Our experts conducted blind taste tests of eight top-selling regular and light beers, plus offerings from Trader Joe’s and Walgreens (yes, beer from a drugstore). And the winner is: Coors regular, by, let’s say, a field goal. It has balanced flavors with some citrus notes, and no off-tastes. It’s a Consumer Reports Best Buy, at $6.45 for a six-pack. Three runners-up are also CR Best Buys: Name Tag (Trader Joe’s), Big Flats (Walgreens), and Miller High Life.
All of the tested beers are lagers, which usually have a mix of floral, fruity, yeasty, malted-grain, and boiled-hop (pungent) flavors. Most are pale yellow and light-bodied, and don’t stay foamy for long. Other face-offs:
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Regular vs. light.
Light beer will save you about 20 to 50 calories per can (due to lower carbs and slightly less alcohol), but no tested light scored high enough to be very good. Best of the bunch is Miller Lite. Worst is Corona Light, a bitter brew with traces of tinny and sulfury off-notes.
Price vs. taste.
Corona Light costs far more than higher-rated Miller Lite; and Corona Extra costs about twice as much as three better beers.
Store brands vs. big names.
Trader Joe’s and Walgreens stood up to the competition, doing about as well as Miller High Life and besting Corona Extra and Bud.
Cans vs. bottles.
We tasted beer from cans, which may seem less refined than bottles, but they keep light, beer’s nemesis, from getting inside. Light can react with beer within weeks or even days to create compounds similar to those a skunk uses to defend itself.
None of these beers has enough complexity and balance to be excellent, but Coors comes fairly close.
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