The Cheap Beer Challenge was a test conducted by a group of Oberlin College students to find out what was the best cheap beer. This was of interest to the students because they drank a lot of cheap beer, and they wanted to know which of the variety of cheap beers they should choose. This test provided conclusive results that will greatly influence their future beer buying preferences. Here is a short summary of how we conducted this test, and my best recollection of the results.

The Cheap Beer Challenge

There were 10 beers in the competition.
  1. Pabst Blue Ribbon, my personal favorite cheap beer before last night.
  2. Budweiser. This was by far the most expensive beer in the competition. It was almost thrown out because it reportedly cost more than $6/12 pack, which we considered the cutoff for cheap beer. However, we decided to keep it, because then we got to drink more beer, and also we wanted to find out if it really was The King of Beers.
  3. Beast. Also referred to as Milwaukee's Best. The cheapest beer in the 12 pack market at $4.29/12 pack.
  4. Beast Ice. Also referred to as Milwaukee's Best Ice. Has a 5.8% alcoholic content as opposed to Beast, which is 4.6%. The cheapest way to get drunk there is.
  5. Genny. AKA Genessee. Comes from Rochester NY in cubes, or packs of 30 cans for $10, actually cheaper than Beast. There are 4 varieties of Genny, Genny, Genny Red, Genny Cream Ale, and Genny Ice. This is just Genny.
  6. Genny Cream Ale. AKA Genessee Cream Ale. Cream Ale means absolutely nothing, it is just some pretentious BS that a cheap beer stuck on its package to make it sound better.
  7. Black Label. Supposedly comes from Canada, is actually brewed in Milwaukee with all other cheap beer. Under license from some Canadian company, possibly.
  8. Schaefer. The one that won, Schaefer is the oldest lager in America, according to the pretentious BS on the can. Fans of Schaefer claim it tastes like roses.
  9. High Life. Miller High Life, the Champagne of Beers.
  10. Natty Light. AKA Natural Light. This one lost. It is really, really, terrible. It tastes really bad.

The testers were 8 students at Oberlin College. We all had prior brand loyalty to a cheap beer. The testing was held at 183 N. Main St. at 9 PM on Wednesday July 26 2000. The method was as follows :

We had 2 beers of each kind. Red plastic cups were set up in 7 rows of 10. Two testers poured approximately 1/3 beer into each cup, so that each row had one cup with about 4 ounces of each kind of beer. These testers recorded which column they poured which kind of beer into. They then left the pouring room(hereafter referred to as the kitchen) and went to the drinking room(hereafter referred to as the porch) where the other testers were relaxing and smoking a bowl. Some of them anyhow. The non-pouring testers went to the kitchen, and they labeled each beer with a number and which column they had taken that beer from, so that by combining the key from the pouring with the key from the labeling we would be able to find out which beer was which. If that sounds complicated, don't worry. It wasn't. It's just hard to describe, but the upshot of all of it was we didn't know which beer was which, but we could find out.

The beers were all brought out to the porch where each tester had a set of all ten beers, except that 2 testers had to share because we only had 7 sets of beers and 8 testers showed up. Each tester than drank the beer at his own pace, free to sip or chug and switch between the different beers. The testers than scored each beer from 1 to 10. During the testing it was clear that one beer, labeled #5, was becoming a favorite of many testers. I personally didn't think any of them tasted that different, and my scores reflected that. Other people found distinct differences between them. Regardless, everyone or almost everyone ended up giving high marks to #5. At the end of the testing, we added up all the scores, and found that one beer was clearly the winner, a few beers were clear losers, and then there were some beers in the middle. The clear winner was Schaefer. It was ranked consistently higher than other beers by many testers. Sorry about the lack of hard numbers, like how many ranked Schaefer highest and individual scores. I'll try and improve this node in the future, but I felt that our findings were important enough that we should release them immediately.

At any rate, Schaefer was clearly on top. Clearly on the bottom was Natty Light, Genny, and Budweiser. Beast and Beast Ice also had poor scores. Genny Cream Ale, High Life, Black Label, and Pabst were all in the middle.

  1. Schaefer
  2. Genny Cream Ale
  3. Miller High Life
  4. Black Label
  5. Pabst Blue Ribbon
  6. Beast Ice
  7. Beast
  8. Budweiser
  9. Genny
  10. Natty Light

The results are interesting. The wide difference between Genny and Genny Cream Ale is surprising, as is the fact that Beast Ice was higher than Beast, although it was by one point. Natty being at the bottom is not surprising at all. Budweiser, the most expensive beer in the competition, fared very poorly.

Problems : Cheap beer all pretty much tastes the same, so there is the possibility of random deviations. The test was only conducted once, and while I see no basic experimental flaws, it would be interesting to conduct the tests more, and find out if these results can be consistently duplicated, preferrably by independent observers. Also, some beer was poured before other beer, and might have been out longer, and therefore have been biased against. If we conducted the test again, we should try and make sure that the beer is all poured as quickly as possible and it doesn't warm up. That said, we poured pretty fast, and I don't think it was a problem.

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