I agree with the posters who say that all flavors are relatively mild, and that it’s a good everyday beer. It’s way better than the bland mass-produced beers, but not as much flavor as many of the cool microbrews. I found the Hef to be very mild. Either way, I’m sold and will be a repeat buyer. If needed I’ll supplement my supply with a 6-pack of something more adventurous here and there, but this beer suits me perfectly. Costco does it again.
    Also, if anyone watches Lost, the Darma Initiative workers were stocked with generic looking cans of beer labeled “Beer”. Drinking store-brand Kirkland beer reminds me of that. Not sure if that’s good or bad.

  28. Raymond says:

    I just purchased my first case of Kirkland Beer and have sampled all four beers. I can say that all four beers are excellent. You receive fine beer for a honest price and you would not be affraid to share this with anyone visiting for the holidays or for a bowl game party.
    Living in many great beer cities such as Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Denver; Kirkland Signature has won another customer. Ray from Waxhaw, NC.

  29. Mark says:

    Good price, excellent taste.

  30. Stewart says:

    Just bought my first case for 18 bucks. This is very good beer and holds up well with other craft beers. Not too shabby. Pale Ale is excellent.

  31. Roberto says:

    Just bought my first case, the price was right and it’s making the TX Bama game very tolerable!

  32. Kristian says:

    So far the Kirkland beer is brewed by the Matt Brewing company in Utica, NY for the East coast and Gordon Biersch in San Jose, Ca for the West Coast, with, I believe Texas as the dividing line? Memphis bottles say their brewed in Utica. Overall very tasty for price.

  33. Curt says:

    My wife bought a case for me in Southlake, Texas. Says brewed in Utica, NY. Just finished the Amber and was surprised by how good it was.

  34. Steve says:

    I live in Texas where they sell Shiner bock for $3 more a case and the Kirkland brand beer is by far a better buy. I’m not going to tell you that the ale is as good as Samuel Smiths Old Brewery Pale Ale but it is certainly a better alternative to the other domestics that they sell at Costco. I’ll keep buying it as long as they keep selling it.

  35. Dave says:

    The beer is excellent for the price. This is the best “cheap” beer I have ever tasted. The Hef is spectacular, and probably the best I have ever tried.

    The rest of the three are great, but unmemorable. Once again, best taste per price ratio on the market.

  36. Alan says:

    I just bought my first case and found the first 2 bottles to be great. Being from NY originally I enjoy the Saranac brand and this is every bit as good. I believe everyone when they say it is brewed by Matt Brewing. BTW, everyone ought to come to Myrtle Beach, only $10.99 a case right now. I better run over and get a few more!

  37. Glenn says:

    My wife and I just saw this beer for sale at Costco in Illinois. She lived in Utica for awhile before we met and introduced me to Saranac and we love that. Seeing “Utica, New York” on the box made us look at each other and almost scream with joy. They don’t sell Saranac west of Ohio and if this is as good as Saranac, made at the same place, WE’RE IN!

  38. Micah says:

    I’ve been drinking this as an everyday brew for a few weeks here in Seattle. Are there beers I like more? Yes! Are there beers I like more at this price? NO! I still get the tall bottles of other special brews a couple times a week, but for a decent beer at a Bud Light price, I don’t think you can go wrong.

  39. Beer fan says:

    Good stuff, try it.
    Pale Ale a little too bitter but the other 3 flavors are quite good and well worth the price, under $20.00. Anything but a Bud is good, but this stuff really doesn’t taste bad at all.

  40. ES says:

    Two people asked me about the beer under my Costco cart yesterday, a customer and an employee, as I waited to ring up my third Kirkland case. I discovered the brand late last year. The beer is a good buy all around and is another reason Costco is successful!

  41. Raz Cue says:

    I usually stick to Bud, but they only had BudLight at Costco last Thursday, so I almost grabbed a 36’r of Coors, but luckily I noticed the Kirkland brew. I’ve tried all four and the Heff is my favorite, with the German style lager a close second. This beer is awesome for the price. I wish they had it at my corner liquor store because I rarely go to Costco. Will definitely buy this excellent beer again!

