The 12 Best Cheap Beers, The Sequel: The Blind Taste Test

The 12 Best Cheap Beers, The Sequel: The Blind Taste Test

Almost a year ago, my friend Jarrett and I ranked the 12 best cheap beers (technically 14 with the arbitrary tie and O’doul’s Amber halftime water break), so we’re back for a sequel! Everyone loves sequels right? Bigger budgets, more explosions, shamelessly riding the coattails of the first installment for more viewers without having to come up with a new idea. They’re great. 

This time we decided to do a blind taste test of the original 14 to see if we’re actually the beer experts we pretend to be, or if, as I originally stated, all cheap beers taste mostly the same. We swapped out O’doul’s Amber for the original O’doul’s to act as a wildcard, since none of us have ever had it. We also brought our friend Mike along to act as a control group, and his wonderful wife Roxanne helped us maintain our scientific credibility by administering the test. Beers were poured upstairs out of view, cups were washed between rounds, and we told Jarrett to close his eyes the entire time. He refused. Any margin of error is on him.

To know where our minds were, it might help to re-read the first article. Let’s get started. Answers were revealed after all 14 beers were finished.

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Beer #1

Beer 1

Yep, that’s a beer for sure.

Tim: First sip, not bad, seems pretty light, pretty decent, tastes just like water with a hint of beer. I KNOW WHAT IT IS.

Jarrett: Tastes like a college party.

Tim: My guess is Beast Light right off the bat. It’s so light that it has to be. If I remember right, Beast Light was by far the lightest beer, and this has to be it.

Mike: The second you said that, I immediately thought “shitty basement”. Reminds me of the time we went to a college party with a handle of Fleischmann’s and no chaser. We tried to chase it with the keg of Beast Light, and we just could not do it.

Tim: I’m going to feel really stupid if this is the O’doul’s. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m getting drunker as I drink this. Let me quick knock something over to ease my mind.

Mike: Doesn’t quite have that hint of beer that something like Miller Lite has. Ya know, where it’s like, this might be a beer, then the rest of it kicks in and you’re like, no, it tastes like shitty Miller Lite.

Tim: That’s Beast Light’s calling card. It’s gotta be Beast Light.

Jarrett: I could drink a bunch of these and not feel anything. It’s just tasteless. Seems like a great volume drinking beer.

Tim: Beast Light
Jarrett: Beast Light
Mike: Beast Light

Beer #1: Miller Lite

In the original article I said (referring to Beast Light):

I enjoy that Miller decided they needed a budget version of Miller Lite, in the case that your palette isn’t quite sophisticated enough to appreciate the complex flavors and aromas of a beer that was specifically designed to be drank 18 at a time.

Clearly, we did not appreciate those complex flavors and aromas. Not a good start, but we were at least right about it being a light beer. And both are Miller products, so we earned some moral points here.

Beer #2

Beer 2

Yeah, I already drank some, but does it really matter?

Tim: Tastes full, but light. I don’t think this is a light beer. But it’s a light normal beer. Does that make sense? I don’t care. I think I’m gonna guess Old Style because I don’t remember what it tasted like. This could be O’doul’s though. No matter what, we’re gonna look like idiots when we drink the O’doul’s, but don’t guess O’doul’s. Or when we guess O’doul’s, and it’s not O’doul’s.

Mike: This is just fucking impossible. My first guess was PBR, but that has a more refined taste than this.

Jarrett: More taste than #1, but still pretty forgettable.

Tim: I think this is O’doul’s actually. I don’t have the same burn and warmth that you normally get from drinking. Or maybe I do. I can’t tell. This is tough. O’doul’s is inside my head and I don’t like it one bit.

Tim: O’doul’s
Jarrett: Old Style
Mike: High Life

Beer #2: Busch Light

Well, shit. I let O’doul’s throw me off my game and fell into its devious trap. Busch Light is one of the lightest beers out there, and we were all completely off. This doesn’t bode well. I thought we were better than this. On the bright side, I inadvertently just gave Busch Light their new slogan.

Busch Light: Tastes full, but light. Does that make sense? Don’t care.

Beer #3

Beer 3

You can see the tragedy unfolding in the lower right of the picture.

Mike: I know the look of this one.

Tim: This is definitely a beer with real alcohol in it, and it’s pretty decent as far as cheap beers go. Pretty smooth. I don’t think it’s a light one. I think it’s one of Hamm’s, High Life, or PBR.

Jarrett: Most of my comments are going to be dumb and pointless.

Mike (sniffs glass): The red cup definitely brings out the aroma. I haven’t had a PBR in forever, but this feels like a PBR.

Jarrett: Yeah, I’m thinking PBR. But there has to be a distinctive taste for it to be PBR.

