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Oct 8, 2010 06:06 AM

Cheap Beers with Merit?

On the recently surfaced Cheap Beers thread, I commented on Steel Reserve, an 8% abv monstrosity with a rather low price tag. This beer has always struck me as a Poor Man's Duvel, and for that reason (along with its low price) I feel that Steel Reserve has some inherent merit, despite the obvious flavor flaws and potential for a larger than life hangover if one is not careful.

If anyone out there is in some way a Steel Reserve fan, tell me why you are.

Also, can you think of any cheap beers that have some merit to you?

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  1. I drink Coors Light a lot after playing ball in my various sports leagues. We call it C-Little. There’s something to be said about rolling into the bar as a team after the game and passing around huge cheap cups on a hot summer day. It’s cheap, mildly refreshing, and if you drink enough of it, you catch a buzz. There’s two bars we might head to after games. One is a great craft beer bar/ restaurant. We’ll go there sometimes and every guy will ponder the menu, order from the server, and at the end of the meal, we split up the check. The other place we go to is a dive. First guy into the bar will call out a number to the bartender, he pulls the C-Little tap, and doesn’t turn it off until he’s filled all our cups. The beers get passed back till everyone gets one and one guy can throw down a small wad of money for the round. And we’re drinking within a minute. Then, we repeat several…ok, sometimes many.. times. There’s a frugal, speedy, morale-building merit to it all.

    19 Replies
    1. re: Silverjay

      What gastronomic merit does Coor's Light in your opinion have over water?

      1. re: Chinon00

        There is no gastronomic dimension to my anecdote. The merit is purely the utility of getting buzzed cheap and quick.

        1. re: Silverjay

          Which beers do you enjoy for their gastronomic qualities that you find affordable?

          1. re: Silverjay

            "...the utility of getting buzzed cheap and quick...."

            Having come of age before the popularity of "light/lite" beer, I've never understood the concept of drinking it for a "cheap buzz".

            Most of the flagship lights cost as much or more than the same brewers' "regular" beers (which are usually around 5% abv as opposed to the light's 4.2%) , in some cases more than their higher ABV "Ice beers" or "malt liquors" (5.6% - 8+%).

            Seems to me paying more for a lower alcohol beer is going in the opposite direction of "cheap buzz".

            1. re: JessKidden

              They have it on permanent special at this place, so it is cheap. And it became a team tradition, hence the diminutive nickname . Having just played a double header in 90+ degree heat, we're not going to stand around in sport coats with patches on the elbows drinking craft beer out of tulip glasses. And Brooklyn Lager, which the bar also pours, is double the price. One guy needs to be able to throw down a twenty and get beers for the whole team.

              The craft beer bar that we sometimes go to has a strong rotating selection for $5-6 an imperial pint or 10oz. pour for higher abv. stuff. They do pour $5 Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier in tall .5L glasses that we will sometimes get as a gastronomically satisfying and refreshing option.

              1. re: Silverjay

                "we're not going to stand around in sport coats with patches on the elbows drinking craft beer out of tulip glasses."

                I don't get this anti-craft beer, snobbery reference in response to my post, where I only mentioned the flagship macros "premium" beers (at 5%) and their ice beers and malt liquors as more logical choices for a "cheap" beer when a buzz is the ultimate goal.

                I never mentioned craft beer, tulip glasses or one's wardrobe.

                1. re: JessKidden

                  Calm down. It's a one line joke. I simply shared an anecdote about drinking cheap, piss beer with my teammates and you jumped in babbling about ABV of ice beers and malt liquors and coming of age before lite beer. The story doesn't need to be analyzed to even that level of parsimonious detail. If the sport coat with the patches on the elbows fits, wear it.

                2. re: Silverjay

                  My only issue with your response was that the OP was looking for cheap beer suggestions "w/ inherent merit". The OP went on to compare his current favorite cheap beer w/ merit w/ Duvel; a fairly highly regarded brew I hope we can agree. So suggesting cheap cold flavorless beer seems out of place to me here. And in that regard I'm pretty sure that most of us know where to find $1 draft night already.

                  Anyway cheap beer with character that I like includes Yuengling lager and porter and Reading Premium.  

                  1. re: Chinon00

                    Tripeler asked if "any cheap beers that have some merit to you?", to which I wrote a personal anecdote which centered on the merit of camaraderie, thrift, and some sentimentality. It was clearly not meant as a recommendation for every beer dork in patches and tulip glasses to trip over their keyboard and race to the corner bar.

                    I like Okocim Porter for a thrifty, tasty beer with kick. It's easily available at many shops near me. Blue Point Toasted Lager is often on special at bars near me as well and this is a decent beer.

