Costco Beer?

by Jeremy on February 4, 2010 · 30 comments

Once a month I venture over to the nearest Costco, located in the sleepy hamlet of Livonia, Michigan, to stock up on life’s necessities. Diapers, baby wipes, 80 pound bags of Goldfish crackers, and beer. What’s that you say, “but Jeremy, they don’t sell Hoegaarden at Costco?” Very true. I actually never really thought about buying beer from Costco, as I find the store to be an indecipherable maze. But lo and behold, one day I got lost somewhere between the storage shelves and water purifiers, and found stacks upon stacks of beer. I waded through the cases of Miller Lite and Moosehead hoping to find some version of Samuel Adams, every store or bars default good beer. After winding through a maze of beer cases more confusing than the hedge maze in The Shining, I eventually stumbled upon my old drinking buddy Sam Adams. At $21.99 for a pack of 18, I was pleased with the deal Costco was offering and ready to grab a box when something caught my eye.

The sign read, Kirkland Signature Beer Variety Pack, $18.99. For those that don’t shop at Costco, Kirkland is their in-house brand, and usually makes pretty decent products for the price. Included in the case were four six packs, an Amber Ale, Pale Ale, German Lager, and Hefeweizen.

Kirkland Signature Beer

Unable to pass on what promised to be an interesting experiment, I decided to grab the case and give it a shot. I am pleased to report, dear Epic Portions readers that Kirkland Signature beers are quite tasty and a real bargain at the price, which averages out to approximately $4.75 per six pack. I’m not going to get into a review about which beer has citrus notes, but I will say that each one is a legitimate effort that deserves praise. My favorite is the Pale Ale, and I did find the Amber Ale to be a little disappointing, but hey, I’m used to Bell’s Amber which is truly magnificent.

Curious about where the beer comes from, I did a little investigating. On the bottle, it says that the beers are from the New Yorker Brewing Co. in Utica, NY. If you google that, you basically get a whole lot of nothing. I talked to the highest ranking manager willing to indulge me while I was at Costco and got a blank look. Finally, through hidden camera work and telling people I was Chris Hanson, I was able to learn that Kirkland Signature Beer is subcontracted to Gordon Biersch. If this name is familiar to you, which it probably isn’t, Gordon Biersch is responsible for providing many of the specialty beers that sit on the shelves at your local Trader Joe’s. This made perfect sense because usually a beer from TJ’s is, as my man from the High Life commercials says, “a good honest beer at a tasty price.” (I love the High Life guy, he hawks a terrible beer, but the commercials are quite funny).

Miller High Life Guy

All in all, if your travels take you to Costco you would do well to give the Kirkland Signature beers a try. You will be pleasantly surprised.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

John February 5, 2010 at 2:19 am

Beers displayed on a high chair = genius.

I need to get over to Costco for some chicken bake and beer. It’s about time they put this out.

Clay February 13, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Check out These are the guys who make Saranac and at one point Samuel Adams as well. They had a fire a couple years ago and Genesee Brewery in Rochester (who makes Genesee beer and JW Dundees) is now handling their brewing until they rebuild.

Brianna February 14, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Woo! I stumbled upon this, and I’m from Utica…haha. We all grow up around hear learning about how Utica Club (made at Matts Brewing Company) was the first beer sold in the US after prohibition. The actual factory is really neat. They do tours every weekend. The history of Matt’s is rich.

Jeremy February 14, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Thanks for the tip, Clay. I came across info on Matt’s when I was researching Kirkland beer. There is no definitive statement from them as to whether they are the brewers for Kirkland, aside from the fact that they are located in Utica. It is possible Gordon Biersch is the distributor and Matt’s is the actual beer maker.

Clay February 14, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Jeremy, you’re right. There’s nothing conclusive, just a mention in wikipedia that they make the Cosco beer. I wish we had a Cosco near here (Rochester) so I could give it a try.

Warren February 15, 2010 at 3:24 am

Their house 100% agave tequila is also quite good. It’s a very nice anejo.

Felecia February 16, 2010 at 7:52 pm

I stumbled upon it myself last month. You are correct, it is quite good.

Mike G. September 11, 2010 at 11:23 am

I am a home brewer who recently tasted all of these Kirkland Signature beers. They’re very good. Costco is very smart. They have managed to create their own craft beers, then farm out the manufacturer to legitimate craft brewers. Yes, you can get better beer. But you’ll pay twice as much for it.

Btw, many people commenting on this seem to view it as an alternative to Sam Adams. I never could understand what’s so great about Sam Adams. In my opinion, there are many beers, cheaper than Sam Adams, that are better. (And if you ask me, Sam Adams light is terrible).

Keith January 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I found for the price, the amber ale, the german lager, and the heff, were really good, I dont like pale ale, so I had a friend drink the rest, and he said he liked it.

A July 5, 2011 at 8:31 am

Apparently, it’s an east coast-west coast thing, with Saranac-Matt’s brewing for the east, and Gordon Biersch for the West. Somewhere in Texas seems to be the line of beermarcation (hah, I amuse myself).

Bruce Rigsby April 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I bought a varity case of Kirkland Ale and found the taste (and kick) appealing in all flavors. I also found some sediment in the bottom of four of the bottles. Is the sediment normal in this type of brew, or should I see a doctor?

Brando August 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I just bought some beer from Costco today and the beer labels say it was bottled in San Jose, (we live in Temecula), but seeing the Costco exclusive on MSNBC a while ago, brewers actually bid to brew the beer that Costco wants to have on its shelf. But, hands down, its a great set of beers for a great price.

ScottyJoe August 31, 2012 at 1:54 am

Matt/Saranac makes good brews. I think the beer may be farmed out to regional brewers.

Also, what is this Highlander beer I now see at some Costcos?

taylor January 29, 2014 at 4:53 am

I recently bought this and have been disappointed. As a homebrewer and easy to please guy, I thought they all tasted like a mr. Beer kit brew not allowed to mature. The ipa and pale ale had zero hop notes, and the german lager was like a mr beer blonde ale with too much sugar. Reading into their kirkland bourbon reviews and tasting this, ill stay away from kirkland alcohol. A case of budweiser would have been better, this stuff was swill that tasted identical between styles. Im right below san jose and noted that whoever brewed this went to lengths to disguise its origin, they arent proud of it. Written via smartphone dont mind punctuation.

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