Tim: Well, PBR is distinctive by not being distinctive. Yet, I don’t know, it doesn’t feel like PBR to me. This doesn’t taste or smell like last night. Plus, there’s a bit of a sweetness to it that I don’t think PBR has.  But it’s still solid. I bet it’s High Life or Hamm’s. I’m betting High Life.

Tim: High Life
Jarrett: High Life
Mike: PBR

Beer #3: PBR

Let’s go back in time to two sentences ago:

Jarrett: But there has to be a distinctive taste for it to be PBR.
Tim: Well, PBR is distinctive by not being distinctive. Yet, I don’t know, doesn’t feel like PBR to me.

WE HAD IT. WE WERE SO CLOSE. Just look at us convince ourselves away from it. But good job Mike. To be fair, I probably drank too many PBR’s last night to remember exactly what they all tasted like. And at least we gained some more moral points here. Although, three beers in, I’m beginning to suspect these moral points aren’t even a real thing.

Beer #4

Beer 4

I promise these are all different pictures of different beers.

Tim: This is a light beer for sure. Non-descriptive. Drinkable. Natty Light maybe? Keystone Light?

Jarrett: This is like drinking beer flavored air.

Tim: I think it’s Natty Light.

Jarrett: I thought Natty was one of the shittier ones. This has gotta be one of the Big 3 (Miller Lite/Bud Light/Coors Light). Ugh, how different are any of these?

Tim: I liked Natty.

Jarrett: I mean, I’d definitely drink it. Like, currently.

Mike: This beer reminds me of being in the Rocky Mountains. Which is why I chose Keystone.

Tim: KEYSTONE’S CAN MOUNTAINS ARE NOT THE ROCKIES. (checks phone) No wait, I think they are. I don’t know. It kind of looks like a lonely patch of ice that broke off Antarctica, and is now slowly melting into the ocean. Which is not a bad metaphor for the experience of drinking Keystone.

Jarrett: And it’s definitely not Coors Light. Coors Light had some flavor. Not great flavor, but flavor nonetheless.

Mike: This can’t be Keystone, because the drunker I’m getting, the worse it tastes. Natty Light.

Tim: Natty Light
Jarrett: Natty Light
Mike: Natty Light

Beer #4: Bud Light

In the first list, while drinking Bud Light, Jarrett said,

I hate to contradict myself, but with every sip, this beer tastes worse.

In this list, while (unknowingly) drinking Bud Light, Mike said,

…the drunker I’m getting, the worse it tastes. 

IT’S RIGHT THERE. Had we just taken a step back and thought about what we were saying, we could’ve gotten it. Truthfully, I’m mostly just impressed we managed to say the exact same thing about the exact same beer, one year apart. And then still get it wrong. 

Beer #5

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Upper left hand corner we have Jarrett taking studious notes of utter garbage.

Tim: Hmm, this tastes like a non-light beer. I bet it’s Old Style. Did I already guess Old Style? Good. I didn’t. I almost did. It’s non-light and non-descriptive. Therefore Old Style.

Jarrett: I’m gonna guess O’doul’s.

Tim: This is definitely a full beer with alcohol in it.

Mike: Yeah, it’s got an…amber.

Tim: Old Style
Jarrett: O’doul’s
Mike: O’doul’s

Beer #5: Blatz

Mike guesses O’doul’s even though he agreed that it’s a full beer because of its amber…ness. Maybe we gave Blatz a bad rap last time. We said it was bad, but in reality, it’s completely passable! It was just such a pretty can that I think we underestimated it. We judged a book by its cover. And that’s not okay. Just because the can was pretty doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be a completely acceptable beer, or friend, or engineer. We as a country need to stop judging each other based on our exteriors, and it starts with Blatz. This is good. It’s important to correct previously held notions that turn out to be incorrect. Thank you Blatz.

Beer #6

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A fresh beer means a fresh start! Unfortunately I already drank some, so it’s not really a fresh beer. Nor would it end up being a fresh start.

Jarrett: Oh fuck, this is O’doul’s isn’t it? It tastes exactly like the last one.

Mike: I’m at the point where they all taste the same.

Tim: I don’t know, this kinda tastes like Hamm’s. I have no basis for that. It tastes decent. It’s not one of the light ones. And I haven’t chosen Hamm’s yet. Therefore Hamm’s.

Mike: It was so easy to take down, and Keystone Light and Coors Light were the easiest beers to take down that I remember, so I’m going with Keystone.

Tim: I was kinda dehydrated earlier, due to drinking last night probably, but now that I’ve been drinking again, my pee is getting clearer. So that’s good. This is healthy.

Mike: What if one of us got everything right? [oh how naïve] It wouldn’t even be “Holy shit, I’m awesome!” It would be, “That’s the luckiest shit I’ve ever seen.”

