15 Cheap Imported Beers That Are Better Than Budweiser


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It's easy to find good domestic beer at a fair price. But what about imported beer? Some might think it's like craft beer -- expensive and esoteric -- but in fact a wide array of affordable and accessible imports can be found nationwide. Although prices vary by location, many are actually cheaper than, or about the same as, a six-pack of beers such as Budweiser. The more important thing? Most taste better.

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Harp is a crisp, easy-drinking lager that might make some Americans wish it were as available as Budweiser. It's made by Guinness, which started brewing Harp in the 1960s as beer drinkers in Europe began drinking more lager. Although Harp is promoted as an Irish product, the bottles that make it to the U.S. are typically brewed in Canada.

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This easygoing Jamaican lager actually got off to a rough start when exports to the U.S. started in 1985 -- in widely used tall bottles. Marketers resolved the issue by switching to the signature squat design people had seen when traveling in Jamaica. Considering its broad appeal and affordability, Red Stripe is a safe choice when supplying beer for a get-together.

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Famous for its beachfront commercials, this pale lager is usually served with a wedge of lime or lemon to bring some tartness to its light flavor. Corona means "crown," which is appropriate given that it's the most popular imported beer in the U.S.

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With its sharp and tangy taste, the Mexican lager Tecate might not have as broad an appeal as Corona or Red Stripe. But for the price -- usually cheaper than Corona -- it's a solid choice for a summer beer.

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Pacífico, while light enough to be refreshing in the summer, is full-bodied and distinctive, and many claim this cheap Mexican pilsner is superior to Corona and Tecate. Try serving with a wedge of lime and salt on the rim of the glass.

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Though "The Most Interesting Man in the World" might not specify it in his famous commercials, there are different types of Dos Equis -- look for Amber, Lager Especial, and the newest, Azul. It's brewed with blue agave nectar and has a higher alcohol content than other Dos Equis beers.

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Another Mexican lager, Sol is an easy-drinking golden lager that's comparable to Corona in its light taste. That means you might want to steal a note from Corona and consider adding a wedge of lime or lemon.

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This German pilsner might be a bit hard to find in the U.S., which is a shame. König has a solid golden color that hints at being just a tad heavier than American pilsners, but many agree it is the superior choice, with subtle flavors and just the right amount of carbonation.

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Just a few coins more expensive than Budweiser, Heineken is the second-best-selling imported beer in the U.S., with about $749 million in sales during 2016, according to the Beverage Industry trade journal. With its hard-to-miss green bottle and red star logo, Heineken dominates the international beer market and is sold in more than 170 countries. And though it might be a bit bland, it's an easy introduction to imported beers for those accustomed only to domestic products.

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Although the centuries-old Canadian Molson Brewery merged with Coors in 2005, it still makes beer in Canada and exports to the U.S. One of the most popular is Molson Dry, an easy-drinking lager that won the gold for North American Specialty Lager in the 2002 World Beer Cup.

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As one of the most imported beers to the U.S., Modelo Especial is a light pilsner with broad appeal. Modelo Especial has a sweet, malty taste that contrasts nicely with spicier foods such as Mexican or Indian dishes.

Related: Bottoms Up: Ranking 9 Cheap Beers in a Blind Taste Test

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This pilsner is the self-proclaimed best-selling Canadian beer in the world. At its low price, it's a good change of pace from similar American beers such as Budweiser or Miller Genuine Draft. Labatt Blue is also an innovator -- it was the first beer brand in Canada to include a twist-off top.

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Identifiable by its iconic logo of a German girl in traditional garb, St. Pauli Girl is an affordable, full-bodied lager. The makers of St. Pauli Girl claim to brew in accordance with Reinheitsgebot, the German beer "purity" laws from 1516 -- questionable, seeing as they use culture yeast in the brewing process. Either way, the beer enjoys its title as a gold medal winner for the American Tasting Institute Best Full Calorie German Lager.

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Guinness Draught, more than 250 years old and popular worldwide, is probably the cheapest stout that's widely available in the U.S., and a great beer for those looking for something heavier and richer than lagers.

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This lager has become the top-selling Japanese beer American drinkers since its introduction in 1984. Sapporo might be slightly more bitter than domestic lagers such as Budweiser, but it pairs well with just about any dish with its crisp flavor and mild hoppiness.

(Editor's note: This story has been revised since publication.)