Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Costco Beer Advent Calendar 2021 Review Beers 9-16

This is the second of three installments of the Costco Advent Beer Calendar review. If you haven't already, I recommend you check out the first part.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to present this information. I’m sure you’ll read this and think to yourself “how is it possible he spent more than 30 seconds on this?” I’ve recently found out that how you format your writing has a big impact on how it’s read; who knew? Certainly not my AP language teacher that’s for damn sure. So when I started thinking about the information I had, I thought what better way to present it than a series of clues culminating in a big reveal?

My initial thought was to somehow create a scene for scene recreation of the 7th season of CSI. For those who aren't fervent CSI fans, this is the Miniature Killer season. I don’t know if it was all the tilt shift shots or Gil Grissom's blossoming romance, but that season has stuck with me. After some brief Googling, I realized this season did not resonate with anyone but me. Then I thought I could do something like Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson in a Few Good Men; truly a classic lawyer movie. But it has come to my attention that I am old. Recently, two coworkers stared at me blankly when I mentioned Speed. Not only did they not know the concept of Keanu Reeves's classic Speed, but they didn't know it existed. I couldn't handle the truth. Perhaps present it like a modern lawyer series such as She-Hulk? This also had to be vetoed. We stopped watching the Marvel movies right before Endgame and I am sure She-Hulk's filled with spoilers. Okay, rapid fire for other considerations that were ditched:

So like I said, I put a lot of thought into this but ultimately, it’s not themed. It’s just the facts. When digging into the information about this calendar, I stumbled upon some curiosities.

Curiosity #1: Each and every single can from this box says it was brewed and canned by Brewery Egerer. Some cans have other brands listed but the fine print always points to the same place. I started digging deeper and noticed something even more curious: my beers didn’t match other people’s on the Costco subreddit. It turns out by living in Texas, I was entitled to a special Texas edition. Sadly, unlike the F250, this didn’t come with a sick emblem letting everyone know I love Texas.

Seven of the beers are exactly the same between Texas and other 49 states version as they were brewed by Egerer and labeled as such. There are another 11 that do not appear in the 49 state version at all, Texas Exclusives (TM?). The most interesting part, the remaining six are clearly a case of “you can copy my homework but change it a little.” The art for the cans tends to be similar subject but with a different style. For example, the Grump/Grantler Hell is the same exact art, one is just zoomed in and cropped. Take a look for yourself, below is an image from the Kalea website, the other from my Texas box.

Curiosity #2: You can clearly see this was a rush job in Photoshop. The blue rectangle, for the Memminger Gold can, is clearly misaligned (row 3, column 2).

Curiosity #3: All of these slightly adjusted art cans are sticker labels instead of printed directly. One even tore away for a beer can not in the package - I can only assume this is due to aluminum shortages. The one below was a sticker that had the exact same information?

As discussed in this article, Texas has strict alcohol laws. I speculate all of these beers were brewed by Egerer and only Texas required them to labeled as such. These calendars literally go all over the world: they have been seen in Japan amongst others! It’s almost impossible to believe that these smaller breweries produced enough to supply the world’s Costcos.

In the name of advent calendar jounralism, I did reach out to the breweries. Most of them didn’t bother to reply at all. The answers I did get were vague and not terribly clear, I assume the language barrier played a large role. And ultimately, there is nothing wrong with a single brewer providing all the beers and having them not match the rest of the calendars. I am not going to lie though, at first, I thought this would be a big gotcha journalism moment but it looks like everything is following the letter of the law. Who would have thought a giant international corporation like Costco would only deal with a completely reputable brewery and calendar creator? Second set of reviews are below.

Day 9: Jubilaumsbier 333

Best by date: 2023/05

This misses the mark for a marzen. You get some of that great caramel malt character upfront with a touch of sweetness but then you get a lingering lemon zest hop bitterness; very similar to over-steeped tea. The lagering is clean but the lasting bitterness is just very off for style. Still very drinkable but the bitterness prevents this from being something special. Rating: 3/5

Day 10: Zwonitzer Steinbier

Best by date: 2023/05

Full disclosure, this was my first steinbeir ever and I’m a big-time fan. Wikiepdia does a better job than I can with the history of the style for those as clueless as me. The beer hits the mark with a wisp of smoke that plays harmony to the beautiful melody of maillard and caramel notes; the sweetness really ramps it up. The beer is cleanly lagered with minimal hop character to speak of but provides enough bitterness to prevent it from being overly sweet. This is something I would recommend trying for everyone. Rating: 5/5

