There’s trouble lurking in Walmart’s fridges, and it’s a sign of what could happen if big beer takes over the craft scene.
Walmart has been selling four types of Trouble Brewing, its “craft beer,” since 2016, and it’s now reached 3,000 stores in 45 states, the Washington Post reports. But consumers may not know they’re buying such a mass product, because Walmart doesn’t make it obvious that it makes the beer. Instead, it wants consumers to believe Trouble Brewing is true craft.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying big beer. Even Budweiser can be beautiful. But it’s important to call things what they are. Take Costco and their house brand of beer, Kirkland Signature Light, for example. If the Costco-size 48-pack doesn’t give it away, the Kirkland branding on the top makes sure consumers know full well what they’re buying.
Walmart is “intentional about designing a package that conveyed a look and feel you’d expect of craft beer,” Teresa Budd, senior buyer for Walmart’s adult beverage team, told the Washington Post. Walmart analyzed the data and saw that IPAs, pale ales, amber ales, and Belgian ales were the most popular craft beer types. Under the Trouble Brewing name, they made Cat’s Away IPA, After Party Pale Ale, Red Flag Amber, and ‘Round Midnight Belgian White.
So where exactly is Walmart’s beer made? It’s made by a company called WX Brands, which makes generic alcohol for retailers, in the Genesee brewery in Rochester, N.Y. Genesee Brewing, a company founded in 1878 and now run by the Costa Rican company Florida Ice and Farm Company, is most known for their flagship Genesee Beer and Genny Light.
In the end, it all comes down to cost and taste. On the cost front, Walmart’s beer is predictably cheaper. As for taste, well, when the Washington Post put it up to the test and people called the beers “flabby,” “good for flip cup,” and “bland nothingness.”
Every beer has a time and a place, just don’t be fooled into thinking Walmart’s “craft beer” belongs in the fridge next to your local microbrews.