Has The Recession Forced You To Swap Stoli For Swill?

The old adage about booze being recession-proof may have some truth to it: alcohol sales are up 2% over the past year. Not surprisingly, the cheap stuff is leading the way, with sales of private-label wine — no, that’s not the stuff you brew in your backyard — up 20%. And more people are shunning bars and restaurants, opting instead for the comfort of a brown paper bag and the neighborhood stoop.

According to Nielsen data quoted by Retailer Daily, 68% of consumers are cutting back on “fine dining” and 59% are spending less time in bars, opting instead for the “trend toward in-home entertaining” (that part about the stoop is what’s known in the data biz as “extrapolation”). That’s contributed to the closure of almost a thousand bars and clubs over the past year, but has helped to fuel to a boom year for convenience stores, drug stores and mass retailers.

For the 26-week period ended August 22, 2009, domestic wine sales rose 5%, domestic vodka sales rose 8.1%, and domestic beer sales rose 3.2% compared to the same period a year earlier. According to Nielsen, compared to imports the average price of domestic wine is 25% cheaper, the average price of domestic vodka is 50% cheaper and the average price of domestic beer is 35% cheaper. In addition, for the 52-week period ended August 22, 2009, private label wine sales grew more than 20% and private label spirits sales grew more than 10% compared to the same period a year earlier.

So, have you switched from swish to swill? Or have you finally realized that all vodka tastes the same? Share your recession drinking tips in the comments.

Consumers Seek Alcohol Savings [Retailer Daily]

(Photo: Maulleigh)

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  1. Jetts says:

    I cheap out a different way: I haven’t taken more booze from my parents basement since I was 16.

    • LIJ says:

      @Jetts: Okay, that completely made my day. As the daughter of two cocktail generation, functional alcoholics… I specifically asked to have a glass of wine at my parents’ house last weekend because I knew they would send the rest of the bottle home with me! (they drink only Manhattans, but keep a fully stocked bar for guests).

    • lmarconi says:

      @Jetts: yep, did that : )

  2. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Why aren’t there numbers for people who stopped drinking entirely? Or maybe I’m completely out of tune when it comes to the compulsive drinking habits of the average person (I don’t drink) and having that bottle of wine literally is life and death.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: ‘coz they’re a bunch of squares and not worth keeping track of. ;)

    • zombies.like.lattés.too says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: I’m not sure the recession would have led people to stop drinking entirely. A can of macro-brew generally costs less than a can of soda.

    • johnva says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Liking to drink occasionally is not even close to “compulsive drinking”. I don’t think the reason that alcohol is “recession-proof” is that the average person is an alcoholic so much as that it’s an affordable bit of luxury.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @johnva: I guess I should’ve been clearer when I wrote “compulsive” – I was asking whether there were any people who stopped drinking entirely, and why there weren’t any numbers to answer this question.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          @pecan 3.14159265:

          Hooch just isn’t that expensive when it boils down to it…such that you’d feel compelled to give it up for financial reasons.

          You can buy a case of cheap ass beer, that in reality tastes just fine to most people, for maybe $10. That’s too cheap to become a casualty of financial stress. If you have 2 beers a day after work, that $10 averaged over 12 days is obviously less than a buck a day.

          Also, you can buy cheap ass vodka, rum, whatever in plastic bottles that I think are like half a gallon for around $10, maybe $12 too.

          It just flat-out doesn’t cost that much.

          • zandar says:

            @YouDidWhatNow?:

            Ugh, not to me. I’ve never encountered a cheap beer I can stand. I don’t think of myself as a beer snob, but I’d rather just drink nothing.

            Not so for wine, however. For cheap thrills, I’ve turned to exploring Australian, Chilean and Spanish wines that you can find for four bucks a bottle (sometimes less) that are drinkable, just not on most people’s radar. I get a pretty decent taste experience for less.

            But I agree with you about the hard stuff, YouDidWhatNow?, society has made being a hardcore alcoholic quite affordable, even to the most destitute.

            • YouDidWhatNow? says:

              @zandar:

              I am definitely a beer snob in that I really appreciate a good beer, and definitely have my preferences.

              Coors Light I cannot stand. It is not beer. Nor is Bud Light, Miller Lite, etc. If you like those “beers” then it is my firm opinion that you don’t like beer.

              However, I’m pretty OK drinking Leinie’s, Grain Belt, even High Life. They don’t necessarily have a lot of flavor, but at least they taste like beer.

              Some of the really cheap stuff has more flavor, and frankly are enjoyable beers once you get over the stigma of drinking something like Hamm’s Genuine Draft. Or go for a 40 of some malt liquor…I’m OK with some Old English now and again, and Mickey’s works for me too. Old English and some other malt liquors have a taste that is frequently wonky to many beer drinkers though, so you may not like them. But you can’t fault them for having no flavor like Coors Light.