Tim: Hamm’s
Jarrett: Hamm’s
Mike: Keystone Light

Beer #6: Old Style

Old Style was one of the least memorable beers we had last time, so I guess it makes sense that we completely failed at guessing it. Some quick background—Hamm’s is kinda my pet beer. I have a soft spot for it in my heart ever since I bought a 30 pack for $12 and it turned out to be pretty decent. I’m a little disappointed in myself that I couldn’t get Hamm’s right, but life doesn’t always go the way you want it to, and you just have to move on and drink more Hamm’s.

Beer #7

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Ugh, I don’t know. Do you? Does anyone?

Tim: Now this smells like college. I’ve drinken this out of a keg many a time.

Roxanne: It’s like watery. But it’s not.

Jarrett: But is this a light?

Tim: This is definitely a light.

Jarrett: This tastes heavier than the other lights we’ve had. But it’s definitely a college beer.

Tim: This is either Busch Light or Keystone Light, for sure.

Jarrett: I don’t know that there’s any discernible difference between the two.

Mike: So my dad used to work for Schlitz. It was his first accounting job. And there was so little work to do, that he would just get in his car and drive. Or like, go to a restaurant. He was so bored that having no work to do just made him angry. Then every Friday he got to leave early, and they gave him a 12 pack of Schlitz.

Jarrett: You think it’s Schlitz?

Mike: No. 

Tim: Keystone Light
Jarrett: Keystone Light
Mike: Busch Light

Beer #7: Beast Light

I don’t feel bad about this one. That’s pretty close for all three of us. Except Jarrett who said it tastes heavier than the other lights we had. I’d hate to be Jarrett right now.

Beer #8

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Just look at my confident guesses in the lower right. So optimistic. So innocent.

Tim: I don’t know. Is this O’doul’s?

Jarrett: It’s easily one of two beers. Definitely not O’doul’s.

Tim: Oh god, now that you said that, it’s gotta be Schlitz or Blatz. And you’re right. I’m gonna say Schlitz. I remember Schlitz as purely terrible, which this is. I remember Blatz as being decent until the aftertaste. This doesn’t have a terrible aftertaste. It’s just not good tasting period.

Mike: They’re really all blending together right now. But this one has a really unique aftertaste. A really uniquely terrible aftertaste.

Tim: Oh shit, it’s gotta be Blatz then. It has to be Blatz. Let me take one more drink though (takes drink). No, it’s Schiltz.

Jarrett: Yeah, it’s pretty bad, but it has a passable aftertaste. I’m pretty confident that this one’s Schlitz.

Tim: Schlitz
Jarrett: Schlitz
Mike: Blatz

Beer #8: Hamm’s

OHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOO. Wow. This has rocked everything I know to be true and good. This makes me sad. I’m questioning everything now. Beer. Life. Taco Bell. I blame this on Jarrett. He poisoned my mind with the suggestion that this is either Schlitz or Blatz. Plus the beers had been sitting out and they might be a little warmer than usual, and I choose to sit in the denial stage. Hamm’s is a great beer no matter what I say. I’m still drinking it.

Beer #9

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Notice the side Hamm’s in the lower left hand corner. SEE. I back my words up with actions. Even if I may not have known the terrible truth at the time.

Tim: This tastes really weird. Is this O’doul’s? Has everything been a lie? I think this is O’doul’s. Everything is a lie. Fuck you Matrix beer.

Jarrett: I actually think this is Bud Light.

Tim: This doesn’t taste like anything I’ve had before. It has to be O’doul’s. I’m certain of it. But since I guessed O’doul’s before, I’m going to go with Blatz. Because that’s the only other terrible beer I can remember. This beer is terrible. [I’m sorry Blatz, my eyes had not yet been opened. I was foolish. But I have seen the light. Please forgive me.]

Mike: I was just gonna say something about how..this…is not good. I’m gonna go Schlitz on this one.

Tim: Blatz
Jarrett: Busch Light
Mike: Schlitz

Beer #9: O’doul’s

I won’t give myself technical credit for this one, but technically, I WAS right. So there.

Beer #10

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How did I get Hamm’s so wrong? I wasn’t expecting 100% accuracy, but I thought I could at least come close.

Roxanne: So my pouring analysis is that this is the stinkiest one by far.

Jarrett: I haven’t even drinken this yet, but I’m calling it. This is Blatz. I can smell it.

Mike: At this point, I am 100% convinced I missed Miller Lite.

Tim: Fuck, this is Blatz. Or Schlitz. This is Schlitz. Ugh, this is not good.

Jarrett: I’m getting that feeling in my stomach right now after three sips. This is not a beer you want in you.

