Handcrafted at Costco

Here’s how much the state of beer in the United States has improved over the last couple of decades.  In the capital of consumption—Costco—you can purchase a case of beer made under a house brand—Kirkland Signature—brewed under contract that contains an India pale ale, pale ale, amber ale, and German style lager.  All for about $18.

Honestly, I wish that I could write down detailed tasting notes for each beer but I drank them with friends over the weekend and did not spend the time to record my musings.  In gallery format here are the four beers:

In order of enjoyment I would rank them pale ale, amber ale, India pale ale, and finally the German style lager.  If there is one endorsement, all four of the Kirkland Signature varieties were gone from the cooler by the end of the night…err morning…when I cleaned up.  That was more than I could say for some orphaned cans from a variety of big brewers and some random six pack of PBR still on the rings.  Seriously, who thought it was ironic to bring PBR?

None of the beers was remarkable in a way that makes you really notice, but no beer in this bunch was bad nor were any insipid swill like some of the faux craft beers that have comes from the bright tanks of the mega-brewers.  Would you like an orange with that sir?

Would I go out of my way to pick up a case of Kirkland Signature beer again?  Nope.  Would I buy it over some of the other offerings within a Costco?  Probably not considering that Boulevard beers are often on the shelf right next to these and I have purchased cases from brewers like Kona Brewing in Hawaii.

This is the great thing about beer in the United States in 2013, merely okay does not move the needle anymore because the industry is producing so much truly excellent beer and homebrewers are out there pushing the boundaries as well in ways that would have been unimaginable decades ago.  We truly live in a golden age of golden liquid.

Is there a more overused term in marketing of foodstuffs than “handcrafted?”  Maybe “artisan” or “all natural,” but “handcrafted” has to be up there.  What does it really mean?  I have been to craft breweries all over the United States and while humans are involved in the making of the beer it is hardly handcrafting.  Until you scale to the largest of the craft brewers or the mega-brewers like AB-InBev the machinery and mechanics are all pretty similar.

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