Cheap beer gets a bad wrap. Obviously, it doesn’t taste as nice as that Belgian farmhouse or chocolate stout, but that’s still no reason to completely disregard cheap beer. It’s how beer began, at least in the U.S. Back then there were no craft breweries around providing variant one-offs with tasting notes. No fruit-infused wheat ales that tasted more like lemonade than an ice cold pilsner. Cheap beer is the staple of this country, offering reprieve after a long day of back-breaking labor. Because sometimes you just want a basic lager or ale. No over-the-top flavor. Just ice cold refreshment.
It’s for these reasons we want to play our part in the renaissance of cheap beer throughout the nation. Don’t get us wrong, craft beer still holds a place deep in out hearts, it’s just nice to unwind after a long day with something smooth, cheap, and classic. It’s also nice to drink more than five of something without going blind. Cheap beer is made to drink socially, not in a closed-group of pretension. It’s meant to be chugged, shotgunned, handled without care, shaken, cracked open, and spilled. It’s meant to facilitate the story, not hog the spotlight. So, with that being said, cruise through our list of best cheap domestic beer and step down off your pedestal. It’s livelier than you think down here. Enjoy.
Brewed by Latrobe since 1939, Rolling Rock is hard to miss in the beer aisle thanks to their iconic green bottles. Brewed with rice and corn in addition to the standard malt profile, it boasts an unmistakable character that’s smooth and refreshing. Reaching their one millionth barrel mark in 1994 it’s a favored beer amongst hard-working individuals and is unassuming in nature and definitely not here to judge.
Since 1989 Coors Brewing has offered this triple filtered and extra smooth brew. A party favorite, this American-style light lager continues to win awards at the Great American Beer Festival proving it’s worthy for more than just a solo cup. Try a beer koozie on the beach instead.
They don’t call this the “King of Beers” for nothing. Definitely on the heavier side, this American lager is famed for both its popularity and Super Bowl televisions spots. It’s a medium-bodied and flavorful crisp beer that serves as an iconic core of American beer drinking. Call it bud-heavy, bud-fat, American in a can. Just don’t call it unfulfilling.
Genesee Cream Ale
Introduced in 1960 Genesee Cream Ale is most likely older than you. The motivation behind this classic ale was simple: to craft a beer with the flavor of an ale with the smooth nature of a lager. What stuck was a recipe that’s now over half a century old and by no means looks to dissipate anytime soon.
Miller High Life
The Champagne of Beers. Anyone who’s familiar with Miller has surely tasted this nectar of the gods. Born in a clear bottle it’s not meant to last long once out of the case and is the perfect option for beer drinkers looking to unwind with several beers after a long day without feeling overly full in the process. I mean, it was the unofficial beer of the MTV Jackass crew. Need I say more?
Who needs a light beer when you can get a full-on 5.9% abv adjunct beer from Anheuser-Busch. A couple of these will throw you for a loop no doubt and thanks to its quintessential college popularity, you’ve probably either sworn off this bad boy for good or still drink it in the name of nostalgia, whatever the case it’s clearly not meant to be sipped.
Pabst Blue Ribbon
Oh PBR, how glorious you taste on a hot summer’s day. Established in Milwaukee in 1844, Pabst has fulfilled one of the most successful marketing/rebranding campaigns ever for a beer. Drunk enthusiastically by youthful urbanites, PBR can be found in the hands of millennials at just about any bar in town. Go ahead, embrace the lifestyle and the beer.
Since 1849 Schlitz has been making people jolly on Friday nights and cooling them off on Saturday afternoons. It features a timeless taste, both crisp and light, and was actually the beer that made Milwaukee famous. What’s great about Schlitz isn’t just the beer but the brand itself, holding on to its timeless history in its vintage logo design.
Nothing says post-yardwork relaxation like a ‘Gansett. Embracing the American lager style for over 125 years, this 12 IBU lager is the reliable choice for anyone seeking consistency in their beer. And rightly so, as it was both the best-selling beer in New England from the 1930s to the ‘70s and at one point the official beer of the Boston Red Sox from 1944-1975. Enjoy with care.
“Oh boy. What a beer,” is the official slogan of the Baltimore-based beverage that’s been a favorite of the region since 1885. It’s a famed Bohemian-style beer who’s branding is as well-known as the name itself. As a pilsner, it’s light and crisp, perfect for enjoying on a summer afternoon at the baseball stadium. That is up until recently when the Orioles stadium stopped selling the beer. Naturally, a petition is circulating among fans to “Bring Back the Bo.” Clearly, the fanbase isn’t going anywhere.
