The Best of the Cheap Beer

Whislt getting ready for work the other day, NPR did a brief bit on a blog post found at the Washington Post, where the writers of the blog did a taste test of cheap beers. The premise was fairly simple:

…we took on domestic canned beers in search of the perfect brew for a holiday weekend cookout. We were looking for one with broad appeal, one that people could enjoy all day in the afternoon sun and one that was cheap. How cheap? My only rule was that each individual beer had cost less than $1, or no more than $6 a six-pack.

This was a blind tasting, with beers served in unmarked cups. Participants were asked to rate the beer on a scale of 1 to 5 on the overall taste — this was relative, given the quality of beer — and a separate score of 1 to 5 based on how refreshing the beer would feel on a hot summer day.

Out the reviews, this one for Bud Light came up as my favorite: “Very refreshing, due to the complete lack of flavor”. That pretty much sums up Bud Light for me as well, except for the refreshing part.

The ratings for the six beers went as follows:

  1. National Bohemian
  2. Miller High Life
  3. Pabst Blue Ribbon
  4. Bud Light
  5. Schaefer
  6. Schlitz

Being the curious sort, I wondered what the rest of the beer world thought of these brands. There are two website I visit that allow for anyone (and I mean ANYONE) to provide beer reviews. Think of them as Web 2.0 sites for hopheads.
These are ratebeer.com and beeradvocate.com
. Here’s their take on the same six beers.

rateabeer.com

  1. National Bohemian = 2.12
  2. Pabst Blue Ribbon = 1.79
  3. Schlitz = 1.78
  4. Miller High Life = 1.64
  5. Schaefer = 1.62
  6. Bud Light = 1.16

BeerAdvocate.com

  1. Schlitz = 3.03
  2. Pabst Blue Ribbon = 2.98
  3. National Bohemian = 2.87
  4. Miller High Life = 2.84
  5. Schaefer = 2.6
  6. Bud Light = 1.9

Now granted, people use different criteria to judge beers, and almost everyone carries with them their own biases. That being said, there are some patterns here.

One, we can probably conclude that Natty Bo is better than Bud Light.

Two, we can probably conclude that Bud Light doesn’t rate high on anyone’s list.

Finally, the other beers are sort of all over the place, at least when compared amongst themselves. Part of me wonders what would have happened if the folks at Getting out Guru had put in, say, a bottle of beer that is similar in style to those above, but generally held in higher regard. Would the differences be stark or minor? My belief that, as with anything, you get what you pay for. And in the end, you may find a good cheap beer, but you will rarely find a great cheap beer.