If you like beer, get yourself to Guangzhou, China

Americans lose their shit over cheap beer prices. If you ever meet someone from western New York state, they will — not a question of if, a question of when — tell you about Genny Cream Ale and how it’s something like $3.60 for a sixer or whatever. Happy hour is an almost religious experience for some. I found a bar in Minneapolis (total dive) that has 3-for-1s from 5pm to 7pm, and when that’s on, it’s typically a cluster mess in there. The point is: we like to drink, we don’t have money, and we need hope. Did I summarize that effectively? Hope so.

Now, world-wide, where’s the cheapest beer in the world (let’s go!) and where’s the most expensive (hissssss)? Thrillist started the discussion — Vietnam and Cambodia are 1-2 for cheapest world-wide — and their data was ultimately based off Numbeo, which is an amazingly cool site if you’ve never checked it out. (The purchasing power index is based off NYC; so NYC is 100, and Minneapolis is 132 — you can buy 32 percent more off the same salary. Surprisingly, San Francisco is 108 — so you can buy 8 percent more in SF off the same salary. I wouldn’t have thought that. Anyway.) Now Quartz has a post up about it, with Guangzhou, China coming in as the cheapest place to get beer in the world (36 cents for a half-liter draught) and Tripoli (Libya) coming in as the most expensive ($9.30 for an equivalent draught). Most of the “cheapest” beer list is Asia/Ukraine, and most of the “expensive” beer list is Scandinavian countries. (Damn it.)

Here’s the full cheapest graph:


If you’re interested in only U.S. data, there’s a post from early 2013 via The Atlantic Cities. It uses a six-pack of Heineken as the barometer, which is moderately unfortunate since that’s not an amazing beer (I digress), but the cheapest cities per that metric are:


Interestingly, the only “large” cities on that list are Phoenix, Miami, and potentially Green Bay. On the “most expensive six-packs” side for the U.S. (this was all done via NerdWallet, by the way), there are three Alaska cities and two boroughs of NYC among the top 10 (all logical), but somehow No. 2 is Richmond, Indiana — 1 hour and 15 minutes from Indy — which is apparently best known as “the cradle of recorded jazz.”

If you want to find cheap bars, typically you need to do that via a local search (or Yelp), but … Omaha, NE and St. Louis, MO are regularly top-10 finishers in various ‘cheap drinking cities’ discussions. Thing is, every city’s got a couple of places you can tie one on for fairly cheap; you just need to know where to look.

Ted Bauer

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