For many people growing up and being introduced to their first beer, the cheap beer experience is often the best kind of experience. Whether it’s a couple of cold bottles at a family barbecue, or a large keg at a college party, budget beer is the foundation for many great memories.
While the cheap beer market has traditionally been dominated by the bigger breweries, this is no longer the case. The past few years have seen a significant rise in smaller craft breweries trying their hands at light beers, serving them in party-friendly packs.
As a result of this recent development, there are now a wide range of inexpensive beers available, making it often difficult to choose. To help with this dilemma – albeit a good one – we’ve done some of the research and put together a guide to help.
This guide will take a detailed look at 16 of the best budget beers you can drink, including a range of lagers, ales, and stouts. We’ll also answer a few of the frequently asked questions related to low-priced beer.
Miller High Life
ABV: 4.6% Taste: Apple Juice, Corn Nuts, Caramel
For an All-American beer, you need look no further than Miller High Life. ‘High Life’ was the debut beer for the Miller cooperation because there was no original ‘Miller’ beer.
First entering the market at the very end of 1903, New Year’s Eve to be exact, this beer was an instant hit. Its flavor was powerful, and it had a decadent appearance that reminded people of Champagne. It really was the perfect drink to ring in the New Year.
One of the most interesting things about Miller High Life is that it was one of the first beers to be served in a bottle, giving the company the nickname “The Champagne of Bottle Beer”. This complemented the flavor of the beer perfectly, cementing its position as a high-class, low-price drink.
Stroh’s American Lager
ABV: 4.5% Taste: Malt, Sweet
Founded in Detroit, Stroh’s beer is a light, dependable, easy-drinking lager perfect for quenching your thirst after a busy day at work.
Furthermore, the golden beer is full-bodied and fresh with a touch of sweet malt and a super clean finish. So, if you’re hosting a party, a case of Stroh’s will go down very nicely and at the same time, won’t put you out of pocket.
ABV: 4.7% Taste: Malt, Bread, Lemon
You can ask any midwesterner. When it comes to cheap and good-tasting beer, Hamm’s reigns supreme.
This has been proven by blind tests carried out by Paste and the Chicago Tribune which concluded that Hamm’s is the best in terms of flavor and affordability, compared to many of its macro lager competitors.
Furthermore, Hamm’s has a range of other important qualities, including a crisp flavor, malty complexity, and light body.
ABV: 5% Taste: Bread, Biscuit, Sweet
Originally brewed in Colorado, Coors Banquet is one of the best budget beers you’ll find. What sets it apart from many of the other cheap beers is its lively carbonation and slight sweetness.
This golden lager provides the perfect sessionable beverage for camping, barbecues, and outdoor exploring. It also has an appetizing aroma of freshly baked bread with understated hints of pear and banana.
So much is the love from Coloradans for this beer that in 2016, Denver’s Call to Arms Brewing Company released a copycat named Khores Ballroom Beer.
ABV: 5% Taste: Malt, Sweet, Grain
This beer has a rich and storied history, and is particularly popular amongst major league fans due to the fact that it was the official beer of the Boston Red Sox for over 30 years.
Despite disappearing in the 1980s, it returned to shelves in 2005 thanks to a group of investors. These days, it remains a smooth and popular beer with a strong malt backbone and clean finish.
If you’re looking to combine your beer with some tasty food, Narragansett Lager is excellent for bringing out the natural sweetness of shellfish, as well as pairing well with spicy cuisine.
Wiseacre Tiny Bomb Pilsner
ABV: 4.5% Taste: Malt, Honey
Don’t let the unassuming label fool you, this beer is one deeply intriguing drink. Made with wildflower honey and German pilsner malt, Wiseacre’s Tiny Bomb is dry, crisp, and compliments its soft, smooth body with a delicious touch of sweetness. The beer even has undertones of grass and flowers.
If you’re planning on a chilled day in the sun, this refreshing beer will go down a treat!
ABV: 4.1% Taste: Malt, Sweet
Brewed for longer than many of the other Busch beers, Busch Light offers a lighter body and fewer calories while still delivering the classic flavorful taste.
It’s made with a blend of premium American-grown and imported hops, as well as a combination of malt and corn to provide a well-balanced, pleasant flavor.
Buying a 30-pack of Busch Light is the way to go if you’re on a tight budget but still want to have a fun night on the beers with your friends.
ABV: 4.4% Taste: Barley, Hops, Sweetened Water
Rolling Rock isn’t the best beer on the market, but it does exactly what it says on the tin. It is honest, and that is something that you have to respect when it comes to beer.
This golden yellow, extra pale beer is encased in a standard green bottle, and it incorporates all the standard flavors that you would expect from a lager. Since it was first launched in 1939, Rolling Rock has been a popular choice among customers, and that is because you can trust it.
Ever wondered what the ‘33’ on its packaging means? Well this is Rolling Rock’s pledge to quality, and it has been printed on the bottle since this beer was first launched. Rolling Rock knows that it isn’t the best, but for a budget beer, it is pretty great!
