Skip to main content

In Defense of Cheap Beer, an Inclusive Beverage That’s Always Worth Drinking

Beer cooler
Flickr/uıɐɾ ʞ ʇɐɯɐs

Of all the adult beverages in the world, nothing beats a cheap beer.

Hear me out. 

Related Videos

Sure, there are better-tasting and boozier things to sip. There are regional distillates with thousand-year histories, artisan wines crafted by the same family for generations, rare Japanese whiskeys fetching outrageous prices at private auctions. There are outstanding IPAs, probably made right in your hometown by passionate artisan brewers. I’m not arguing that macro-brews are better-tasting or of better quality than any of these drinks. But as a total beverage experience no drink can compete with a cheap beer.

It promises so little, yet delivers so much. Microbrews threaten to blow your mind with hops and flavor. Always the darkest, the sourest, the dankest, they’ll have you lusting after limited releases, standing in line to drop half a paycheck on high-octane concoctions you can only drink two of before you’re annihilated, and they’re so pure and unfiltered that they’re liable to spoil if left unattended. Microbrews can be delicious, but it’s the wild west of the beer world, and there’s something to be said for the reliability of low expectations.

A true cheap beer is a low-cost, low-alcohol brew that isn’t out to impress anyone. Typically a lager or mild ale, it’s brewed by a big company with a name you recognize from their game-day advertising blitzes, which employ slow-motion aerials of snowy mountain ranges to showcase the beer’s patriotism and temperature above its taste, which is usually summed up as “ice cold.” Make no mistake, these beers don’t taste great, but that was never the point. Cheap beer is like duct tape: it’s inexpensive and reliable, has practically unlimited applications, and while using it in your car will probably get you in trouble, having some on hand in an emergency might just make you a hero. 

And this kind of attainable heroism is part of what makes cheap beer so special. Watch enough beer commercials and you’ll notice they’re not really trying to sell you beer at all, they’re selling you a lifestyle full of fun outdoor activities and nights on the town, and a mindset of hard-work rewarded with pure satisfaction. They’re selling you the promise that this beer is going to be here for you emotionally through the good times, and help make the hard times better. These aspirational ads may seem ridiculous (because they are), but they’re also full of people enjoying things together, which is ultimately what cheap beer is all about. 

Cheap beer is the most inclusive adult beverage on the planet. It transcends politics and culture — you can find a cheap lager nearly anywhere in the world and know exactly what you’re getting, and clinking yours against a stranger’s is an unmistakable gesture of goodwill. Cheap beer brings people together. It’s made for everybody (of legal drinking age), and doesn’t favor any palate or preference with too much style, flavor, or any adjective except maybe coldness — a cheap beer can never be cold enough. A wine or whiskey tasting is an exclusive, highbrow event, but cheap beer invites everyone to the party. It’s so inoffensive that even people who don’t like beer can enjoy one in the spirit of the occasion. 

That’s because cheap beer makes a celebration out of whatever’s going on. Cooking outside? Bring a six-pack of brewskis and suddenly it’s a barbecue. Eating a sandwich in a parking lot with a funny hat on? A cooler full of cold ones makes it a tailgate. Tarring the plate-factory roof with your fellow convicts in the spring of ‘49? Add a bucket of suds and suddenly you’re the lords of all creation. 

Cheap beer is a state of mind. It’s about accepting that not all things have to be perfect, that there is delight to be found in the simple beauty of everyday life. It’s about the celebration of common experience and the satisfaction of a job well done. Cheap beer is about community, about setting aside our differences and our preferences and coming together to revel in the moment. Just remember to keep it cold. 

Editors' Recommendations

The best kegerators for keeping your favorite beers cold and fresh
Fresh beer is better beer. Now, you can have cold draft beer at home or on the go with your own personal beer keg setup.
best kegerator on amazon

There's a wide selection of iconic craft beers and tasty cheap beers available to drink in cans and bottles. But nothing beats a good, heady draft pint served right from a tap or kegerator. As the name implies, a kegerator is a refrigerator that keeps a keg of beer cold and fresh while allowing you to dispense the contents from a built-in pressurized tap system on top.

