Best Cheap Beers: Ranked

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Everyone beer drinking has their favorite “cheap” beer. Whether it be at a time of need or you’re just craving something cheap, big gas station beers are hard to beat. After some debate about which of these beers was the best, we decided to set up a blind taste test with 10 different beers. We realize malt liquor may not technically be beer, but for the sake of the test we went ahead and included some anyways.

Experiment setup: Beers were poured into glasses numbered 1-10. Participants did not know what beer was in each glass. Our testers included 4 “young” adults, and 4 adults with more life experience. Each tester was instructed to taste each beer and rank them from 1-10, 1 being the best and 10 being the worst. We used cheez-it’s to reset our palette between beers. Once the results were in, we averaged the rank of each beer across the testers. The lower the average rank, the better overall that beer scored.

Tasting.jpg

Here are the contenders:
  • Schlitz Malt Liquor
  • Miller High Life
  • Keystone Ice
  • Milwaukee’s Best
  • Bud Ice
  • Natural Light
  • Lone Star
  • Steel Reserve
  • Keystone Light
  • Busch Light
Click the “next” button below to navigate through and see the winner!

10th Place – Schlitz Malt Liquor

Schlitz.jpg

This was the opposite of a fan favorite, as basically every tester ranked this beer dead last or second to last in their rankings. If this was the only alcohol available on a deserted island it may be drinkable, but until then you’re better off sticking to something else.

Average Rank: 9.625

9th Place – Steel Reserve

Steel Reserve.jpg

Apart from one outlier, Steel Reserve also ranked last or close to last for every tester. Again, not something we’d drink again unless absolutely necessary.

Average Rank: 8.125

8th Place – Lone Star

Lone Star.jpeg


Even the Texan testers couldn’t get behind this Texan beer. While it’s certainly better than Schlitz and Steel Reserve, Lone Star didn’t fare well in our testing.

Average Rank: 6.625

7th Place – Busch Light

Busch.jpg

Busch Light was the cheap beer of choice for multiple testers going into this, but unfortunately that wasn’t enough to get it into the top 5. Testers concluded this one was “OK”, “Decent”, and “flavorless”.

Average Rank: 5.125

6th Place – Keystone Ice

Keystone Ice.jpeg


This was a bit of a surprise, coming in above both Lone Star and Busch Light. The tasters seemed to like this one more than expected.

Average Rank: 4.5

5th Place – Miller High Life

Miller-High-Life-32-oz-Can.png


The go-to college beer of choice for most of the older crowd, this is the first beer to break into the top 5. Hard to go wrong with this one, and you can even buy them in a massive 32oz can for less than $3 at a gas station. What more could you want?

Average Rank: 4.375

2nd Place – Keystone Light, Natural Light, Milwaukee’s Best

Keystone Light.jpg
MIlwaukees Best.jpeg
Natural Light.jpeg


Somehow these three beers came in with the exact same average rank, giving us a 3 way tie for 2nd place. All three are light and easy to drink, perfect for a hot summer day on a budget. Walmart sells a 30 rack for less than <$18 in most places, making them an ever better deal.

Average Rank: 4.25

1st Place – Bud Ice

Bud Ice.jpg


This came as the biggest surprise of the test. We aren’t sure if we have bad taste buds or if Bud Ice is better than we give it credit for, but it came in and won our test. The results were a bit polarizing for this beer, the testers seemed to love it (ranked 1 or 2) or dislike it (ranked lower than 5). Either way, this beer is a great budget option for drinking.

Average Rank: 4.125

Experiment Analysis

I included the table of the beers and individual rankings for those that are curious. Let us know if we missed any we should include in our next tasting!

BeerAlexJimAdamRyanSteveJimmyJadenBradAvg Rank
Bud Ice
1​
3​
7​
7​
4​
3​
6​
2​
4.125​
Milwaukee's Best
5​
1​
3​
6​
6​
1​
7​
5​
4.25​
Natural Light
2​
2​
4​
5​
9​
2​
4​
6​
4.25​
Keystone Light
4​
4​
1​
5​
7​
4​
2​
7​
4.25​
Miller High Life
3​
6​
6​
1​
1​
6​
8​
4​
4.375​
Keystone Ice
6​
7​
8​
4​
2​
7​
1​
1​
4.5​
Busch Light
7​
5​
2​
2​
8​
5​
9​
3​
5.125​
Lone Star
8​
8​
5​
8​
3​
8​
5​
8​
6.625​
Steel Reserve
10​
9​
10​
9​
5​
10​
3​
9​
8.125​
Schlitz
9​
10​
9​
10​
10​
9​
10​
10​
9.625​

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About author
A
Adam Ewing has worked as an Engineer for aerospace and steel manufacturers as well as a Consultant for an R&D tax credit firm. He currently works as an Implementation Consultant for a financial software company. Adam has a B.S. and an M.B.A. from the University of Alabama. His interests include traveling, cars, cooking, and triathlons. You can also find Adam on LinkedIn.

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