Kirkland Pale Ale
The Kirkland Pale Ale (technically the Kirkland Signature Pale Ale if you’re of the technical type) is one of the four kinds of beer that you can get at Costco in special 24 pack cases. Just look for “Kirkland Signature Handcrafted Beer” when you’re there in the beer section. The 24 pack includes a 6 pack each of the pale ale, a German lager, a hefeweizen and an amber 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 pale ale for this review comes from New Yorker Brewing, the East Coast spawning ground for the Kirkland beers. Our best by date was January 3, 2011, and the review commenced and finished on December 30, 2010, right before the New Year was rocked in by an early bed time.
The 12 oz bottle came in at 5.4% ABV and 35 IBUs – the most bitter of the bunch from the Kirkland series. For our review we used a British pint glass and got a starting beer temperature of 43.7 F.
For our initial pour we got an average 1 1/2″ frothy white head the left no head lacing as it dissipated quickly. There was a lively amount of carbonation and the clear body presented with a golden amber color. Quite nice.
For our aromas we got light caramel, light honey, generic citrus, light floral, grapefruit, light orange, pine, yeast, light butterscotch and some general spices. Not a bad bouquet – heavy on the hop aromas as you’d imagine given that it is a pale ale, specifically an American pale ale (put “American” in front of just about any beer and add 20% more hops, as a rule of thumb).
For our initial flavors we got a light sweet and a moderate bitter that shifts in the finish to a very light sweet, light acidic and a heavy bitter. The tastes came in fairly true to the aromas – light caramel, light honey, generic citrus, light floral, grapefruit, orange, pine, yeast and light spices. The orange and pine are the predominant tastes.
The finish length is long, the mouthfeel is oily, the tongue hit is in the front (surprisingly) and there’s virtually no body lacing. On our patented malt to hop scale it came in two clicks to the right of balanced on the hoppy side.
For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable and value. We got a no to balance, harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again (which is tricky – more details below). We got a maybe for repeatable.
Ultimately, the Kirkland Pale Ale is a little like green eggs and ham to us. We just don’t like it. It’s less about the beer and more about the style though – we’re not big American pale ale guys. It does get some good sweetness to it as it warms, but not enough for our tastes.
As for the buy again factor – it’s a paradox. You have to buy it again to get any of the other Kirkland beers. We’d love to see Costco take it a step further and start offering the beers individually as 6 packs, or single style 24 packs. That would really hit the spot for us.
Overall though, you just can’t go wrong with the whole Kirkland box set. It’s 4 pretty sessionable beers and it’s a wonderful way to get people trying new stuff. The four 6 packs concept is really nice. For us though, the Kirkland Pale Ale just doesn’t quite ring true. Remember though that the 24 pack comes in at $18.99, or 79 cents a bottle, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better pale ale at the price. If you like pale ales, give it a try. If you don’t buy the box set anyway and surprise a hophead friend with a surprise 6 pack of the stuff.
Kirkland Pale Ale Rating: 3 out of 10 (?)
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