When you're looking for a place to grab a cold one at the end of a long day, a grocery store is often your best bet. Whether it's a supermarket, discount store, or one-stop shop, you can count on it being a step up from a gas station. Most are easier and more convenient to access than a brewery. Plus, you can even pick up other food items or necessities on your list while you're there. A win, win, win in our book.
But, you have to be careful which grocery chain you pick, because when it comes down to beer selection, not all are created equal. Sure, you'll be able to locate a Coors Light, Modelo, or Corona at nearly any place with a liquor license. However, not all stores are equipped to satisfy the country's cravings for craft or small-batch brews. Reasonable prices, quality, and knowledgeable staff are also not a given.
To uncover which grocery stores offer all this and more, we took a look at what's brewing inside well-known national and regional chains across the country. Of course, due to varying state laws, each individual store's selection will look a little bit different. But, we were able to uncover the chains that generally do beer the best. Here are the results, ranked from our least to most favorites. Bottoms up.
Read more: 13 Liquors Your Home Bar Should Have
Compared to other major grocers, Aldi stores are starkly unorthodox. For starters, customers have to fork over a quarter just to access a cart (though you get the quarter back at the end). The store is compact and straightforward with no added frills. And, you'll find that the focus is on offering discounts rather than variety. Aldi's stores only carry 1,400 product SKUs at any given time which means most food and drink categories offer the bare bones — and the beer section isn't exempt.
Brews certainly come at a good price at the bargain grocery store with a six-pack typically costing around $10 or less depending on where you live. But, options are slim. And, if you're not a fan of either German or craft beer, well then you're mostly out of luck. These niche and European-style brews, including standouts like the Wernesgrüner Pilsner and the Brecken Bock, make up a large majority of Aldi's inventory.
Luckily, this isn't the case at every single Aldi location. But, to hunt down the good ones, you'll need a plane ticket. The chain's European stores offer a much wider assortment of alcohol, including beers. We think it's high time American locations take note.
16. Winn Dixie
The Southern supermarket chain Winn Dixie is known best for being an economical choice in grocery shopping. Deals occur weekly, digital coupons are always available, and the chain's rewards program is a dream for budget consumers as it allows you to earn points to put towards free groceries in the future. But, if you're thinking that case of beer you picked up will boost your point total, think again. All alcohol is exempt from the program entirely.
In addition to this caveat, the variety of beer in the chain's 546 stores is on the weaker side. The collection doesn't often deviate from the big names in the business and craft beer is still somewhat of a foreign concept. But, if you happen to be in the Jacksonville, Florida area, there's a solution. Here exists WD's, the company's first and only standalone liquor store concept which stocks over 1,700 bottles of wine and 500 different brews. Here's to hoping more of these extensive bottle shops continue to pop up around Florida and beyond.
15. Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's is well-known for its wine selection. And, more specifically, for its legendary "Two-Buck Chuck" — the nickname given to the chain's wildly cheap Charles Shaw brand vino. But, the chain's beer section doesn't get quite as much love, for the simple reason that there aren't as many options available to love.
As is the case with all Trader Joe's product categories, you won't find any mainstream name brands on the store's beer shelf. Sorry Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. Instead, it's made up of cans and bottles from regional microbreweries mixed in with Trader Joe's own branded brews. This includes the Trader José, Boatswain, and Josephsbrau lines. The latter offers a Bavarian Style Hefeweizen which ranks as one of the best at the store.
Most beers at Trader Joe's come in standard counts of six or four. But, guests are also invited to build a six-pack with single cans or bottles — an adventurous and economical option as each one typically only costs about $1.00 up to $2.50. The only problem is you may not be able to enjoy your boozy bundle right away since all the alcohol at Trader Joe's is stored warm.
For most consumers, Target is a happy place where inventory is ever-changing and where a shopping trip feels more like an elevated outing than a chore. But, for beer drinkers, the chain isn't as much of a retail oasis. Most locations do sell the hoppy beverage, with a few exceptions of course. But, the selection pales in comparison to the store's volume of wines and other non-alcoholic beverages.
