Top Cheap Beers With Local Pride
Top Cheap Beers With Local Pride

Hometown Heroes

As beer drinkers, we take pride in our hometown brews. And while there's plenty of great local craft breweries, we also enjoy having the option of drinking something tasty but cheap found at the liquor or grocery store on the way home. They may not always be the highest quality, but they're still a point of pride for locals and perfect for occasions when all that's needed is something easy to sip. As an extra point of pride, some are from the oldest breweries in the country.

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Yuengling | Pottsville, Pennsylvania

Not only is Yuengling America's oldest running brewery — operating since 1829 — it's also been ranked consistently as the top craft brewery in the country by the Brewers Association. So it's no surprise Pennsylvanians take huge pride in the lager, which is a bit maltier than most inexpensive brews. It's such a hometown hit that if you ask for a lager in Pennsylvania, you'll likely be handed a Yuengling, no questions asked.

National Bohemian
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National Bohemian | Baltimore

Affectionately known as "Natty Boh," National Bohemian has earned a fiercely loyal cult following. First brewed in 1885 (but releasing a new light beer just last year), brewing operations for the beer with a mustachioed mascot have since moved out of state, but roughly 90 percent of the beer is still consumed there — usually while eating crabs and watching the Orioles play. Ask anyone from "Bohtimore" and they'll tell you it's "Crabs, Bohs and O's."

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Rainier | Seattle

There's plenty of local pride for Washington's other inexpensive beer, Olympia, but Rainier began brewing in 1878 — eight years before Olympia and 11 years before Washington even became a state — so it wins. Plus it's a little smoother to drink. In 2016, owner Pabst entered an agreement with Redhook that returned production to the state after 13 years of relocation to California.

Alaskan Amber
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Alaskan Amber | Juneau, Alaska

Alaska's oldest operating brewery created this amber ale by digging into local history to find a forgotten Gold Rush-era beer recipe once enjoyed by thirsty miners. Made with glacial water for an extra local flair, this alt-style beer ("alt" from the German word for "old") is slow fermented for a rich, malty flavor perfect for a chilly Alaskan night.

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Narragansett | Cranston, Rhode Island

'Gansett, as the 127-year-old beer is known locally, is not only enjoyed proudly in Rhode Island, but throughout New England. Even the company's legendary tagline, "Hi, Neighbor! Have a 'Gansett," makes you feel like a local. Brewing left the state for some dark years, but returned recently with a new brewery. Best enjoyed while watching the Red Sox, eating fried clams, or on a fishing trip.

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Dixie | New Orleans

While Abita Beer might represent NOLA far and wide these days, Dixie is the cheap, old school favorite — beloved locally since 1907. And while brewing operations were moved to Wisconsin after Hurricane Katrina, a new Dixie brewery opened in January right in the Big Easy.

Coors Banquet
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Coors Banquet | Golden Colorado

Coors may be recognizable in most bars across the country, but the brewery's legacy brand is Banquet, which was enjoyed by miners in banquet halls as far back as 1873. The crisp beer, made with "Rocky Mountain spring water," was available in only 11 states in the west until 1976 — some fans would even sneak it across state lines. And while Colorado's craft beer movement has exploded, Banquet is still a popular local fixture. The company announced last year it was shutting down its Denver offices, but the brewery is staying right where it's been.

Iron City Beer
Iron City Beer by zenmasterdod (CC BY-SA)

Iron City | Pittsburgh

The flagship brew of Pittsburgh Brewing, Iron City beer first poured in 1861 — the year Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated — and continues to be a hometown icon. The iconic beer, also known as "Vitamin I," is contract-brewed in nearby Latrobe, Pennsylvania, but watching a Steelers, Penguins, or Pirates game without Iron City just wouldn't be the same. Rosebud Mining CEO Cliff Forrest bought the beer company last year and has spent millions on local marketing. He also is buying back the beer's original 9-acre Iron brewery with plans to add a restaurant, a performance space, and offices, Postindustrial writes.

