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Remember the generic "beer" in Repo Men?



Looks like it just got a little closer to reality.

Costco to Become a New Name in Battle of the Brews


Wholesale Chain Will Release Its Own Line of Beers
By Jeremy Mullman

Published: January 30, 2008

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- The big brewers have fretted that decades of copycat, chucklehead advertising has reduced their biggest-selling brands to indistinguishable commodities in the eyes of many consumers. Now they may be reaping what they've sown: Costco, one of the nation's largest warehouse retailers, is readying its first line of private-label beers.



The retailer has filed label applications with the federal Tax and Trade Bureau for a Kirkland Signature Hefeweizen, amber ale and pale ale. The beers will be brewed by San Francisco-area craft brewer Gordon Biersch, which also brews private-label beers for the Trader Joe's supermarket chain.

Big-box stores such as Costco have been a lucrative source of case sales for brewers and any additional competition in the channel will not be appreciated at a time when those brewers are struggling to increase sales.

Who will suffer more?
Stifel Nicolaus analyst Mark Swartzberg said the rollout's impact is most likely to hurt sub-premium brands such as Anheuser-Busch's Busch and Natural Light, Miller Brewing's Milwaukee's Best Light and Coors' Keystone. That category of beers is underperforming overall as of late, he said. "It's a very cluttered space, and price and promotions tend to matter more there."

Still, while private-label brands generally tend to compete with the low end of their categories, sub-premium brands don't have much of a presence at Costco, which tends to sell higher-end items at bulk prices. Craft-beer styles such as Hefeweizen might appeal more to drinkers who would otherwise be buying Michelob or Sam Adams than they would to the typical purchaser of a Busch Light 30 pack.

That suggests that it's premium brands that might hurt more from the Costco entry. "If you ask the brand guys if they'd rather the private labels didn't exist, they'd say yes," said Mr. Swartzberg.

Could grow the market
Then there's the possibility that the new entry could simply grow the market. The presence of a private label might actually cause shoppers to buy more beer than they would have otherwise, he said.

A call to Costco's corporate office was not returned, but the retailer has been offering private-label wines -- including a Champagne and a New Zealand sauvignon blanc from the heralded Marlborough region -- and spirits for some time.

The Kirkland label application -- first reported by Miller Brewing Co's corporate blog, BrewBlog -- coincides with a court ruling against Costco yesterday in a long-running dispute between the retailer and Washington state beer wholesalers. A federal appeals court rejected a lower court's ruling that Washington statutes banning certain volume discounts and preventing retailers from taking beer directly from a warehouse. The decision strengthened the position of beer distributors, who have been in the somewhat awkward role of warring in court with their biggest customers.
 

Mutilated1

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When I was a kid, I used to collect beer cans. I remember one can that I had was white with "BEER" in brown letters.
 
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c.n.budz said:
Well, at least it's being brewed by Gordon Biersch, who knows how much freedom they'll give him though... I wonder what the pricing is going to be?

Yeah...Funny I was thinking about picking up some of Trader Joe's Beer to try next time I was in there (another Gordon Biersch boutique Beer).

Trader Joes "2 Buck Chuck" brand of wines are really good and reasonably priced.

It's nice that their planning on doing something more than a generic bmc....I'll give the ale a try if I come upon it.
 

McKBrew

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Interesting that Costco is going this route with beer, but not suprising since just about everything under the Kirkland signature label is made by a big name company. I'll bet it will be decent beer.
 

Evan!

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Mutilated1 said:
When I was a kid, I used to collect beer cans. I remember one can that I had was white with "BEER" in brown letters.
Were you part of the Dharma Initiative?
 

CBBaron

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Not surprised at all.
Based on everything else I've seen at Costco I'm guessing this will be decent beer and probably not something that will compete directly with Bud and Miller. instead it will probably take sales from Sam's, Blue Moon and JW Dundee's. It might also steal more price conscious craft beer buyers. Especially given that beer prices are on the rise.

I'll try one if someone offers but I won't be buying a case.

Craig
 

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I bought asixer of Trader joes hefeweizen (can't recall the exact name) and it was the worst beer I've ever purchased. It was just painfully overcarbonated swill. Not a trace of wheat let alone weizen yeast flavor. more like bmc but the carbonation was so high it was undrinkable. I'm surprised to learn that Gordon Biersch supplies TJ's, hopefully the Costco beer will be better.
 