The good news, though, is that Target has been working to up its game within the last several years. And, what used to be a lonely lineup of mostly just standard domestic beers in 12 or 24-packs, has grown to include a wider range of both import and craft ales, as well. The company even hired a regional beer buyer in 2016 to conduct research and bring more localized options to each store (via Money). Now, you can find Hazy IPAs (or India Pale Ales), wheat ales, porters, and even non-alcoholic beers from your neighborhood breweries all living together on the shelf.
If you're on the hunt for affordable groceries, one of Walmart's massive supercenters is likely one of the first places you'd think to look (the corporation's slogan is "Save Money. Live Better," after all.) This would be a smart move considering prices at the retailer — even for non-essential items like beer — are pretty unbeatable.
However, the overall range of booze available is nothing to write home about. Sure, you'll be able to find every domestic light lager under the sun, all aligned in the store's refrigerated alcohol aisle. However, Walmart has not historically been praised for its inclusion of more international or small-batch flavors. Like Target, the company has been working to address these alcohol woes as of late. In 2017, Walmart started creating and selling its own craft beer under the name Trouble Brewing. In the years following, it also ushered in a new wave of hard seltzers, various IPAs, and seasonal brews, in addition to higher-end wines and liquors. But, the corporation still has a ways to go.
12. Sam's Club
Sam's Club is owned by Walmart and shares a similar philosophy as its sister store when it comes to its beer selection. Less is more seems to be the approach in terms of variety. Only 26 items appear on its website under the general category of beer. All the usual suspects are at play, but there are a few more diverse options available, like the Kona Big Wave Golden Ales, Red Stripe Lager Beer, and Land Shark Lagers. While the chain's private label brand Member's Mark produces wine and even spiked seltzers, brews under the name do not exist quite yet.
In terms of pack size, however, more is more at the wholesale club. You can find many offerings in sizable 24 or 30 racks. But, 12 and 18-packs are also not uncommon, and all are priced competitively.
Sam's Club also receives bonus points for ease of purchase. Did you know you don't need a membership to purchase alcohol from the warehouse? And, checking out is a breeze now that alcohol is included in the store's Scan & Go program.
In the land where you already stock up on all other groceries and necessities, why not buy beer in bulk as well? As a big box retailer — just like Sam's Club — Costco is one of the best places to pick up all the alcohol and goodies you need for an upcoming party or get-together. It's even a hot spot for wedding booze, for those more budget-conscious, DIY couples.
A few of the best deals you can find at the warehouse include the New Belgium Variety Pack, Sweetwater Brewing Company Tackle Box, Yuengling Lagers, Warsteiner Premium Lagers, and Sapporo Premium Beers, all in convenient 24-packs. Other names in craft beer are more elusive. But, you can always fall back on Costco's famous Kirkland Signature beer which includes Pilsners, IPAs, APAs (or American Pale Ales), porters, and stouts. You won't, however, find a light beer under the Kirkland brand anymore, as it was axed from the lineup in 2018 after receiving less-than-positive customer feedback.
Lidl (pronounced "lee-del"), shares many similarities to Aldi as a German-based discount grocery store. But, with a couple of key differences which all come to light in the chain's beer department. Most importantly, Lidl's stores are larger, allowing for more inventory, more variety, and also more brand name choices. In terms of brews, this means that big-league brands like Budweiser, Miller Light, Coors Light, and White Claw get a seat at the table. Just this alone, helps Lidl to pull ahead in terms of volume, and nearly 50 beer product SKUs can be counted on its website.
But, what really sets the store apart is its award-winning private-label beers. In 2021, Lidl took home 11 medals in the New York International Beer Competition (via Lidl Media Center). Currently, there are a total of 12 award-winners designated on its site. These include prestigious pints like the Van Danken European Lager, Perlenbacher Premium Pilsner and Hefeweizen, Atomic Tart Raspberry Sour Ale, and Bronzen Schild Belgian Tripel Ale, most of which can be purchased for $10 or less per pack.
If you're a Midwesterner, you're likely familiar with the Meijer name. The family-owned regional retailer has locations throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Wisconsin. And, in each of these states, it's one of the best places to grab a cold one.
