The 12 Best Cheap Beers, Ranked As I Drink Them
I’ve always thought there’s really no difference between all the different cheap beers out there. But I’m not going to let that stop me from taste-testing 12 of them, and ranking them as I drink them. I brought along my friend Jarrett, and we’ll figure out if there really is much of a difference between the cheap beers after all.
We chose 12 beers based on our experiences of what was most popular in our cheap beer drinking days (currently still in progress), and when there was a choice between the flagship and light version (i.e. Budweiser and Bud Light) we went with what we objectively felt was more popular. So sit back and get ready to agree, disagree, or more importantly, drink along with us.
8:56 – #12 (tie) Schlitz (5.7 cents/oz.) 4.7% ABV
So I know you’ve only been reading for a minute, but I already lied to you. There are 13 beers on this list. Schlitz and Blatz tied for a completely arbitrary reason. The reason being that I wanted to include both of them on the list. I’m sorry for lying, I promise I’ll never do it again.
Jarrett: I haven’t drank a thing but just saying the name makes me feel like I’m slurring my words already.
Tim: Schlitz: “The beer that made Milwaukee famous.”
Tim: It tastes like a warm PBR, except it’s cold.
Tim: It’s like they tried to make it have a taste to differentiate it from all the other watery cheap beers, but it just makes me wish it tasted more like water.
Jarrett: It’s good enough to get drunk on, but it’s my first beer of the night and I already feel like I’m starting to get hungover.
Tim: I don’t think I could get through a 6-pack of Schlitz.
Jarrett: Interesting fact, Schlitz was established in 1849, which means Schlitz was birthed pretty much immediately after Wisconsin became a state.
Tim: Wisconsin, you slut.
9:19 – #12 (tie) Blatz (3.7 cents/oz.) 4.9% ABV
Tim: We have 11 beers after this one, and I’m already regretting adding in this stupid tie.
Jarrett: First sip impression: worse than Schlitz. The aftertaste has hint of well water.
Tim: Yeah, the aftertaste is…not good. It tastes totally fine and nondescript until like 5 seconds after you finish your sip, and then it just overwhelms with an awful grainy taste.
Tim: That’s a good looking can though.
Jarrett: Yeah, definitely like the can design.
Tim: I mean, I’m not really enjoying this beer, but the second after I take a drink, I forget all that and take a look at the can, and I’m like, hey, that’s a good looking can, I bet it tastes pretty good.
Tim: Also, I own a sweet Blatz hat.
9:34 – #11) Old Style (4.6 cents/oz.) 4.6% ABV
Tim: Ah, Old Style, Chicago/Wrigley Field’s shit beer of choice.
Tim: “Chicago is old style”. “Chicago’s Beer” is written on the can. You can’t walk 5 feet in Wrigley Field without seeing an Old Style can somewhere. Yet, it’s BREWED IN MILWAUKEE.
Jarrett: On par with Blatz, but better aftertaste.
Tim: I already forgot what it tastes like.
Jarrett: Underrated: trough urinals. Come to think of it, troughs should be used more in everyday life.
Tim: People make fun of peeing in troughs at Wrigley Field, but I love it. I think there’s nothing greater than peeing in troughs.
Jarrett: Old Style: Since 1902. Or since six years before the Cubs won their last World Series.
Tim: Hey now, give them about 100 years, and I’m sure they’ll win one.
10:00- #10) Beast Light (4.8 cents/oz.) 4.3% ABV
Tim: “Miller Presents Milwaukee’s Best 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.
Tim: And yet, it completely lives up to its title as a budget budget beer. This tastes exactly like water. It is somehow a watered down version of an already watered down beer.
Tim: It’s 1 part beer to 10 parts water.
Tim: I like it. Goes down easy.
Jarrett: Very watered down. I believe this is technically closer to water than the Milwaukee River is.
Tim: Indeed. Scientifically speaking, I believe the high water content means you can drink Beast Light all night and never get a hangover.
Jarrett: As a man who got a B+ in an AP Physics class one time, I am qualified to confirm your theory.
10:17 – #9) Busch Light (5.1 cents/oz.) 4.2% ABV
Tim: The ice cold easy indicator on this beer is extremely confusing. How do I know when it’s ice cold? Is this mark always there? Is this lying to me? Where are the mountains? Why aren’t they blue?
Tim: “Great taste in an easy drinking light beer” is its slogan, and it’s actually decently descriptive. I wouldn’t call it great taste, but it is a taste, so that makes the slogan 88% accurate. That’s damn good for a slogan.
Jarrett: It has a well water type aftertaste, but that’s good. It makes it taste more like the mountains.
Tim: It does have mountains on the can. I’m not sure what mountains, but they look nice. Busch Light: Reach For The Off-Brand Rockies.
Jarrett: Hey look, it’s fat-free.
Tim: Hear that? Busch Light is good for you! But you already knew that.
Jarrett: The ice cold easy indicator looks exactly the same now that my beer is done as when I started. What color do you think it would turn if we put it in the microwave?
10:35 – #8) Keystone Light (4 cents/oz.) 4.1% ABV
Tim: We’re not going on a good pace to make the bars by midnight. However, the more you drink, the faster you drink.
Tim: “Always smooth, widemouth.” That’s the slogan. At least it gets to the point.
