Map: The Cheap Beers People Drink Across The U.S.

There’s a tasteless pilsner for every region!

In the age of Amazon, when much of the world is but a click away from having any product they can imagine shipped to their doorstep in just two days, beer is stubbornly anachronistic, a globalization holdout that's subject to the physical locations of breweries, along with the regional patterns of alcohol distributors.

It’s a picture painted well by the team from Floating Sheep, who compiled a million tweets, scanning for words like “beer” and “wine” to plot the alcoholic preferences across the U.S. What they uncovered is essentially the United States of Cheap Beer--a map of the generic, though perfectly tasty, lagers and pilsners that we loyally drink region by region.

For the most part, the visualization reinforces half-marketed, half-social stereotypes. Coors really does “tap the Rockies,” and people in the Lone Star state actually drink Lone Star. Corona is the beer of beaches--the kids in SoCal love it--though don’t tell Floridians and their Yuengling that. And Milwaukee's Best is absolutely a popular drink in Milwaukee.

You’ll also spot a U.S. vs. Mexico* beer war going on in border-town regions. The data you’re seeing was measured over the period of one year, but it would be interesting to watch how beer preferences play out over time through years of tweets plotted in an animation. No doubt, you’d see not just regional cultural preferences but which companies had deployed the most effective marketing campaigns.

* Interestingly enough, Femsa, the Mexican company that makes Tecate, Dos Equis, and Sol, was just purchased by Dutch brewer Heineken. So the border war may go cross-continental.

See more here.

[Image: Women drinking beer via Shutterstock]

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9 Comments

  • Benjamin Dirk McWilliams

    Saranac, Sam... cheap and flavorless pilsner? If 1/7 are dead wrong I feel like your article provides no value. I'm pretty sure Goose island isn';t cheap and bad. So out of 14 maybe 11 cheap and bad beers and one cheap and lazy article.

    Also the map of lagers and pilsners.. a pilsner is a lager. Some of these are ale and that is neither. Why bother to publish this, you clearly put no time into it and just added a blerb to go with someone else's graph (that might actually had value in different context)

  • Sam Adams is not "cheap beer". It costs the same as most craft brews.

    Narragansett is probably the most accurate regional choice, though Yuengling may well take that over now that it's available, but in reality the most commonly-consumed cheap beer in New England by a longshot is Bud Light.

  • Jody Noel Cameron

    For the most part, very few of these I would think of a 'cheap beers'. I'm from Detroit and have never even heard of Saranac. Also, in Florida, when making a beer run for some 'cheap beer' I doubt most a running for Yeungling....more like natural ice or bud light.

  • This map is bunk. For starters, I don't know many places around here in Detroit that sell Saranac -- a line of craft beers, not cheap pilsner -- and you damn sure can't find it in the central U.P. And what, they don't drink any cheap swill in 80% of the country? Bud's footprint is really that small

  • Bob Boord

    I like the idea here and think the information is presented well. But I have a couple issues with the info:

    The biggest sellers for Goose Island, Sam Adams and Yuengling are not lagers or pilsners. They are actively marketed as craft brewers.

    Also, the "upscale" beer of choice throughout much of the southeast seems to be Yeungling. This does not appear here. Is that due to the lack of tweets in those areas? If so, until the entire country (rural areas included) is saturated, would this be a good way to measure beer popularity?

  • Yeah, the second I saw Goose Island and Sam Adams, I knew something wasn't right. They don't even technically qualify as "cheap" beer based on their price.