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Feb 22, 2009 02:19 PM

Best Cheap Beer

The economy is going south and the price of beer is skyrocketing. $7.49 a six pack is now the standard price in SoCal chain supermarkets of no-character, generic swill like Bud, Coors and Miller. Heineken and Becks as high as $10 for a six! Will i have to go back to drinking the Meister Brau, Milwaukee's Best and Natural Light from my youth?

I found a nice, cheap beer at Trader Joe's. "Simpler Times" lager brewed by Minhas Brewery in Monroe, Wisconson. $3.99 for a six pack. full bodied, slightly amber colored and not too sweet. 6.2% alcohol.

I know you save money when there are sales on 12, 18 and 30 packs but I'm talking everyday price.

Any other bargains out there?

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  1. Natty Boh all the way. That said, I haven't seen prices like the ones you mentioned for Bud/Coors/Miller, although I don't really drink them either. I can still get any Sierra Nevada, including the excellent Torpedo, for $7.99 a six pack.

    16 Replies
      1. re: JonParker

        Ah, If only Nat Boh was avaiable everywhere! If you can't get it, I have seconded the vote for PBR...I think there are very similar.

        1. re: BigSteve

          I second your feeling about the limited availability of National Bohemian. They really need to expand their distribution area or build more breweries.

          1. re: Jobe1

            Had a friend who lives in Baltimore bring me down a couple cases of Boh. Impossible to find south of Bmore, even in Maryland.

            1. re: monkeyrotica

              Pabst's website for National Bohemian lists Maryland distributors in Rockville, Waldorf and Salisbury, a number of distributors in VA and NC (where the beer is brewed at the Eden MillerCoors facility) - as well as one each in DE and SC, and a number in PA.


              Of course. that's not to say that it still might not be "impossible to find" - since Pabst's websites are notorious for errors, and the company (now a "virtual" brewery that depends on mostly MillerCoors' breweries for its beer and otherwise a mere shadow of its former self even tho' it owns dozens of labels) isn't much for promotion or, probably, support for it's wholesalers.

              1. re: JessKidden

                Boh is available in some of the trendier downtown DC bars. Have not seen it in any MD bars/liquor stores outside Baltimore. As for Northern Virginia, it's not carried by Total Beverage or any of the major grocery chains.

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  See (and this not aimed at you personally, since I read such things all the time in the beer corner of the 'net), simply because one does not "see" a beer in the retailers one visits, doesn't mean the beer is not available.

                  I supposed part of the problem is that modern liquor stores and grocery stores carry a much larger selection today than they may have 20-30 years ago, so one expects to see everything available after hitting half a dozen stores.

                  But, the fact that that Pabst website lists numerous wholesalers in the areas you mention (MD south of Baltimore, Virginia, etc) means that the beer IS (or at least WAS) available TO retailers, but unless they know of a demand they're not going to carry it. No retailer can carry everything (tho', looking at some shelves, it may seem that way).

                  And knowing the distributor is especially helpful.

                  "Hey, I'd like to buy a case of National Bohemian and I see you don't carry it. Can you order it for me?"

                  "Uh, I don't think I can get it..."

                  "You deal with (for one example) Loveland out of Richmond, VA, don't you? They supposedly stock it."

                  "Oh, sure they're my MillerCoors, Yuengling, Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada supplier. I'll add a case of Natty Boh on my next order for you."

                  Of course, many of the modern day beer geeks pride themselves on only buying singles, so that method might not work if one is gonna stick the retailer with 23 bottles of a beer.

                  I know it's a sort of "antique" way to buy a beer and some geeks like the "hunt", but that's how we used to do it in the pre-internet era. If you're a "regular", most retailers won't even ask for a deposit --- and might even start carrying the brand as a regular offering when they know there's a market for it.

                  1. re: JessKidden

                    The fact that a brewer indicates they have a retailer in an area does not imply that the beer is available to retailers. For example, in Virginia we have a franchise law that gives exclusive rights to a brand in a given area to one wholesaler. That wholesaler is not obliged to carry every product with that brand name. It is quite common for a wholesaler to not sell every beer and package with a given brand name. In fact, today's wholesalers are looking for efficiency, and they are quite likely to not carry products that they don't think will sell at the volume they require.

                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                      The link I noted above for the Locator page of National Bohemian listed distributors not retailers (unlike some other Pabst's sites like the ones for PBR and Old Milwaukee - their best sellers). Comparing the list of distributors for Natty Boh and some other Pabst brands like Schaefer and Ballantine in PA shows that there are different lists for each brand.

                      Comparing Natty Boh and Ballantine, for instance, shows 9 and 7 wholesalers respectively, with only 1 on both lists. Compare those two lists to Schaefer's (with 10) and it lists some other Pabst houses on neither of the other lists.

                      That, to me, implies that Pabst's distributors lists are based on the particular brand, not simply a list of distributors that carry some of the Pabst line-up. Also note that many states display simply "Not Available" when checking the many Pabst brands that are regional.

