Why You Should Skip Picking Up Craft Beer At Costco

The words "craft beer" and "Costco" feel like the antithesis of each other. This observation alone says a lot about what the warehouse chain's craft beer selection is like. 

When it comes time to try some new craft beers, variety is key. Each of these beverages are unique, and the experimental qualities of craft beer mean that each is an acquired taste. So, to make sure there's something for everyone, most craft breweries have dozens of options, making for a fun scavenger hunt experience when customers are finding their favorite. 


While some popular grocery chains can mimic that craft brewery experience and offer dozens of options for customers, Costco's business model doesn't allow for that kind of variety. Costco thrives because it offers niche, limited selections of products that will appeal to the masses. So, Costco's craft beers probably won't be the experimental or unique choices that craft beer enthusiasts love. Instead, most of them will be easy, crowd-pleasing choices. This might be convenient for some, but it sort of takes the fun out of the craft beer experience for others, and it's why you might want to skip the craft beer section in Costco. 

Customers share their thoughts on Costco's craft beer

It's safe to say we're skeptical of Costco's craft beer selection, but we're far from the only ones. Some Costco members went to Reddit to share their dislike for this section of the store, with one even saying Costco's craft beer selection is "composed of some of the worst beers I have ever tasted." This customer cited an overwhelming amount of IPAs with just a few niche stout options as their reasoning for the bad review. Other customers on the thread agreed with the take, with some hypothesizing that most true craft breweries probably don't have the scale to produce orders for big chains like Costco, so the chain's craft beverages are probably not really craft at all. (Which leaves us wondering, what company makes Costco's Kirkland Brand Craft Beer anyway?)


Still, there are a few fans that disagreed with those opinions. Some Redditors claimed the quality of Costco's craft beer selection varies per region. "I'm in Oregon and they do a decent job of rotating local beers. But it's obviously ones that give a good deal," one member said. Another member from Oregon seconded this opinion, so the Costcos in this state seem to be doing something right.

What you really want from a craft beer selection

If you find yourself at another grocery chain like Costco, and you're curious if the selection is any good, there are two things you'll want to look out for. For starters, variety is the name of the game with craft beer. If the store you're at has a walk-in cooler with a wide selection of craft beer options, from funky sours to porters, chances are you're in good hands. There has to be at least one or two beers out of the few dozen there that you'll enjoy. 


Next up is enthusiasm. If there's someone at the store with some specialized knowledge of the craft beer selection, like how Trader Joe's has its wine experts, that's another reason to be confident about your choice.

Do your research to find which stores near you might offer the best craft beer selection with plenty of rotating brands and brews to experiment with. Chances are, that option won't be Costco. But as with anything, maybe don't knock the chain until you try it. Who knows, the offerings at your local store might surprise you, and upgrades to the craft beer selection might even be one of the big changes that Costco is tackling in 2024.