Who Actually Makes Kirkland Beer?

Costco has had enormous success in carving out its grocery... clothing... gas... just-about-everything empire in the United States. One of the secret weapons behind their enormous success has been their signature Kirkland brand. Kirkland products account for a huge percentage of Costco's sales and cover everything from Kirkland liquor to diapers to their popular protein bars

Naturally, Costco also sells beer under the Kirkland name, and it's done so with very mixed results among Costco shoppers and beer drinkers. Perhaps you've found yourself sipping on a Costco craft brew and wondered, "Who makes this stuff anyway?" Psst, we have a secret: It's not Costco. 

Costco doesn't brew its own beer

If you were hoping that one day you'd be invited by Costco to go along on a tour of the Kirkland brewery, sorry, but that day isn't ever going to come. This is because Costco doesn't have a brewery of any kind and lets somebody else handle the job of making all the Kirkland beer. Depending on where you happen to live, your Kirkland beer might come from one of two breweries. 

As The Takeout noted, folks on the West Coast will probably notice the label of Kirkland's craft beers reads that they were brewed by Hopfen Und Malz Brewing Co. If you were to try and visit the address of this brewery you'd find yourself at San Jose brewery Gordon Biersch, which shares the same address (via Gordon Biersch). That's because Gordon Biersch is Hopfen Und Malz Brewing Co.

It's a similar scenario for Kirkland beer bought on the East Coast, too. That beer has a label that reads it was brewed by Bricks and Barley Brewing Company in Steven's Point Wisconsin. This might all seem very secretive and perhaps a little confusing, but Costco is hardly the only one doing it. According to the Tampa Bay Times, it's the same story with Trader Joe's beer. 

Kirkland beer hasn't always been a success

Taste testers for The Takeout overall didn't have terrible things to say about Kirkland's craft beers. The stout and brown ale didn't get high marks, but the APA and IPA both were reviewed well. The same couldn't be said for Kirkland's light pilsner — Kirkland Light. Esquire has noted that there was at least one diehard fan, but most folks seem to have hated the stuff. 

"If I'm ever at a party and someone tries to hand me a Kirkland beer I will start swinging," joked one person on Twitter. Other customers compared it to a tasting like a soiled diaper (gag). At a cost of under 50 cents per can, it seemed to be a classic "you get what you pay for" kind of product. As for who made Kirkland Light, that was brewed by Regal Brau Brewing (via Guys Drinking Beer). 

Regardless of its low price, Kirkland Light may have just been too bad to keep selling under the Kirkland brand and it was canned for good in 2018 (via Business Insider). 

Kirkland brand beers have a lot to offer

Costco actually has a wide variety of craft beers under its Kirkland brand name. In addition to the India Pale Ale and American Pale Ale, which were reviewed as "not bad" and "decent," respectively, by The Takeout, Costco has over a dozen other offerings (via Beer Advocate). If you're looking for additional American-style beers, Kirkland has you covered. They offer ales in the blonde, brown, and pale varieties, and there's even a Citra hop American-style IPA. If you're looking for a German beer to try, there are plenty of options to choose from, including a double bock, a German-style lager, a Hefeweizen, and a Kolsch. You can even find an English porter, a Czech-style pilsner, and a Belgian witbier under Costco's Kirkland brand. And If you can't decide, Costco offers a variety pack. The pack includes the Kirkland American pale ale, stout ale, brown ale, and India pale ale, notes Renegade Brewing.

If beer is not your go-to beverage, Costco has another option: Kirkland brand hard seltzer. The fizzy beverage doesn't contain any juice but packs a punch with its 5% alcohol content. The drinks come in a fairly standard assortment of flavors, including black cherry, grapefruit, lime, and mango, and can be purchased in a variety pack. This product, however, comes from a different producer. According to Liquor Laboratory, these hard seltzers are made by Patco Brands based out of Hood River, Oregon. Whatever your drink of choice is, Costco certainly has a variety of Kirkland-branded beverages to suit the cravings of any bulk grocery aficionado.