Tips for saving on beer

Over at the Personal Finance Advice blog, Jeffrey offers ten ways to save money on beer.

Well, that’s a laudable goal. Except, of course, they’re written from the perspective of someone who doesn’t really like beer. At least, those who are more interested in quantity than quality.

Besides the list is a beer calculator. Simply put in how much beer you drink in an hour/day/week/month, how much you pay per “unit”, press a button and voilà! You have a distressingly large number that is the amount of money you spend on beer in a year.

Although, thinking about it, it’s not really all that high. I mean, how much do people spend on their hobbies? One of my hobbies is enjoying good beer. I don’t golf. I don’t collect stamps. I don’t fly airplanes. I don’t build ships in bottles. So, really, is it that much money? Granted, if it comes down to feeding my children versus a brewski, the suds will lose every time. But if that’s how I want to spend my disposable income, is it really that bad?

On to the list.

  1. If you have the choice, avoid purchasing your beer in bars and restaurants where they are typically much more expensive.
    Well, duh! But what if that’s where your friends are? I’d rather have just a couple of good beers with good friends at the brewpub than to suck down a bunch a bottles at home alone.
  2. If you are drinking at a bar or restaurant, drink during Happy Hours or during special promotions when beer is cheaper.
    I’m usually at work during happy hour. The local brewpub does have $2 pints on Wednesdays, though. Hmm…
  3. If you drink a lot of beer and a single brand, purchase it in bulk (by the case).
    Sage advice. Better, find a retailer that offers a case discount for mixed six-packs. My only trouble with this one is that if the beer is in the house I’m going to drink it. I tend to go through a case a lot faster than four individual six-packs.
  4. Buy your beer at discount warehouses or other discount stores rather than at retail liquor stores.
    Well, let’s see. Most of discount warehouses don’t carry very much craft beer. Worse, they don’t refrigerate any of it. The people who shop there aren’t looking for craft beers, so the one they have sits back on a shelf, all summer, until some poor sucker buys it.
  5. If you are going to drink at a baseball, football or other sporting event, go a few hours early and drink your own beer at a tailgate party.
    I’m all about tailgating before a game. Some of my fondest memories are of parking lot 4G before a Giants game. (Max, Greg, Mike, et.al.: Thanks guys. Good times, good times.) Not only that, but you can bring some good beer of your own, rather than wasting your money on the concession’s overpriced, more-watered-down-than-usual pale American pilsner.
  6. Consider brewing your own beer
    An outstanding suggestion! After your initial outlay for equipment, each five-gallon batch costs less than a dollar per 12 ounce bottle. Even better, you’re reusing the bottles instead of putting them in the waste stream. (Need some resources for homebrewing? Try the Open Directory Project.)
  7. If you like expensive beer, make your first two that brand and then switch to a cheaper brand after that since you won’t be able to tell the difference after that.
    I don’t know about you, but if my third beer was of lesser quality than my first two, I would be able to tell the difference. Of course, more expensive does not always mean higher quality. Look at that best selling Dutch beer. How about, better, you don’t have more than three or five beers in an evening?
  8. If you aren’t brand loyal, go for the beer on sale or that is discounted.
    That’s a no-brainer but, again, the beers I would drink are rarely on sale. Certainly they’re not available for $12.95 for a 30-pack.
  9. Pour slow and tilt the glass – this will reduce the amount of foam in the cup giving you more beer to drink.
    I almost did a spit-take when I saw this one. Pour strong! Release the aroma! Unless, of course, you’re at a kegger. Then just wait twenty minutes after tapping. Sheesh!
  10. In the summer, look for beer that comes with coupons for meat, hot dogs or other BBQ items that are usually purchased with beer during that season. This can save you quite a bit on these items and if you were already planning on purchasing them, reduce your overall BBQ costs.
    I have never seen any beer with a coupon for other products. I suspect the laws where I’ve lived simply don’t allow it. Somehow I don’t see some boutique brewery doing a coupon promotion with Hillshire Farm.
  11. Bonus Tip: Always take a designated driver – if you get pulled over after you have been drinking, you’re going to pay a lot of money for the ticket, for a lawyer and for increased auto insurance.
    Well, I can certainly agree with that, although I’d think it more important to keep from killing or injuring yourself or someone else. This is about saving money, though, so I guess it fits.

Here’s my advice:

  • Shop around. If you have a number of retailers that aren’t far from you, compare prices on some of the beers you buy regularly. A fifty-cent to a dollar difference can add up over time. Just don’t drive too far and waste all your savings on gasoline.
  • Slow down. Enjoy your beer. Examine its nuances, the different flavors and aromas it offers. See what kind of food it would make a good pairing with. I get much more enjoyment out of an $8 six-pack of a quality craft beer than a $13 30-pack (cans) of American megabrew. That’s a savings of $5.
  • Buy local. Find out which brewers are close to where you live and buy those. Lower shipping costs = lower retail price. Heck, if it’s that local the brewery may be dealing with the retailer directly rather through a distributor.

What are your tips for saving on beer?

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About Al

Forty-something, married, with two kids. I generally prefer the English styles - ESB, IPA - but am willing to try just about anything. You can reach me at al@hop-talk.com.

5 thoughts on “Tips for saving on beer

  1. I remember once Saranac offered something like $1.00 rebate on a six pack. After a stamp, the change almost might have possibly been worth the trouble. (I did it anyway to see if they honored it, and they did)

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  3. Heh. The guys at PFA just add insult to injury.

    In this post they talk about how much better beer is in frosted mugs.

    Sad.

    Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I admit I used to be a proponent of frosted glasses. That was, of course, before I learned to taste beer and not just drink it.

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