                    1. re: Silverjay

                      I agree with your suggestions. Yummy stuff that won't put a dent in your wallet.

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        You should come check out the craft beer bars where I live. You wouldn't make that silly joke about elbow patches again.

                        Contrary to the bogus blue-collar fantasy sold by BMC, not everyone who avoids corporate macro-swill is some tweed-jacketed stuffed shirt.

                        So just to clarify, so we can drop this topic, the merits of Coors Light are: it's cheap, it gets you wasted, guys who play sports like it. Noted.

                        1. re: Josh

                          I guess I can toss my elbow-patched tweed sport coat!

                          1. re: Josh

                            >Contrary to the bogus blue-collar fantasy sold by BMC, not everyone who avoids corporate macro-swill is some tweed-jacketed stuffed shirt.

                            Just like not every cheap lite beer drinker downs their 30 packs in their mobile homes while watching football in their mustard stained wifebeater tank tops? ;-)

                            1. re: LStaff

                              Yes. And I never claimed otherwise. :-)

                        2. re: Chinon00

                          I've found Yuengling Lager undrinkably skunky. But Yuengling Black & Tan has enough stout in it to take that skunky edge off. Still cheap and drinkable.

                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                            At the risk of coming across as a know-it-all-prick, I thought I'd mention that the B&T is made with neither the Lager nor any stout. It's the combination of the Premium and the Porter. Perhaps, you might want to try those quite affordable offerings?

                            1. re: MGZ

                              As someone who regularly works with knowitall pricks, your words don't sound familiar. I have never seen Yuengling Premium in the DC/MD/VA area; it's exclusively Yuengling Lager, B&T, Light, and Old Chesterfield. I will most definitely give the Premium a try if and when I can locate the stuff. Thanks for the tip!

                            2. re: monkeyrotica

                              Skunk taste in beer is a product of mishandling and not a flaw in the brewing process. Could be though you just don't like Yuengling lager. I can't imagine that EVERY bottle of Yuengling you've had has been light struck and therefore "skunked".

                              1. re: Chinon00

                                Probably a bit of both. I've tried the lager about half a dozen times (parties, restaurants, bars); it's always either flat, stale, or off tasting. Have not had this issue with either the Porter or the Half & Half.

                3. A lot depends on where you are and what you mean by "cheap." Trader Joes has a Mission St. Pale Ale that just won a gold medal at the great american beer festival. $5.99 a sixer. Its made for TJs by Firestone Walker. They also carry something called Stockyard Stout, which I believe is made by Great Lakes for the same price. Also 22 oz bottles of Mission St Brown Ale and Hefeweizen for $2.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: chuckl

                    TJ's Simpler Times Lager is pretty cheap and tasty. A good post lawnmowing beer. You can also get a 30-can cube of Miller High Life and mix 50/50 with V8 and a little Tabasco for a chelada. Or just hit it with some lime and salt. Indistinguishable from Corona at a fraction of the price.

                    1. re: chuckl

                      Stockyard Oatmeal stout is made by the Goose Island brewing company. It's alright, but I prefer the Mission St. brews, especially the IPA.

                      1. re: chuckl

                        I just tried Trader Joe's Cerveza La Playa Lager. $2.99 a six pack. Decent generic Mexican lager that's actually brewed in Mexico. Cheaper than their Red Label lager and lacks the metallic after taste.

                      2. I enjoyed a more than a few 12 packs of St. Pauli Girl this summer priced at about $1 per bottle including tax and deposit. No better or worse than other euro lagers offered in 12 packs that I also tried that cost a bit more. Costco also has good prices on cases of SPG and Hofbrau too - and some craft beer like Harpoon, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, and Dogfish Head.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: LStaff

                          At around that same buck-a-bottle point, you can get Paulaner hefe or Spaten Oktoberfest in 12 packs here. I'd go for those over a standard lager. But a good pale ale would beat either.

                          1. re: ted

                            Dale's Pale Ale in cans I think goes for around $8 for a sixer.

                            1. re: ted

                              Those deals don't exist around the Boston area anymore - haven't seen any of those beers or similar for less than $16/12 pack. Add in deposit and now tax, and you are in the $1.50 a bottle range.

                          2. For my money, Full Sail Session Black and Session Lager are the best deals going for quality beer at a low price. 12-pack price is typically $11-12, and the flavor is more than passable.

                            Corona in cans isn't bad, and I've seen it for around $6/7 for a six-pack.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Josh

                              Thats the twelve pack price Im assuming (on the Session).

                              1. re: Insidious Rex

                                Yes, sorry should have been clearer.

                            2. I think Steel Reserve is good for what it is -- a very inexpensive malt liquor. I'd take it over Bud any time. SR tastes distinctly better out of bottles, I've noticed.