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Holy old thread bumping, batman....

I actually tried a few of the Trader Joes, Gordon Biersch beers a few weeks, back...I'll have to dig up my tasting notes...They were "OK" if I recall, nothing to either make you spit it out or to make you jump for joy...

I didn't try the hefe's, (not my thing) I chose the lagers (again not my thing, but I was curious.)

I think the only memoriable one was a mexican dark lager...
 

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I've always been underwhelmed by pretty much everything I've tasted from G.Biersch, but I am also a tightwad on a limited budget. I've been through a few packs of the Trader Joe's stuff and it's decent, but not exciting. I've only tried the Hopfest German Lager.
 

Alamo_Beer

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SWMBO and I went to Gordon Biersch when we were in San Diego.....eh, it was 'OK' I REALLY wasn't that impressed.....the food was ok too I guess....
 

ohiobrewtus

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I've often wondered why more grocery chains don't do this. They do it with snack foods (tortilla chips, potato chips, etc), so why not do it with beer?
 
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Now a few of the mixed sixers were not G/b (At least I don't think so....I'll have to dig out my notes, I tried a couple of dark lagers that were fantastic)

I found the pics on my work data stick...maybe it will trigger memorys of the tastings.

Here's the 6 I got.



1) needs no intro....I never tried Stone IPA before. Fantastic!
2) Tj's Hoffbrau Dark,
3) BrouCzech Euro Dark Lager Nova Paka Brewery -Czech.
4) Tj's Dark Mexican Lager
5) Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale Federal Jack's Brewpub- Maine
6) Stockyard Oatmeal Stout Goose Island.
 

stever

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I bought asixer of Trader joes hefeweizen (can't recall the exact name) and it was the worst beer I've ever purchased. It was just painfully overcarbonated swill. Not a trace of wheat let alone weizen yeast flavor. more like bmc but the carbonation was so high it was undrinkable. I'm surprised to learn that Gordon Biersch supplies TJ's, hopefully the Costco beer will be better.
I just got through drinking a six of the hefeweizen and found it be quite good, nothing exception but for 5.99 a six it was a nice beer. Hints of bubblegum, clove and banana and not overly carbonated. I also had the dunkelweizen which was also tasty. I have had their double bock before and really enjoyed that. perhaps you got a sixpack that was not treated well on its journey.
 

Evan!

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SWMBO and I went to Gordon Biersch when we were in San Diego.....eh, it was 'OK' I REALLY wasn't that impressed.....the food was ok too I guess....
I've had Biersch exactly once: at the D-terminal at Dulles International. Waiting for our flight to Paris. I needed a good beer before that long flight, and that was what it was: good beer. Nothing outstanding, but pretty good for D-terminal. I remember once I got stuck at the B-terminal waiting out a nasty storm, and got right nice on 2 or 3 Oak Barrel Stouts from Old Dominion...now THAT was the joint.
 

MrFebtober

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I just got through drinking a six of the hefeweizen and found it be quite good, nothing exception but for 5.99 a six it was a nice beer. Hints of bubblegum, clove and banana and not overly carbonated. I also had the dunkelweizen which was also tasty. I have had their double bock before and really enjoyed that. perhaps you got a sixpack that was not treated well on its journey.
i really think there must have been something wrong with the sixer I bought. it really was undrinkable without decanting into a glass...and then into another glass. Trying to drink from the longneck only resulted in a mouth full of foam. I'm also not possitive it was the hefeweizen, but it did have a similarly styled label like the Kennebunkport beer Revvy posted.

:off:What results in bubblegum flavor? is it mostly just high fermentation temps? I think it's my least favorite tanin and definitely want to avoid it ending up in my beers. I once brewed a kolsch that tasted like sugar-free gum. I attributed that to ferm temps exceeding 70F, but not possitive that's the cause.
 

stever

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:off:What results in bubblegum flavor? is it mostly just high fermentation temps? I think it's my least favorite tanin and definitely want to avoid it ending up in my beers. I once brewed a kolsch that tasted like sugar-free gum. I attributed that to ferm temps exceeding 70F, but not possitive that's the cause.
It appears to be the strain of yeast. This chart shows the different flavor characteristics of various yeasts and the Wyeast 3638 is listed as having the bubblegum.

from wyeasts site: Top cropping hefeweizen yeast with complex flavor and aroma. Balance of banana and bubble gum esters with lichi and apple/plum esters and clove.
 

