What is your favorite cheap beer?

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    Skeeter’s been doing some financial re-prioritizing lately. I like beer and I want to find a beer that tastes awesome and costs very little.

    What’s your favorite beer that is priced one step below Bud/Coors/Miller GD? We’re talking about beers that sell for about 75 cents per can (in an 18 or 24 pack) at the retail level. I’ve recently bought and drank Miller High Life, Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR,) and Rainier. Of those three I think I like Rainier the best. But they are all pretty close in taste if you ask me. I suppose I should also try Olympia – which I haven’t had in years. What are the other cheap beers? Probably Keystone, Hamm’s, and Milwaukee’s Best – which I also haven’t had in years. Am I missing anything?

    So if you had to rank Miller High Life, PBR, Rainier, Olympia, Keystone, Hamm’s, and Milwaukee’s Best, how would you rank them? Feel welcome to add another beer to this list but ONLY if the beer is available for about 75 cents per can and readily available at a grocery store.



    I’m in the unfortunate position of not being able to enjoy good, live beer anymore. And even good bottled beers tend to make my sinuses get all funky. (Not a happy thing.)

    So, I’ve been drinking most of the pilsners you mentioned above. First of all, if you keep them just short of frozen – and they are best enjoyed that way – several of them are almost indistinguishable.

    With that caveat, I’ll sort accordingly from favorite to least:



    Miller HL



    Milw Best

    I suspect the Ranier/Oly preferences have something to do with the fact that I grew up with them as my go-to’s. (Don’t ask me how old I was and who was selling me beer at that age locally.) ;-)



    I will tell a quick story about cheap beer tho’. Freshmen year in college, we could get a full keg of Ranier for $29 plus deposit. (We had an empty keg of course!) But it went up to $32 by end of spring semester.

    We could usually drum up that much for the first keg or two, BUT when you were scraping piggy banks for the next keg, you could get a keg of Brew 66 for $26. That’s like $2 a GALLON. We joked that they just ran another batch through the leftover lees from a tank of Rainier to make it. They should have put a big warning label on it – DRINK AT 34 DEGREES!



    Back when I used to drink on a regular basis, Rainier was my go to. Probably mainly because it was local (back then), but also because I actually liked it. This was the case for both Bar/Tavern, and Home consumption.

    After a few years, and a Beer Gut mysteriously appearing out of nowhere, and just as mysteriously continuing to expand, a diet was in order. So, I mostly changed to Rainier Light at Home, but continued to drink Full-Strength Rainier while out.

    After a few more years of mysterious Beer Gut expansion, co-incidentally along with wallet contraction, I switched to some of the cheaper beers. I really liked Keystone, and it seemed their lined can did give it better flavor, and was not just a gimmick, then in no particular order of either flavor or price preference, (although I suppose the latter is a wash between them); Hamm’s, Animal Beer (Schmidt’s—which Dad used to drink when he wasn’t drinking Rainier), and Milwaukee’s Best (I think).

    There was at least one, but it seems like actually two, cheap beers that tasted so watered down, I wouldn’t buy them unless it was an absolute last resort. I want to say that one of them was “Beer” Brand Beer, and the other was one of the “Milwaukees”, maybe “Old”, because I really seem to recall putting “Best” in about the same class as Hamm’s, etc.

    And, yet again, after I switched to those cheaper beers for Home consumption, I’d still order that Full Strength Rainier while out.

    Nowadays, my beer (and wine—-never got too much into hard booze) consumption events are so few and far between, I budget it to be a little fancier. Still not the super expensive stuff, but maybe more Premium; the stuff that might cost $7.99 or so a six-pack. Think Henry’s, and such. Maybe a Hef, maybe an IPA. Try to keep it local-ish.

    When out, I have generally found myself drinking Manny’s, if available, for about the past year or so.




    Life is too short for cheap beer and wine, once you have the taste for the good stuff.

    I used to drink Coors in quantity, but once developing a taste for the good stuff (Manny’s is King) and other craft beers, I cannot drink the basic beers anymore.

    With budget in mind, I will consume one great beer, sip it instead of gulping, and back that with sips of water to satisfy the urge to put a glass to my lips.

    I don’t know if that helps you, but that is the story of a guy who used to drink the regular beers.

    Quality over Quantity if you can do it.

    Good luck on your search.








    You could also just get one 22oz bottle as a splurge weekly. Trader Joes Botswain are around $2.50. Actually I recommend Trader Josef Brau, all varieties. They come out to about a dollar a bottle and you get a lot more variety in terms of brew styles. In case you want to switch it up on a budget.

    Last football season when watching Husky games at a friends house, there was a well stocked market across from his apartment. As a joke I got a $1 Rainier tall boy and it was surprisingly drinkable. When I was a kid and my dad was a 4-5 cans a night drinker he often bought Rainier or Hamms. He’s from Germany so naturally super picky and pilsner oriented. I doubt he would ever like the micros that are so popular today and whenever I mention liking Guiness he says he hates that sweet shit.