However, it is a costly appliance, so it’s recommended to do your homework and invest your hard-earned money in a top-notch quality unit that will surely keep your beer fresh. To help you save time on researching the best ones, we’ve rounded up our picks for the best kegerators of 2023, with our selections ranging from on-the-go options to the most innovative dual-tap kegerators.

Read more
The Borg drink is a viral Gen-Z favorite that’s really not all that new
Sorry, kiddos. "Borg" has been around for a while. We just call it something else.
borg drink recipe

Every new generation thinks they've invented the wheel when it comes to anything trendy. We're sorry to say, Gen-Z, but "flared leggings" are called yoga pants, most of us were using flip phones before you were born, and don't even think about talking to us about pop punk unless you know who Billie Joe Armstrong is.
When it comes to drinks, most generations have a hallmark party beverage that defines their college years, holding the power to flood them with a rush of nausea and fuzzy memories even decades later. For Gen-Z, that drink is called "Borg." What they haven't realized yet, though, is that this falsely fruity concoction has been around for years under the name "Jungle Juice."
While Jungle Juice was originally invented by U.S. soldiers during the Second World War, it was Millenials who made it the truly trashy, hangover-inducing party swill it is. Most stereotypically mixed in a large bucket or something else that can be found in a dorm garage, Jungle Juice is a mixture of vodka and a cheap, fruity mixer such as Kool-Aid. Naturally, there aren't any hard and fast recipe rules, but that's the usual gist of Jungle Juice.
The Gen-Z twist, Borg, does have some clever upgrades, and for that, we give them due credit. Firstly, the rather gross-sounding name is actually a witty acronym for "Black Out Rage Gallon." We love that there's no beating around the bush with this generation. They know how to call a spade a spade. Second, unlike the communal trough that's used to dole out Jungle Juice, Borg is made and served in individual plastic jugs, cutting down on germ spread. We can appreciate that growing up in the days of COVID has made for some much healthier thinking. We also love that Borg can be capped, making it much more difficult for potential predators to tamper with a drink.
Of course, the optional addition of new ingredients like Liquid IV also help to curb the hangover that will undoubtedly come with drinking vodka from a plastic jug. That sure would have been nice back in the day.

Borg drink recipe

Read more
Is erythritol harmful? What a dietitian says new data means for your Keto diet
Erythritol is common in many keto foods - what does that mean for your health?
erythritol in keto diet advice

While sugar substitutes have been around for more than a century, they didn't really become mainstream here in the United States until around the mid-70s. According to Carolyn De La Pena, professor of American Studies at UC Davis and author of Empty Pleasures: The Story of Artificial Sweeteners from Saccharin to Splenda, between 1975 and 1984, Americans increased their consumption of artificial sweeteners by 150 percent. This timeline makes sense when you take into account that the late seventies coincided with the start of our crazed diet culture and the revolving door of fad diets.
One such diet that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, however, is the Keto diet. Still hugely popular among Americans trying to shed a few pounds, Keto focuses heavily on limited or no carbohydrates. Because sugar contains carbohydrates, followers of Keto have turned to artificial sweeteners to satisfy those late-night cravings - sweeteners that, more often than not, contain erythritol. Erythritol in particular has become hugely popular because it's much better for baking than other sugar substitutes, has less of an artificial flavor, and will keep the eater in Ketosis, which is key for losing weight on the Keto diet.
A new study has made waves recently because its findings indicate there's a link between erythritol and higher rates of heart attack and stroke (though the study did note that only an association was found — not causation. So should you be worried?
We asked Dan LeMoine, RD, the award-winning author of Fear No Food and the Clinical Director at Phoenix-based Re:vitalize Nutrition, what he had to say about erythritol, including its benefits and potential health risks. "Artificial sweeteners are still sweeteners. While many are non-nutritive or zero-calorie, we tend to view them similarly as we do regular sweeteners or sugars — moderation is key. While many have amazing implications on weight loss – being low to no-calorie options and having little impact on blood sugar, some have their downside," he says.

While some of that sugar substitution has been good for waistlines and health issues that come from obesity, it seems to be causing more and more concern when it comes to other potential health issues. "For example," says LeMoine, "some research indicates the popular sweeteners stevia may have negative effects on the gut microbiome. And the recent study showing correlation between the sugar alcohol, erythritol, and heart attack and stroke."

Read more