Germey

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i really think there must have been something wrong with the sixer I bought. it really was undrinkable without decanting into a glass...and then into another glass. Trying to drink from the longneck only resulted in a mouth full of foam.
Don't you always pour it into a glass...
For shame, what sort of a beer snob are you?:cross:
 
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Interesting,

I was trolling the unanswered threads, and someone had posted a review of the new GB in Texas...Here's the part about their beer selection...I italicized what caught my eye...

Into this moribund scene comes Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, a national chain that debuted 20 years ago in Palo Alto, Calif., and currently has 27 locations throughout the country.

The new Plano branch sports a sleek, clean setting dominated by wood, brick and glass. Amid the upscale-casual trappings and the extensive menu (a full third of which is devoted to wines, martinis and specialty cocktails), it might be easy to overlook the gleaming beer tanks tucked away behind a towering wall of glass – were it not, that is, for the waiter's enthusiastic descriptions of the half-dozen signature brews and the number of six-glass samplers being delivered to most of the tables around us.

The beers are crafted from just four ingredients – barley, hops, yeast and water – as required by the 500-year-old German beer purity law (now repealed) known as Reinheitsgebot. Ranging in style from the ultra-mellow Golden Export (similar to an American light beer) to the dark-hued but surprisingly light-flavored Schwarzbier (German for "black beer"), all are smooth and easy to drink but a little characterless. Possibly the most stirring is the Czech Lager, a medium-bodied pilsner with just a touch of spicy zip on the finish.
I assume, then that adherence to Reinheitsgebot extends to their 3-rd party efforts for retailers? Maybe I'll dop them an email...

Edit I sent an email to the address listed on the G/B website, so we'll see if I get a response.
 

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I took a tour of the Gordon Biersch brewery in San Jose as part of their 20th anniversary celebrations a couple of weeks ago ( this is the industrial brewery near Japan Town, not the brewpub downtown ), and we spoke to a couple of the brewers about their business with Costco and TJ's.

Apparently, Costco is already a large portion of their business, selling GB branded beers and basically providing a supporting income for the facility. Trader Joe's is probably around 15% of their output. The TJ's beer from Gordon Biersch is #2 in the picture above ( you can tell by the barley in the logo and the location of the brewery in San Jose, CA ). The other TJ branded beers are brewed by other companies.

The brewers we spoke to claimed that some of the TJ beers they provide are the same as their regular beers, some are blends of a couple of their normal beers, and the Bohemian Lager is a recipe they used to do, but now do exclusively for TJ's. It will be interesting to see what it is they provide to Costco under the Kirkland brand, and whether it is sold side-by-side with the Gordon Biersch branded stuff that's currently available.

I agree with the assessment that GB beers are not particularly strongly flavored. I still find them enjoyable to drink. The feeling I get is that Dan Gordon is interested in brewing a specific style - fairly light German lagers - and that he'd still be doing the same thing whether or not he had found success with his first brewpub in Palo Alto. I can respect that.

--Albert
 

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Thread resurrection time... I saw this at Costco over the weekend for the first time. I think it was a 24 pack of 8 ea. Amber, Pils, and Pale Ale. Being Costco, it was not available in smaller quantities, so I didn't buy...

Anyone try this yet? Thoughts?
 
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Man it's dusty in here...

I never followed up on this thread, but about 3 weeks after I emailed their brewer he confirmed that EVEN the third party beers they brew for clients such as Trader Joe's and Costco are brewed under the principles of Reinheitsgebot...

Gotta give them props for that. The Trader Joe's beers I tried were decent, not terrible, but not over the top great either..But drinkable.
 

Saccharomyces

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GB has a FAN-F****IN'-TASTIC Maibock. And their Schwartzbier is da bomb. I can't think of another beer of theirs I like much, but I could just about live on those two..

I'm curious if these make it to Tx. With the, uh, lovely TABC a lot of stuff doesn't make it in due to all their silly little rules.
 

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Most of the Kirkland label wines I've bought from Costco have been quite good. Overall they've ranged from decent to very good. Whenever my local Costco stocks them, they generally they sell out quite rapidly, often within a day or two.

If Costco does as good a job on their private label beer as they do with the private label wine, it should be a winner for them.
 

DylansDad

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I picked up the pack today and put some of each beer in the fridge. I'll post some pics and give my 2 cents later this weekend.

