It’s been way too long since my last visit to the US. Baseball, bars, beers, big burgers – I really need a fix. One of my favourite trips to the US was about 6 years ago, when a number of us visited LA for BotF member Geoff’s 40th birthday. Preparations for the 40th included my first ever trip to Costco. For a first timer, Costco is quite overwhelming. The size of the warehouse, the ridiculous things one can purchase, the ridiculous size of the tins of food etc are gobsmacking. Costco also sells grog, and it was the first time I’d seen bottles of tequila that didn’t have a red plastic sombrero on their top. I had a nice jolt of Stateside, when I recently visited Costco in Auburn. Costco feels like a relatively recent phenomenon in Australia, but its probably been around for a couple of years now. It is very much like what I remembered – though it did seem smaller.
I think that the grog range in an Australian Costco is far smaller than the US version. The beer range is very unremarkable and not particularly cheap. The only thing that caught my eye was a carton “Kirkland Signature Handcrafted Beer. Kirkland is Costco’s home brand and can be found on everything from steak to shirts – and in this instance – beer. Kirkland Signature beer is made for Costco by the cutely named “Hoppen und Malz Brewing Company, San Jose”, which in turn is a label of contract brewer, Gordon Biersch. A case is $50 (more on that later) and contains 6 of each of the following varieties German Style Lager, Pale Ale, Amber Ale and India Pale Ale. The bottles even go to the trouble of listing their IBU count. The Amber Ale certainly looked good but underwhelming, and the India Pale Ale was actually pretty good (more English IPA than a squinting US drop). The Pale Ale was very pleasant and sharp, whilst the German Style Lager was the blandest of the lot. Now, apparently in the US, a case of Kirkland Signature beer costs as little as $18. You’d think that with the strength of the Aussie peso – we could get this for around $40 (Aldi can sell beer for $30), but that’s not to be. So – that’s the last case of Kirkland Signature beer I’ll be buying (even if I get back to US and get to accompany Geoff to Costco again – I’d be hoovering up uniques at a rate of knots).