It’s not good enough to know the cheapest beer. The table below ranks the 21 cheapest beers by price, but also adds a flavor multiplier from “Won’t make you want to kill yourself” to “Dear God what is wrong with you?” What we’ve done is list the beers by actual price, but we’ve also done the math on taste. The right-most column adjusts for how disgusting the brew will make you feel about your financial situation going down.
By far the cheapest of the cheap beers is Narragansett. Again, that doesn’t mean it costs less than any of the others. The actual dollars-and-cents cheapest beer is Natural Light at a cost of about 47 cents per 12-ounce can. But with the flavor multiplier factored in, the price to your self esteem actually works out to $2.33. That’s based on our own college memories and also rankings from review site BeerAdvocate.com. The thing with Narragansett is, it’s cheap (about 83 cents a can) and also actually tastes good. By our multiplier, that brings its taste-adjusted cost down to just 58 cents per can.
Cheapest Beers (with Flavor Multiplier)
Price for 24
Price Per Beer
|1||Narragansett||$19.99||$0.83||Cheapest beer - won't actually make you want to kill yourself||$0.58|
|6||Coors||$16.21||$0.68||5th cheapest beer - best of the bad||$0.68|
|3||Simpler Times||$15.96||$0.67||3rd cheapest beer - best of the bad||$0.67|
|7||Pabst Blue Ribbon||$17.64||$0.74||6th cheapest beer - best of the bad||$0.74|
|2||Rolling Rock||$14.39||$0.60||2nd cheapest beer - best of the bad||$0.60|
|4||Stroh's||$15.98||$0.67||2nd cheapest beer - best of the bad||$0.67|
|8||Rainier||$17.99||$0.75||7th cheapest beer - best of the bad||$0.75|
|5||Schaefer||$15.99||$0.67||4th cheapest beer - best of the bad||$0.67|
|9||Olympia||$18.99||$0.79||8th cheapest beer - best of the bad||$0.79|
|10||Name Tag||$11.96||$0.50||Completely revolting cheapest beer||$0.85|
|11||Yuengling||$21.76||$0.91||10th cheapest beer - best of the bad||$0.91|
|12||Grain Belt Premium||$21.99||$0.92||11th cheapest beer - best of the bad||$0.92|
|13||Old Milwaukee||$13.98||$0.58||Completely revolting cheapest beer||$0.99|
|14||Keystone Light||$11.99||$0.50||You should probably just drink Mad Dog or nail polish||$1.00|
|15||Busch||$13.59||$0.57||You should probably just drink Mad Dog or nail polish||$1.13|
|16||Miller Lite||$16.97||$0.71||Completely revolting cheapest beer||$1.20|
|17||Bud Light||$15.99||$0.67||You should probably just drink Mad Dog or nail polish||$1.33|
|18||Budweiser||$20.47||$0.85||Completely revolting cheapest beer||$1.45|
|19||Coors Light||$22.65||$0.94||Completely revolting cheapest beer||$1.60|
|20||Natural Light||$11.19||$0.47||Dear God, what is wrong with you?||$2.33|
Personally, we’d pick from the top five or six options in the list above and leave the rest behind. The one exception is if you can get a not-bad tasting beer cheaper than the prices in our list. For instance, many local beer and wine stores will run specials. Restaurants can blow our calculations out of the water too. There’s a little place in Boise, Idaho that serves fish tacos and 25 cent Olympias on Tuesday nights. They come in buckets of ice. In that case Olympia is absolutely the best, cheapest beer around.
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1. Narragansett: 83 Cents a Can / Taste Adjusted Price: 58 Cents a Can
Okay, 83 cents a can does not make Narragansett the cheapest beer around. We’re not saying that. What we are saying is, as cheap beers go, this one is the best. If you’re a purist and our taste-adjustment irritates you, just click the arrow at the top of the “Price Per Beer” column in the table above to see the cheapest beers in unadjusted order. Otherwise, take our advice and go for Narragansett. It gets a 78 from review site BeerAdvocate.com and an 88 from drinkers. That gives it an “Okay to Very Good” rating, which is stellar for a beer in this price category. Users describe this beer as low profile with no aftertaste. This is not a great beer, but it’s not terrible at all, which is more than we can say for most of the rest of the beer selections in our list. It’s the only beer here in the “Won’t actually make you want to kill yourself” category. We gave it a 30% price multiplier because of its commitment not to make the drinker feel worthless.
2. Rolling Rock: 60 Cents a Can
This is the #2 cheapest beer on our list. It’s true reviewers have called it boring, having almost a laundry aroma. But others call it refreshing and clean, without a strong aftertaste. At 60 cents a can or just over $14 for a case, you can’t really go wrong.
