Walgreen Co. has quietly rolled out a private label brew. The product, Big Flats 1901, will carry a suggested retail price of $2.99 for a six-pack of cans and $11.49 for a 24-pack, the company said.
It will be the private label beer for Deerfield-based Walgreens in states where it's allowed. Prices may vary by region. The chain began selling the beer in mid-December and it's now available in more than 4,000 locations, a company spokesman said.
What isn't in the article is the fact that the beer was "created" by an outfit called World Brews, Winery Exchange Inc., which makes up "house brands" for many store chains. They're responsible for the "R.J. King Wingwalker," "San Lucas" and "Buck Range Light" beers at Jewel, as well as off-brands of wine and vodka.
I laid into a 6-pack of Big Flats as soon as I saw it. For $3 per six, what could I lose. Here are my tasting notes:
The can says "Brewed by Brewmaster's Choice, Rochester, NY," so Genessee is the contract brewer involved. Can also says "Genuine Beer," "Brewed from only the choicest hops," and "It's the water that makes it."
Sadly, this can has a skunk odor when opened, which I thought would not happen in a can. Poured in a beer's best friend, the Sam Adams glass, it shows very pale, nearly clear in the narrow section, with a fizzy macrobrew head. After settling, the smell still can't clear of a slight skunk, but some of the adjunct is coming in beneath it. Taste is of some banana esters, a little acetone and corn syrup. Some hop bitterness is discerned, and some graininess, or maybe that's flaked maize instead of corn syrup. I feel a headache coming on after finishing it. Bubbly and a little sticky at the finish. In other words, exactly what I'd expected. Though I wish I could be surprised once in a while.
Call this one star out of five. If this is the best you can afford, maybe you should consider your position.