Tim: Ugh, what do I have left to choose from? It’s not Busch Light. But Busch Light isn’t great, so I’ll call it as Busch Light. It’s the closest guess I can make at this point.

Jarrett: We [Jarrett and I] have the same ones left. We’re either really good at this, or both absolutely terrible at this. [Terrible.]

Roxanne: I can’t believe you guys finished this in the time you did. It smelled so bad. Like dirty floor.

Tim: Busch Light
Jarrett: Blatz
Mike: Hamm’s

Beer #10: Schlitz

Schlitz was ranked dead last in the first ranking, and look at what we said this time when we were actually drinking Schlitz:

Tim: Fuck, this is Blatz. Or Schlitz. This is Schlitz. Ugh, this is not good.
Jarrett: I’m getting that feeling in my stomach right now after three sips. This is not a beer you want in you.

So look, we were technically right again. Just not officially right. Why can’t we figure out our own context clues? Roxanne even pointed out that this one was by far the worst smelling—another great slogan by the way, Schlitz: Like dirty floor.

Mike was also right that he missed Miller Lite, which counts for something. Not much, but I make the rules, and assigning disproportionate weight to our small victories is healthy for our self-image. Accountability and reality are just constructs of society created to hold us back, and I will not stand for that.

Beer #11

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I can accept not getting Hamm’s right. But calling it, “just not good tasting period”? What have I done? Who am I?

Roxanne: This is super scientific, but this one produced no foam.

Jarrett: This is Coors Light. 100%.

Tim: This tastes like nothing. Everything tastes like nothing. Everything is nothing. 

Mike: I guessed Miller Lite, then I chose Coors Light. I don’t know anymore.

Tim: I’m gonna say Coors Light too. Although, I’m thinking Keystone. I chose that already though. Who knows at this point? First half I was like, I’m right on all of these. Second half I’m like, I’m wrong on all of these.

Tim: Coors Light
Jarrett: Coors Light
Mike: Coors Light

Beer #11: Natty Light

Interestingly, we all agreed that Natty Light tastes like Coors Light. While also agreeing that Bud Light tastes like Natty Light during Beer #4. I’m noticing a theme. THEY ALL TASTE THE SAME.

Beer #12

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Who cares?

Tim: My pee is completely clear now. At least I’m hydrating.

Roxanne: This one stinks. It has UWM written all over it.

Tim: This one is Coors Light. I already chose it. But this is Coors Light. I guess I’ll say Bud Light for this.

Mike: You guys still have the same ones left.

Jarrett: Eh, this could be Bud Light.

Tim: It’s not.

Tim: Bud Light
Jarrett: Bud Light
Mike: Bud Light

Beer #12: High Life

Even my second choice of Coors Light was way off. It’s like I got this one wrong twice. We are terrible. Granted, this was Beer 12, and we were running out of options, but it’s time we face the truth. We clearly have no internal sense for any of this. I’m more disappointed in myself than my parents ever could be.

Beer #13

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We clearly gave up 3 beers ago, considering I’ve been using the same image since Beer 10.

Tim: Well, I think this one is PBR.

Jarrett: Really? I put Miller Lite. (Takes a drink). Maybe it’s PBR.

Tim: It doesn’t fucking matter.

Mike: Because I only have two options, I’m saying Miller Lite, even though I know that’s wrong.

Jarrett: I wish my stuffed animals could be alive.

Tim: PBR
Jarrett: PBR
Mike: Miller Lite

Beer #13: Coors Light

We have disrespected cheap beer, our friends, family, and legacies at this point. It’s like beer never meant anything to us at all.

Beer #14

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I did remember to take one final sad image of the last beer though.

Tim: Well this has to be Miller Lite. And it actually tastes like it. I would’ve guessed Miller Lite anyway.

Jarrett: It could totally be Miller Lite. I don’t really know though. I’m only justifying it cause it’s my only choice.

Mike: (drinks)

Tim: Miller Lite
Jarrett: Miller Lite
Mike: Old Style

Beer #14: Keystone Light

Well, that was embarrassing. Mike was the only one to get a beer right, and he wasn’t even a part of the first ranking. In fact, before it started he said, “I’m not going to get any of these right.” He actually got one right, and that was still the most accurate statement any of us made the entire night.

We were 1 for 42. That’s 2.3 percent. My brother (much smarter than myself) did a calculation, and if we had just chosen randomly, there’s only a 7% chance we’d have gotten nothing right out of 14. That’s incredible. In fact, that’s extraordinary. We are geniuses. Just in the opposite way.

So what did we learn? All cheap beers taste exactly the same. My original hypothesis was correct. That’s a good win for science right there.

Pictured: Good science. Bad scientists.

Pictured: Good science. Bad scientists.