The INSIDER Summary:
- We compared seven cans of cheap domestic beer.
- PBR was the surprise winner, while we agreed that Rolling Rock tasted the worst.
- This is part of an ongoing
series. In the past, we’ve compared everything from
But which brand should you go with? Bud, Miller, Coors, and PBR are all staples, but which one actually tastes the best?
We put seven ‘cheap’ beers to the test to see which one goes down easiest as part of an ongoing INSIDER taste test series. In the past, we’ve compared everything from iced coffee and chocolate chip cookies to fried chicken.
We bought all seven cans in New York City and spent anywhere from $2.29 to $3.99 per tallboy can. We performed our taste test blind to ensure that our ranking was not influenced by brand loyalty.
The brands we tried included:
- Pabst Blue Ribbon
- Coors Light
- Rolling Rock
- Yuengling Lager
- Miller Lite
- Bud Light
Keep scrolling to read our thoughts and to see the complete ranking.
First up was PBR. We were immediately impressed by this beer’s refreshing and crisp taste. It’s smooth and simple with a just a little bite; the kind of beer you could easily drink a lot of.
After one sip of the PBR, one colleague said he felt like he was sitting in a dive bar. It’s the quintessential cheap beer that appeals to many and is just as good to use in a game of flip cup as it is to drink at a bar with friends. In other words, you can drink a lot of it.
Keystone has long been the beer of choice for frat parties and kegs. That’s because although it lacks any sort of flavor, it’s light and easy to drink. We weren’t huge fans of the slightly bitter aftertaste though.
Although some of us noticed a little bit of bitterness to this beer, there’s not much else to say about its taste because it doesn’t have much of one. Not many people drink Keystone for its taste; it’s drunk more for its effect. If you’re looking for cheap, Keystone is the way to go, as it was the cheapest beer we sampled.
If there’s one way to describe Coors Light, it’s watered down. That said, it can still be refreshing if it’s served super cold on a hot day.
One colleague found Coors Light to have a dryer taste than the other beers. Granted, it is a light beer, but we all agreed that it had a light taste — almost too light.
More than any other beer we sampled, Rolling Rock picked up a strong and unpleasant metallic aftertaste from the can. If you’re going to go with this one, make sure to buy bottles.
Rolling Rock’s true taste was mostly masked by the metallic flavoring brought on by its can, which made it hard for us to enjoy it at all. Almost everyone had a very negative reaction to this one.
Since Yuengling is a different type of lager than the six other beers we sampled, it’s both darker and has a more full-bodied flavor. It was no surprise then that this one was a favorite. It had a much more rich and complex taste.
Ideal for those who like darker beers, Yuengling had the most substantive taste and flavor out of all the seven beers. It was also the most expensive though — $3.99 for a can.
One of my colleagues said that the beer has a slight bitterness that comes on slowly and a bit of a hoppy taste that lingers on the tongue. It is definitely a heavier beer — not something you would play flip cup or beer pong with, but a beer that is better enjoyed with food or at a bar.
Miller Lite wins when it comes to branding — the retro look really works — but we weren’t nearly as impressed by the beer’s taste. Its neutral finish was too neutral; there was a total absence of substance or flavor.
Miller Lite is a dependable, go-to beer for many because it’s neither too sweet nor too dry. However, we found it to be boring and bland — almost flat-tasting.
Bud Light was crisp, sweet, and had just the right amount of fizz to it. While we weren’t blown away by this contender, it was certainly a solid choice.
While some tasted a sweetness in the Bud Light, others tasted a bit of tanginess. What’s most important is that this beer didn’t lack flavor the way some of the other contenders did.
THE VERDICT: In the end we decided that PBR fulfills all the qualities we look for in a cheap beer: a refreshing taste that’s smooth and simple, but also distinct and flavorful.
Although Yuengling tied with PBR in terms of rating, Yuengling came in a close second because we decided its heavier flavor is better when enjoyed over food or in smaller quantities. Drinking more than one or two Yuenglings in a sitting would make us feel full.
When we’re looking for cheap, grocery store beer we’re looking for something that goes down easy on its own and is relatively light.
We were least impressed by Miller Lite and Rolling Rock. Coors Light rounded out the top three, with Bud Light and Keystone in the middle.
It was a tough decision between Coors Light and Bud Light; they were both the same price and had similar tastes. In the end, popular vote landed on Coors Light as the better-tasting option.
If you’re planning on having some friends over and know you’re all going to be drinking several beers, go for PBR or Coors Light. For a brand that gives you a better, more sophisticated — but heavier — taste for your money, go for Yuengling.
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