Costco, one of the top 3 warehouse club stores in the U.S. (along with Sam's Club and BJ's), started offering its own private label (Kirkland Signature) line of Handcrafted Beer with 4 varieties:
- Hefeweizen, unfiltered wheat beer, bottom-fermented
- Pale Ale, top-fermented
- Amber Ale, a darker version of pale ale, top-fermented
- German-style Lager ("lager" is "storage" in German), bottom-fermented
There is already a brief YouTube "review" of the Costco's line of Handcrafted Beer:
Video: Costco's very own craft beer with the Kirkland name on it, 4-flavor variety 24 pack for $18.50 for a case.
Ale is a type of beer brewed from malted barley using a top-fermenting brewers' yeast. This yeast ferments the beer quickly, giving it a sweet and fruity taste. Most ales contain hops, which impart a bitter flavour that helps to balance the sweetness of the malt. The other major style of beer — lager — is bottom-fermented.
Ales are common in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, and among craft beer consumers in the United States.
Pale ales are brewed using a pale barley malt, the classic example being the bitter of English pubs. Strengths vary from 3% abv to over 5%. Amber ale is a North American term for a slightly darker style of this type, that probably takes its name from the ambrée of France.
Lager (German: storage) is a type of beer that is stored for at least 3 weeks before being served. It is a general term that includes several variations or styles, such as Pilsener, Export and Märzen.
The key difference between an ale and a lager is in fermentation; a lager is fermented at a much lower temperature, and with a different yeast, than an ale. If continuous fermentation is not employed, the fermentation period for a lager will take at least twice as long as for an ale; this time is furthermore compounded by weeks or months of lagering.
Wheat beer is a beer that is brewed with a large proportion of wheat. Wheat beers often also contain a significant proportion of malted barley. Wheat beers are usually top-fermented (in Germany they have to be by law). The main varieties are weissbier, witbier and the sour varieties, such as lambic.
Weissbier refers to several different types of wheat beer:
- "hefeweizen" refers to wheat beer in its traditional, unfiltered form
- kristallweizen (crystal wheat), or kristall weiss (crystal white beer) refers to a wheat beer that is filtered to remove the yeast from suspension
Weissbier is available in a number of other stronger forms including dunkelweizen (dark wheat) and weizenstarkbier (strong wheat beer), commonly referred to as weizenbock. The dark wheat varieties typically have a much higher alcohol content than their lighter cousins.
Alternate terms for hefeweizen include hefeweissbier, weissbier, hefeweisse, dunkelweizen, weizenbock, and weizenstarkbier.
The hefeweizen style is particularly noted for its low hop bitterness (about 15 IBUs) and relatively high carbonation (approaching four volumes), considered important to balance the beer's relatively malty sweetness.
Wheat beer. Wikipedia.
Kirkland's Signature Handcrafted Beer. Strap's Blog.