3. Stroh’s: 67 Cents a Can
In college, we used to make a lot out of the fact that “Stroh’s” spelled backwards is “shorts.” Name chicanery aside, it’s not a completely terrible beer and the price is perfect at just 67 cents a can. That translates to about sixteen bucks a case. It gets a 66 on BeerAdvocate, which means “poor” but they have a lot worse categories than that. If you’re looking for the rock bottom cheapest beer that isn’t totally disgusting, Stroh’s is it, along with the next four or five options. They all fall into the category, “Best of the bad.” For that reason, we leave the price per can alone even in our taste adjusted column. That said, if you can afford the extra 15 cents a can, take a big step up to our #1 option above, Narragansett.
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4. Simpler Times: 67 Cents a Can
The #4 cheapest beer on our list is Simpler Times. It’s not available from Walmart so you might have trouble finding it, but if you’re in Trader Joe’s anyway, it’s there and cheap. It gets a 69 rating from review sites, but drinkers give it a much higher 88. Reviews describe it as “not the worst beer I’ve ever had” and “a bit syrupy.” Another review said, “Not terrible but I wouldn’t drink it again.”
5. Schaefer: 67 Cents a Can
The next cheapest beer on our list is Schaefer. It’s a college brew of choice and winds up saturating a lot of off-campus rental housing carpets on Saturday mornings. it gets a poor rating of 65 on BeerAdvocate from reviewers and the actual drinkers put it at a much lower 57. It’s been described as “Better than PBR, Busch or Bud.” Also “kind of repulsive and medicinal” and “struggles to be average.” It’s not a great beer. It’s not even a good beer. It works like hell to avoid being a bad beer and doesn’t quite make it. You’d be slightly better off with Stroh’s and a lot better off with Narragansett, as far as cheap beers go.
6. Coors: 68 Cents a Can
Our fifth cheapest beer is Coors. It gets a 64 review on BeerAdvisor and a 71 from drinkers, which pushes it up into the “Okay” category. It gets described as “inoffensive” and “nothing to write home about.” It’s possible it should go a bit higher on our list, above offerings like Schaeffer” which actually does offend a lot of people. The choice of fake volunteer firefighters and people who already have some of it in the fridge.
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7. Pabst Blue Ribbon: 74 Cents a Can
PBR comes in at #7 on our list of cheapest beers around. It actually gets a 70 at BeerAdvocate and an 83 from drinkers, which puts it in the “good” category. However, with a price of 74 cents a can or $17.64 for a case, we had to put it below much more disgusting options like Schaefer because after all this is an article about cheap beer. The improved flavor just isn’t enough to justify the extra money. Drinkers are better off going for Stroh’s, getting a better tasting beer and saving $1.65 on a case. In fact if hipsters hadn’t popularized it in a bunch of internet memes along with bacon, it probably wouldn’t be half as popular.
8. Rainier: 75 Cents a Can
Rainier is a “mountain fresh” beer from the Pacific Northwest, and the 7th cheapest beer on our list. It’s still in the “Best of the bad” category along with PBR, Schaefer, Coors and Stroh’s. That means it doesn’t get a flavor multiplier in our list. It gets a score of 68 on BeerAdvocate and has been described as “not upsetting” by some and actually “refreshing” by others. It’s possible that Rainier should be in a class with PBR. Not the worse beer around, not anything that makes you want to kick a mirror for drinking it, but not good enough to score higher than worst tasting beers that cost a lot less.
9. Olympia: 79 Cents a Can
#8 on our list of cheapest beers is Olympia. The beer gets called “fizzy,” “watered down” and “really bad, but at least it doesn’t have an aftertaste.” Others have called it “metallic and joy-killing.” Still others seem to like it or even call it “easy drinking,” us included. This beer may be more of a litmus test of the drinker’s taste buds than anything else. Still, at 79 cents a can or 19 bucks a case it’s kind of steep as gross cheap beers go.
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10. Name Tag: 50 Cents a Can / Taste Adjusted Price: 85 Cents a Can
This is Trader Joe’s other option. 50 cents a can is incredibly cheap, which would have put it near the top of our list of cheapest beers if not for the taste. Name Tag is #1 in the “Completely revolting” category. That gives it a 70% taste multiplier. It gets a 62 on Beer Advocate and drinkers say it’s “sort of pasty,” “syrupy” and “pretty bad.” It’s also been called “weak,” “not worth trying” and “at least it is forgettable.”
11. Yuengling: 91 Cents a Can
A surprise at #11 on our list of cheapest beers is Yuengling. The 91 cents a can price tag is steep, but the beer’s flavor puts it up in the “best of the bad” category. It gets a 77 from BeerAdvocate’s reviewers and drinkers alike. That’s “okay,” in case you’re wondering. Does that make it a good beer? No. Is Narragansett both better tasting and cheaper? Yes. That’s why Yuengling winds up so far down the list.
