Costco, the fifth-largest retailer in the world, is known for its terrific bargains on everything from sheet cakes to car batteries. However, Costco is also a major seller of alcohol in the U.S, and is the largest retailer of wine. But don’t forget about Costco’s ample beer selection as well.
So, if you’re wondering how much Costco beer could save you, what’s worth drinking and who actually brews for the store brand, here are 15 things to know before buying Costco beer!
15 Things to Know Before Buying Costco Beer In 2023
1. Costco Beer Has Been Around Since the 2000s
In 2008, a blogger named Jon Abernathy reported that Costco had recently begun its partnership with a California craft brewer.
This craft brewer was in the business of providing private label beers, as it was already partnered with Trader Joe’s.
Abernathy remarked that Costco’s application and label design revealed an amber ale, a hefeweizen, and a pale ale.
And with the filing of those documents, Costco began its late 2000s foray into the world of beer, under the store label Kirkland Signature.
2. There are Many Varieties of Costco Beer
Costco apparently made it the company mission to provide a beer for every taste.
Expanding on the first three beer labels, Costco currently sells Kirkland Signature stout, brown ale, pale ale, IPA, German ale, blonde, double bock, and more.
The retailer keeps things interesting with new and special releases, timing them seasonally (as breweries tend to do).
You can also pick up your favorite name brand beers, like Budweiser, Corona, Sam Adams, Stella Artois, Coors, Heineken, and Tecate.
Store availability will vary, of course, but the above are often in stock.
3. You Won’t Break the Bank Buying Costco Beer
Kirkland Signature beers are sold in 24-packs (or cases) for the most part, and the brown ale, session IPA, and India pale ale all clock in at $22.99.
For comparison, the Hazy IPA from Dogfish Head brewing, which is sold in some Wegmans grocery stores, costs $10.49 for six cans.
A case of Bud Light at Costco will set you back $27.99, or 85 cents per can, while a 15-pack at Wegmans costs $12.99, or 87 cents per can.
If you find a Kirkland Signature craft beer you really enjoy, you’re going to save yourself a lot of money by not buying “name brand” crafts from grocery stores.
4. Check out the Costco Beer By Kirkland Signature for Something New
Costco’s Kirkland Signature beer is definitely worth a try if you’re a beer enthusiast.
A reviewer at The Takeout sampled four of Costco’s beers and shared his thoughts.
He found the American pale ale and the India pale ale to both be “decent,” but the darker beers, the stout and brown ale, were more disappointing.
Costco isn’t alone in underdelivering on its beers, at least where “expert” opinions are concerned.
Taste tests of Aldi’s private label brews have been equally middling. However, if you like trying craft beer, Kirkland Signature’s are worth a taste.
5. But Don’t Expect to Find a Costco Beer Brewery
While you might think Costco got into the brewing business, the company actually outsources its beers with manufacturers who specialize in private label brewing.
The beers may sometimes be very close to existing recipes, but the company commissioning the beer can ask for little tweaks to make it exclusive.
6. Instead, Costco Beer Comes From Here on the West Coast
If you’re buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature beer on the west coast, you’re drinking the product of Gordon Biersch in San Jose, CA.
The company brews for Costco under the name Hopfen Und Malz Brewing Co.
7. Costco Beer Comes From Here on the East Coast
If you’re an east coaster, your Costco beer has been brewed at Bricks and Barley Brewing Company, out of Wisconsin.
It could also be the product of New Yorker Brewing Co. out of Utica, NY (a.k.a. Matt Brewing).
8. The Light Costco Beer is Long Gone
You’re not imagining things if you thought Costco sold a Kirkland Signature light beer.
It did, but the drink was taken off shelves in 2018 after public opinion reached a fever pitch of discord over it.
Sold in packs of 48 for just $22, the light beer from Costco was famously bad-tasting, though reviewers did get some creative jabs in.
One person said it had “flavors of insipid soggy bread”, while another lamented, “It’s brewed and filtered through the sweat socks of the owners and GM of the brewery.”
9. For Reviews of Costco Beers, Turn to Untappd
Beloved of beer enthusiasts everywhere, Untappd has a whole page devoted to reviews for Costco beer by Kirkland Signature.
You can sort the reviews from high to low if you want the general consensus on what to try first, and you can even create an account and add your voice.
10. You Could Buy a Mini Keg of Specialty Costco Beer
In the summer of 2021, Costco released a specialty keg of German-style beer for just $19.99. Now, it wasn’t an actual-size keg, but a miniature.
Still, five liters is no small amount of beer, and the utter charm of that adorable keg would be enough to have me running to stores.
Let’s hope they bring this back each year, possibly with a new brew to savor.
11. Give the Costco Beer Variety Pack a Try
Perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective way to taste your way around Costco beer is to pick up one of their variety 24-packs for just $19.99.
Recently, it has contained an IPA, an APA, a pilsner, and a session IPA. However, it appears that Costco carries multiples and/or switches them up occasionally.
12. Get Your Costco Beer Delivered in These States
If you live in the following locations:
- North Carolina
- Ohio, Oregon
- Texas Virginia
- The District of Columbia
…then you can get your Costco beer delivered to your front door via Instacart!
13. Purchase Costco Beer Without a Membership
In other states, you don’t even need a membership to purchase beer from Costco. In fact, Costco might even go so far as to have a separate entrance into the alcohol section of the store, so that non-members can gain access.
This applies if you live in the following locations:
- New York
14. Keep an Eye Out for the Costco Beer Advent Calendar
Alongside the famous wine advent calendar, Costco also has something for craft beer fans.
Its $60 beer advent calendar is a must for the brew enthusiast in your life (including yourself). Check out 2021’s calendar here!
15. These are Your Best Bets for Dipping Your Toes Into the Costco Beer Pool
Ultimately, if you want to give Costco’s Kirkland Signature beer a try but you don’t want to waste your money, there are some more solid options.
Tasting Table purports that the German-style lager and ales are your best bets, especially on the west coast, because the brewer, Gordon Biersch, specializes in them.
Costco beer, whether you’re picking up a variety pack by Kirkland Signature or your favorite name brand, is an inexpensive option for stocking up.
Kirkland Signature beer is made by established breweries in the U.S., and with a case retailing for just $22, it’s a terrific, drinkable deal on craft brews.