Craft Beer on a Budget

By Rebecca Patrick

Most of the time, we craft beer lovers don’t mind paying a bit more for a pint; the flavor and quality are worth it… to a point. Sometimes craft beer prices can be a little tough on the wallet. Rarely does one encounter a $600.00 bottle of beer like those that pop on eBay every now and then, but in cities where a good beer may run $5.00 or more, it is good to keep some cost-saving strategies in your back pocket.


Specials are at the top of my list as the best way to save on craft beer, especially if you can find a bar that does them well and often. In my hometown of Muncie, Indiana, one of the local bars has a regular weekday special that offers $1 off certain breweries (for example, Bell’s Brewery Tuesdays, Three Floyd’s Thursdays). This makes the bar an attractive place to frequent during the week, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find many bars in Indiana that would offer a $4 Three Floyd’s Zombie Dust. It takes a little bit of time to become familiar with the regular specials at your local bars, but you’ll find that knowing the specials around town gives you great options for an affordable pint out.

Mixer Sixers vs. The Six Pack

Some grocery and package stores offer the privilege of creating your own mixed six pack (I call them mixer sixers). These six packs tend to be slightly more expensive than a regular six pack. However, it’s a cheap way to try 6 new beers. Getting a mixed six pack from a store is much more affordable than trying each one at a bar, or worse yet, buying a traditional six pack of each and discovering you don’t care for the taste.

However, a regular six pack may be the best option for your budget if you’re going with a tried and true favorite. Beer sellers will usually offer a deal on at least a few craft beers per week. If you want the best of both worlds, try a 12-pack sampler from a single brewery. For example, the Upland 12-pack sampler is a favorite, offering four varieties of their beers, usually at a bargain. Also, Sierra Nevada will be releasing a mixed twelve pack from its Beer Camp Across America tour - a traveling beer festival taking place this summer.

Sharing is caring

A hallmark of the craft beer community is that most everyone wants to make sure you try great beer. When out with friends, if one of us is trying a new beer, we make sure others get to try a sip or two. One of my favorite ways to share in the experience (and the cost) is to split a larger bottle. Rogue’s Honey Kolsch or the Lips of Faith series by New Belgium are special releases in larger format bottles perfect for sharing. While they run more than a regular sized bottle of beers, hosting a BYOB night with friends lets everyone try new beers while sharing the cost.

Craft Beer Festivals

International Great Beer Expo – May 31st – Philadelphia, PA ( )

Mundelein Craft Beer Festival – June 7th – Munderlein, IL ( )

Crown Beer Fest – May 17th – Crown Point, IN ( )

Beer for Birds – May 31st – Indianapolis, IN ( )

Anderson Brewfest – June 7th – Anderson, IN ( )

World Expo of Beer – May 16th – 17th – Frankenmuth ( )

Michigan Beer & Brat Festival – May 24th – Thompsonville, MI ( )

Brewers Blazaar – May 17th – Stillwater, MN ( )

Wisconsin Micro-Brewers Beer Fest – May 18th – Chilton, WI ( )

The Big Batch Brew Fest – May 18th – Houston, TX ( )

Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival – May 17th – Oklahoma City ( )

Colorado Craft Beer Week – May 21st – 29th – ( )

American Craft Beer Fest – May 30th – 31st – Boston, MA ( )

For those intent on trying as many new craft beers as possible, a craft beer festival is a great way to do just that. Festival ticket prices can range anywhere from free to $50 per person, depending on the festival and access they offer. Some festivals even offer VIP badges to those wanting to enter early, and Designated Driver tickets are typically sold at a discount. Sure, a ticket for a craft beer festival costs more than your average six pack, but it gives you the opportunity to sample countless beers from different breweries among friends you haven’t even met yet.