For 17.99 a 24 pack how bad can it be? GB isn't the best brewery by far but it definitely isn't the worst so I have high hopes for this beer.
 

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I picked up the pack today and put some of each beer in the fridge. I'll post some pics and give my 2 cents later this weekend.

For 17.99 a 24 pack how bad can it be? GB isn't the best brewery by far but it definitely isn't the worst so I have high hopes for this beer.
Keep us posted, havent been to costco in a little while but if this stuff is decent I might just have to check it out......for the sake of science:D
 

TXCrash

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I picked some up today... I'll probably sample 2 varieties tonight, 2 tomorrow night.

For $18 for the 24 pack - I doubt I'll complain too much. I figure if it REALLY sucks I can toss it to family, if it's "OK" it may become a fallback beer, if it's great... I'll have to buy a few cases at a time ;-) ("I... um... need the bottles hun")
 

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The best thing about Gordon Biersch is their garlic fries.



Those and one of their beers are the best part of going to a baseball game in the bay area.
 

DylansDad

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I picked some up today... I'll probably sample 2 varieties tonight, 2 tomorrow night.

For $18 for the 24 pack - I doubt I'll complain too much. I figure if it REALLY sucks I can toss it to family, if it's "OK" it may become a fallback beer, if it's great... I'll have to buy a few cases at a time ;-) ("I... um... need the bottles hun")
LOL. That's what I'm thinking too as a worst case scenario. For the price and for the economy, it's already posed as my fallback beer. Plus the bottles are dark and the caps are pop tops so we can use the bottles. Purely a hobby buy for the bottles. :drunk:
 

DylansDad

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Review 1:
Hefeweizen

-Aroma
Very little if any at all.
-Color
Very Light. Heffes are light ut it seems even llghter than a Blue Moon. Normal cloudyness as expected in a Heffe however not as cloudy as others.
- Bubble/Head
Not much however I poured at an angle. When I tried to pour at a faster rate it bubbled more but not at a large rate. Definitly didn't start to foam over the top
- Taste
Again, and here is the problem, not much. Has a Heffe taste, but lighter than normal. Now I remember why they put an orange in the drink normally. (I don't have any fruit). No bitterness, no fruit (but I can see why an orange would help). Nothing special.

Overall: Nothing special. However a big disclaimer is that I am not a big Heffe fan.

That's it for now. More to follow.
 

TXCrash

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Drinking the Heffe now. Agree wholeheartedly with the "very little" of everything bit...

Not unimpressed... not impressed... just... drinkable. 16 IBU and 5.5 ABV.
 

TXCrash

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Just finished the Amber. 25 IBU and 5.7 ABV. Better than the heffe (always a good sign when the wife says "too hoppy".

Better than the heffe, hop presence but definitely no hop bomb. Well balanced, decent beer. Not a favorite, but for the price - no complaints.

On to the german lager!

5.5 ABV and 22 IBU's. Definitely taste the hallertau hops I have no idea what a german lager is supposed to taste like - but not a bad brew. Once again, not the best, but quite drinkable. A bit of malt, a bit of hops, drinkable, but underwhelming.

So far - these beers are exacly what I expected. Beer for the masses that are tired of BMC but cant handle the uber hoppy stuff that's the current rage. I'll buy another case when this one's done, while I work on filling the pipeline. I can definitely see bringing a case of this to my BMC drinking family/ friends parties and it being well accepted by most.

The pale (not opened yet) is the hoppiest of the bunch at 35 IBU's and 5.4 ABV.


Hopheads need not apply...


(Looking forward to other, more experienced reviews of this beer...)
 

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update:
Pale Ale


Aroma: Has the Pale Ale scent, not as much as Sierra Nevada, but it's there. I'm a noob, I don't know what you call that scent.

Color: Not bad. Ale'ish in color. I can't remember what the SN looks like, but of course the picture will work. It seems light, but not too light.

Foam: Fine, I poured slowly and sped up at the end. Looks good to me.

Taste: Smooth. Not too bitter. Not bland. A nice aftertaste. Not complex, but not boring. A slight hint of citrus? Not much in spice and a small amount of caramel. For what it doesn't have, I could easily drink this on a hot day and not be displeased. I also wouldn't be annoyed giving it to a non-beer snob. It's like a Light Pale Ale.

So for 2 of 4 it's like a light beer drinkers pack of "Exploration Beer"
 
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