In this report

Bargain beer from Costco

Last reviewed: August 2010
Beer bottles covered with foil to hide their identity in a Consumer Reports test
Foiled again
Food and sensory manager Maxine Siegel ensures that beer tasters won't know what brand they're sipping.
Kirkland Signature beers
Kirkland Signature beers

A 24-bottle case of Costco's Kirkland Signature beers—oops, make that Handcrafted Lager and Ales—sells for just $19, compared with more than $35 for many top-selling brands. Each case contains four styles of beer: German Style Lager, Pale Ale, Amber Ale, and Hefeweizen, or wheat beer. (You can't buy a case of a single style.) Are they worth trying?

First, we had untrained panelists—regular Joe and Jill Sixpacks—compare each of the Costco beers with a leading competitor 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. Then we had two trained consultants sample each Costco beer.

Bottom line

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."