Grain Belt
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Grain Belt | Minneapolis

Long-known as "The Friendly Beer," Grain Belt was first made by Minneapolis Brewing in 1893. And while brewing has moved to nearby New Ulm, it remains a local legend. While the classic "Premium" lager remains a favorite, its “Nordest” amber nods to the original brewery's neighborhood. The giant iconic Grain Belt sign was relit in late 2017 after years of local anticipation.

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Genesee | Rochester, New York

Lovingly referred to as "Genny," locals have been sipping this classic since 1878. Even though it's now owned by an international corporation (which put $48.5 million into modernizing its brewery last year), it remains a hometown favorite in upstate New York — both the namesake original beer, great for watching baseball and mowing lawns, and a Cream Ale favored for its smooth drinkability and foamy head.

Lone Star
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Lone Star | San Antonio

While everything's bigger in Texas, the price tag of this classic cheap beer has remained small over the years. While it's now brewed in Fort Worth, it originated in San Antonio in 1883 and continues to be a local favorite. Sure, some Texans will favor other local brews, such as Shiner Bock and Pearl, but Lone Star shines the brightest. (Though that didn't keep the owner from filing for bankruptcy protection in January.)

Miller High Life
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Miller High Life | Milwaukee

Milwaukee is home to plenty of renowned cheap beers — including Pabst, Schlitz, and Milwaukee's Best — but Miller High Life has remained a classy, inexpensive favorite since 1903. "The Champagne of Beers" has long been championed as the choice of working-class heroes and karaoke singers everywhere, but especially in Milwaukee. Last year it brought back champagne-style bottles for the holiday season.

Old Style
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Old Style | La Crosse, Wisconsin

First brewed in 1902, Old Style is not only a favorite in western Wisconsin, but also beloved in Chicago. While the blue and red shield logo is sometimes confused for Pabst Blue Ribbon, fans of Old Style's inexpensive, easy drinking will never make that mistake. Brewing relocated out of state for years, but returned home in 2017 in time for Oktoberfest and last year cut a deal to keep it brewed locally until at least 2040.

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Schell's | New Ulm, Minnesota

Founded in 1860 by German immigrant August Schell, the brewery lays claim to being the second-oldest family-owned brewery (after Yuengling), and the oldest in Minnesota. Under the helm of the latest generation, the brewery still specializes in traditional German-style lagers — including the flagship Deer Brand — and continues to win awards and local fans with traditional and innovative craft brews.

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Ballantine | Newark, New Jersey

A local stalwart since 1840, Ballantine is said to have brewed the first American IPA beginning in 1878 — stronger and more bitter than most contemporaries. One of the few breweries to survive Prohibition, Ballantine was the third-largest U.S. brewery in the 1950s — and even the broadcast sponsor of the Yankees — but the popular brewery was shoved aside when macro-breweries began dominating in the 1970s. Pabst took great pains to piece together the original recipe of the unique 1960s IPA for Jersey fans to enjoy again, and has since resurrected the Ballantine Burton Ale.

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Stroh's | Detroit

Founded in 1850, Stroh's is Detroit's oldest beer, and its Bohemian-style pilsner was once king of the Motor City. But just as the auto industry pitched toward decline in the 1980s, so did the Stroh's legacy — victim of overly ambitious efforts to expand and familial troubles that led eventually to the company's collapse. But like other local favorites, Pabst has resurrected the beer. It's once again brewed and enjoyed in Detroit.

Schmidt by Garret Voight (CC BY-NC)

Schmidt | Saint Paul, Minnesota

The St. Paul-based brewery behind Schmidt went through a variety of name changes before settling down to business on the "Official Beer of the American Sportsman" — long favored by rugged Minnesotans and city slickers alike. The easy-drinking lager was relaunched by Pabst, as its brewery went on to become lofts and, as of last year, a marketplace with shopping and dining. Also in the space? The Clutch Brewing Co., which makes a variety of beers.