• The Cheap Dependables


    I don’t mind the occasional beer splurge. It’s kind of a prerequisite for writing and editing a beer web site. If you’re going to have one, you have to occasionally amass enough cash to leave the local liquor store with a $20 bottle of beer. And that’s fine, because quite often the beers are lovely, and the high price and uniqueness of them makes them sought after by craft beer drinkers, or potential readers of Whosisbrew. They often make for my most-hit reviews (Fuller’s Vintage Ale, Mein Nelson Sauvin, Infinium, etc.) so it’s an obligation I quite enjoy. But like many of you, I’m a beer drinker. I’m not out spending that sort of cash on beer every day.

    I find some more expensive craft beer brands, the kind that are $9 or $10 for a six pack, to fit into my budget just fine. But there are some weeks when the bills can unexpectedly pile up and you might have to lower your good beer cash output. So the question is, when you’re waiting on your next paycheck and you can’t splurge, how can you go cheap without sacrificing flavor or quality? To answer that question, I’m giving you my go-to selections for when I’m in such a bind. I call them my “Cheap Dependables,” the name implying that you’re getting a dependable, flavorful beer at a friendly price. And there’s a Northeastern bias here, because, well, that’s where I live.

    #1: Yuengling Porter

    Now, you could have easily substituted “Yuengling Traditional Lager” with the above words and that would’ve worked just fine. But that beer is much talked about, and much consumed. It’s also a beer I’ve traditionally relied on in a bar as opposed to one I’m bringing home six packs of. Yuengling Porter, though, has become one of my favorite cheap dependables. First, the price. In my parts, I rarely see a six pack of Yuengling Porter priced any higher than $6.50. That’s friendly enough as it is, but if you stumble into the right liquor store, you could very well find it priced for $6.00; the same price that Yuengling Traditional Lager typically runs for. So the price is right, and in my opinion, so is the flavor. It’s a little different from other porters. Don’t expect the thick, silky, creamy texture you often find in many American-made porters. It’s got a bit more of a crisp bite to it; more quaffable and easily drinkable, while still having nice coffeeish/chocolate flavors. It makes for a nice sipper. It’s also a friendly 4.7% ABV.

    #2: Moo Thunder Stout

    This sweet stout comes from the folks at Butternuts Beer & Ale in Garrattsville, NY. Butternuts has a bit of a mixed reputation among the crafty fellows. Its “Pork Slap Pale Ale,” though slowly becoming a bit of a cult beer, is the subject of much loathing among many circles; partly because of the less-than-appealing branding, and partly because the beer just tastes damn weird in an old vegetable kind of way. Their Snapperhead IPA gets criticized for not being hoppy enough, but that’s a notion I disagree with; I enjoy the heck out of that beer and I could’ve easily selected it as cheap dependable #2. But I went with Moo Thunder Stout because it’s actually one of my favorite sweet stouts. As for the price, I’ve rarely (and perhaps never) seen it sold for more than $6.99 for a sixer of cans. Very, very doable, and the beer itself is just lovely. It has a freshness to it that I adore, whether that’s because of the can or not I don’t know, but it does seem to have a nice zingy feel in body and flavor. Brewed with lactose, it has a smooth, creamy consistency, with lovely roasted malt flavor and chocolate, with a mostly clean, slightly sweetish finish. And at 4.9%, you can have a few of them and be doing just fine.

    #3: Genesee Cream Ale

    I know, I know. Genesee Cream Ale, the pride of Rochester, is a bit of an outlier here. It’s a “cream ale” in the sense that it’s brewed using a method that meets the criteria for what the BJCP would call a “cream ale,” but that’s the closest this beer gets to being either of the words in the description. Genesee Cream Ale is mostly bland. It’s certainly unoffensive, there’s nothing wrong or defective there, it’s just straightforward. Not exactly a world apart from the mass-market beer brands. But there is a little something to it, and it does possess the sort of charm and allure that a lot of its competitors have long sacrificed; it’s kind of an interesting product. I’ve enjoyed bottles of it in the right bar or at the right party, and when I want something that isn’t at all challenging and will just listen to how crappy my day was, Genesee Cream Ale is an ok choice. The best part, though? In my local liquor stores, I have never seen a sixer priced for anything more than $3.99. THREE DOLLARS AND NINETY NINE CENTS! If I’m buying super cheap, I’m buying Genny Cream.

    There’s others I can think of, but most of the time, these are my cheap dependables. And I’m damn proud of them. Am I missing any? What are the cheap dependables where you live?

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