Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beer Review | Piggly Wiggly's: Pig Tail Ale

Piggly Wiggly's: "Pig Tale Ale
Contract Brewed by: Thomas Creek Brewery

Serving Type: 6 pack of 12oz bottles.
ABV: 5.5%
Cost: $7.99 for a 6 pack.

For those of you living in the coastal regions of South Carolina, then you're probably familiar with the grocery store called "Piggly Wiggly."  They recently joined the ranks of 'Costco' 'Trader Joes' and 'Walgreens' by releasing their own store-branded beer.

  • Costco: "Kirkland Signature Series"
  • Trader Joes: "Name Tag Lager"
  • Walgreens: "Big Flats 1901"

Now Piggly Wiggly has their own, "Pig Swig" which hit shelves on Memorial Day 2011.

It comes in two different styles:

  • Lager: "Pig Pen Pilsner"
  • Ale: "Pig Tail Ale"

Both are covertly being contract-brewed by a local (Upstate South Carolina) brewery named 'Thomas Creek Brewery.'  The premier craft brewer in the upstate.  

Point of fact:

They are only about 15 minutes from my house.

You can buy this beer exclusively at corporately run Piggly Wiggly stores.  But the independently run store may or may not carry it.  The one I went to didn't, and the manager said that it was up to the individual stores.

The Pour:

When it was first poured, there was about two inches of a nice creamy head.  
It's a really deep amber color. 
It looks like there may be some crystal malts. (possibly 40 or 60, or maybe both).  
There may be a small percentage of some dark roasted malts as well.

The Aroma:

It smells similar to an English Brown Ale.
There's a pronounced maltiness with a very light hop character.
It's definitely got an English fruitiness about it.

The Taste:

Just like it smelled, it tastes just like an English Brown Ale.
It's very similar to New Castle, again with the pronounced maltiness and a very light English hop character.
It definitely has that characteristic English Fruitiness in the taste.
They possibly used an English ale yeast, which typically imparts those fruity flavors.

If I were to guess, I'd say this was the same beer as Thomas Creek's "Appalachian Amber Ale" rebranded for Piggly Wiggly.

Is It Worth the Money?:

That's an interesting question. My first thought, when it comes to store-brand beers, is that it's supposed to be economically priced.  This beer has a price of $7.99 for a six pack.  To me, that's not an economically priced beer.  In comparison, Costco's store brand cost $4.75 per six pack, if you break it down. Trader Joe's costs $2.99, and Walgreens beer costs $2.99.  So if you figure that a store brand would cost no more than $5.00...

Is a store brand worth $7.99?  "No".  It doesn't matter how good it is.


Don't let the title, 'Store Brand' sway your opinion before you even try it.  Think of it as a really good craft beer that just happens to be cursed with the title of, "Store Brand."

It's just too bad that most people won't even give it a chance because it says "Pig Swig" which is obviously store branding.  This will be for one of two reasons. 

1. Either because the rednecks that drink cheap, no-flavored, beer, are looking for cheap, no-flavored store brand.  But this costs too much.  And if they were even they were even willing to try it, they'll realize that this is actually a full-flavored beer that's not suited to their piss-water-drinking palettes and don't want to drink it again because of the combination cost and taste.


2. On the other side of the spectrum, the craft beer drinkers won't be willing to try it because they think it's a no-flavored store brand and won't want to fork out the $8.00.  Initially, that was my feeling until I found out that a brewery that is, literally, 15 minutes from my house, and one of my favorite breweries, brewed this beer.

Piggly Wiggly probably priced themselves out of the market.  I applaud them on what they were trying to do, but because of my previous two reason are probably going to be this beer's downfall.

So I guess it comes down to taste and quality. Based on that, is the beer worth $7.99 for a 6 pack?  "Yes".  This is about average for a 6 pack of your typical craft beer. 

So if you love good beer, don't miss out on this one.  Don't let the title, "Store Brand" turn you off.  If you're in the coastal areas of South Carolina, find your closest Piggly Wiggly, pick up a 6 pack of Pig Tail Ale and enjoy a well crafted beer.

Drink what you like.  Enjoy what you drink.

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