Day 11: Memminger Gold Marzen

Best by date: 2023/05

This is probably the single most boring beer I've ever had. Called a marzen but the malt character is just barely there toast with some sweetness. Hops are old world, reminiscent of every German beer we’ve had so far, slightly herby. Lagered well. Honestly, if you told me this was a helles and blindfolded me I may be fooled, it’s just so nothing. I called another beer in the last post the Applebees of beers, I think this takes the crown.Rating: 3/5

Day 12: 1516 Schloss Weisse

Best by date: 2023/05

This is a much better hefeweizen. You have a great balance of banana and clove making it an interesting hefe. Not much in terms of bitterness. What’s missing is the wheatiness and body. It’s fairly thin and under carbonated. As a whole though, I wouldn’t be mad if I was in the mood for the hefe. Rating: 4/5

Day 13: Nordsee Pils

Best by date: 2023/05

With all of these lagers about time a pilsner showed up! You get a husky graininess with no sweetness before mouth drying lemon hoppiness. The bitterness is there in the right way, reminds me of rosemary stems. Unfortunately the beer is not as carbonated as it should be. If the carbonation on this was high and tight, this is an easy 5. Rating: 4/5

Day 14: Urtyp Helle Edel Bayer

Best by date: 2023/05

And here is another well-made helles. Mildly sweet cracker malt character before a herby bitterness. It’s lagered well and it is very refreshing. Just doesn’t hit that perfect balance of malt and hops. Solid offering but just doesn’t stand out. I want to write more and while this beer is refreshing, it is ultimately simple and boring; a great helles can still be exciting. Rating: 4/5

Day 15: Perlenzauber IPA

Best by date: 2023/05

I was so excited to get a non-lager again, unfortunately this is no up to snuff. It has a sticky sweet malt character upfront before a very mild hop character. It’s so weird because the pale had too much and this has so little. It tastes like this is just old and the only thing holding up is the malt character. Even with all that, it somehow has so little taste it becomes a bit chuggable. Rating: 2/5

Day 16: Tannen Hell

Best by date: 2023/05

And once again, another well-made helles. The malt character is extremely subdued and really doesn’t have a distinct flavor. It’s got the same old world herby hop notes before a mildly bitter finish. This beer is well lagered but is borderline devoid flavor. You could easily drink 12 of these and not realize it. Reminds me of well-made American lager; not bad just not a helles. Rating: 4/5

Two-thirds through and so far, most of the beers have been surprisingly good. Maybe a bit more variety would be nice though. Part 3, the finale can be found here.


  1. Interesting to see the differences between the Texas calendars and the calendars in other parts of the country. As you note, the Texas beer laws are at the heart of why the calendars are different.

    I had an email exchange with one of the people who work for the Beer Tasting app. I summarized our exchange in the post I wrote on my homebrewing blog, which I will attempt to link to at the bottom. If the link doesn't take, search for 'Costco Advent Beer Calendar - Questions and Answers'.

    Regarding Egerer being labeled as the brewer of so many of the beers, I was told it is not true. Few, if any, of the breweries whose beers are featured in the calendar have the equipment to package their beers in cans. Egerer is apparently more of a beverage packaging business than a brewery, so they can the beer for these (usually) small breweries. When I asked if they contract brewed and packaged the beer, I was told that was not the case - the beer is shipped to the facility for canning.

    Perhaps Texas law has a quirk that requires the packager of the beer to be named as the brewer as well. This and other quirks in the law are probably why there are renamed beers (Grumpy Hell versus Grantler Hell) and totally different beers than in the calendars sold in other states. I imagine there could be several reasons why the beers that were in the other calendars had to be swapped out with the ones you received in Texas because the breweries couldn't comply with Texas requirements and get approval.

    I would like to find out more, but I haven't gotten much information from the production side of the calendar - other than admitting the different beer laws in each state can be a bit of a headache.

    Anyway: here's the link to my post if you are interested.


    1. Thank you for the very informative comment! I found this whole thing extremely peculiar, and I am glad you commented with the information you found. Your blog post provided invaluable insight on the calendar making process.

      I also reached out to many of the breweries but with the few replies I received, I had conflicting information. What you found makes sense and agrees with one of the replies I received. One brewer was surprised Egerer had changed the text on the can.

      Since Texas law is so quirky, I did reach out to the TABC directly, but they told me they could not help me unless I was a brewery or importer. I reached out to a Texas based importer. He provided some useful information however without knowing the details of Egerer, it is very hard to comment on the situation.