ABV: 4.2% Taste: Malt, Hops
The self-proclaimed “King of Beers”, Budweiser needs little introduction. It’s Bud Light version is the number one selling beer in the US, and also very reasonably priced.
The beer itself is a light body lager, perfectly-balanced with a hint of sweetness. Furthermore, its pale golden color is met with a floral aroma and slightly hoppy, fresh yeasty notes.
Bud Light is best paired with low intensity foods due to its crisp and relatively neutral taste. It can also be drunk with some rich and fatty food because of the high carbonation of the drink.
Dale’s Pale Ale
ABV: 4.6% Taste: Pine, Malt, Grapefruit
Released in 2002, Dale’s Pale Ale took the canned beer market by storm with a hugely popular offering coming from Colorado’s Oskar Blues.
Also known as “The Original Craft Beer in a Can”, this beer provides a rich taste with pale malt and citrusy, floral hops. So, if you’re looking for a fistful of delicious flavor, look no further than this hopped-up American pale ale.
Not only was Dale’s Pale Ale the first craft beer to appear in a can, the brewery introduced another first in 2012, creating the inaugural 19.2-ounce stovepipe can.
Pabst Blue Ribbon
ABV: 4.8% Taste: Nutty, Citrus, Flat
If you want a beer that is easy to drink, then you need look no further than PBR. This beer might not be the most flavorful, but it goes down a treat, and that is usually something that you look for in a cheap beer.
Pabst Blue Ribbon is the perfect choice for anybody who wants a beer that is simple. This beer tastes just like, well, beer, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Yes, sometimes you might want a beer that is full of different flavors, but sometimes you just want a beer that keeps it authentic.
This company has a rich history that reaches all the way back into the 1800s, and maybe that is what makes it so drinkable.
Night Shift Nite Lite
ABV: 4.3% Taste: Bread, Corn, Citrus
As mentioned in the introduction of this guide, craft brewers have recently been chipping away at macro beer’s control over the light beer market, and few brewers have made as much of an impact as Night Shift.
Based in Massachusetts, Night Shift’s Nite Lite beer is super easy to drink and packed with malt, hops, and fruity flavor. Not only is it cheap and low ABV, it’s also the ideal drink for those times when you don’t want to sacrifice a good amount of flavor in favor of drinkability.
ABV: 4.4% Taste: Malt, Caramel, Cascade Hops
We’ve already looked at Yuengling Light, so it is fair to say that Yuengling knows how to make good beer. The light version is great, but sometimes you can’t beat the full-flavor option.
Yuengling is insanely popular for so many reasons. From its medium-bodied flavor to its rich amber color and its easily recognizable bottle, everything about Yuengling lager is great. After all, there is a reason why this company has existed since 1829.
Yuengling isn’t necessarily the best beer out there, but it is definitely one of the best choices if you are working to a budget.
Labatt Blue Light
ABV: 4% Taste: Malt, Sweet, Bitter Hops
The penultimate beer on the list is a premium, light Canadian pilsner. Labatt Blue Light is an easy-drinking, delicately balanced beer brewed with Cascade hops and a blend of malt.
It’s a great drink for any occasion, and provides a slight sweetness and citrus-like hop character for all beer lovers who like a fresh, crisp, high-quality beverage. The fact it’s also relatively cheap is just an added bonus!
Tecate Original Mexican Lager
ABV: 4.7% Taste: Malt, Bread, Bitter Hops
The final beer on the list, and by certainly no means the least, is this versatile brew from Mexico. Born on the borderland of Baja California, this beer embodies the bustling energy of Mexican-Americans in the USA.
Enjoyed either on its own or with a wedge of lime, Tecate provides a refreshing drinking experience with a hint of bitter hops and a clean and crisp finish. Furthermore, the aftertaste is described as pleasant and flavorful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is Some Beer So Cheap?
One of the main explanations for this is that some brewers, especially the bigger ones, have access to less expensive ingredients. They may also have less equipment purchases and generally run a more efficient operation. With this in mind, it’s understandable that they’re able to sell their beer at a lower price.
Malt, grain, hops, and other flavorings all cost money, with some more expensive than others. Smaller craft brewers put two and a half times as many hops into their beers as some of the bigger, mainstream commercial breweries.
While some of these smaller brewers are now producing light versions of their beer which are priced much lower, the more hops that go into each pint, the higher the cost.
Where Is The Cheapest Beer?
The cheapest beer is in South Africa, where you’ll find the average price of a bottle around $1.68. At the other end of the scale, the most expensive beer in the world is in Qatar, with an average price of US$11.26 per 330ml bottle.
Does Cheap Beer Give You Worse Hangovers?
The kind of alcohol you drink can have a big influence on the severity of your hangover the next day. Hard liquors such as whiskey and brandy are more likely to cause a bad hangover than drinking wine or beer because of their higher alcohol concentration.
With this in mind, the stronger the beer your drink, the more likely you are to feel rough the next day. There isn’t, however, too much difference between cheap and standard-priced beer when it comes to ABV.
If you really want to avoid a hangover, the best option is to drink completely non-alcoholic beers.
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