Kirkland Amber Ale
The Kirkland Amber Ale (technically the Kirkland Signature Amber Ale) is one of the four species of beer that ship in 24 pack cases of “Kirkland Signature Handcrafted Beer” at Costco. The 24 pack includes a 6 pack each of the amber ale, a German lager, a hefeweizen and a pale ale (for more background on Costco, Kirkland and their contract brewing situation, check out our previous post on Costco entering the craft beer business).
Our amber ale for this review comes from New Yorker Brewing, the East Coast home for the Kirkland beers. Our best by date was January 3, 2011, and we did this actual review on December 23, 2010, right before Santa Claus came to visit our houses and drop off even more beer.
The 12 oz bottle came in at 5.7% ABV and 25 IBUs. For our review we used a shaker glass and got a starting beer temperature of 44.4 F.
For our initial pour we got an average 1″ creamy off-white head that dissipated quickly and left virtually no head lacing. There was a soft amount of carbonation and a clear body that’s copper in color – like a 1994 penny.
For our aromas we got caramel, dark amber honey, toasted malts, grapefruit, light orange, light resin, dough, light clove and a light metallic. The metallic wasn’t off-putting, but it was there.
For our initial flavors we got a light to moderate sweet and a very light bitter that evolved in the finish to a light sweet and a light bitter. For our tastes we pulled out caramel, dark amber honey, toasted malts, light grapefruit, light orange, light resin and clove. There’s a slight metallic taste to the finish as well.
The finish length is average, the mouthfeel is oily, the tongue hit is in the front and there’s no noticeable body lacing. On The BeerFathers’ malt to hop scale it comes in one click to the left of balanced on the malty side – a good sweet spot.
For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance, value and buy again. We got a no to harmony, memorable and wow factor.
Overall, it’s a solid, well done beer. The dark amber honey is a very nice touch and gives a really great backbone to the brew. It definitely gets better as it warms though – the malts get stronger and it smooths out a bit. We’d recommend drinking it closer to 55 F than 45 F. It does pass our 60 degree test as well if you let it get that warm – our last taste came in at 65.5 F and it was delicious.
Overall, the Kirkland Amber Ale is one of the best in the bunch for us in the 24 pack. As with most of the Kirkland beers, the price is absolutely unbeatable for the quality of the beer you get. The most resounding “yes” we’ve ever put to value, based on the 79 cents a bottle you spend for the case. Even if you only like half the beers, it’s still a good value. We think you’ll be like us and really like two of them, and be okay with the other two. It really depends on what you like in a beer (hophead or malt madman?) to determine which of the two you’ll like. For us (malt madmen through and through), the Amber Ale and the German Lager are the best in the bunch.
Kirkland Amber Ale Rating: 5 out of 10 (?)
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