Skip to content

I Tried Every Beer in Costco's Brewer's Advent Calendar & These Were My Top 10

Everyone has strong opinions about Costco's yearly collection of imported beers. Here are mine.
FACT CHECKED BY Mura Dominko
The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

If you're looking for tasty ways to count down the days until Christmas, you have all kinds of enticing options these days. From cheeses and chocolates to hot sauce and fine wines, there's an Advent calendar designed to suit virtually every palate.

Yet, few of these items have stirred up such spirited debate as the Brewer's Advent Calendar at Costco. The massive box of 24 imported beers reappears at the warehouse club every year, offering yuletide imbibers a different can of suds for each day of December leading up to the holiday—provided, of course, that you can wait that long to start cracking them open.

Priced at $69.99, the festively themed assortment is both a hot-ticket item at the register and a hot-button issue with Costco's very active online commentariat.

For fans of German beers—which, notably, make up the entire collection—there's a lot to like inside the big boozy box. "We have an 'Oktoberfest' party every year the weekend before Halloween," wrote one such enthusiast on Reddit. "This box is always a fun share with everyone."

RELATED: Costco's Bakery Just Launched 2 Adorable Christmas Desserts

But, if Bavarian brews are not your thing, well, then you might want to opt for cheese or chocolates instead. Detractors have denounced these beers as "kind of meh," "a chore to get thru," "pretty bad," and "a case of third-string German lagers in a confusing box."

Of course, even the critics have their critics. One defender of the calendar recently dismissed all the dissing as coming from "the snobbiest of beer snobs," adding, "I really don't get why they insist on bitching about it every year."

Amid all the banter, I decided to find out for myself whether the beers in this box are any good this year. After hauling the hulking 30-pound package home, I gradually sipped my way through the entire malty medley.

Many of the selections come from castle breweries—or, schlossbrauerei in German—that have been making beer for centuries, though a few modern craft-beer upstarts are included as well. The collection is also dominated by a few specific styles of lager, which only fuels online criticism that the beer-per-day routine can feel quite repetitive. But, even amid all the similarities, there are several beers that stand out for various reasons.

Here are my top 10 favorites from this year's calendar, ranked in descending order from least appealing to the best-tasting brew of the bunch.

Bamberger Rauchbeir

Klosterbrau Bamberg - Rauchbier
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

As a fan of smoky flavors in general, I was excited to try this smoked ale from Klosterbräu Bamberg. And while it wasn't my favorite tipple from the Costco collection, it was infinitely more interesting than many others. If a country ham could be liquefied, it would probably taste something like this toasty, dark-colored brew, which not only quenched my thirst—it also made me a little hungry.

RELATED: 15 Costco Holiday Foods You'll Regret Not Buying

Schwarze Tinte Collab Stout

Schwarze Tinte Collab Stout
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

This inky drink from Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu sticks out as the lone stout of the entire group. Unlike other stouts, this one is not too heavy, though it still packs a punch: 6.2% ABV. The texture is silky and the flavor is roasty and slightly sweet. It's recommended to pair with desserts, but frankly, this is a fine meal-capper all on its own.

Bären Weisse

Bären Weisse
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

Presumably, the German Riviera is nothing like the Jersey Shore. Yet, somehow, brewers in Deutschland have captured Atlantic City's most distinctive flavor in this pale hefeweizen, which smells and tastes just like banana-flavored saltwater taffy. That might sound off-putting to some, but I, for one, enjoyed the unique fruitiness of this foamy, clean-finishing brew.

RELATED: 10 Best Costco Cheeses You Can Buy Right Now

Erlkönig Hell

Erlkönig Hell
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

While the label on this particular seems to promise eternal damnation, the German word "hell" actually refers to the pale-colored helles-style lager within. If you're unfamiliar with this particular style, you'll become acquainted very quickly if you pick up the hefty Costco beer calendar. There's a helluva lot of these in the box. A total of seven cans—more than any other style. This golden brew from Ludwig Erl showcases the best of what helles can be: crisp, refreshing, slightly sweet, and a dead-even 5% ABV: not too strong, not too weak. Perfectly potable.

Kartäuser Doppelbock Dunkel

Doppelbock
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

This dark doppelbock from Memminger is the stiffest drink in the box, clocking in at a walloping 7.5% ABV, but that strength doesn't diminish the beer's other qualities. Some friends and I split this one, savoring its bready aroma and hints of caramel and spice. We also sampled another one of the helles in the same sitting—and all of us preferred the doppelbock.

RELATED: 26 Best Items At Costco Right Now, According to a Lifelong Fan

Kurpfalzbräu Kellerbier

Kurpfalzbräu Kellerbier by Welde Braumanufaktur
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

Of all two dozen varieties in Costco's current lineup, this kellerbier from Welde is the only one to fall below the 5% alcohol threshold, making it the lone "sessionable" beer of the entire group. In other words: it's tame enough for you to drink longer without necessarily devolving into a sloppy fool. The flavor is just as mild as the potency, with very subtle hints of hops and spice. It's endlessly quaffable, making it highly valuable in social settings.

Husaren-Trunk Festbier

Husaren-Trunk Festbier
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

As you can probably tell by the design of this can, featuring the uniformed fellow with his oversized mug, this is a traditional Octoberfest sipper—and it's a pretty good one, too. The Bavarian-style märzen from the Rheder Castle Brewery is light and refreshing with a smooth body and clean finish. At 5.3% ABV, it's probably a bit too boozy for a seriously prolonged session at the biergarten, but it's so drinkable that you might not care, either way.

RELATED: 15 Best Costco Foods For Your Air Fryer

Turbo Prop Imperial Pilsner

Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

Propeller is the modern craft-beer offshoot of the longstanding Bosch brewery, cranking out an imperial pils that actually lives up to its turbo-charged name. This cloudy, honey-colored brew goes heavy on hops (Hercules, Saphir, and Citra, to be precise) and heavy on alcohol (a potent 6.5% ABV) yet somehow tastes quite balanced: neither too bitter, nor too boozy, either. If you're a fan of American IPAs, this is about the closest you're going to get in this year's Costco box.

Fürst Carl Kellerbier

Fürst Carl Kellerbier
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

You know the saying about looks being deceiving? This can is a prime example. While the design seems downright antediluvian, the unfiltered kellerbier inside is remarkably bright and refreshing. A little tart, a little creamy, the amber-tinted brew is a soft, smooth, well-balanced, easy-drinking tipple that I would wholeheartedly get again.

RELATED: 10 Best Costco Wines, According to Sommeliers

Helle Aufregung

Landgang
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

Of all the helles-style lagers in this year's Costco lineup—and there are many—this one from Landgang is unique. Yes, the can art looks cool and modish, especially compared to the solemn templates of the rest, but the beer itself is distinctive, too. Darker colored and fuller bodied than the others, it's also a lot less bitter and a little more spicy—and it's remarkably smooth.

When tasting all these various beers, I made a concerted effort to keep my sample sizes relatively small. Otherwise, fully finishing each 16.9-ounce can would take forever—and invariably cloud my judgment along the way. But with this ambrosial caramel-colored brew, I couldn't help but drink every last drop. That's why it's ranked up top.

In English, Helle Aufregung roughly translates to "bright excitement," and that's just what you get: a fresh and tasty way to toast this festive season. Helles yeah!

Chris Shott
Chris Shott is the Deputy Editor covering restaurants and groceries for Eat This, Not That! Read more about Chris