What We’re Drinking: The Great Cheap Beer Debate – February 2019

Photos by Aaron Job

Photos by Aaron Job

Welcome back to What We’re Drinking, wherein The Growler editorial staff look back on recent remarkable beverages. What are you drinking, Growler Nation? Let us know on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Here at the Growler, we believe there’s a time and place for every drink. Wine, liquor, N/A options, hard seltzer—even macro beers. Sure, we don’t talk about it much, but sometimes life calls for a basic beer to wash down whatever B.S. happened that day. And what better time to pay homage to our go-to macros than in our Great Debates issue? We invite you to do the same and share your favorite big-name beer with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Let us know if you loathe this idea, too; it is meant to be a debate, after all.

John Garland, Deputy Editor

Michelob Golden Light

It was one of those storybook perfect evenings in Ely, Minnesota. On a dock looking out over White Iron Lake, I watched a life-long Bostonian gasp in astonishment at his first taste of Michelob Golden Light. “You’re telling me that this is the cheap beer in Minnesota?” he said, no doubt trying to exorcise the demons of Yuengling from his sense memory. And every summer, I have a similar revelation: it’s a damn fine cheap beer to have at our unique disposal. It’s hard to say why this Michelob formula only caught on in the upper Midwest, but it still far outsells even the largest craft breweries the state. Why? It has a mild grainy sweetness and almost no aftertaste. Who could argue with that?


Ellen Burkhardt, Managing Editor

Coors Banquet

I love a good backstory: a photo that holds a specific memory, recipes passed down over the generations. So it should be little surprise that I have a soft spot for Coors Banquet. The beer is brewed in copper Huppmann kettles at the same location Adolph Coors started his empire in Golden, Colorado, in 1873, and was a favorite of miners, who drank it with their post-work feasts—or banquets—and thus gave the lager its forever nickname. It’s filtered with old-school Enzinger filters, cold-fermented for almost a month, and is just an all-around meticulously made, smooth drinking macro that offers more flavor than most mass-produced beers in its category—and has a sweet backstory to boot. 


Lauren Sauer, Editorial Assistant


When it comes to cheap beer, preferences are rarely based on taste as much as loyalty. I can personally attest to this, having once participated in a blind taste test that ended in complete failure across the board. Beers I thought I knew and loved betrayed me, melting in with every other contender. The one happy conclusion of that bitter taste-off: Mexican beer is the dark horse of cheap beer. I’m a fan of them all, but hold a soft place in my heart for Pacifico. Maybe it’s the images the label evokes of warm sun and sandy beaches, or the proximity to the tacos I’m stuffing in my face, but it’s my go-to. As the man behind me at the store said, “That really makes you want to be on a beach, doesn’t it?” Sir, you have no idea.


Brian Kaufenberg, Editor-in-Chief 

Hamm’s Beer

It has the mascot. It has the jingle. It has the legacy. And, of course, it has the can (in this case, a towering 24-ounce skyscraper). It’s no wonder Hamm’s is making a huge local and national resurgence: it’s the quintessential cheap beer. As inoffensive yet appealing as a tray of cheesy potatoes at a potluck, it’s homey, comfortable, and the right choice for almost every context: Cribbage at the cabin? Yep. Going 0-fer in beer league softball? Hamm’s is there with a sip of encouragement. It’s the beer for your bump and a slice of life from the Land of Sky-Blue Waters. Plus, the 30-rack boxes serve as a great soapbox to preach the Hamm’s gospel from. Now if only Minnesota could rescue it from the ’Sconnie clutches of MillerCoors…