And the Newest Entrant on the Beer Scene Is…Walgreens?

New entries into the world of beer are not particularly rare. With the popularity of craft brews on the rise all over the place and the burgeoning number of nano breweries out there, it seems like there are half a dozen new names on the field every few days. However, did anyone expect to see Walgreens take the field here? Well, that's exactly what is happening as Walgreens takes the field on the beer scene.

It took quite a few people by surprise, as Walgreens didn't exactly announce the development with fanfare, but the company began selling their own private label beer in retail outlets all over the place (where it's allowed by law, of course). The beer is called Big Flats 1901 and should be available in more than 4,000 different outlets right now. Yes, you read that correctly – right now. There's no rolling out, no waiting. Walgreens' beer is available as of this writing.

In fact, it's been out for a few weeks now, if you didn't notice. During those weeks, the company's customers seem to have taken a shine to the brew and the company reports that their reception was very positive. One of the reasons here is that apparently Big Flats is decent beer. Another point in its favor is the price, of course. The general price for a 6-pack of Big Flats (in cans) is supposed to be about $2.99 (where applicable; prices will vary by region) and a 24-pack of cans should retail for about $11.49. With pricing like that, Walgreens can undercut many of the more popular American labels, and perhaps siphon off some of their less dedicated fans.

For those not familiar with the situation, Walgreens stopped selling any type of alcohol back in the 90s, but resumed in 2009. The addition of Big Flats 1901 to the lineup is part of a multipronged drive to increase the company's alcohol sales around the nation. If Big Flats is a big hit, then you might expect to see other brews from Walgreens hitting the store shelves. Since Walgreens owns the brand and the production facilities, it's quite conceivable that the company might start producing other types of beer to add to their lineup and increase their presence on the beer market. That might not actually be a bad thing, though, if their quality is as good as it seems to be and their prices remain low.

Posted on February 7, 2011 and filed under The Business of Beer.