Meijer's alcohol department is extensive with close to 125 different brands represented. Categories include IPAs, lagers, wheat ales, pale ales, stouts, porters, amber ales, sour ales, and blonde ales. Plus, you can buy your brewskis in any quantity you desire as six-packs, 12-packs, 15-packs, 18-packs, 24-packs, and 30-packs are all up for grabs. You can also opt to choose your own adventure by taking advantage of the store's build-your-own 6-pack option. Sales and deals in the Meijer beer aisle are common. But, sadly alcohol purchases won't count towards your mPerks —the chain's loyalty program which lets shoppers earn rewards on every dollar spent and receive exclusive offers and rewards.
8. Whole Foods Market
For a store specializing in organic and healthy foods, Whole Foods Market boasts a surprisingly adequate selection of pints. And, the prices are not completely astronomical for a place that has earned the nickname "whole paycheck." You're likely to pay nearly the same amount at Whole Foods Market for your favorite beer as you would at a more budget-focused grocery chain like Walmart, depending on where you live.
Similar to price, assortment can also be vastly different between locations. But, you are always likely to see familiar faces like Corona, Stella Artois, Heineken, Lagunitas, Pacifico, and more. And, the roster of local and more specialized beers is often stacked as well. One drawback to the collection is that it lacks larger quantities, with 12-packs typically the largest sizes available.
If you're looking for more insights into Whole Foods Market's inventory from a Certified Beer Cicerone or you're looking to try before you buy, you can also stop over at one of the market's in-store bars or taprooms which exist all around the country. These small pub-like set-ups carry a select few beers on taps as well as wines, and some even sell growlers which customers can get refilled during their next visit.
At most of Safeway's 900-plus nationwide supermarkets, wine is a major focus. At each, you'll find a curated collection of grape-derived alcohol, all hand-selected by the company's own Master of Wine Curtis Mann, and his expert team. Both in-store and online, customers can shop by varietal or even by region from Napa Valley to Burgundy, France. Wine by mail is also available through the store's Vine & Cellar program.
But, what about beer? While the chain's compilation of brews isn't quite as impressive as its wine, it comes pretty close. Most often, the amount of craft beers at Safeway outweighs the presence of behemoth brands like Bud Light and Coors. And, out of over 400 total beer choices, you're bound to find something you fancy no matter what style, taste, hoppiness level, or quantity you're looking for. If price is a big factor for you, you can also breathe easy knowing Safeway matches closely with other retailers, and there's always a deal to be found.
Grocery shopping doesn't seem like such a burden with a refreshing pint in your hand. This is a luxury some Florida Publix shoppers can enjoy thanks to Pours, the chain's in-store bar and cafe combo which serves on-the-go snacks and coffee in addition to beer and wine. This feature is unfortunately confined to the Sunshine State. But, what you're sure to find at all southeast Publix locations is a bountifully stocked beer aisle.
Customers can grab trusty go-tos like Yuenglings, Heinekens, Shock Tops, or Blue Moons. But, the store has also adopted the culture of craft beer and does a great job introducing shoppers to the trend. Educational signs are posted among the myriad of choices, and each product's shelf tag includes labels designating the beer's approximate hop bitterness and malt sweetness. This way shoppers have a little more insight into the endless choices and can pick one that perfectly aligns with their personal preferences.
For many shoppers in the northeast, Wegmans is more than a grocery store; it's a way of life. But, the chain comes by its cult following honestly. Prices are consistently low, stores are clean and well-designed, and product variety is impressive across the board. For instance, in the realm of beers, choices exist by the hundreds covering categories like Belgian style and sours to Hefeweizens and organic ales. On the Wegmans website, you can also sort brews by whether or not they are gluten-free — a helpful feature that we haven't seen across many other grocers.
Another factor that sets Wegmans apart from competitors is its friendly employees. They are never far from reach when you need a helping hand. This comes in handy, especially in the somewhat difficult-to-navigate wine and beer departments. Here, knowledgeable workers can walk you through the swarm of options and answer any lingering questions you might have.
