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Craft Beer Experts Reveal Their Absolute Favorite ‘Grocery Store Beers’

With the craft brewing boom across all corners of America over the past four decades, the grocery beer aisle has expanded to a point that would’ve been unrecognizable even 10 years ago. These days, you can find old-school, macro-produced lagers from your grandparent’s generation sharing shelf space with award-winning IPAs encompassing umpteen sub-styles. And in between it all, you can find plenty of imports from every corner of the beer-drinking world.

Some are great. Some not so much. We understand that it can be a confusing time if you’re new to the beer game, but that’s where we come in. And today, we’re going to take a look at the beers you can find in pretty much every grocery store around the country. We also brought in some ringers to give us a helping hand.

We asked some well-known craft beer experts, brewers, and beer professionals to tell us their favorite “grocery store beers” — meaning the names everyone knows and has access to. They fired back with lot of opinions and some great picks worth grabbing.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada

Luis G. Brignoni, founder of Wynwood Brewing Co. in Miami

ABV: 5.6%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has been widely available for more than 10 years. Now with their Asheville, North Carolina brewery, they’re churning out the freshest beer possible from coast to coast (and abroad). In my opinion, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a textbook example of what American pale ales aspire to be.

Coors Banquet Beer

Coors Banquet Beer
Coors

Jeremy Marshall, brewmaster at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $7 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

The answer is Coors Banquet. I like it because it’s literally available everywhere and sometimes when you’re drinking all these IPAs, hazies, DIPAs, etc., you just need a “spacer.” You know, the kind of thing to give your palate a break. Banquet is definitely no-frills, but there’s nothing like that cold Rocky Mountain water hitting your gullet on a hot summer day.

It’s the kind of beer that’s classic and available anywhere.

Guinness Draught

Guinness Draught
Guinness

Michael Palmer, lead innovation pilot brewer at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, California

ABV: 4.2%

Average Price: $9 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Guinness Draught is my pick. It’s extremely sessionable at 4.2 percent ABV, unique, and extremely drinkable without sacrificing flavor. It was one of my first beers and a beer I still love to see on draft. Special shoutout to their Foreign Extra Stout as well.

Old Style Lager

Old Style Lager
Old Style

Sean Lewis, brewer at Sun King Brewing in Indianapolis

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: $5 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Old Style Lager has always been a favorite “grocery store” beer for me. My Grandpa Bob would always drink it, and we always have some at every family gathering as a tribute to him. It’s cheap, refreshing, and always there.

Narragansett Lager

Narragansett Lager
Narragansett

Mike Kelly, senior brewer at Harpoon Brewery in Boston

ABV: 4.1%

Average Price: $6.50 for a six-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

If I could only pick one, it would be a crispy, thirst-quenching Narragansett Lager. It’s a staple at any bar worth going to in New England. It’s light in body and designed to be consumed by the handful.

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
Bell

Rob Day, senior director of marketing at Springdale Beer Co. in Framingham, Massachusetts

ABV: 7%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is my favorite grocery store beer, hands down. This is the most reliable, widely available, excellent beer I know. It’s an all-around great IPA and you can get it pretty much everywhere.

Modelo Especial

Modelo Especial
Modelo

Garth E. Beyer, certified Cicerone® and owner and founder of Garth’s Brew Bar in Madison, Wisconsin

ABV: 4.4%

Average Price: $8.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

If I’ve got beer in my cart at a grocery store, it’s more than likely going to be Modelo Especial (specifically in cans). When I make tacos at home, I go big and it’s a day-long investment. The honey blossom aroma of the beer compliments all the taco aromas floating around the kitchen, and there’s just something about that clean-but-sweet barley finish that sets up your palate for taco after taco.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Samuel Adams

Ryan Pachmayer, head brewer at Yak & Yeti Brewpub and Restaurant in Arvada, Colorado

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Sam Adam’s Boston Lager is just a solid beer drinker’s beer. There are good bready malts and noble hops, it’s clean and crisp, it’s available pretty much everywhere, and it isn’t too expensive. I much prefer this over the light lagers, they’re just too thin and flavorless for my tastes.

Miller Genuine Draft

Miller Genuine Draft
Miller

Jesse Sommers, vice president at Berthoud Brewing Company in Loveland, Colorado

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: $7.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

If I had to pick a classic “grocery store” beer, I would probably go with Miller Genuine Draft. It was my go-to lawnmower beer early on. It is clean and refreshing, easy to drink, and has a little more flavor than Bud or Coors, in my opinion.

Pilsner Urquell

Pilsner Urquell
Pilsner Urquell

Brian Jaszewski, director of product management at Sprecher Brewing Co. in Glendale, Wisconsin

ABV: 4.4%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I always go to Pilsner Urquell. A good lager is tough to beat as a daily drinker, which is why we focus on perfecting them here at Sprecher. It delivers exactly what it promises every time, and your palate only has to work as hard as you want when you are drinking it.

Anchor Steam

Anchor Steam
Anchor

Jamie Boalbey, director of beverage and operations at Pitfire Pizza in Los Angeles

ABV: 4.9%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Without a doubt for me, Anchor Steam is my favorite “grocery store” beer. A timeless classic, it has the perfect harmony of malts and hops with a refreshing, clean finish that leaves you craving more. It’s a can’t-miss beer that’s available in most every grocery store.

Tecate

Tecate
Tecate

Dan Lipke, head brewer at Clown Shoes Beer in Boston

ABV: 4.5%

Average Price: $8 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Tecate is my go-to. If I’m looking for something super light, a Tecate fits the bill nicely. It’s easy drinking and a bit fuller tasting than American macro lagers, which tend to use rice as an adjunct. Tecate is slightly sweeter and softer with a corn addition.

Sweetwater IPA

Sweetwater IPA
Sweetwater

Brad Bergman, brewing director at Sycamore Brewing in Charlotte, North Carolina

ABV: 6.3%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I really enjoy Sweetwater’s IPA. You can find it most grocery stores in the Southeast. For as ubiquitous as it is, there are really a lot of nice flavors. Citrusy, tropical, bright, and not too heavy or sweet, it’s a nice IPA (especially if found fresh) that I see all around.

Allagash White

Allagash White
Allagash

Adam Beauchamp, COO and co-founder at Creature Comforts Brewing Co. in Athens, Georgia

ABV: 5.2%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Allagash White is my favorite “grocery store” beer. It is a true American classic, delicious, and infinitely drinkable. What could be better than this hazy, slightly spicy, and memorable beer? The flavors are perfect any time of year.

Miller High Life

Miller High Life
Miller

Jon Eager, research and development brewer at Indeed Brewing Company in Minneapolis

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: $6 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Miller High Life is a can’t-miss grocery store find. Something about drinking out of a clear glass bottles makes me happy. It’s a rare joy and a horrible idea for most beers. This is refreshing, crisp, and the kind of beer you never want to stop drinking.

Pizza Port Swami’s IPA

Pizza Port Swami’s IPA
Pizza Port

Teddy Gowan, director of brewery operations at Societe Brewing Company in San Diego

ABV: 6.8%

Average Price: $15 for a six-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

The kind of beer that’s classic, available anywhere, and no-frills? Swami’s from Pizza Port is my pick. Somehow, no matter where you are — you could be in Mammoth or right around the corner from the brewery — but their “packaged on” dates are always within the month.

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