  42. Mitch says:

    I live in Kansas City, and my case was brewed in Utica, NY. This is my first try at this. I have now tried all 4 varieties. I was surprised by the taste (in a good way), but I agree that all 4 varieties taste strickingly similar. I disagree entirely about the pale ale being similar to Sierra Nevada. SN is much, much better. Not enough hop character in the Kirkland to be top notch. However, I’m a huge fan of the overly hoppy Oregon/Washington IPAs, so maybe I’m being harsh. The Hefeweizen again was good, but I thought it had too much hop character, and not malty enough compared to other hefeweizens I’ve had. I actually liked this a lot, and I don’t normally care for hefeweizen, so it tells me that it’s not a typical one. The German-style lager didn’t taste much like a Beck’s or St. Pauli girl, or (insert your favorite here). It was not as crisp and tasted more like an ale than a lager. The amber had great color, and I had high hopes. This variety actually was the closest to its name, I thought. I could actually pick out the roasted malt flavor, and the hop character did not overwhelm the malt. Amber is not my favorite variety, but I think this was the one that ended up the closest to its name of all 4. I’m curious to hear what other people think as well. Overall a thumbs up. Particularly at $19 per case. I’d like to see an IPA added to see if it more closely approximates a regular pale ale.

  43. Brian Roddy says:

    First case still working,but my Russian speaking Ukrainian women all like it. So, tonight I risk my life for that 2nd case.
    Anything is better than that piss water that we got used to after Prohibition. Full Sail’s Session Red & Black beers are from a recipe in 1905, when beer was beer & women were…well you get the idea. In a blind test, I will bet that stubby Session Red is neck and neck with the Kirkland Family. Stubby bottles are Session cool. We call the Session Black business beer.
    Now, getting back to how I rate Kirkland’s effort. Honestly, it blows everything else away, with one exception, Anything Bells, from Kalamazoo. We professional beer men in St Paul, Minnesota have been spoiled by Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, but it is $9 bucks a 6 pack.
    What do you think we will all be buying for Memorial Day 2010? Brian

  44. Scott says:

    Interesting, looking at buying some, someone noted that it is bottle in Utica, NY probably east coast vs. west coast. And to everyone thinking about how they could get into the “microbrew” market, someone about mention Saranac, come to findout Saranac doesn’t have their own brewery they use the FX Matt Brewery in Utica to mass produce their beverage. Matt Brewery is 4th oldest in the country which has been brewing numerous beverages over the years.

  45. mark says:

    Price performance is dang good. It’s not the best craft beer out there, but ‘these are certainly decent.

  46. Don Hill says:

    Oooo do i love Kirkland beer. Reminds me of my favorite beer found only in the Check Republic and they are they originators of the name: Budweiser. They sold that name to an USA corp. in the late 1800’s. Long story, but in the Check Republic they can still use the name Budweiser. I’ve seen this Check beer in Von’s some time back..
    Its a creamy beer that gives no head-ache!

    Thanks’ to Kirkland I’ve gained twenty pounds. 8^)

  47. Sean says:

    I needed to pick up some beer for after Tuesday’s Ultimate game on the cheep… Costco is always the best place for that… What do you know?… There’s a case of mixed beer to please everyone and it’s priced very competitively! I tried one of each before heading to the park (so I could foster off the one’s I didn’t like)… They were so good I wanted to keep them all! I can’t stand bud/coors so this works well for me. Great every day beer!

  48. Richard S says:

    I thought these beers were excellent. My least favorite is the German lager, but even it is pretty good.

  49. Marti says:

    O.K. I’m a beer snob. When I do drink beer, I lean towards the better imports. But my curiosity was up when I saw Kirkland Beer at Costco. Doing a Taste test with some microbreweries, Imports, and Kirkland. Blind of course. Amber Ale and German Larger are up there with the best. Big surprise! Now on to the Pale Ale and Hefeweizen.

  50. Peter S. says:

    Nice fresh beer, good variety and very tasty. I am looking forward to a winter sampler from Costco. I give this beer a big thumbs up!

  51. J.A. rochford says:

    Didn’t want to touch it but bought a case today as my adult children quickly deplete my premium beer stock. Hope the label turns them off. Not a Sam or Great Lakes, but tolerably good.

