Opinion: The definitive ranking of cheap beer

By Reagan Gavin, Managing Editor

As a broke college student, most of my beer buying decisions are based on quantity over quality. Many of my college nights have been spent sipping Miller Lite convincing myself it is the epitome of a high-class beer and full of flavor.

Curious of how any other brand could top my one true love, I set out to rank all of the popular domestic brands.

In the name of science, I enlisted the help of a fellow (cheap) beer enthusiast and took off to Pinch Penny Liquors to buy one tallboy of each beer available.


My co-taster, Nathan, and I are both partial to Miller Lite, so to remain unbiased we conducted a blind taste test ranking the flavor from 1-10. We then averaged out the scores between the two of us to come to a final score for each of the 12 beers sampled. Below is the ranking from best to worst.

(Reagan Gavin | @RGavin_DE)

#1 Miller High Life: 8/10
7.25 cents per ounce

Miller High Life coming in with the number one slot came as a surprise. Nathan and I refused to believe we both ranked Miller High Life as our top choice even before the score was averaged between us. At $1.74 for a 24-ounce tallboy, it falls in the middle of expense and number one on our list.

#2 Coors Light: 7.25/10
7.66 cents per ounce

An enjoyable yet often forgotten beer, Coors Light taking the number two slot is well deserved. However, $1.84 for a 24 ounce makes it one of the pricier beers.

#3 Natural Light: 6.5/10
7.36 cents per ounce

Natty Light, a solid number three on our definitive list. $1.84 for a tallboy was slightly surprising, however it came in a 25 ounce rather than 24-ounce can — giving you more drink for your drunk. This was also the one beer I guessed correctly when tasting, so I take small joy in knowing that I can name a cheap beer.


#4 Busch: 6.25/10
7.8 cents per ounce

Busch was another bonus ounce can for $1.95. Decent beer but my only disappointment is that there wasn’t a Busch Light option available to compare the two.

#5 Miller Lite: 5/10
7.66 cents per ounce

A beer that Nathan and I thought we knew so well yet only gave a mediocre score of five. I put partial blame on the fact that we were eight beers deep at the time of tasting so our taste buds probably weren’t the most susceptive. At $1.84, Miller Lite may be a number five on our list but always a number one in my heart. I just may sometimes switch it up every once in a while for the “Champagne of Beer,” Miller High Life.

#6 Budweiser: 5/10
8 cents per ounce

At $1.93 for a tallboy Budweiser was one of the most expensive of the beers ranked. Personally, I am not a fan however Nathan knew Bud heavy by heart which helps to balance the ranking. With Miller Lite and Budweiser being tied at five, the price (and our bias towards Miller Lite) places Budweiser slightly lower.

#7 Keystone Light: 4.25/10
6.62 cents per ounce

Keystone Light was honestly a forgettable beer. $1.59 makes it one of the cheaper options but with a less than average score.

#8 Milwaukee’s Best Light: 4.25/10
5.96 cents per ounce

Same as Keystone Light, Milwaukee’s Best Light was indiscernible compared to the other options available. The only perk to Milwaukee’s Best Light is the fact that it too came in a 25-ounce can and was also the cheapest option at $1.49.

#9 Bud Light: 3/10
8 cents per ounce

Probably a huge surprise to some, Bud Light ranked as one of the worst on the list of beers. Being a watered down version of Bud heavy and one of the most expensive at $1.93 makes Bud Light come in at number nine.

#10 Pabst Blue Ribbon: 1.75/10
6.62 cents per ounce

There’s a reason bars have PBR on draft for so cheap and I highly recommend spending a couple extra cents for a better beer. For $1.59, I’ve had worse beers which are the next two on the list, but PBR is still only slightly tolerable.

#11 Keystone Ice: 1/10
6.62 cents per ounce

The only saving grace for Keystone Ice was the fact that it was the second to last beer to be tasted so my taste buds were slightly dull to mask the disgusting flavor. Being the same price as the Keystone light, spend your $1.59 on the better and slightly watered down version.

#12 Icehouse Edge: 1/10
6.62 cents per ounce

If I could do this whole test over again I would choose to never buy let alone taste Icehouse Edge again. At $1.59 a can it wasn’t even the cheapest beer option available and the only reason it even got a score of one is that we had to for the sake of the ranking system.

Managing Editor Reagan Gavin can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @RGavin_DE.

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