                      Again, as I noted, Pabst's websites are error filled (for a time, they even misspelled one of the biggest selling northeast beers as "Schaeffer" and have also referred to Ballantine Ale as Ballantine Beer [which they dropped over a decade ago] ) and often out of date.

                      1. re: JessKidden

                        Yes, it fills you with confidence when a company misspells its own brand name.

                        Where you can run into trouble with such information is a brand such as Sierra Nevada, in which case a wholesaler might sell pale ale and Torpedo, but not porter or stout, say. This has occurred in my area.

              2. re: monkeyrotica

                I have seen it at the occasional shop in AA County and PG County and even once or twice in FFx County but yes its not super easy to find. This is probably because demand for it is pretty low outside of Baltimore and who wants to carry a bad beer that doesnt sell nowadays. And I say this as someone who cut his beer drinking teeth on Naty Boh when I was a teenager. It was very much a local cult beer and we used to buy cases of the stuff (for like $7...) and take it to school and spread its fame among our beer drinking brethren. But now its an awful awful beer who is largely purchased by Baltimore area fraternity brothers and perhaps a shrinking number of aging Baltimorians who have been drinking it since the Kennedy admin. I do always find it fairly amusing though when I go to local beer festivals and theres often a vendor who sells any kind of Boh paraphernalia (shirts, hats, glasses, beer pong equipment, etc.) at fairly steep prices to a constant swarm of college age kids. So apparently the legend still survives...

                1. re: Insidious Rex

                  Along with Stroh's, Schlitz, and Schaefer, Boh is a staple among the $3 happy hour crowd in DC's hipper, trendier, and more vibrant neighborhoods.

                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    You mean the hipsters on H street? More power to em I guess but I doubt I would pay $3 for a Natty Boh these days. Although I will admit to dropping $2 more than once on one at a couple Baltimore bars in the past year. But for nostalgia reasons only and it was actually on tap! And after choking one down I move on to a Loose Cannon or a Brewers Art to maintain the Baltimore cult beer theme...

                  2. re: Insidious Rex

                    I know you can get Naty Boh in Frederick. Along with Schaefer and other "cheap" beer. Here is the link for a place:

            2. re: JonParker

              Got a case of Natty Boh for $10.99, and it is now my favorite cheap beer.

              1. re: JonParker

                Ah, If only Nat Boh was avaiable everywhere! If you can't get it, I have seconded the vote for PBR...I think there are very similar.

              2. Full Sail Session Lager. 12 pack of stubby 11-oz. bottles goes for around $11 or so. It's a 100% barley malt lager, and quite tasty.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Josh

                  Session! I agree wholeheartedly. It's my go-to beer in clubs now, where it's becoming more available (in the type of music clubs where you usually only find the big-brewery adjunct lagers and maybe Guiness; maybe because of the retro-looking bottles? Whatever; I'm just glad to find it). Didn't know it was from Full Sail; that's cool.

                  1. re: Bat Guano

                    Anyone tried the Session Black (dark lager)? I enjoyed Session in WA and OR regularly and am glad to see it come back as an option to CA. I only see it in 12-packs so I'm a bit risk averse to buying a bunch cheap dark lager.

                  2. re: Josh

                    "Full Sail Session Lager. 12 pack of stubby 11-oz. bottles"

                    11 oz. bottles?! What happened to the standard 12 oz. bottle?

                    Ha ha.

                    I brought the subject up in another thread here, re: the recent trend in the market of shrinking long standard package sizing.

                    What's next? 10 oz. bottles?

                    Where does it end? :)

                    1. re: 2chez mike

                      The 11 ounce beer bottle (both stubby and longneck styles) was long a tradition on the West Coast. Here's an example of an Olympia stubby bottle from its original era in the 1930's when that bottle design was developed to compete with the newfangled "no deposit, no return", more compact beer can That Oly bottle ( also used by many other Western brewers as well) served as the inspiration for Full Sail's use of that bottle.

                      Oh, and 10 ounce beer cans were also once available, as well.

                  3. I believe that a case of Bitburger cans is still under $20.

                    1. Budweiser American Ale and the Michelob craft beers are priced very reasonably.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                        "Budweiser American Ale and the Michelob craft beers are priced very reasonably."

                        Budweiser "American Ale" is a step up from Budweiser. But at $7.49 a six pack. fpr that or regular Bud, here in SoCal, I have to disagree about it being priced reasonably.

                        1. re: 2chez mike

                          Where I live BAA is typically 6.99, compared to Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, et al, at 9.49.

                          1. re: Jim Dorsch

                            Where I live, BAA, SIerra Pale/ESB/Torpedo, and Sam Adams are ALL 6.99.
                            The Bud American Ale is a nice change to, owing to its very good balance.

                            1. re: The Professor

                              re: Jim Dorsch
                              Where is the general location for $6.99 Sam Adams? Here in NY

                              Capital region the standard price seems to be apx $10.00

                              1. re: feelinpeckish

                                I wasn't talking about Sam Adams. I said Bud American Ale is $6.99 in my area.

                      2. 12 packs of Sierra Nevada's seasonals are the best deals in craft beer today imo. Usually less than $14 with tax & deposit around here.