  52. Vincent says:

    There is an east coast and a west cost supplier to save on transportation costs.

  53. Mike says:

    My friend and I both sat down and tried these today and could not stop, this is GREAT BEER. The hefer is the best beer I ever had besides home brew, and all 3 of the others have great taste, I like the german second probably but both of the ales are good stuff. Seriously, this is my new beer. I hope some day they put the hefer in it’s own case!

  54. Sam says:

    This beer really surprised me and I can drink this beer on a regular basis, but I’m not ready yet to offer it in a party or bring it over to a bb

  55. Philolaw says:

    These beers are almost great. The pale ale is good, if a bit wan; the hefeweissen is the weak link. Not at all like a true hefeweissen -and not even cloudy with yeast. Perhaps that is one place they save money. Or perhaps they can’t put a true hefeweissen in a mixed case of beer -too many people wouldn’t like that taste. But it is a major failure and disappointment. The amber and the German are excellent. Is there anyone from Costco listening?

  56. Bill says:

    Great beer value!!! I enjoy the German Lager the most…very somooth…Amber Ale is my next go to, followed by the Pale Ale …then the Hefewiezen…i LOVE the real hefe’s…spent many years in Germany perfecting that love LOL….this hefe isn’t really a hefe…its more a cross between the lager and Pale Ale…i decided to try this vqariety case around Christmas…on a whim…and also to see if the brew was any good…can’t beat the price…it is definitely tasty and worth the bucks…18.00 dollars is a deal!! Our brew comes from The New Yorker Brewing Company….when I first tasted it I thought it reminded me of a Saranac…now I know why…
    5 STARS….

  57. Gregg Schumaker says:

    I recently read an article about Costco’s Signature beer in the monthly rag that Costco sends out to members. In it they detail their search for the two breweries that they use to produce the beers, one on the East Coast, one on the West Coast. They did this to preserve the freshness of the beer upon distribution. Like some of the posters above, the Utica brewery has to be the FX Matt Brewing Company. I grew up close to Utica, and I was practically weened on their beers. They also contract brew for Samuel Adams, so it was no surprise to me that they are brewing for Costco. As a hombrewer, I find the Costco beers to be an excellent value. I always keep some on hand so I can enjoy quality beer at a rock-bottom price when I am between batches of my own flavors. Keep up the good work Costco and “New York Brewing Company”

  58. Nate says:

    Kirkland also has spirits a wine. Kirkland Vodka is made by Grey Goose, Kirkland Bourbon is made by Jim Beam, and I am not sure who makes the wine though it hints at Italian grapes. I actually enjoy the beer and it is a great deal.

  59. jim brown says:

    I preferred the original assortment….the substitution of India Pale Ale and Belgian Wheat is not as good as the German Lager and Hefe Weizen.. I vote to go back to the original assortment, or provide case assortments of all six varieties. In general, I applaud Costco for introducing craft brews to their store under their own label. Is the New Yorker Brewing Co the same brewery that had the Saranac Black and Tan brews a few years ago?

  60. Gary Watts says:

    Gordon Biersch is a prized brew here in Sacramento Ca. When a Cosco employee pointed out
    to me that Kirkland beers were brewed by this fine
    brewery, I started buying it. ALL of these beers
    pass the test in my book. The new IPA, and the Belgian White are very good! I wish they would still make the German lager available, as well as
    the Hefe…Enjoyable and well crafted at a truly competitive price. Each flavor has its own character. A bargain indeed!

  61. Chris in Minnesota says:

    The Kirkland case has become my staple beer for some time now. Unbeatable value for a quality beer to price ratio. I also Sam Adams, Summit EPA, Sierra Nevada and of course almost anything made by Surly Brewing. I like variety in beers and never know for sure what I will pick up when I go to the store, but find myself reaching for this case often. Currently with a preference for IPAs, I really love that Costco threw the IPA into the mix, but I miss the German Lager. I am not a fan of what I call sweeter beers (the Hef and Belgian White), so the best option for me would have been to just drop the Hef and add the IPA. Even better, I would love to see them introduce full case of each type so I can choose. I feel forced to consume a beer I option I would otherwise not buy or push them on friends… But 3 out of 4 is not bad. With the low price, I just look at it like I am paying for an 18 pack and getting 6 lesser beers free.

