Sometimes you just want a cheap beer. It's nothing to be ashamed of. But how much Rolling Rock and PBR can you actually drink before you get sick of them? And maybe it would be nice if your cheap beer actually had some sort of distinguishing flavor.
I conducted a taste test with a variety of beers from a Brooklyn store to find the best ones for cheap. The only criteria? The cost of a six pack had to be under $10. My boyfriend and I tried each beer without knowing which one it was and ranked them according to taste and drinkability. These are the top five for every preference.
If you want the absolute cheapest beer that you aren't sick of yet... Shock Top Belgian Wheat is for you.
- Cost of a six pack: $6.99
- Alcohol by volume: 5.2%
It's totally fine to want the cheapest beer you can find, and Shock Top Belgian White is an okay option. We both found it to be drinkable. To him, it was "soothing and relaxing." To me, it was "inoffensive and chuggable." This beer is perfect to bring to a party, especially if you don't want to be that guy with a six pack of Natty Light.
However, the St. Louis beer had the lowest ABV of the taste test, so the price does come at a trade-off. If your overall goal is more about getting drunk, it might be worth spending an extra dollar for a higher ABV.
If you're into strong, bold flavors... Harpoon Rich & Dan's Rye IPA is for you.
- Cost of a six pack: $7.99
- Alcohol by volume: 6.9%
Before tasting it, I commented that this beer had an incredibly strong smell. And as is customary with a strong smell, there was also a lot of flavor present in each sip, from pine to citrus to caramel. The overall taste left in my mouth was spicy, thanks to the addition of the rye. It's the perfect choice if you love a lot of flavor.
If you're usually more of a wine drinker... Dragon Stout is for you.
- Cost of a six pack: $9.99
- Alcohol by volume: 7.5%
Dragon Stout tastes exactly like the beer version of red wine, and at 7.5%, it had the highest ABV of everything we tried. This Jamaican beer is made by the same brewery that brings you Red Stripe. There's a lot of flavor packed into each sip, a definite sweetness resulting from notes of chocolate and dark fruits. It had a stronger aftertaste than most of the other beers, but it was a pleasant one that only made me want to drink more.
During the blind test, I remarked that I would buy this beer at any price. And after our taste test was complete, I finished this one.
If you want the perfect pairing for a steak... Uinta Hop Nosh IPA is for you.
- Cost of a six pack: $8.99
- Alcohol by volume: 7.3%
Immediately after trying Uinta Hop Nosh IPA, my boyfriend said that it would go perfectly with a steak. This IPA from Utah has the highest BeerAdvocacte score out of every beer we tested, based on over 600 reviews at the time of publication. The beer both smells and tastes very strongly of citrus zest, with notes of grapefruit and lime.
But it's also smooth and creamy, making Uinta Hop Nosh IPA a very well-balanced beer when it comes to flavor. This is definitely a beer to drink with a delicious meal, as its syrupy mouthfeel would complement good food very nicely.
If you want the absolute best all-around cheap beer... Shed Mountain Ale is for you.
- Cost of a six pack: $8.89
- Alcohol by volume: 7.4%
When I tried Shed Mountain Ale, my first comment was that it tastes expensive. The Vermont-brewed ale has notes of caramel and toffee, and both flavors came through clearly. It was rich and slightly sweet. At a 7.4% ABV, it still managed to be extremely easy to drink. We both finished our glasses.
My instinct was that it should be paired with a $30 roasted chicken entree. On the other hand, my boyfriend said that he wanted to enjoy it with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It's definitely a versatile beer that can be enjoyed in many different situations.