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Cheap Beer Taste Test: You are what you drink

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Here at Bourbon Bunny, we are equal opportunity drinkers. I appreciate a well crafted cocktail or finely brewed beer, but also realize that there is time and place for all beverages. As summer begins to bear hug us with its humid embrace, we will soon be spending Saturdays at family barbeques or sporting events. These occasions often have limited drinking options, or just call for a different type of beverage altogether.

Enter the cheap beer. These beverages are basically alcoholic water, and perfect for hot summer days where you want to enjoy more than a few beers while also being able to handle a grill without setting your house on fire. Yeah, yeah, yeah, there are amazing saisons and craft lagers that can fill this role, but sometimes the time and the place just calls for something American and cheap.

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I decided to do a blind taste test of six classic cheap beers: Budweiser, Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bud Light, PBR and Hudy Delight (a local variety). These are the beers you will find in coolers and fridges all over America. In order to help you make wise decisions at family picnics, I thought I’d taste test six beers with three friends, come to a consensus on the best cheap beer, and BAM – there’s a solid blog post in which I look both down to earth and scientific.

Boy, was I wrong.

To keep it short, no one had the same favorites or least favorites. The cheap beer I thought I knew and loved (PBR) came in dead last, and the beer I thought for sure would be my least favorite was my first choice (Hudy Delight). Jason in true form had the best palate of anyone, correctly identifying 3 out of the 6 beers as well as guessing which would be his favorite and least favorite. Really he should have the food blog as his sense of taste is about ten times more developed than mine, but let’s move on.

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As the results were so skewed, I won’t go through each beverage one by one. But here are some tasting highlights:

“This beer tastes like it was flat from the day it was canned”

“Smells like a fart”

“I want to go home”

“This beer is losing steam as I go”

“I take back the fart comment”

Clearly this was a mature tasting with some very sophisticated individuals. We all had wildly different preferences, but in the end, the average order stood at:

First place: Miller Lite & Budweiser

Second place: Coors Light & Hudy Delight

Third place: Bud Light

Fourth place: Pabst Blue Ribbon

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We all should have our punk kid cards revoked for PBR falling in last place, but the numbers don’t lie. PBR is typically the cheap beer I gravitate towards, and let me tell you, I HATED it during my tasting. It made its way to the back of line almost immediately, and I constantly kept saying that it was easily the worst beer.

So this brings me to my conclusion. Cheap beer is completely devoid of any taste. Okay, that’s not exactly revolutionary. What I mean to say is that while they may differ slightly, what actually matters is the perception – the personality – of the beer. When you select a cheap beer, you are not saying “I prefer this flavor”, what you are choosing is a lifestyle.

Miller Lite and Bud Light are for the college kids and recently post college adults trying to relive younger days. And for my grandpa. That man loves a good Bud Light and I love him for it.

Hudy Delight is for the old school Cincinnatians. Budweiser is for the working class folks, and I actually have no idea who drinks Coors but I’m sure they have a subculture all their own. PBR is for the punks and hipsters, as well as old dudes on their front porch who have no idea what a hipster is.

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Say what you will about each beers’ flavor and taste, but my completely unscientific taste test says all that you’re liking when you choose a cheap beer is the image you want to project.

At the end of the day, I don’t know who I want to be. I came home from work today, and with a fridge filled with cheap beer, reached for a Bud Light. I felt betrayed by my beloved PBR, and shamed by my new (apparent) love, Hudy Delight. So tonight I cracked open a Bud Light, because I don’t know who I am. But I do know that in a few hours I’ll go to Blank Slate, back to the world of craft brews, and there I will find some solace.

So to whatever you may be drinking tonight – a fancy cocktail, a cup of tea, a cheap beer, a good beer – I say cheers! And as always, happy eating.

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Thanks to my friends & man friend for being such good beer models and taste testers.  Rest assured they were compensated in beer & pizza for their services.

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1 Comment so far

  1. Theresa Kuhr

    Sar’ – our little Instagram chat last night lead me to read your beer post this morning and I laughed out loud a couple times. I can tell you who drinks Coors…the 40 somethings who came from the domestic beer only culture and thought they were “moving up” after their college days of Busch light (“bush in a can”). Thousands of Busch lights consumed from the Florida spring breakers in our crowd over 4 years (17 kids in a room at one point after getting kicked out, one by one, from their $79/night rooms in Daytona). We were the lucky ones, the first generation of grads to have the highest population go to a four year college, and pay only $92/month in rent each. We had it made. Most of us had been “grand-fathered in” just before the age limit changed to 21. No high priced bars and hoighty-toighty image to live up to. We proudly drank beer from a bucket and were the kids to force bars to stop serving beer in glass mugs since smashing them on the ground and getting cheers from the crowd was so worth getting kicked out for. We came out of college with only $5-$10,000 in college debt, annual monthly payback only $62.02/month. Easily manageable. Enter post college, late twenties, time to move up. Coors (light) was the new thing and took us through until just last year (average age 47), when someone boldly asked, “Why are we still drinking this?” Enter Mich Ultra, still holding a year later for our friends. Dave and I were missing from the scene the night the decision on which beer to choose next was made. And seeing that Dave has been forced to become a penny pinching father of four on one income (the only ones in our crowd), with a now allergic to gluten, vegan wife who can’t tolerate multiple beers or hangovers anymore, he has gravitated toward the nearly ultimate low (in my mind) Keystone Light in a can. Our amazingly wonderful, yet alcoholic friends won’t even drink this one unless it is the absolute last choice in the cooler after a long day on the lake. And even then, they may just choose to go to bed instead. But I remain proud of him still, as I think he follows in the footsteps of the Jerry Gates mentality, and actually his father too, who was a PBR man. Dave is willing to splurge (for me and my trying to save our reputation in the slightest way) and buy, in our minds, the still fairly reputable Coors light and Bud Light for family parties…hahah (5 cases purchased and iced up for last month’s grad party. We know this is far from the current trendy beverages, but we feel we have more than earned our stripes in the drinking world and can proudly ignore any comments or jokes that might arise:) And BTW, I agree with your beer personality assessments. Spot on! (Please ignore the run-on paragraph and likely improper grammar.)

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