Jarrett: This is not good. At least it has a widemouth can so I can be done with it faster.
Tim: God, none of these are good.
10:58 – #7) Natty Light (4 cents/oz.) 4.2% ABV
Tim: I actually enjoy this beer. Watered down, slight beer taste. Not too bitter, not overreaching. It’s a nice, solid, “get me by” beer that is also super cheap.
Jarrett: Disagree. If I could have had Old Style all through college instead of this, I would have.
Tim: This is the first one I’ve poured down my throat and not thought twice about. I want to move it up in the rankings.
Tim: But no time for that. People tend to joke about drinking Natty Light, as if you shouldn’t drink it past the age of 20, but I tend to think spending $10 more per case on the same exact thing with better branding is more ridiculous.
Jarrett: Natty Light gave me hiccups. Fuck you Natty Light.
11:14 – Halftime Water Break! O’doul’s Amber. (6.9 cents/oz.) .4% ABV
Tim: There are two apostrophes in O’doul’s. I hate it already.
Jarrett: I felt like less of a person when I purchased this.
Tim: And you didn’t even buy the right O’doul’s.
Tim: Annnnnndddd….This is the best beer we’ve had so far.
Jarrett: I agree. This is the best tasting beer of the night. I feel immediately redeemed for purchasing 6 of these.
Tim: Beer Advocate rates this as “awful”. However, I disagree.
11:22 – #6) Bud Light (6.5 cents/oz.) 4.2% ABV
Tim: Brewed from rice. I hate this beer.
Tim: Hmm, and now that I’ve tasted it, it’s really not that bad at all. Better than the other shit. Except maybe Natty Light. Although, were I given the choice of a 12oz Bud Light for $4 at a bar and a $3 tallboy of Schlitz, I think I’m still going Schlitz. It’s just more economical.
Jarrett: Really not exponentially better than anything I’ve had yet tonight.
Jarrett: This is great for maintaining that “I’m pretty drunk, but might have to do something important tomorrow” level.
Jarrett: I hate to contradict myself, but with every sip, this beer tastes worse.
11:40 – #5) Coors Light (5.9 cents/oz.) 4.2% ABV
Tim: The Silver Bullet. It can kill werewolves and vampires and Kristen Stewart.
Jarrett: Ugh, I liked Bud Light better.
Tim: More grainy than the Bud Light. Listen to that super sophisticated, extensive beer tasting palette.
Tim: I think grainy and watery are the only two adjectives I have.
Jarrett: If Coors is “The Banquet Beer”, this is “The Bar Mitzvah Beer”.
11:48 – #4) Miller Lite (5.1 cents/oz.) 4.2% ABV
Tim: I had a drink and thought, “This is a fine beer pilsner.” Then I looked at the can, which said “Fine Beer Pilsner”. I agree, marketers.
Jarrett: Best beer yet.
Tim: The best comp for this so far is probably Natty Light, actually.
Tim: Introduced 1973. I was expecting it to be way earlier than that. And apparently, just last year (2013) Miller Lite won the World Beer Cup’s gold medal for Best American-Style Light Lager.
Jarrett: Based on what we’ve tasted so far, that makes sense.
11:55 – #3) Miller High Life (5.1 cents/oz.) 4.5% ABV
Tim: Tastes pretty decent. I mean, it is the champagne of beers. Which means I’ll probably have a hangover tomorrow, even though I only drank 13 beers.
Jarrett: Not as good as Miller Lite.
Tim: Can you really tell at this point?
Tim: This beer was established in 1903, which makes it 70 years older than Miller Lite. 70 years is a good amount of time to let pass before you decide to brew the exact same beer (except lighter!), but call it a different name.
Tim: It’s weird, and yet, awesome that Miller has three different levels of beer that are all the exact same thing. And still, people buy them separately, stubbornly sticking to their preferences.
Jarrett: I’m very full right now.
12:02 – #2) Hamm’s (3.9 cents/oz.) 4.7% ABV
Tim: Born in the land of sky blue waters, this is the beer that put “ham” with two m’s in the dictionary. Brewed in true family tradition from purest water and cheapest barley malt, I am currently reading off the can.
Jarrett: Tastes pretty good compared to the early beers.
Jarrett: Since 1865. BEFORE WISCONSIN!!!!
Tim: Chronologically speaking, this list is objective fact so far.
Tim: What else can we say? It’s also named after one of the most delicious meats that you have on the best holiday of the year. It would be #1 if it wasn’t for…
12:16 – #1) PBR (5.5 cents/oz.) 4.5% ABV
Tim: The champ. Tastes just like home every time I drink it. And not home as in where I’m from, but home as in every time I take a drink, I feel like everyone around me is my mom and dad and brother and sister and friend. There is no other beer you can trust to be $3 for tallboys at every bar across the nation, and taste inoffensively decent every time.
Jarrett: IT’S A PARTY IN THE USA!!!!!! IN MY MOUTH. Also, the music video playing on the TV.
So in the end, we spent three and a half hours diligently examining and painstakingly comparing the intricate flavors of 12 (13) of the top cheap beers to find that they all taste pretty much the same. There are slight differences sure, but when you’re in a bind and need to drink 12 beers, any of them will do. Except for O’doul’s Amber. Savor that one. Easily the best tasting of the bunch.
WINNER: O’doul’s Amber