IF YOU NEED a little nudge, consider
this. Kirkland Signature natural craft
beers contain less than 180 calories
per bottle. One piña colada has
Kirkland Signature pale ale pairs
perfectly with intensely flavored
spicy foods, particularly Thai,
Mexican and Chinese cuisines.
Kirkland Signature amber ale
makes a fantastic braising liquid for
meats and complements stews and
Costco’s pit-smoked Kirkland
Signature Smoked Pulled Pork.
The hefeweizen is an excellent
accompaniment to salads, seafood,
chicken—and dark chocolate truffles.
Serve the German lager with
grilled meats such as ribs and steaks,
sausages, red-sauced pastas, and
hearty soups and stews.—PV
for Costco’s traditionally brewed hefeweizen.
Water. The brewery’s water-purification
system is impressive. The water is first run
through a trap filter, followed by carbon filtration and reverse osmosis to remove impuri-ties, and is then blended back with filtered
water to create the perfect level of mineral
content needed for the brewing of great beer.
Hops. Hops, the source of beer’s bitterness
and aroma, are added to all beers to balance the
sweetness of the malt. Only the choicest traditional hop varieties are used. These include
Cascade hops from Washington state’s Yakima
Valley and the noble Hallertau aroma hops of
Germany. All are hand-selected, checked for
quality again at the plant and approved by the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration and
the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Yeast. Yeast naturally ferments and carbonates beer. Costco brewers obtain their
yeast from various yeast banks in Germany
and the U.S.
All batches are watched, tasted and analyzed at every step. I’m told, “We treat the
Kirkland Signature beers identically to the
beers we brew under our own label.” I believe it.
Beer tasting notes
Costco’s classic American-style pale ale is
crisp, golden and a little more robustly
hopped than prototypical English-style ales.
The amber ale has a rich, malty character with
moderate hopping. My favorite, the
American-style hefeweizen (wheat beer), is
unfiltered, crisp and light-bodied, while the
authentic German-style lager is a deep gold
due to a combination of Pilsner, dark roasted
Munich and dark caramel malts.
Sustainability and recycling programs are
emphasized at both breweries. Of note is
recapturing the heat used in the brewing process, selling by-products such as barley husks
and yeast to farmers and reclaiming waste-water to generate electricity.
heritage of his craft. “I represent the brewmasters who came before me. I will not let
them down. Authenticity and brewing without regard to cost are fundamentals. This is
why I am proud to work with Costco. We are
both driven by quality,” he says.
All Kirkland Signature craft beers are
brewed according to the modern definition of
Reinheitsgebot, Germany’s almost 500-year-
old beer purity law. It stipulates that nothing
can go into beer except the natural ingredients
of malt, water, hops and yeast.
No chemicals, preservatives, artificial
process enhancers (such as artificial yeast
nutrients) or cheap and flavorless sources of
starch, such as rice and corn, are allowed.
(Every major domestic brewer uses rice, corn
or corn syrup in its products.)
Beer in the making
The brewery runs 24/7. It takes three to six
weeks to brew and bottle a batch of Kirkland
Signature beer, depending on beer style. (
Mass-produced beer is brewed and bottled in 10 to
I walk through the brewing process. The
barley is carefully weighed, crushed to correct
specifications per type of beer and mixed with
warm water in a massive steam-heated brew
kettle. The smell is heavenly. I taste some dark
roasted malted barley. It reminds me of Grape
The cooked malt produces a sweet liquid
concentrate called wort. The wort is then
boiled for an hour and a half, after which the
hops are added. The yeast is added after the
Kirkland Signature ales and wheat beer
are then left to ferment for three days and age
for two and a half weeks. The German lager is
fermented for seven days and aged for five
weeks. During this time two things happen
naturally: carbonation and the rounding out
of full flavors.
Tastes great, less billing
Annette notes, “Kirkland Signature rep-
resents four of the bestselling styles of craft
beer on the market. And our value makes
craft beer very approachable for first-time
tasters and very desirable for aficionados.”
I ask my 30-something sons and their
wives to blind-taste all four Costco styles.
While each has a favorite, the hefeweizen
receives the most raves. I love watching their
faces when I share that Costco’s price per
bottle is 75 cents and the branded beers they
also tried range from $1.37 to $1.58 each.
(Kirkland Signature craft beer case prices are
$17.99 to $21.99, based on state taxes and
As I talk more about Costco’s craft beer
with the kids, I’m reminded of the brewmaster’s parting words: “Don’t let anyone tell you
that it’s impossible to create a high-quality
craft beer topped off with exceptional savings.
They must not know Costco—or the two
breweries partnered in this program.” C
Craft beer case comparison
The beer necessities
Malt. Malt is a key determinant of the
flavor, color and body of a finished beer.
We walk outside to view silos filled with
fresh, hand-selected malt barley imported
from Germany and Canada. There is also a
silo of malted wheat from the United States
East Coast and West Coast comparison shopping was done on 6/29/2010.
SEPTEMBER 2010 ;e Costco Connection 67