Epicurious tried ten brews; three merit a spot in your fridge.
Apparently, Noah had some brew stashed aboard the Ark. In ancient Babylon, clay tablets were used to record recipes for this thirst-quenching beverage. The pharaohs of Egypt were buried with vessels of beer, to sustain them on the journey to the afterlife. Refreshing, affordable, and a perfect partner with all manner of foods, this combination of yeast, malt, and other ingredients has long been humankind's drink of choice.
As the beer movement has continued to, well, ferment, with increasingly esoteric methods and ingredients, we at Epicurious have tried to cover the scene from all angles, but the one thing we had yet to do is taste-test classic, everyday canned beers. These are the brands you find at your local supermarket, the cans you keep stocked in the cooler, and the go-to brews for a casual gathering like a Super Bowl party, a tailgate, or a day at the beach.
In addition to wide availability, canned beer offers affordability ($6.49 compared with $8.59 for a six-pack of higher-end brew) and convenience (no bottle opener required!). Plus, cans (vs. glass) are ideal for even the rowdiest crowds. Yet, do these inexpensive canned beers taste nearly as good as the more elite brands? With that question in mind, 15 judges tasted ten popular, nationally available canned beers, and the answer was…maybe. While none of these brews won the full four forks, the three finalists would be fine to serve at any large party.
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TOP PICK: Best Canned Beer Overall
($5.19 per six-pack)
Pros: There was no question that this one was the winner. Tasters described it as mildly foamy, aromatic, full of life, golden, smooth, and light, but with a bite. One judge said, "It has character, especially for a light beer."
Cons: Slightly grainy to some.
Editors' rating: 3 forks.
FIRST RUNNER-UP : Standard Beer
($6.49 per six-pack)
Pros: One judge crowned this his favorite because of its caramel color, lusciousness, and bold beer flavor. Another taster labeled it "sweet and smooth— like a good brew should be."
Cons: Some wished for more carbonation.
Editors' rating: 2.5 forks.
FIRST RUNNER-UP: Light Beer
($7.39 per six-pack)
Pros: Panelists praised this beer for one simple reason: It doesn't taste like light beer. They hailed it as full-bodied and flavorful. One judge said it best: "This tastes like one of the more expensive beers I'd be able to afford once in a while." Another judge liked its "spice."
Cons: A bit too malty for some tasters' palates.Editors' rating: 2.5 forks.
The Other Contenders: The Bottom Three
Judges found that Budweiser had a tinny flavor, and its pale golden color didn't help matters. Miller tasted diluted. Pabst Blue Ribbon was described as having a bit of a bite yet was watery and somewhat bitter.
Additional Taste Test DetailsAll ten varieties we evaluated are available nationwide in supermarkets or online. Listed from highest to lowest score achieved, they are: Coors Light, Amstel Light, Bud Light, Natural Light, Tecate, Heineken, Miller Lite, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Miller, Budweiser.
Methodology: In a blind taste test, judges compared the flavor, consistency, and appearance of ten types of canned beer (five were light beers; five, standard brews). All were tasted with salted pretzels. We ranked the beers according to the Epicurious four-fork rating system (four being best).Prices and availability subject to change.
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