  62. TimP says:

    I have been enjoying these since they first hit our local Costco. Love the stuff. I wish they brought back the German Lager as the Belgian White is not anywhere near as good. Maybe its just my taste . Great price for the product. Always in my fridge.

  63. A says:

    Finally got around to getting into a Costco and grabbing a case of the Kirkland as I’d heard it was brewed by Gordon Biersch. Sadly, was disappointed when I read the label and did a lil’ Googling. That said, it’s a tolerable, drinkable beer–but my expectations were higher, I suppose.

  64. Caerphilly says:

    This beer is definitely worth the price! it’s actually pretty good. It’s not the best beer in the world, but $18.99 for a case of 24, i can’t complain. Compared to equally priced beers like Miller or Bud or Pabst, well, i don’t drink that stuff. But this is actually good.

  65. Caerphilly says:

    To add to my previous comment, the cases that I get (in NY) don’t have the Hefeweizen or German Lager. There’s an IPA (I personally don’t like IPAs in general, but this one isn’t bad) and a Belgian White (which is my favorite)….

  66. West says:

    I was leery of beer with the Kirkland name on it, but once I saw it was brewed at FX Matt in Utica I was eager to taste it. I visited the brewery once while visiting family in the area, and was pleasantly surprised to find that they brewed my favorite beer… Brooklyn EIPA. That’s where I learned about contract breweries… I’ll say that it is a pretty special brewery, and highly recommend the tour and a stop in their tasting bar. Even if you’re bored after years of brewery tours (we all know how beer is brewed at this point!) F.X. Matt is something special. I also wanted to point out to one of the previous commenters that I disagree that contract brewing is a bad thing… I think it allows small talented brewmasters to make their libations available to a wider audience than they might be able to if left to their own resources. F.X. Matt makes numerous damned fine beers, so there’s certainly no sacrifice in quality when contracting with them. Anyway… long post, right? I really enjoyed the Kirkland IPA is what I meant to say.

  67. Joe says:

    Have been a Kirkland Beer customer for nearly two years. Always been happy, but the Hefeweizen was the poorest selection (of course I live less than ten miles from Widmer plant).
    BUT, the next version of the pack, dropping the
    German Lager and Hef in favor of India Pale Ale is really questionable.
    The India Pale Ale is OK, but nothing near the quality of Mirror Pond–the leader in this neck of the woods. The Belgian White is a total mistake! Have tried it on three friends and they all say ‘uck!’
    Am now giving it to street beggers at the freeway exits–it is so bad will not buy Kirkland until they change product mix.

  68. Gregg Schumaker says:

    Remember Joe, we’re talking bang for the buck here. I live in the greater Atlanta area and the Sweetwater Brewing Company’s IPA is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Kirkland’s IPA doesn’t come close, but is for the price, a decent representation of the style, especially considering the difference between an English IPA and an American. For the price, I don’t think you can comparably purchase a case of beer that matches the overall quality of the Kirkland case.

  69. Henry says:

    Just finished my first case. Amber, Pale, IPA and Belgian. Good stuff, as are most Kirkland products. My old-school ‘tude still might hold back on serving it to my oldes-of-old-school pals, but for those with an eye on the quality-cost curve and who appreciate the new word of contract brewing and virtual branding this is a prime example of success. HOWEVER, I think Kirkland should survey folks … by putting in Hefe (as I read about here) or Belgian they are mising apples and oranges so to speak. Those beers are specialties, a much different flavor, and usually not in the same taste-field as the others. Would be better off offering a case of such specialties all on their own, or dropping it. I thought the IPA, Pale and Amber were great in the same ase. Yes, the IPA is not super-hopped like many other microbrews, but this is a wider market Kirkland is addressing and I think they hit the mark well. As for the branding, my bottles say New Yorker Brewing Co and at the end there is a “K” with a registration mark (“r” in a circle) stamped on the center … looks like a Kirkland trademark … anyone know if K migh have taken an ownership position in NYBC?