    Costco has pretty good deals on beer too, I haven’t tried Kirkland craft beer, but I’ve heard it’s good. They have also started carrying 22oz small batch craft beers for $5-10.

    So those are the only ones I can think of when feeling thrifty. Oh! If you totally hate one, mix it 50/50 with Sprite for a Radler (Shandy in Brit speak). It can take the bite out of a crappy brew. The younger crowd in Germany also likes CAB cola and beer. It’s ok, usually what I mixed with keg beer in college.


    Wes C. Addle

    PBR or Rainier for me. Mexican beer is how I splurge if I want to spend a little more coin.


    Jeff H

    My homebrew costs have been ~$1.00 per 12oz for 1-gallon batches, strong dark beer, all-grain recipes. Could get cheaper with extract recipes.

    But there is a startup cost of ~$100 for all items needed, and it can be a PITA with the time it takes.

    Much easier going to the store to buy it, but DIY can be rewarding. Easy to brew, just time consuming. Certainly a great feeling when a batch of beer turns out good.

    Is the goal to find a cheap “feel good” drink? Or is beer the preferred flavor? You could always go get a cheap bottle of liquor with tasty juice mixer.

    Here’s a super-cheap alternative to beer (which I haven’t tried yet), and can get down around $0.50 per 12oz…


    And since you mentioned financial re-prioritizing, maybe MMM will be a good read if you haven’t already been exposed to him (yes, I’m a Mustachian and Boglehead).

    We’ll talk at an upcoming DIY Bikes event I’m sure. ;)



    Look no further than your local Walgreens!

    “Beer Flats” – about $3.50 a six pack.

    Read my review here:




    I’m with WMO…MGD, PBR, Coors, any light beers = BLECH!. I only have beer every now and then…really prefer cream ales, though sometimes places don’t have them. Would much rather have good stuff, sip it, have one or two.



    Another vote for quality over quantity.

    A couple of years ago I discovered what has become my favorite beer at any price, a Mexican beer called Victoria. All the supermarkets carried it for a while at about $8.99/6 pk, then it was dropped. Speculation was that Corona didn’t appreciate the competition. At any rate, the only place I can find it now is at Beer Junction for about $1.79 per bottle. A bit more expensive than Skeets limit, but well worth it.



    Coors Light and Miller Lite for me (the new retro white cans are kind of cool).

    While I refer the taste of “real” beer, I typically imbibe during sporting events. As such, the is NO WAY I could make it to the 4th quarter with alcohol contents any higher than those (I’m not good at pacing!). Plus, the lower calorie count off-sets my wing and chip addiction!



    Thanks all for the great responses. I really appreciate the feedback.

    I’m currently working through an 18 pack of Rainier as I conduct my “research.” I will try Oly next.

    My favorite beer in the whole wide world is Manny’s from Georgetown Brewing Co. I pick up a growler now and then. A growler is only $7 which is actually quite a bargain since I like it better than any other beer at any other price. Growlers have their limitations, though. Cans from a grocery store are a lot more convenient unless you live next door to the brewery.

    I really don’t have an interest in brewing beer myself. I’ve tasted home-brew several times and with very, very rare exception I find home brew to not taste good. In my simple mind, I’d rather let a big company brew my beer and use their economies of scale and consistent techniques. Why slave away in the kitchen when I could be feasting at the table? But I certainly understand that some people view it as a fun hobby. Just not my interest.

    Jeff – since you weighed in on this thread, I should mention that part of the reason I’m trying to save some money is because I want to justify the purchase of a cargo bike. I really like the Surly Big Dummy but it’s pretty darn expensive. So we’ll see. As my daughter gets bigger I’ll need a new set-up. But that’s way off this thread’s topic!

    Now tell me about these “beer flats” at Walgreen’s for $3.50. Are they still that price? There is a Walgreen’s within walking distance of my home. I will definitely give that a try.

    Pilsner is a type of Lager, right? I think Rainier is a Pilsner. I think I prefer a pilsner to a lager, but maybe that is in my head. I know this – I didn’t like the Trader Joe’s lager at all. I also dislike Bud and Bud Light. I also don’t like stouts. I like ales and I’m learning to enjoy/try beers that I think are pilsners – Rainier and the like. I haven’t found a 75 cent ale but there are plenty of 75 cent pilsners.



    Skeets, pilsners are a particular type of lager. All pilsners are lagers but not all lagers are pils…yada, yada.

    Anyway, good luck on your frugality and hope you get the bike of your dreams…the ones you’ll be having after passing out???



    Try the cheap house-brand cans from TJ’s: Name Tag, Simpler Times, and La Playa are all perfectly decent lagers. I haven’t bought them in many months, but IIRC they’re $4 or less for a six-pack.

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