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$10 taste test

The ‘backpack beers’ of summer, ranked

We drank and ranked the summer’s most crushable backpack beers—for journalism.

Morgan Welch

As spring soldiers on and summer kicks into gear, beer drinkers across Tulsa are putting aside their Belgian quads and barrel-aged imperial stouts for something lighter—and cheaper. Sure, we love our local craft beer as much as the next city, but sometimes you need to fill your backpack for that outdoor summer festival with some bottom-shelf brews that will help you beat the heat without breaking the bank.

In the name of journalism, we assembled a crack team of TTV staff beer snobs for a blind taste test. Our goal: to determine the best (and worst) fizzy-yellow lagers from our broke-ass college days, with the hope of steering you, gentle reader, in the right direction. We spent a grand total of $10.58—thanks, Denver Ave. QuickTrip!—in our search for the most crushable and affordable macro beers for the summer season. Our findings may shock and disturb you.


24 oz. can, $2.49

Georgia Brooks (graphic designer): I think I know what this one is.

Blayklee Freed (assistant editor): This is very drinkable to me.

Morgan Welch (graphic designer): Bitter aftertaste, a little bit.

Georgia: It’s heavier than I expected any of these to be.

John Langdon (digital editor): Yeah—it doesn’t have that light crispiness I was expecting from this group of beers.

Jezy Gray (editor): More body. I think it’s pretty tasty.

Georgia: I do too!

Blayklee: I could drink this whole cup.

Jezy: But I will say, it’s got that slight creamed corn, wet cardboard taste I frequently get from these beers—which is not entirely unpleasant. [Laughter]

The King of Beers enjoyed a respectable showing during our blind taste test. Not our favorite, but not the worst. While more filling than the rest, Budweiser is a solid option during your next outdoor summer event.

Pabst Blue Ribbon

24 oz. can, $1.49

Blayklee: This one definitely has a more pronounced smell to it.

Jezy: Yeah—more on the nose.

Morgan: I know what this one is.

Georgia: Less creamed corn. More cardboard.

Blayklee: Getting the cardboard, for sure.

Morgan: Even though it’s cold, I would have a harder time drinking all of it.

Jezy: Yeah, seems like it would get gross as it warms up in your hand.

Blayklee: There’s something more potent about this one.

Jezy: A little more dank?

Georgia: Yeah.

John: Less creamy. More dank. [Laughter]

Since it’s not 2012, we won’t make a ‘hipster beer’ joke. But suffice to say, it is the finding of this panel that PBR gets more of a bump for its reputation as a fashionable cheap beer than any merits on flavor or drinkability.

Miller High Life

32 oz. can, $1.79     

Georgia: This one has the least flavor so far.

Blayklee: I just got a super yeasty aftertaste, though.

Jezy: Big aftertaste.

Georgia: But it’s very watery, pretty much the whole way.

Blayklee: I think I definitely know what this one is.

Jezy: Me too.

Georgia: I might like this one the best so far.

Jezy: Really—why?

Georgia: Because it just tastes like water. [Laughter]

John: A good candidate for a high-volume drinking beer.

Jezy: Very crushable.

Before the tasting, most everyone agreed that Miller High Life—the champagne of beers—was their prefered cheap brand. While it didn’t win out in our blind taste test, it finished in a very respectable second place.

Coors Banquet

24 oz. can, $2.49

Blayklee: I know what this one is, I’m pretty sure.

Georgia: I feel like I know what this one is, too.

Morgan: It’s kind of ...

Jezy: Flabby.

Blayklee: It reminds me of the smell of spilled beer at festivals.

Jezy: That old tap smell.

John: It’s a little funkier.

Morgan: Even though it’s cold, it tastes like it’s warm?

Jezy: Tastes like a hangover.

Morgan: It’s got that Cain’s floor aroma. [Laughter]      

A big surprise for all involved, Coors Banquet landed at the very bottom of our tasting notes. Blayklee, a frequent Yellow-Belly drinker during $2 Tuesdays at The Max, was the most shocked by our panel’s findings.

Natural Light

24 oz. can, $1.49

John: It tastes like something real, made from actual ingredients.

Georgia: This one does?

John: Yeah. There’s something natural about it, somehow.

Blayklee: This is definitely my favorite so far, I think.

Morgan: It’s pretty bitter at first, but then I don’t taste anything.

Jezy: A little more hopped than the other ones. A little more floral, a bit more bite.

John: Yeah.

Jezy: Very refreshing, too.

Blayklee: This would definitely quench my thirst.

John: I feel like I enjoy this the most.

Georgia: Yeah, this might be the tastiest.

Jezy: Maybe my favorite, too.

It’s unanimous—Natural (Natty) Light, the lowest of the low-shelf beers, was our top pick. We could save face by fudging our scientific results to favor a more respectable brand, but this is journalism baby. Democracy dies in darkness. Don’t @ us.