Cheap American Beers: The Bracket!

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Readers, we all know the Internet can be a frivolous place, full of frivolous topics and frivolous people. It’s a digital wild west, populated by jokesters and hucksters and con men and rogues. Today, though, we put the frivolity aside. Today, we’re getting serious. TODAY, we’re confronting one of our nation’s most pressing dilemmas.

It is a question that has plagued us as long as this country we call “America” has been around. (Approximately 3,000 years.) Scholars have studied it, laymen have argued it, and I’m pretty sure it was the main cause of the Civil War. For millennia, it has been the foremost problem of our people. Namely:

What is the best cheap American beer?

In the past, you’ve probably read Paste’s coverage of hoity-toity beers. You know the ones I mean; they have flavors other than “watery.” This, however, is the first time we’ve rolled up our sleeves and joined the common people in answering a question that matters to them. And since this is America, we decided the best way to decide on an ultimate winner was through the fail-proof bracket system.

Before we reveal the bracket itself, let’s field a couple quick questions about our methodology:

1. How did you select the 16 beers for your bracket?

Was it scientific? Absolutely not. Science has no place in the cheap beer discourse. We chose our beers the way average Americans do it every weekend; we sent Nick Purdy, Paste co-founder, to a local Kroger (and three convenience stores) to buy up every available low-brow brew. What better way to simulate the experience facing the American people at around midnight on a Friday, when the party is almost out of alcohol? We wanted to reach a definitive conclusion about the best possible product for that precise moment of indecision, and so we recreated it. (Also, we sort of put it together in a hurry. If your favorite cheap beer didn’t make it…sorry!)

2. How did you decide a winner?

Blind taste test. Eight Paste staffers had an official vote, but only I knew which beer was which. In the case of a tie, which happened three times, I made everyone turn around and I either switched the beers or left them exactly where they were. We then tasted again to see if any votes changed. Spoiler: Votes always changed.

3. Who voted?

Our Panel: Paste co-founders and bigwigs Josh Jackson and Nick Purdy, assistant editor Bonnie Stiernberg, film editor Michael Dunaway, assistant film/tv editor Michael Burgin, designer Sarah Lawrence, Shane Ryan (that’s me!) and multimedia editor Dacey Orr, who always went last and never failed to bring the drama. You’ll get to know us all, and our odd cheap beer proclivities, as the week progresses.

And now, without further ado, we reveal our work to you in all its proletariat glory. Ladies and gentlemen, the Cheap American Beer bracket!

(Click to enlarge in a new window.)



(Note: We originally had Yuengling in the bracket instead of Michelob Light, but it quickly became clear that the dark color and distinct flavor would make a mockery of our blind taste test.)

Tomorrow, we’ll be revealing the first round results of our taste test. Thursday will be the second round and on Friday we’ll reveal the results of the Final Four and Championship.

In the meantime, we’d like to give you, the Paste reader, a chance to vote along with us. Cheap American beer is a democratic concept, and it would be wrong not to share this experience with you. We need a People’s Bracket! The results of the survey below will help us fill out our reader bracket, which we’ll fill out along with ours. Voting closes at 5 p.m., and make sure to click “done” when you finish to submit your results.

See you tomorrow!

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