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Beer The Almighty Buck Idle

Beer Is Cheaper In the US Than Anywhere Else In the World 633

Posted by timothy
from the beat-the-high-cost-of-living-and-die dept.
derekmead writes "It's frustrating to drop $7 on a pint of beer in New York City, as it turns out, Americans have the cheapest beer on Earth. International bank UBS gathered data about the median wages and average retail prices of a 500mL (pint) beer in 150 countries. Those data were compiled to figure out how many minutes of work it takes the average worker of a country to earn enough money to buy a beer. It's funny that UBS analysts are spending time looking at beer, but considering that beer is beloved and nigh essential everywhere, it offers an interesting comparison between commodities and wages. For example, India tops the least, with the median worker having to work nearly an hour to afford a pint thanks to extremely low wages. In the U.S. however, where wages are relatively high and the cost of the average beer is quite low (thanks to those super-massive macrobreweries out there), it takes the median worker about five minutes of labor to afford a retail (store-, not bar-bought) pint. That's the shortest amount of time in the world, which means that, relatively speaking, beer is cheaper here than anywhere else." OK, UBS: Now please repeat the research with coffee.
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Beer Is Cheaper In the US Than Anywhere Else In the World

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  • Incidentally... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:02PM (#41452553)

    ...it's also worse than anywhere else in the world. No joke, people.

    • Re:Incidentally... (Score:5, Informative)

      by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:23PM (#41452959)

      ...it's also worse than anywhere else in the world. No joke, people.

      It's certainly true of the large breweries. The micro brews (which are extremely common now days) are much better; although they're also much more expensive.

      • Re:Incidentally... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @03:29PM (#41454079) Homepage Journal

        It's certainly true of the large breweries. The micro brews (which are extremely common now days) are much better

        You know, I did my best to accommodate the beer snobs, but I have found, again and again, that on a hot day barbeque at the summer house, the cooler with the watery Pabst macro brew seems to empty out first.

        And when you see someone at Comiskey nursing a room-temperature micro-boutique "pils" that has some too-clever name, you can be pretty sure that their tickets are being written off as a business expenditure and they're not really a Sox fan. They probably use a moisturizer around the eyes before bed, too (if you catch my drift).

        • Re:Incidentally... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Darinbob (1142669) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @04:06PM (#41454773)

          It's probably what people grew up with. Some people for inexplicable reasons will prefer Coors. But it technically wouldn't be considered a real beer in some parts of the world. On the other hand you can go to a lot of ball parks and get decent beer, like Sam Adams or a locally brewed batch (mini-brew if not micro-brew).

        • Re:Incidentally... (Score:5, Informative)

          by bored (40072) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @04:11PM (#41454875)

          Well, maybe the mistake is picking micro brews that are too dark. Their is a lot of space between the water that is pabst, and the overtoasted crap on the other side of the spectrum.

          I find that if I can't see my hand through the pint, the beer is hiding something. There is a reason a lot of home brewers do stout, and it has to do with their inability to make a good IPA or amber ale. Those lighter beers are very susceptible to off tastes if everything isn't super clean, and the trub isn't removed fairly quickly.

          BTW: Finally, any beer that is lighter than a light amber color is probably heavily cut with rice or corn... In the case of bud light/etc there is so little barley or hops its hard to call it "beer" with a straight face.

          • by Quirkz (1206400)
            Heh, what does that make me, then? Most of my worst homebrews have been failed stouts and porters, while most lighter beers (kolsch, amber, red, ligher saisons) have been among my better batches. Lucky, I guess?
        • Re:Incidentally... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Woodmeister (7487) <.woodford.jason. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @04:32PM (#41455263)

          Yeah, I've noticed this too. Tho here in GF-W, Newfoundland, the 'beer' of choice is usually Coors Light or Bud Light. Why, I really don't know, but my hypothesis is that there are truly very few BEER drinkers out there anymore. What most people have become are 'soft, fizzy, alcoholic beverage' drinkers; kinda like how many girlies claim to be 'on the wine' when, in reality, they are drinking an overly sweet, fizzy, fruit flavoured spritzer by the name of "Boone's". That shit ain't wine -- it's not bad per se, and I've been know to have a bottle or two over the years, but it's NOT WINE.

          In line with this theory, those who moderate (well, usually :) their consumption tend to enjoy more full bodied beers. Anything with higher malt, hop, etc. content will start to turn on you if you over-indulge (higher calorie content, worse hangovers, dry towel-tongue). Coors can be drank to excess without any of that (hell, I once couldn't even get a buzz on with that shit no matter how I tried.)

    • Re:Incidentally... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:26PM (#41453029) Homepage Journal

      ...it's also worse than anywhere else in the world. No joke, people.