Brewed by Anheuser-Busch, Busch’s claim to fame lies in its crisp nature. No wonder they claim their beer to be “clear and bright as mountain air.” It’s made with the finest ingredients and the recipe remains unchanged since 1955, because why mess with what already works? It’s brewed longer, resulting an overall lighter body and fewer calories while still delivering the sustenance we all desire from an ice-cold lager.
While the name itself may be hyperbolic in nature, you’ve still got plenty of learning to do if you have yet to tame the “beast.” Born out of Miller Brewing Company, this is a light-stye lager that doesn’t hesitate to let you know what you’re drinking. It leaves little room for interpretation, straightforward as can be, leaving drinkers satisfied after the smoke clears.
Name Tag Lager
Brewed by Minhas Brewery in Wisconsin it would be unbecoming to let the reviews on this beer deter you from giving it a shot. It’s a golden lager that’s easy to drink and brewed with traditional ingredients to give the beer a flavor profile that’s subtle yet tasty enough to keep you coming back for another…or 10.
The meanest cheap beer around, Red Dog takes no prisoners and is brewed for those who aren’t here to make friends. Brewed by Miller, it’s part of the Plank Road Brewery Family and was mostly popular during the mid-late 1990s. However, the beer seemed to disappear along with the grunge era and is currently a bit difficult to find. It’s now up to us to resurrect Mad Dog back into the forefront; a daunting challenge indeed.
Another member of the Plank Road Family, Icehouse is actually ice brewed below freezing that delivers a full-bodied taste that’s never watered down. That being said, it’s an ideal beer on a hot summer’s day for those who could care less about keeping their “beach body.” I mean, you’ve come this far, might as well embrace ‘the house.’
If you want to keep the class as well as the extra cash in your pocket then check out Coors’ Banquet beer, a true-blue American beer that’s been in production for over 140 years. Their water comes from the Rockies resulting in a clean and crisp beer that’s not light by any means but superbly refreshing. Perfect for camping, or sipping around the house. If there’s a cheap domestic that warrants a pinky-out, then this is it.
Grain Belt Nordeast
No that’s not a typo. The term “Nordeast” comes from the Northern and Eastern Europeans that helped develop Northeast Minneapolis, and “Grain Belt” comes from the neighborhood where the original Grain Belt Brewery was established in 1893. As for the beer, is an amber lager with a light maltiness and mild hop aroma that provides excellent drinkability for when the day is done.
Olympia has canned the finest Northwest grains into a drinkable lager since 1896. Brewed using pure mountain water and golden barley, it’s a smooth lager that’s a no-brainer for any beer fan. It’s a mighty brew, much like its Mount Olympia namesake but won’t fill you up thanks to its medium-bodied character.
Next time you’re in the Northeast be sure to pick up a six-pack of Lions Head pilsner. The Pennsylvania brewery has been in the business for over a century now, proving their beer stands the test of time. It’s crisp, clean and a bit dry -the perfect combination for any light lager- and with year-round availability you could be enjoying the Lion at anytime.
Yet another installment by Minhas Brewery in Wisconsin, Simpler Times prides itself on the one dimensional nature of its lager. They aren’t here to impress anybody, just provide drinkers with what they want: beer. You won’t find anyone sniffing the head or swirling this beer around in a glass. This beer doesn’t bode well in Instagram either, because these are simpler times.
One of the oldest. One of the greats. Stroh’s dates back to 1775 in Germany where a perfected recipe made it way to Detroit in 1849. Since then, Stroh’s American Lager took off, boasting a true American pedigree, standing on its own in thanks to a combination of Pacific Northwest hop additions.
Since 1848 Ranier has impressed its constituents with their Pale Mountain Ale. Bottling and canning the beauty of America’s Pacific Northwest, Rainier is the proud flagship beer of the Seattle-based brewery. It combines gold barley with Northwest hops to yield a smooth and rich ale that will bring a smile to your face even after the toughest of days.
Based out of Minnesota, Hamm’s will surely do the trick. What’s best about the beer may not even be the beer itself but the ability to say your getting “hammered” in the literal sense. Besides that, you’ll find a typical American-style lager housed in a vintage can that’ll keep you looking hip at the next yard sale.
Since 1902 Old Style has been dubbed ‘Chicago’s Beer,’ re-popularizing the crisp, rich nature of a classic Pilsner. It’s light in color and body and boasts just enough bitterness to contribute to a full-flavored sip that could instantly convert you into re-born Mike Ditka fanatic.
From everyone’s favorite warehouse club comes a beer that Costco could probably do without, though we’d be foolish to not include it in our list. It’s a light American lager with a golden body that bears the quintessential Kirkland name and at the end of the day, will still do the trick.