Posted by: Scott | February 5, 2010

Low-Brow Lineup | Part 1

Alternative title: Scott’s Splitting Headache. My attempts to prepare for this piece failed horribly. The goal was to purchase, drink, and assess the so-called low-brow beers — you know, the cheap stuff — then rank them.

Off I drove to a local liquor emporium that prices beer by the bottle. After piling cheap beers into several six-packs, I trotted up to the registers feeling satisfied with my selections. When a can of Schlitz rang up for $4, however, chaos unleashed itself upon me. The cashier began removing can after can from my stockpile, looking up each in the system, and explaining that “we don’t sell this individually.” By the end I had not only held up the line for several minutes, but also amassed a sizable audience to witness my rejection at the hands of Schlitz.

My humiliation didn’t stop there. As the ordeal drew to a close, and I clenched the bag containing my few remaining beers while nervously eying the exit, the cashier smiled sympathetically, extended a pamphlet, and said loudly, “Maybe you’d like to attend one of our beer classes. They can be really educational!” I muttered something about writing for a beer blog and this being an experiment, but she kept giving me the “sure, honey” eyes, so I snatched the pamphlet and ran.

I only got six bottles past this cash register customs officer, so the Low-Brow Lineup will probably turn into a series. For each entry I’ll secure six cheap beers and award a medal to the best of them. This week’s contestants are:

Bud Light Golden Wheat
Cave Creek Chili Beer
Corona Extra
Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pyrite Medal:
Pabst Blue Ribbon

Ah, PBR, the least expensive of my beers and the one that supposedly earned a blue ribbon in 1893. During the aughts it enjoyed a revival among hipsters (who love latching on to old junk) and frat boys (who love cheap ways to get drunk). In terms of taste, PBR is your average adjunct lager: thin malt sweetness and grassy flavors give way to weak hop bitterness. A light body and effervescent carbonation subdue the mild corny aftertaste. It’s a simple beer, refreshing yet largely unimpressive, but it bests many others in the style. And hey, you can’t beat the price, which is one of the reasons it ousted Heineken. To be honest, I enjoyed both.

Monday: A review of my least favorite beer of the six.



  1. did you drink corona extra lukewarm? if not, you have to go back and try it again; its only supposed to be consumed warm. how was the golden wheat? i have been afraid…

    you know something…i like PBR. and Tecate. but it depends on the mood I’m in. Those types of beer are great for when you want something refreshing and ice cold, but not sweet. sure, its not an experience, but does it have to be?

    • I don’t think it does — at least, not always. I tend to prefer an experience, but remember what I said in the Black Albert review? It’s like the difference between a hand-made artisan pizza and a Totino’s … each satisfies in its own way.

      I didn’t know that about Corona. Beer Advocate says the recommended serving temp is 35-40 degrees … next time I’ll try it your way! And you were right to fear the BL Golden Wheat; I thought it tasted a bit like chemically-altered, hefeweizen-flavored feet, and when I handed it to my wife (a wheat beer connoisseur), she took one sip and asked, “What toilet did you get this out of?” In short, we were not fans.

      Thanks for reading!

      Edit: Ah … I feel silly. Sometimes humor is lost in text, I guess.

      • I was kidding about drinking corona warm. Don’t really try it. Iced tea and water are great too (imagine beer after a nice hard run!)… but I’m sticking to my guns here that cheap beer is good enough, sometimes. And I agree with Deb, Coors is the best of the cheaps.

  2. I admit I’ve never had a PBR or Tecate, but I have tried most of the others, Dos Equis, even Ranier Light. Never tried Corona warm. Call me beer snob now if you want, but since my introduction to the craft beers I just don’t care the macro’s anymore (although the D.E. amber wasn’t too bad). If I want something cold, refreshing & not sweet, I’ll drink iced tea (my own blend, not the crap in the bottles). If my only choice is PBR or Corona now, I’ll choose water (since it’s not that different) Keep ’em comin’ !

    • Haha, I usually agree with you. Most of the time I’ll choose water over cheap beer. But there are certain situations where it seems like bad form to refuse one. My low-brow guides have two aims: to provide guidance for those situations, and to gain new readers who wouldn’t normally care about craft beer.

  3. What? No Coors? As a Colorado girl, I’m anxiously waiting for your review of Colorado Koolaid!

    • Coors was one of the confiscated beers! I’ll try to get one for next time 🙂

  4. I was there when you tried to get the beer. It was pretty funny.

    • Ha, THANKS. It definitely made for a good story!

  5. Since Coors has been brought up, I would like to point out that this pizza place near my work has a beer menu and it describes Coors as having a “metallic finish.”

    • Interesting approach to sales … I’m guessing they don’t move a lot of Coors?

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