Young and Hungry

Walgreens Sells Own Line of Beer

Illinois-based drugstore chain Walgreens has rolled out its own line of beer called Big Flats 1901 Premium Lager. The 4.5 percent alcohol-by-volume canned American light lager, which has been compared to PBR, is produced by California-based Winery Exchange, a company that creates private-label beer, wine and spirits for corporations like 7-Eleven and CostCo.

The name Big Flats is a tribute to the 19th-century flat boats that traveled through upstate New York, where the beer is contract brewed. Rochester-based North American Breweries, owners of Magic Hat, Pyramid, and LaBatt, produces Big Flats at their Genesee Brewing Company facility.

With phrases like "only the choicest hops" and "it's the water that makes it" on the label, you may never guess that Big Flats is brewed with adjuncts like corn grits (or would you?). But the big news about Big Flats is how cheap it is. Despite a dismal C average rating on BeerAdvocate.com, Big Flats may be the best tasting beer you can find for the price. At a suggested retail of $2.99 for a six-pack and $11.49 for a 24-pack, that's just under fifty cents per can.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Big Flats is being sold in more than 4,600 of Walgreens' 7,655 U.S. locations. Out of the chain's locations in the District, Cleveland Park sells beer, but not Foggy Bottom (too bad for nearby George Washington and Georgetown students). According to a manager at the Cleveland Park store, Walgreens has plans to get Big Flats 1901 into D.C. soon. The company is currently finding a distributor and learning about the necessary process through the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.

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  • Brahmin

    Correct me if I am wrong but didn't drug stores gain popularity in this country because they original sold liquor?

    Drug store were the only ones exempt from prohibition--for liquor used in medicinal purposes--and hence gained a whole new level of popularity. http://www.1920-30.com/prohibition/

    I think they re simply returning to their roots.

  • http://www.DCist.com john fleury

    We talked about it in our little write up about it yesterday. While a "C" may be abysmal, classics in the style of "American adjunct lagers" barely get a C and the highest rated is a B. So scaled for the syle, that isn't that bad. Having said that, it may be relagted to using for cooking in my kitchen.

  • Tammy Tuck

    Brahmin - thanks for a reminder about the history.

    John - good to see the DCist dialogue. I have read mixed reviews so far. The most frequent is "tasted better than I thought it would." Curious to try it myself and decide if C for the style is good enough for me.

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