You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

How are those store-brand beers? We taste 25

Tribune News Service Logo Tribune News Service | Slide 1 of 26: They are the oddest of oddities when it comes to buying beer, existing on their own curious little islands.
Store-brand beers.
They are Simpler Times Lager and Stockyard Oatmeal Stout, Wernesgruner Pilsner and Kirkland Signature IPA: the brands you see nowhere but the one chain of stores that carries them.
Trader Joe’s has the most robust and legendary selection of proprietary beer brands, but it is not alone. Aldi. Costco. Walmart has dabbled in beer — which led to a lawsuit claiming the brands were “wholesale fiction” designed to fool customers. Walgreens experimented with its own brand, Big Flats 1901. It was very cheap — $2.99 for a six-pack! — and very bad. It has been discontinued.
Still, such brands endure for a simple reason: The price is right. The downside, however, is that quality can be spotty — and in some cases, dreadful.
But not always. Back when Trader Joe’s Mission St. Pale Ale was made by Firestone Walker Brewing, the beer won three Great American Beer Festival medals in four years. While none of the current crop of store brands quite rises to such heights, several are worth considering — especially at those prices.
Here’s how the offerings at Trader Joe's and Aldi fared, grouped by Buy It, Not Bad and Skip It. Prices are for six-packs of 12-ounce cans or bottles, unless otherwise noted.

How are those Trader Joe's and Aldi beers? We taste 25

They are the oddest of oddities when it comes to buying beer, existing on their own curious little islands. Store-brand beers. They are Simpler Times Lager and Stockyard Oatmeal Stout, Wernesgruner Pilsner and Kirkland Signature IPA: the brands you see nowhere but the one chain of stores that carries them. Trader Joe’s has the most robust and legendary selection of proprietary beer brands, but it is not alone. Aldi. Costco. Walmart has dabbled in beer — which led to a lawsuit claiming the brands were “wholesale fiction” designed to fool customers. Walgreens experimented with its own brand, Big Flats 1901. It was very cheap — $2.99 for a six-pack! — and very bad. It has been discontinued. Still, such brands endure for a simple reason: The price is right. The downside, however, is that quality can be spotty — and in some cases, dreadful. But not always. Back when Trader Joe’s Mission St. Pale Ale was made by Firestone Walker Brewing, the beer won three Great American Beer Festival medals in four years. While none of the current crop of store brands quite rises to such heights, several are worth considering — especially at those prices. Here’s how the offerings at Trader Joe's and Aldi fared, grouped by Buy It, Not Bad and Skip It. Prices are for six-packs of 12-ounce cans or bottles, unless otherwise noted.
© Dune Lorenz/TNS/TNS
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon