Beer is awesome. Whether it’s accompanying a baseball or football game, a lively conversation on a terrace, or a raging kegger with 500 of your closest friends, beer has served as a social lubricant of all kinds for thousands of years. The process of brewing beer – which involves the separation of sugar from starches and fermenting that sugar into alcohol – historians estimate, has been around since 9500 B.C. and was a major part of life in ancient Egypt and the Middle East, which is considered to be the cradle of human life. In fact, historians have discovered chemical evidence of beer brewing as far back as 3500 BC at the Godin Tepe archaeological site in the Zagros Mountains of Iran.
No one civilization can be credited for creating beer, Wikipedia suggests, because of the notion that many cultures likely observed that sugary liquid could be derived from grains and thus all likely came to the idea independently. Because of the ability to bake bread and brew beer, many civilizations were able to start economies and the sale of those two staples often funded the creation of other technologies that spurred human advances. The best kind of beer, though, is free, or close to it. Across Canada and North America, there are literally thousands of great beers, but only a few can be great and cheap all at the same time. Yes, we know you get what you pay for, but you can have a great time for just a few bucks if you check out any one of these 10 cheap beers.
At 5.5. per cent alcohol, this British Columbia-based brewing company is a great, cheap beer that comes in a number of different varieties – as many microbrews are wont to do, including cream ale, blonde, pale ale, honey, genuine draft and light lager at 4.0 per cent alcohol. You can buy a six pack for as cheap as $8. They even brew a root beer and a ginger ale. The ‘Boo, as the brand is affectionately known is popular among those living in the Pacific Northwest – and better yet, it won’t set you back an arm and a leg. It’s a great tailgate beer, as is evidenced by its smooth, easy-drinking taste and the fact the brewing company has an entire line of tailgate gear such as aprons, mason jars with handles and a jumbo can grill. You can’t beat the ‘Boo.
9. Lone Star
It’s probably fitting that this beer comes out of Texas, because there is no cheap beer that refreshes quite like Lone Star – over and over and over again. Lone Star beer is a great way to while away insanely hot summer days and an even better way to re-hydrate after spending time exerting oneself on said insanely hot summer days. Why? Because at 4.65 per cent alcohol, they will not make you pass out after one or two beers in the Texas heat. Granted, the hops they use comes from the Pacific Northwest, and the grains come from the Central and Northern Plains, but it’s still a Texas beer for Texas heat. Yee-haw.
8. Pabst Blue Ribbon
In addition to being the number one choice of hipsters everywhere, PBR is a refreshing, smooth lager that goes down smooth no matter the temperature. Try not to worry about what message your beer is sending when you purchase yourself a six-pack of this fantastic stuff. It doesn’t matter if that message is “I worry about what anonymous people I don’t know at a party think of me,” or “I couldn’t care less what these anonymous people at a party think of me because I am not a tool who concerns himself with what others think of the things that I personally enjoy.” Then crack open your PBR, which go for as little as $2 a can, and think about what you might buy yourself with the money you saved buying said PBR. Drink up, my friend. Drink up.
7. Labatt 50
Long derided as the beer of Canadian truck drivers everywhere, this ale has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance thanks to the power of kitsch-minded consumers who have discovered once they crack open their Labatt 50 that, ‘Damn! This inexpensive truck-beer tastes fantastic,’ and they have continued to spur its sales – but not enough to the point where it has risen the level of a budget brew, which is great news for you if you’re going to a party, because you can get great beer for a good price and ensure that nobody will be stealing your beers from the fridge when you’re not looking. Although the more popularity it gains back, the less likely that stays true. That’s some catch-22. Better drink your 50, which can go for as little as $2.40 a can.
6. Grain Belt Premium
The best thing to come out of Minnesota since… Bob Dylan? Prince? Joe Mauer? Target? No matter. No less of a critic than Foodspin’s beer guru Will Gordon has christened Grain Belt Premium ‘America’s finest cheap beer.’ Gordon wrote he thinks of Minnesota “as a secretly sexy place,” and not just because of Kent Hrbek and Al Franken. Maybe it’s all the trout and music and Lutherans. Toss in a smooth, creamy, and dreamy local budget brew like Grain Belt and it’s a wonder Minnesota hasn’t seceded to form its own naked blonde utopia. Grain Belt Premium is America’s finest cheap beer.” Take it from Will Gordon and get some of that Grain Belt Premium. Oh, and it costs as little as $24 for a pack of 20.
5. Coors Original
Yes, it’s the one in the yellow can with the cursive writing. The ‘banquet beer,’ that is anything but, but Coors has long enjoyed far less cachet than its far-more-marketed and completely vile cousin, Coors Light. Do you know why Coors Light is required to be ridiculously cold when consumed? In order to kill the taste, which is somewhere above drinking liquid drain cleaner, but which does similar things to your insides, unfortunately. For as little as $2.45 a can, the ‘banquet beer’ is a welcome substitute when your favorite budget beer is unavailable, and is a fantastic ‘second-favorite’ beer that you can turn to in times of disappointment, which, ironically, are great times for getting smashed on Coors.
4. Milwaukee’s Best
Ah, yes. Milwaukee’s Beast, as it has been known by everyone in the history of this beer’s existence. It tastes just fine going down and can even make you the life of the party, as you can knock them back quickly and easily as you go about your evening. Where this lager gets its ‘Beast’ nomenclature is from the double whammy of recovering from drinking this stuff. First is the heartburn, as the acidity of the beer returns to you tenfold; and the hangovers, which make you feel as though you spent the night before sucking on the tailpipe of an eighteen-wheeler and washed it down with essence of pain and suffering. You’ll enjoy the evening, though.
3. Iron City
If you have ever been to Pittsburgh and asked for a beer, you have probably had Iron City foisted on you. I’m as nationalistic as the next guy, and hometown pride is awesome, but seriously, Pittsburgh, there are other beers in the world. And you are allowed to drink them. You know this, right? Pittsburgh’s sports teams all share the city’s black-and-gold color scheme, and their fans all swear by this beer, which is actually pretty good and not a bad way to spend a few minutes, but the civic pride they feel in this budget brew is on a par with their collective passion for the Steelers, yelling at people and misspelling words on the Internet. Try Iron City. It’s not bad. A case of 24 beers will cost you a little more than $26.
This budget brew originated in Canada’s Atlantic province of Nova Scotia in 1867, and the beer was originally brewed in what the founders named the Army and Navy Brewery, which was named after the fledgling brewery’s best customers. This full-bodied lager is best drank around a campfire on the beach, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It has also won many international awards and even has a Canadian junior hockey team, the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, named after it. In Canada, that’s just like being nominated for sainthood, but this involves beer, which is even better. A can will cost you as little as $2.20 – that’s cheaper than water in places.
1. Lucky Lager
OK, this one has no redeeming characteristic about it at all. It’s a very, very cheap Canadian beer – costs $2 a can in most liquor stores – brewed by Labatt and drank only by 85-year-olds with no taste buds or 16-year-olds who have combined their last few bucks to get drunk in a very ugly fashion. Lucky Lager sports a hideous label, a foul odour that reminds me of gym socks and stale bread (in the same bag) and a very, very misleading name, which was chosen by a contest after the lager was launched in 1934. If you are drinking Lucky Lager, you are decidedly not lucky, and you are probably not getting lucky, because drinking this implies you are willing to take your life into your own hands. Try Lucky Lager and tell me I’m wrong. This is one cheap beer you really have to try.