12. Grain Belt Premium: 92 Cents a Can
Grain Belt and Yuengling should really have their own category. They’re both almost too expensive and too good to be cheap beers, but too bad to be expensive. At $21.99 per case this beer won’t save anyone from poverty, but in good conscience we can’t leave it off the list. Maybe you’ll find it on sale or maybe someone will give you a case as a tip. Drinkers have said, “I’d probably drink it again if it was free” and “Not very good but people from Minnesota have to like it.”
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13. Old Milwaukee: 58 Cents a Can / Taste Adjusted Price: 99 Cents a Can
The 12th of the cheapest beers on our list takes a step back down into the “Completely revolting” category. “Old swill” as we used to call it in college costs about 14 bucks for a case. It’s brewed by Pabst and gets a score of 61 on BeerAdvocate. Drinkers call it “undrinkable,” “just awful” and “tastes like an arena restroom.” That said, some people love it. One friend told us it was his favorite cheap beer, but added that it brought back a lot of fond college memories for him. There is quite literally no accounting for taste.
14. Keystone Light: 50 Cents a Can / Adjusted Price: $1.00 a Can
Keystone light is the thirteenth cheapest beer on our list. It’s also the first beer in our “You should probably just drink Mad Dog or nail polish” category. Really it should be tied for number two because it’s 50 cents a can or $12 a case, but the flavor multiplier doubles that cost because your soul will pay the difference. Drinkers and reviewers alike give this beer an F on BeerAdvocate. It’s described as tasting “like grainy water,” “swill,” and “not beer.”
15. Busch: 57 Cents a Can / Adjusted: $1.13 a Can
#14 on our list of cheapest beers is testament to the power of advertising. Busch beer is 57 cents a can or $13.59 a case. That’s cheap. It’s also awful, according to reviewers and drinkers on BeerAdvocate. Drinkers say it’s very watery, super light and has no aftertaste. There’s not much more we can say about it. If you’ve been in America for more than six months and have been to any parties in that time, you’ve tried it.
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16. Miller Lite: 71 Cents a Can / Adjusted: $1.20 a Can
This is definitely not a good beer, but it may not deserve the score of 55 it gets on review site BeerAdvocate. In fact it would have wound up a lot higher on our list if not for its relatively high price for a cheap beer of 71 cents a can. That’s nearly $17 per case, and once you realize that makes it more expensive than Coors, Rolling Rock, Stroh’s and many of the other cheap beers out there, this beer falls short.
17. Bud Light: 67 Cents a Can / Adjusted: $1.33 a Can
Despite millions of dollars of ads to the contrary, Bud Light is not a good beer. It gets a 48 on BeerAdvocate and a 43 from drinkers. It’s possible a lot of the blame for those low ratings can be laid at the feet of plain old contrariness, but it’s also possible this beer is just that bad.
18. Budweiser: 85 Cents a Can / Adjusted: $1.45 a Can
Budweiser didn’t make it in at #18 on our list of cheapest beers because it tastes worse than all the other beers on the list. In fact it tastes better than Bud Light and better than Keystone or Busch. It’s pretty inoffensive and plenty of people actually like it. It’s not challenging in any way. It’s the yellow cheese singles slice of beers. One could even say it’s a beer for non-snobs who just want to drink something they don’t have to grow a hipster beard to enjoy. The problem is that it’s also fairly expensive. At almost $21 a case, it would need to taste a whole lot better to stack up against cheaper options like Olympia, Rainier and Coors. The thing is, everybody knows about it because the company spends a zillion dollars on advertising, which is exactly why this “cheap” beer costs more.
19. Coors Light: 94 Cents a Can / Adjusted: $1.89 a Can
Coors Light probably doesn’t deserve to hit the #19 spot on our list of cheapest beers any more than Bud deserves to be at #18. Again, it’s not that it’s disgusting. It’s really not. In fact it’s almost flavorless. But it’s also almost $23 a case. That’s more than Bud. The beer may not be God-awful, but it barely makes it into the cheap category.
20. Natural Light: 47 Cents a Can / Taste Adjusted Price: $2.33 a Can
Natural Light is by far the cheapest beer out there, as far as mass market brews go. There’s a reason it’s so cheap. It’s not good. We put a 5x taste multiplier on this one. We still drank a ton of it in college. That’s because without our multiplier it’s $11 for a case. That’s cheap. Anyone can come up with $11 on a Friday night. $14 for Rolling Rock is cheap, but if you’re really hurting for cash you can come home with a case of Natural Light and one of those triangle sandwiches in the blister pack for that amount of money.