            • bobloblawsblog says:

              @zandar: names, pls! all the cheap wine i buy turns out sh*tty. Except black box, its $24, works out to $6/bottle.

          • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

            @YouDidWhatNow?: I’ll admit it: I drink cheap wine these days. I haven’t been reduced to Boone’s Farm or ripple yet, but geez, if the economy gets much worse, I might consider it. $3 Walmart wine ftw (not really but I am teh poor).

            • bohemian says:

              @LadySiren: A friend of mine took a picture of the Boone’s display at Walmart to show me some horrid blue concoction they came up with. I noticed the price was $1 more than the fairly good pinot we buy at the grocery store and more than two buck chuck (that isn’t $2 anymore).

              Buying Boones Farm because you think it is cheaper would just make someone appear to be stupid.

              • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

                @bohemian: Good to know, as I’ve never actually tried (or priced out) Boone’s Farm. Sitting on the shelf, it looks nasty, not to mention the skid-row associations and all…

        • floraposte says:

          @pecan 3.14159265: I think it’s pretty unusual–people don’t generally quit drinking for financial reasons. It may save them money when they do, but it’s not likely to be the motivation. Kind of like going veggie–it’s cheaper than meat, but that’s not what makes people vegetarians.

          • thesadtomato says:

            @floraposte: Word. There’s nothing so prohibitive about the cost of liquor that would make me cut back; I cut back when it feels right health-wise and drink more when I want to. I’m not a lush, I just mean I’ll go a month where I get a bottle of wine twice a week, and then a month where I don’t buy even one.

            @YouDidWhatNow?:
            For money to be the motivation, you’d basically have to be drinking your rent, right?

            • YouDidWhatNow? says:

              @thesadtomato:

              Well, right…or something close thereto.

              If we look at it as $1 a day, hell $2 a day for 4 beers, and that $60 a month is going to cause you to miss a rent payment…then you probably have bigger financial issues than stopping drinking beer would fix. Obviously though, if that extra $60 truly makes your world right, then I guess no beer for you.

              …so long as you don’t replace beer with something else to suck up that $60.

              Are there some people that are within $60 of making their rent every month? I’m sure there are…but I think that’s indicative of much larger issues.

        • rosvicl says:

          @pecan 3.14159265: @pecan 3.14159265: You’d need a different methodology to get numbers for people who have stopped drinking entirely.

          To find out how much of X, Y, and Z alcoholic beverages sell, you can track sales at wholesalers or retailers. Bars get licensed, so state governments can tell you whether more bars are opening or closing. How many people drink alcohol would require taking surveys. (Sales figures won’t tell you whether I drink, or how much: do I not like beer, or do I just get my partner to make all the trips to the convenience store?) How many of the non-drinkers have stopped in the last year, and why, is a tricky one: people lie about things that they think you’ll judge them for. They might say “I quit to save money” because they think that’s more respectable than “I had to quit after that DUI conviction” or “I quit to save my marriage”–or they might prefer to claim that they quit for religious reasons, or because they have a family now, rather than that they can’t afford the booze.

        • Raiders757 says:

          @pecan 3.14159265:

          Homeless people don’t even quit drinking, so that should explain a whole lot right there.

    • Julia789 says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: I used to drink a lot when I was college age. I used to be able to handle it well. Now in my mid-30′s, I find that booze makes me want to take a nap, not relax and socialize. I guess I just can’t handle it like I used to.

      Even at the office, we usually do a Friday “long late lunch hour.” Most people get couple of beers. I just can’t. I’d have my face in the keyboard snoozing from 3:00 to 5:00, and then I’d have beer breath when I picked up my kid from the after school program.

      I don’t know if it was time and maturity or becoming a mother that changed it for me. My family jokes that it was having a kid that did it – like breeding a flighty mare to calm her down and make her easier to handle. I’ve been tamed.

      Now I will have a glass of wine at night sometimes, but then I can just go to bed if it makes me tired. But I don’t go out to buy it. At Christmas I usually get several bottles from co-workers and clients. They last me all year!

      • madanthony says:

        @Julia789:

        I drank a fair amount in college – not as much as most people, but enough. A few years after college, I decided to lose some weight, and I pretty much stopped drinking, because 1)it was a bunch of extra calories and 2)it was a trigger for eating, because i would open up a beer and go “hmm, I could go for some peanuts with this”.

        Now, I’m a total lightweight – one or two drinks and I’m dazed. I’d like to have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner every now and then, but most of the time I skip it because I know it means I’m not going to be able to get anything else done the rest of the night.