  70. Baron says:

    Kirkland…Absolutely awesome beer! I would put is side by side with Sam Adams and guarantee that no one could guess the difference and it is less expensive. It is the only beer I buy now!

  71. Ken says:

    I have a case of the “Handcrafted Ales”–Amber, Pale, IPA and Belgian White. The IPA tasted a bit like Sam Adams, very hoppy (as an IPA should be). The Pale was nice, not particularly distinguished. The Amber is more like an English brown ale than like a typical American amber, a bit sweet, very full-bodied. The White is like a weizen, but with an interesting complexity in the flavor because of the use of oats as well as wheat. To my mind, the Amber was the best of the four.

    I haven’t had the chance to try their German Lager or the Hefeweizen.

    Not quite Sam Adams, and definitely not up to the micros with which I’m familiar (Paper City, Northampton, Berkshire Brewing Co., Smuttynose), but a nice case of beer for $18.99.

  72. Dan says:

    I have been on a tight budget for the last few years and have been drinking “cheap” beer as higher priced beer is a luxury at this point (some say a need I know). I was in Costco and saw the variety pack and decided to give it a try as it was the same price as the “cheap” beer. What a treat. I have so far enjoyed the Pale Ale and the India Pale Ale and would rate them both around 4 out of 5 (I’m not a pro). Finally a way for the budget challenged to enjoy a good beer. Hats off to Costco.

  73. Jason Chauvin says:

    I’m drinking a India Pale Ale from Kirkland and its pretty good. Not a Stone IPA, but decent. Hoppy, and a little mild compared to other IPA’s I’ve had, but a good finish.

  74. Richard Anningson says:

    A friend came to visit, on the way from the airport I stopped at Costco for the meat. He picked up a flat of assorted Kirkland beer.

    I sampled, I liked. I am no expert but I do know what I like and thus did research to finf out what this stuff is. It tasted better then the Bud Light and Miller’s light that alot of my friends bring over.

    I buy different beers for myself.

    I was pleased and when I read your article about the price, I will buy beer at Costco more often

  75. Loren says:

    Wow, what a diverse crowd. Overall, I’m reading that the Costco beers are pretty good. When you consider that the majority of beer drinkers, in this country, drink stuff like miller lite, then you should be really really pleased with the Kirkland beers. I mean come on are we to assume that these beers are to be world competition beers? Not likely. So what I taste in the Costco beers is the real commitment to quality craft beer making for the majority of the US drinkers, at a really fair price. Go Costco. yeah baby.

  76. joe gibbs says:

    I’ve been a Costco member for years but have never noticed the Kirkland craft beers before. But with all the other big name beers (boring) at $24+
    I figured I’d take a chance.
    I was pleasantly surprised good taste and value.
    There are better but certainly a lot worse choices
    to buy.

  77. Brian says:

    I went looking for a reasonably priced beer @ Costco and knew of the assortment box. Best price for selection. I think each of the variety has a distinct flavor & hoppieness. I really like the Belgian white, though I don’t usually drink hefs or white. The IPA isn’t sniper hopped, but definitely hits the mark. The pale ale isn’t Sierra Nevada, but has a nice flavor. I agree with Ken, above comment, that the amber is reflective of an English brown. Very yummy and way better than the cheap American pilsners I’ve been forced to buy lately.

  78. Dick Jeffers says:

    The Barrington Beer Baron says:
    I usually keep a case of Coors or Bud Light in the bar fridge for most of my friends, but, there are a few of us that yearn for the taste of either a full-bodied or flavorful beer and Costco, for the price of their 24 pack, has definitely hit a home run. The Begium is decent (the ladies jump on this) and the Amber Ale would actually be acceptable in most London pubs. But, the pales ales are the best value. Similar to the Steinhaus Brews in Paso Robles, that cater to the Trader Joes crowd under the Mission St label, both the Pale Ale and IPA resemble the hoppie, yet smooth flavor of the IPA and APA (American Pale Ale) and leave a pleasant after-taste. Good job Costco. Keep the deals and quality coming.

