If the World Cup has taught us anything (other than what an offsides is in soccer), it’s that cheap beer unites people. Just about every time a goal was scored, the television would cut to a party in that country and what was happening? People were cheering, throwing their beers in the air like they just didn’t care.
Okay, maybe the beer wasn’t the reason they were united in revelry, but come on, how cool was that to see beer showers happening to other people for a straight month?
Anyway. Back to the subject at hand.
Cheap beer is as necessary to drinking culture as any other potent potable. Some cultures may value spirits or wine or something else entirely, but at the end of the day, chances are you’re going to be able to find a cheap beer no matter where you go.
How could they not? Cheap beers are (obviously) easy on the wallet, they’re typically low in alcohol, and you can pound through a bunch of them because they’re only a step or two away from basically being carbonated water.
(If you need actual carbonated water choices, check out this article.)
With that in mind, we at The Manual put our heads together to see what the best cheap beers out there were. Shortly after beginning the discussion, we realized we’d have to figure out a few things before making the list. First, would we focus on regular beers, lite beers, or both? Would we take regional cheap beers into account? What about cheap beers that are technically craft beers?
We decided on the following: Both regular and lite beers would be considered. In the case of a brand having both, we went with the better one. We wouldn’t take regional cheap beers into account (sorry lovers of Lonestar, Lions Head, et cetera), and beers like Yuengling (craft but still cheap) would also be discounted.
Could there be other beers on this list? Of course. We’re sure we missed 60 percent of our readers’ favorites. Let us know in the comments which ones we missed, so we have an excuse to go into every dive bar and gas station we come across to make sure we try them (in the name of science, of course).
Originally from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Rolling Rock worked to aggressively expand the brand on the back of a green bottle, a horse logo (which was co-opted by the early 2000s emo-rock band Something Corporate for their Piano Rock merch), and a “full-bodied” (their words, not ours) flavor profile. It’s crisp, and it has a flavor, sure, but saying Rolling Rock is full-bodied is saying that anyone on staff at The Manual could beat Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in an arm-wrestling match.
What used to be your grandpa’s beer has transformed over the last decade or so into the water of life of the young and hip. Whether you’re getting it in a 12-ounce can, a tall boy, a bottle, or on draft, you know what you’re getting every time you raise a PBR to your lips: some carbonation, the slightest hint of beer flavor, and the whispers in your head that you need to pick up more moustache wax.
Once only found in the Northeast, this Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based brewery has slowly expanded its distribution across the country and shows no signs of slowing down. The line now includes a shandy, but the true joy comes from working your way through a four-pack of tallboys while sitting with your toes in the sand. It tastes like cheap beer, and sometimes that’s all you need.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable beers on the list thanks to the one-eyed man on the can, Natty Boh was originally a Chesapeake, Maryland beer before expansion (even though the majority of the beer is still sold in the Baltimore area). You also can’t forget the cap puzzles, which provide hours of entertainment (read: yelling at your friend who keeps saying dumb answers) long into the night.
The beer so ubiquitous they literally renamed it “America” for two summers, Budweiser is a staple of American culture no matter where you are. Cracking a Bud Heavy is as American as American could be. If it was around in Washington’s day, you sure as hell know that the “Crossing the Delaware” painting would actually depict him pounding a beer and getting ready to throw the can at the British.
It’s the Champagne of Beers — the self-proclaimed pinnacle of class in a more or less classless group of beers. What more do you need from it? Really now. Is that not enough to convince you that you should be drinking this when you need a cheap beer? No? Fine, it also comes in camo cans. Happy now?