      • tekiebelu says:

        @Julia789:
        Guess we’re in the same boat! I never drank much in my twenties but I’ve noticed that when I drink now (I’m 33), I get instantaneously sleepy! I thought it was lack of exposure that made my margaritas into nightcaps but now I’m not so sure. It could be *GASP* that I’m just aging! The horror…

    • bobloblawsblog says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: who stops drinking entirely? isn’t it an addictive substance? i mean, if you;re a regular drinker i doubt you would stop. i havent. :)

  3. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    We switched to drinking at home long before the recession. I can make my favorite drink at home better than a bartender can (Or atleast, more consistantly better), and it’s much cheaper that way.

    I guess I really do make my own at home this time.

    • pop top says:

      @Kimaroo – No Stars Upon Thars: We do the same thing, or just drink at a friend’s. The trunk of our car is like a mobile emergency bar. There’s always a fifth of something, plus a few six-packs of beer. It’s hilarious.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        @squinko: Lol.. We keep our booze at home though.. I feel funny even mentioning it because I haven’t been in the mood for a drink in months..

        When I drink, I drink either red wine, or white russians, and I get really ticked off if I pay a bartender the big bucks to give me a white russian that tastes like medicine. Bleh.

        • pop top says:

          @Kimaroo – No Stars Upon Thars: Check out Webtender’s “In My Bar” [www.webtender.com] . You can search for drinks that you can make with what you have at home. It’s a fun way to experiment and try new drinks. Or try picking up one of those “1,001 Best Drinks” books to play around with. Our favorite bar has a few big shot books that we order out of based on the craziness of the name, or the complexity of the shot. The bartenders there love us.

    • subtlefrog says:

      @Kimaroo – No Stars Upon Thars: We drink at home because then we don’t have to worry about driving anywhere afterward. And I am a total lightweight. LA prices also play a role, but mainly, I’m concerned about getting behind the wheel after 1-2 drinks…

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        @subtlefrog: Thats the other main reason. It’s probably more popular in “driving cities” (Houston, LA) than say, in NYC.

        You don’t even need to guess if I’m a lightweight. Lol

  4. Darrone says:

    I consider this an excuse to drink like your in college again. If you’re going to serve Natty Ice, you might as well drink like your 21.

    • theblackdog says:

      @Darrone: Ugh, Natty Ice, how can anyone drink that? It should be called Ipecac because it will make you puke.

      • steve says:

        @theblackdog_HalloweenHaunting:
        I hear you there- my friend got fed up with cheap beer, and implemented a “No Blue label” policy in his apartment late Jr/all Senior year.

        It worked wonders there.

        But really, I’ve had Natty Ice, and while it is really bad, the only beer I’ve ever had to throw out was Pabst- just couldn’t drink it.

    • lmarconi says:

      @Darrone: Shout out to Andre Cold Duck and Colt 45!

      Btw, I read recently that boxed wine is somehow becoming “gourmet” because the way its packaged helps it age or some stuff. Can you tell I know nothing about wine?

    • mazzic1083 says:

      @Darrone: Boh Ice FTW

    • varro says:

      @Darrone: We serve Natty Ice – to the slugs.

      My wife was upset that I drank the “slug beer” (Hamm’s), so I told her to buy tallboys of Mickeys or the cheapest ice beer around to keep me from drinking it.

  5. thisheregirafFe says:

    if anything i’m buying nicer booze. switched from beam to maker’s mark. i make up for it by never, ever going to bars. which is fine, i don’t like people anyways. and if i go to a show, i’ll take a flask with me and only order the first one.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      @thisheregirafFe: Well, I switched from Maker’s to Jim Beam. Yes, Maker’s is better, but it’s not twelve bucks better. I take that back; yes it is, but since I usually mix it with Sierra Mist, I really can’t tell.

      As for vodka, red label Smirnoff is the best for the least money. It’s good enough to drink either straight or with whatever you usually mix it with, and it’s only about $20 a “handle.”

      • diasdiem says:

        @HurtsSoGood: I’m not a big vodka drinker, but last time I went to my neighborhood liquor store they actually had a vodka tasting of three different vodkas, which I believe were all made in Texas. I thought Dripping Springs was the best. Very smooth, practically no burn at all. Of course, I don’t know what aficionados look for in a vodka. I just look for one that doesn’t taste the way isopropyl smells.

        Favorite bourbon at the moment is 1792

      • Powerlurker says:

        @HurtsSoGood:

        It won first place in a NY Times blind taste test too. Vodka is a fairly simple spirit to make and really doesn’t benefit much from hand-crafting. Once you go past maybe $13-15 for a fifth, diminishing returns hit real fast. My cheap vodka of choice is usually Svedka.

