Photo | D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc.
Yuengling’s Traditional Lager is the most popular of its nine styles. Other varieties include Black & Tan, Porter, Premium and Light.
People often ask me about good cheap beer, and while my usual reply is that life is too short to drink cheap beer, there certainly are times when budget is a concern, and, as we know, good craft beer can be a bit pricey. So if you’re looking to fill your cooler for the beach, or you just don’t want to spend the money on your visiting brother-in-law who won’t even appreciate that new IPA you’ve discovered, here are some less expensive, but still enjoyable, brews for the summer.
First, I want to qualify what I’m considering cheap beer. I’m not allowing for any frat-boy beers here — we are not martyrs. Instead, I looked at beers I could find at the grocery store for less than $1.50 a beer (under $15 for a 12-pack) or less than $4 a pint at a reasonable local watering hole. I’ve got four here, but it is not an exhaustive list — there are a number of good beers out there that won’t break the bank.
Mexican imports are often summertime options, and one of the better ones is Modelo Especial. First brewed in 1925, it is a light pilsner but has good malt notes that give it more flavor than many lagers on the market. It’s a great beach beer.
Another light, crisp beer that is great in the hot weather is — stay with me here — Pabst Blue Ribbon. Your hipster cousin’s haircut looks ridiculous, but his beer as actually pretty good. Sweeter and slightly hopper than the Modelo, I think it pairs particularly well with bar food, especially wings. First brewed in Milwaukee in 1844, PBR and its iconic label have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the past decade. If you haven’t had one in a while, give one a try — man-bun and beard not required.
Another American brewery that has been around a long time is D.G. Yuengling and Son. Founded in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, in 1829, Yuengling is America’s oldest brewery and the nation’s largest craft brewery — although there is some debate as to whether or not its beers can really be defined as “craft.” The brewery puts out nine styles, the most popular being its traditional lager, which is really more of an amber ale. It is my draft beer of choice at my favorite cheap beer venue, American Legion Post 199 on the bay in Fairhope.
Staying in the Keystone State, one of my all-time favorite beers is the Latrobe Brewing Co.’s Rolling Rock. Very popular in the Mid-Atlantic, where a “Bucket of Rocks” can regularly be found on tables of restaurants and bars, it’s not as easy to find in our area as the other beers on this list — which are some of the most popular beers on the market today. However, I have been able to find some six-packs of the legendary painted green bottles (with its mysterious “33” emblazoned on the back) at some local grocery stores (for about $6). The “extra pale” lager is light, slightly sweet and has very little aftertaste.