Cheap beer gets a bad rap. 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. So, with that being said, cruise through our list of the best cheap domestic beer and step down off your pedestal. It’s livelier than you think down here. Enjoy.
- Why We Love Cheap Domestic Beer
- Coors Banquet
- Genesee Cream Ale
- Grain Belt Nordeast
- Keystone Light
- LionsHead Pilsner
- Miller High Life
- Milwaukee’s Best
- Narragansett Lager
- National Bohemian
- Natural Ice
- Old Style
- Pabst Blue Ribbon
- Rolling Rock
- Simpler Times
- The Essential Cocktail Glasses for Your Home Bar
Why We Love Cheap Domestic Beer
Don’t get us wrong, craft beer still holds a place deep in our 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 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. Likewise, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location: New York
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.
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 you’re 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.
A 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.’
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 of more than just a solo cup. Try a beer koozie on the beach instead.
Next time you’re in the Northeast be sure to pick up a six-pack of Lionshead 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 any time.
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?
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.
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.
Location: New York
“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 whose 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Location: New Jersey
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.
Yet another installment by Minhas Brewery in Wisconsin, Simpler Times prides itself on the one-dimensional nature of its lager. Sold exclusively now through Trader Joe’s, 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 on 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 its way to Detroit in 1849. Since then, Stroh’s American Lager took off, boasting a true American pedigree, standing on its own thanks to a combination of Pacific Northwest hop additions.
The Essential Cocktail Glasses for Your Home Bar
If you’re looking for the perfect vessel to hold your suds, then head over to our guide to the best cocktail glasses for your home bar.