Consumer Reports says Costco Beer is ‘Party Worthy’

July 13th, 2010 · 10 Comments

In a recent comparison, Consumer Reports finds that Costco’s Kirkland Signature Beer is every bit as good as other name-brand beers like Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Paulaner.  I’m not sure how widely available the KS beer is at this point, but I thought I should share the results of the taste test anyway.  According to Consumer Reports, a case of Kirkland Signature Handcrafted Lager and Ales sells for just $19.  Which is a terrific savings when compared with more than $35 per case for many top-selling brands. Each case contains four styles of beer: German Style Lager, Pale Ale, Amber Ale, and Hefeweizen, or wheat beer.

Kirkland Signature Beers

Kirkland Signature Beers

To conduct the test, Consumer Reports used regular people, with regular taste buds; not experts.  The tasters compared KS to leading competitors of the same style: Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Samuel Adams Boston Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and Paulaner Hefe-Weizen. The bottles were wrapped top to bottom in foil and duct tape so that panelists couldn’t tell what brand they were drinking.  Just to cover all the bases, Consumer Reports also had two trained consultants sample each Costco beer, as well.

Here’s the bottom line from Consumer Reports:

Great price, decent beer. On average, our untrained panelists liked the Costco beers about as much as the same-style name-brand beers. (For each type, some people liked the Kirkland Signature better, some liked the brand name better, and some liked both equally.) Our consultants said that although the brand-name beers were more flavorful, clean-tasting, and complex, the Costco beers were quite quaffable and, to use the consultants’ technical term, “party-worthy.”

For the whole article, you can read more in the August issue of the Consumer Reports magazine, or check it out online.

Has anyone here tried the Kirkland Signature beer?  If so, what was your take on it?

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10 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 Evan Brom // 2010.07.28 at 4:32 pm

    Kirklandbrau is a staple at all of my parties. I have noticed that the Hefeweizen always goes first, with the German being the last choice. I do like the pale ale. or KPA as I call it (kirkland pale ale).

    Photo, prepped for a party with Kirkland beer and guac. http://www.flickr.com/photos/evanbrom/4175375929/

  2. 2 Kimberly // 2010.07.16 at 5:32 am

    Thanks everyone for the input on the beer. I don’t drink beer, so it’s good to get some opinions about it from someone that isn’t Consumer Reports. :-)

  3. 3 Mike // 2010.07.15 at 2:56 pm

    These are not the absolute best beers out there, but as with many Costco items, they are a great value. They are the price of mass market stuff brands but with much of the character and flavor of craft brews. For the price, they are hard to beat, but like many in Michigan, I love Bell’s Oberon. As my brother in law says, it is the perfect summer beer.

    But to get back to the Costco beers, I enjoy them and I with them as an option, I will probably never buy any of the mass market beers like Miller or Busch again.

  4. 4 Frank Doyle // 2010.07.15 at 11:24 am

    Actually, depending on where they’re sold, the beers are brewed by different breweries. I know the Michigan stuff is brewed by some NY brewery.

  5. 5 Carmel // 2010.07.14 at 7:11 pm

    This is great beer. It isn’t the BEST beer on the planet but it is really good beer. It’s a little weird drinking a store brand beer but it definitely beats the watery American mass brewery beer hands-down. I also think it beats Sam Adams, etc.

  6. 6 Shawn // 2010.07.14 at 1:03 pm

    I loved this beer but it did not sell well at the Tallahassee, Florida location where I lived at the time. The best by date was about to pass and they marked the priced down to $8.99 a case. Needless to say I bought some.

  7. 7 Chris // 2010.07.13 at 3:28 pm

    More info from ad age on the beer. It is indeed brewed by San Francisco’s, Gordon craft brewery.
    http://adage.com/article?article_id=124741

  8. 8 Chris // 2010.07.13 at 3:23 pm

    I was told by a trader joes employee that GB brews their in-house brand as well.

  9. 9 Colleen // 2010.07.13 at 12:43 pm

    Costco here in Seattle has sold the Kirkland beer for more than a year. My husband has bought a case or two of it, and both he and my brother enjoyed it (I don’t drink beer myself). It’s an excellent price for beer that is a step up from the cheap mass-market brands such as Budweiser or Miller. Costco Connection ran an article about it a while ago. Word is that they are brewed by Gordon Biersch, who are of course known for their own craft brews.

  10. 10 Geoff // 2010.07.13 at 7:17 am

    Yes, I’ve tried it and put it to the test as well! Along with a few guys, I go canoeing each year in northern Michigan. While we take our canoeing seriously, once we’re off the river we take our fire, feeding, and beer very seriously. I was in charge of beer this year and decided to give the Costco (KS) case a chance (I also picked up from Costco a wonderful sampler of Arcadia Ales–a Michigan-specific brew, just in case). While ALL the guys were very reluctant, they ended up really enjoying the KS beers! The Amber Ale went over best, but there were no complaints about any of the four. So, while we’re no Consumer Reports–we came to the same conclusion: not too fancy or complex, but “party-worthy”.

    As an aside, we’ve been living in Canada for the past year and are continually frustrated that alcohol can only be found at the Beer Store or a provincial liquor store–those great Costco deals are just not to be found…

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