      Well, there's BEER, as in Bud, Coors and various other mega brews, who use who knows what (Bud uses rice) in adjuncts, most of the money going into marketing is denied in going into product.

      Then there are craft brewers who make Ales, Stouts, Porters, Lagers and so on with the finest barley, hops and water they can muster. You'll see them competing in the categories which really matter at the GABF [greatameri...stival.com] Many of the small brewers can hold more than a candle to their European counterparts, who are under threat these days from cheap lagers from France (some people just want to get under the table and don't care how.) At least in Germany you are still guaranteed fair ales for your money, thanks to the Reinheitsgebot. A real pity the USA didn't take something like that onto the Constitution.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        Last time they took alcohol into consideration in the Constitution, it was to ban it. They undid the ban fairly soon afterwards, but I don't think you want a government founded largely on puritan principles to have anything to do with leisure.

    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      Not necessarily.

      Sure, if you go with the stuff from Budwiser, Coors...etc.

      But most areas here these days, seem to have good local breweries...in my area we have great beers from:

      Abita

      NOLA (New Orleans Lager and Ale Brewing Company )

      Bayou Teche Brewing

      Heiner Brau

      Parish Brewing Company

      Tin Roof Brewing Company

      And hell..that's just around New Orleans.....come visit Cooter Brown's [cooterbrowns.com] or one of the Bulldog's [draftfreak.com] here in town, and get a taste of a number of great beers (by the pint or bottle).

      And...nicely en

    • Re:Incidentally... (Score:5, Informative)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:46PM (#41453411)

      Absolutely wrong. There is an incredible variety of small breweries that make great beer and you can find many of them even at your average grocery store. Go to a specialty liqueur store and you can multiply that variety by 10 or more.

      Before 1979 it was illegal to make beer in small batches (no joke) and this is where American beer got the bad reputation because only a handful of big companies were able to make beer (Bud, Coors, Miller....) and thanks to the government obtained control of the market and brought the quality way down. Since that was repealed there was an explosion of home brewing which then expanded into small business and microbreweries so that today there are over 1,400 breweries in the US making every possible type and flavor of beer imaginable.

      I would actually go so far as to say that the American beer is now the best in the world as evidenced by the international competitions where the US beers dominate. [worldbeercup.org]

      • Re:Incidentally... (Score:5, Informative)

        by afidel (530433) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @03:26PM (#41454053)

        Correction, there are over 2,000 micro and craft breweries in the US today and we're adding them at a bit over 200 net new breweries per year. That's 50% more than Germany and even on a per-capita basis we're projected to pass them by the end of the decade. It really is a good time to be a beer lover in America =)

      • Re:Incidentally... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Meeni (1815694) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @05:39PM (#41456239)

        I follow you up to the last statement. There are very good microbrews now in the US, and certainly, when the subject is IPA, US brewers are top notch. Still, Belgian and Germans are better. Proper process inherited from traditions can be tasted, and often "belgian style" US production is adventurous (good), to the point of denaturing the product by using improper processes to "enhance" or "flavor" the batch the easy way (additives), instead of the proper way. That being said, the general quality is certainly satisfactory, and sometimes, the creativity pays and this is to be appreciated.

        On the price side, this report is misleading. Crap beers are dirt cheap. But they are crap. Good beers are not that cheap compared to typical European prices.

    • Re:Incidentally... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @04:44PM (#41455483) Homepage Journal

      I see you've never tasted American beer, only Budweiser (Belgium), Coors (Canadian), or Miller (British). Those brands used to be American but all were bought by foreigners. Try a Sam Adams some time, or one of the fine microbrews. Every bit as good as a Bass or Guiness.

  • Conversion error (Score:4, Insightful)

    by raburton (1281780) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:03PM (#41452569)

    a pint != 500mL
    a pint == 568mL

  • How much time do I have to spend messing around on the Internet at work to be able to buy a decent microbrew at lunch?

  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:04PM (#41452583)

    It's fucking close to water.

    • by Pope (17780) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:58PM (#41453613)

      The CEOs of Budweiser, Coors, and Guinness get together for lunch.
      When the waitress comes to take their drink orders, the CEO of Budweiser orders a Bud.
      The CEO of Coors follows suit and orders a Coors.
      The CEO of Guinness looks at the waitress and orders one Coors and one Budweiser. The other two are astonished!
      They ask why he ordered two drinks, and says "Oh, I never have beer this early in the day."

    • by Xtifr (1323)

      Several years back, a guy I know threw a huge party. He bought cheap beer, but as a joke, he had his own labels printed and replaced the brewery's labels. His labels quite clearly stated, "smooth as making love in a canoe". :)

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:04PM (#41452595) Homepage

    It considers abominations like Bud Light to be beer.