If you need anything food or drink-related in Texas, then a trip to H-E-B is likely in store. With over 400 locations throughout the state and in Mexico, the chain is a major point of pride for Texans and the fact that no two of these stores are alike is part of its unique charm. For example, at H-E-B plus! locations you will find electronics, housewares, apparel, and more alongside the groceries (think like a Walmart Supercenter), while other locations keep it much more simple.
But, no matter which store you choose to visit, none will leave you high and dry in terms of beer selection. Cheladas, pale ales, porters, wheats, lagers, Belgian, and even Scottish ales are all available. Plus, the best part is that plenty of Lone Star States representatives also earn a spot on the shelf. Choose from Shiner Bock, Lone Star Beer, or Independence Native Texan Pilsners for a bold Texas-like tasting experience.
Albertsons dominates the western region of the United States, and with its other banner brands factored in, it stands as the second largest supermarket operator in the country — second only to Kroger. When the conglomerate's first store opened in Boise, Idaho, it turned heads as one of the largest grocery stores of the time and one of the very first one-stop shops. Today, its locations take on this same layout, and all that extra space means there's room for even more product variety, especially in the beer department.
Just like its subsidiary Safeway, Albertsons offers an eclectic range of hoppy beverages but expands its selection further. Well over 300 brand names are carried by the retailer. Most of the choices are small batch and are brewed right there in the state where they are sold. Shoppers can taste the mountains with beers from Grand Teton Brewing. Get back to Albertsons' roots with a couple of Boise Brewing IPAs. Or, pucker up with tart ciders from the Seattle Cider Company. No brew is left off the table (or off the shelf, we should say) when you shop at Albertsons.
The Kroger Company is one of the largest supermarket chains and general retailers in the United States, operating 2,750 stores under its umbrella of brands including Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, and more. Kroger stores make up the largest portion of this total, close to 50%, and is also where you will find one of the best grocery store beer departments in the country.
Not only does Kroger offer well over 300 different SKUs of domestic, import, and craft beers (this number may be slightly lower depending on which state you live in), but it's also chock full of other unique surprises in the beer aisle. Customers will find plenty of non-alcoholic beers and endless single-can options to purchase solo or to mix and match for a fun build-your-own six-pack experience. Some locations are even blessed with bars and beer on tap which often help the community by serving beer from nearby craft breweries, making it an elevated experience.
1. Giant Eagle Market District
Giant Eagle is a regional grocery chain with over 400 locations spread across Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Compared to national supermarkets, its footprint may be small, but it has a big influence within these service areas. Specifically, larger Giant Eagle Market District locations are treasured for their top-notch prepared foods and more diverse product offerings. This is also where you will find a mother lode of beer options.
In some locations, an entire wing of the store is dedicated to alcoholic beverages. And, once in the beer area, guests can journey from the lagers and stouts to pilsners and porters to ales and IPAs. Plenty of choices are kept cold and walk-in fridges even hold domestics and imports in larger quantities.
There is a taste for everyone. And, speaking of tasting, several Giant Eagle supermarkets even include a pub for guests to post up and enjoy brews on tap. Events like Flights and Bites are also on the chain's calendar. Or, if you need to tackle your shopping list, popping the tab on your purchased cans to sip while you stroll is also permitted. With all of these fun boozy features added on top of its already comprehensive retail options, Giant Eagle Market District is hands down the best grocery store in the country for beer.
You'll notice this isn't an exhaustive list of grocery store chains in America. But, we made sure to include many of the largest players in this space with a presence nationwide, as well as those with a particularly strong regional influence. In terms of rankings, there were a couple of important factors we kept in mind to determine if a store was worthy of a beer run or not.
First, the sheer quantity and number of product SKUs was a telling sign of success. But, from there, average price, quality, and diversity of inventory also came into play. We wanted to see chains who weren't afraid of stepping into this new age of craft and small-batch beers, but who could also hold their own in the world of domestics and imports. Lastly, stores automatically had a leg up if they elevated the boozy shopping experience through fun features like in-store beer taps or tasting options to become more of a beer destination than a drab come-and-go market.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.