Walgreen Co. has introduced a low-cost, private-label beer in thousands of its stores, according to published reports.

Walgreens, Big Flats 1901, Wine Exchange, private-label beer, wine, beer and wine, Colby Red, Treasury Wine Estates, Southern Point, David Stone, wine labels

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Walgreens quietly rolls out private-label beer

January 31st, 2011

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. has introduced a low-cost, private-label beer in thousands of its stores, according to published reports.

Called Big Flats 1901, the canned beer has been quietly rolled out to roughly 4,600 of Walgreens' more than 7,600 stores, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Big Flats 1901 is billed as "a premium beer at an affordable price."

The brew is made by Winery Exchange Inc., a Novato, Calif.-based supplier of corporate brand beer, wine and spirits. On its web site, the company said its customers include Supervalu, Kroger, Sam's Club, H.E. Butt, Tesco, Fresh & Easy, Costco, Aldi, Trader Joe's, Delhaize Group and Winn-Dixie Stores.

Billed as "a premium beer at an affordable price," Big Flats 1901 compares in taste and quality to top-selling national brand beers, according to Winery Exchange.

The brand, produced in upstate New York, comes in six-pack cans for $2.99 and 24 cans for $11.49 at Walgreens stores around the country, except for California, where the beer is slated to launch later this year, the supplier said. Pricing will vary by region, depending on distribution costs and alcoholic beverage taxes.

Walgreens has been adding a selection of beer and wine to select stores since 2009. In reporting its fiscal 2010 results in late September, the retailer said that more than 5,000 of its stores are expected to carry beer and wine by the end of the calendar year.

Last week, Walgreens announced that Colby Red, a California table wine made in partnership with Treasury Wine Estates, will soon hit shelves at its drug stores. Plans call for the wine, priced at $12.99, to become available in more than 4,500 Walgreens stores in February.

The Tribune report noted that Walgreens already has introduced wine labels, including Southern Point ($3.99) in December 2009 and then David Stone ($7.99) last March.

And this past November, Walgreens subsidiary Duane Reade opened a store in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y., that sells beer on tap in refillable glass bottles called "growlers."