  • Beer (Score:4, Funny)

    by Blimbo (528076) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:06PM (#41452619) Homepage

    The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.

  • Define "Beer". (Score:4, Informative)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:07PM (#41452635)

    There is a big difference between a "40" of St Ides for 2 bucks, and a 5$ to 7$ pint of "micro-brew".

    St. Louis produces millions of gallons of piss water alternatively known as "beer", but this doesn't mean that the rest of the world drinks this stuff and would classify it as "beer".

    • by geekoid (135745)

      OU might want to look at the top sold beers in the world before making stupid statements.

      1) SNow Beer - China
      2) Bud Light - 47.38 million barrels world wide.
      3)Budweiser 36.98 million barrels also sold globally.

      interesting note, Ireland most popular beer is Coors light.

      SO, what I ma saying is: Shut. Up.

  • Can anyone find a link to the study, rather than just the chart being tossed around? In particular, I wonder about countries not shown...

  • If I were to sell a house for 500k in San Francisco, it might be called cheap, where if were to try to sell the same house in BFN, California, it would be laughably overpriced... but they're still both 500k. You can't say one is "cheaper" than the other. This might be an interesting fact about the US that was determined, but the fact is definitely -not-, "beer is cheaper in the US than anywhere else in the world".

    Also that first sentence was interesting, as it turns out, it is as a great example of somethin

  • by tgeller (10260) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:11PM (#41452717) Homepage
    I'll save you the time: "American beer sucks, har har har".

    Really? You *all* think you're clever for saying that?

    Anyway -- it's not even true. That is, it's a meaningless statement. America has an enormous range of native beers, of every style, strength, and flavor. It's true that our tastes run toward weaker beers, but it's just stupid to say popular = "American".
    • I suspect that the percentage of beer sold in the US that belongs to the sucky variety vindicates the joke.

    • I wonder if it's circular logic, that american beer sucks because american beer sucks and everyone says so. Or is some type of hipster sentiment "You like American beer? Bah! You don't know beer. My favorite beer? You've probably never heard of it, so I won't bother mentioning it."
  • They have been doing something similar using the price to Big Macs in various countries to analyze exchange rates: http://www.economist.com/search/apachesolr_search/big%20mac%20index [economist.com]

    I guess economists do have a sense of humor . . .

  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:15PM (#41452789)

    But, I strongly suspect that there is a correlation between the availability of inexpensive mood altering substances, like alcohol, and the amount of bullshit that the average working person will be willing to endure.

    Look at the prohibition era in the US; crime and criminality were rampant, and so was outright civil disobedience. Activism by juries in courtrooms were at stellar highs.

    Now, we have "the cheapest beer in the world" (pun intended), and our citizenry is reluctant to raise a finger against even clearly horrendous civil liberty violations, like the recent "indefinate detainment" legislation.

    I would like to see research comparing effective availability of alcohol and other drugs with the rates of political activism.

    Mind you, its just a hunch.

  • Beer sales in the U.S. are $100 billion per year. It's the sort of thing financial people take notice of.

  • by seyyah (986027) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:29PM (#41453087)

    What were the results when you multiply by the average percentage of alcohol found in native beers?

  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy AT tpno-co DOT org> on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @02:55PM (#41453543) Homepage

    Figure the one time set up cost for a home brew: ~250 bucks.
    Hops kit required: ~50bucks

    Result: 5 gallons of GOLD. As it's difficult to guess the breakdown on the startup costs per batch, let's ignore it for a moment and focus on simply the cost of the materials to make a batch. At 10bucks/gallon for whatever quality you want, that's pretty damn spiffy ( of course, I'm ignoring labor too. Because it's a labor of LOVE ).

  • Bad statistic... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Troyusrex (2446430) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @03:10PM (#41453809)
    This is really measuring the wealth of countries, not the cheapness of beer since it measures the number of minutes worked to pay for a beer. Even the major European economies have per capita GDP's 20%-30% lower than the US when measure via PPP (Purchasing power parity).
  • by drwho (4190) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @03:28PM (#41454071) Homepage Journal

    I have never been to a place in the US where beer is as cheap as it is in Germany. I am not saying that the cheap stuff is the best quality, but their cheap beer is better than the average US beer, by far.

  • by zenyu (248067) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @05:12PM (#41455895)

    The inexpensive American "beer" that is used in this calculation uses maize and rice instead of barley as the main ingredient, grasses that happen to be heavily subsidised here and hardly used to make beer anywhere else. If you want to drink beer that is made of the same base ingredients as the real stuff then it will cost about 2x as much in the supermarket here as it does at a bar in Amsterdam. There are a lot of breweries in the US that make some really good beer, especially ones founded in the last two decades, but that stuff ain't cheap, at least not yet.

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