  79. Willy says:

    Hi, i tried this beer and is really good, thanks costco for other great quality product.!!!

  80. Bill says:

    Picked up a case the other day (Ithaca brewed), amazed by the taste and price. Mine had IPA, Pale, Amber and German Lager. If there was just a case of IPA I’d love it even more. This coming from somebody who things Arrogant Bastard is a great beer, but still thinks Kirkland has hit a home run.

  81. kevin says:

    Tastes good to me. Every beer had its time and place. Always room for a few more.

  82. John says:

    I was a little skeptical at first (all I thought about was a can that said “Beer”). But ever since the first time I bought this beer, it’s pretty much the only beer I drink. So good and a great price.

  83. Travis says:

    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.

  84. joey says:

    Amen travis!

  85. Ken says:

    I return to the Costco beer between cases of Sam Adams and consider it preferable to most of the Adams flavored seasonal specials. It’s a lighter beer than the Sam Adams lager, but the various Kirkland types are distinctly different from each other and have excellent flavor with a nice bitter finish. Currently Kirkland offers a German lager, Amber ale, Pale ale and India Pale ale, each tasting distinctively like what it should. I’ve had the others in the series and consider them to be a good value, but the current crop is probably the best. There is no comparison between these good brews and the dreadful mass-market US beers.

  86. Rick says:

    I just picked up a case today. I brew my own beer. Stouts, porters and IPA’s in the fall and winter. I purchase micro brews in the late spring to summer. Victory, Green Flash, and any new one I haven’t tried.
    I only tried one amber lager so far and it is very good lager. This beer was clear and reddish amber, true to the style. Head was under one finger, and lasted awhile.

    Aroma was all about hops. Mostly, I got a straight out hop resin aroma, bitter and with a little character. I can’t quite figure out the hops yet with only drinking one bottle.

    Aroma was mostly bitter, without a lot of malt character. A bitter aftertaste.

    Mouthfeel was thin, not a lot of body there at all.

    Drinkability – I would rather drink this as an everyday beer much better than Budweiser, Coors, Miller which taste like water. Better than a Yuengling, I believe this must be made by Saranac it taste similar to their amber ales especially close to the Season’s Best Amber they made at one time.

    Serving type: bottle

  87. David Flores says:

    Why are so many people asking about the origin of this beer in response to article that outlines where this beer is made on both the east and west coast. Furthermore I have had this beer and while it isn’t the worst I have had, it certainly does not taste like a craft beer. There just isnt enough flavor in any of this to make me want to buy it again, and I would much rather spend the extra $4-$6 bucks and get Sierra Nevada or Deschutes. You want a good store line of beer, try the trader Joe’s Mission Street line, the brewery that owns them is owned by Firestone Walker and they have a GABF gold medal for this line.

  88. Matt says:

    Let’s be honest, if the label didn’t say Kirkland, people would be raving about it. It’s a decent beer. It’s not a craft beer, but neither is Sam Adams. I’d put them on the same level.

  89. Mike Roeback says:

    I agree with you David (Flores), the article clearly states both brewing locations. However, I disagree with your taste-buds! I’ve brewed beer for several years (award-winning) & the Kirkland Amber Ale has the handcrafted taste stated on the bottle. Though it is not as hoppy (25 IBU) as other handcrafted master pieces, it does posses a great taste for the price! Yes, there are better beers out there for more money but I have yet to find a beer of this quality in this price range (sub $20 a case).

  90. Rick Hendershot says:

    I have been brewing beer on my own since the 1970’s. My father and grandfather before me also brewed their own. I use the all grain grain method no canned malt just grain and hops.

    The Kirkland beer I was not impressed with. I did purchase a case to try it and ended using most of it to steam crabs with all summer long it was that bad.

    I am not a big fan of Sarnac Matt Brewing Company. I would rather spend $30. to $50. a case for a great beer rather than settle for an OK beer.

    I really like the Micro brews. I mainly drink IPA’s, Porter and Stouts. I have not drank a Bud, Miller or any other domestic beer since 1984.

    If you are going to drink beer then drink good beer after all would you rather eat a soy burger or a real meat burger!

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