        @diasdiem:

        A good vodka should have no discernible character at all. It should contain nothing but ethanol and water.

        • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

          @Powerlurker: Oy, I can’t do Svedka. I was given a bottle of it once as a gift and it’s lasted almost 3 years. It was okay if mixed with orange juice but I couldn’t handle it with just tonic.

          • zibby says:

            @h3llc4t has a slow work day: I don’t mind Svedka, but I prefer Smirnoff. Some of the more expensive labels are a little better, but just don’t provide proportionate bang for the buck. Spending big(-ish) money on vodka is a waste – although the truly cheap vodkas are pretty nasty, the middle of the range works fine.

      • pop top says:

        @HurtsSoGood: Like I said below, if you want a really good vodka that’s less than $20 a fifth, look for Tito’s (corn) or Luksosowa (potato).

      • varro says:

        @HurtsSoGood: I keep it local with HRD or Monarch vodka (what you usually get served in well drinks in Portland).

        If you’re going to mix it with citrus (greyhounds, gimlets, etc.), go cheap.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      @thisheregirafFe: I’m a fan of W.L. Weller if you can get it.

    • surfer88 says:

      @thisheregirafFe: I’ve always purchased nice booze – Johnnie Walker Black (or Gold, if it’s a special occasion, like Friday), I just don’t buy it as often, and set a limit to one bottle a month if they don’t last longer.

  6. oldtaku says:

    Hey hey hey. All trendy vodka tastes almost the same because they just filter it into oblivion, but there are good vodkas. You can tell whether they came from potato, or grain, or… Of course they generally aren’t the expensive ones.

    So your Consumerist tip of the day: The best vodka for the buck is probably Svedka. And Costco sells it now, which makes it an even better deal.

    • Hoss says:

      @oldtaku: You must like mixed drinks. Anyone that orders an extra dry Stoli martini can imediately tell if they didnt get Stoli.

    • diasdiem says:

      @oldtaku: Buy one bottle of really trendy, pricey vodka, and drink it. Keep the bottle. Then next time, buy a bottle of cheap vodka, and a funnel.

    • BridgetPentheus says:

      @oldtaku:
      I agree Svedka is the best Vodka for the buck, now if only my Costco sold liquor….

    • pop top says:

      @oldtaku: If you want a really good vodka that’s less than $20 a fifth, look for Tito’s (corn) or Luksosowa (potato). The hubby and I are very partial to vodka, so we’ve tried lots of brands; he even got a bottle of Chrystal Skull Vodka for his birthday this month. If you have some cash to spare, our favorite expensive brand is Ciroc (grapes). Yummy.

    • RonDiaz says:

      @oldtaku: Best bang for the buck is now sobieski vodka I think. Cheap and real good.

    • DoctorMD says:

      @oldtaku: Its not as good as the Gordons Vodka it replaced as Costco’s inexpensive vodka. I am still bitter they made the switch.

    • bohemian says:

      @oldtaku: I heard someone suggest running cheaper vodkas through a Brita pitcher. Supposedly the filter and charcoal pulls the jet fuel taste out of them.

    • lmarconi says:

      @oldtaku: I had a friend that had a special Britta Filter system just for cheap vodka – he claimed that once he put vodka through the filter a few times, it tasted twice the price.

      I have no clue whether he was right or a desperate college student, but it’s something to try.

    • oldtaku says:

      @oldtaku: Thank you all for the suggestions, I will look for them. And Hoss is right, I generally don’t go for vodka martinis. I had Stoli once neat and didn’t think it was fantastic (or awful), but everyone’s tastes are different.

      I guess what we’re saying here is all vodka does not taste the same, but there isn’t a whole lot of correlation between price and taste.

      • pop top says:

        @oldtaku: The filter trick does not work in the way most people believe it does. Please watch the episode of Mythbusters where they did it. They had a vodka tasting expert on and he was able to correctly identify each vodka in the order of purity/expense. Filtering it through a pitcher makes a negligible difference, and you’re better off spending the extra $5 or $10 then trying to run in through a filter 80 times.

        Cost does come into play when alcohol. While you might be able to find brands you like for cheap, you cannot compare Heaven Hill or Five O’ Clock with Grey Goose or Ciroc.

        • zibby says:

          @squinko: Sad that there is such a thing as a “vodka tasting expert”. I’ll drink some vodka now and then, but that stuff is hooch, pure and simple. But hey, I’ve known people who are fanatics about various hot dogs, too.

  7. EarlNowak says:

    I’ve switched from my hometown microbrew to high life.

    Sorry, Abita.

  8. Hoss says:

    We’re definitely drinking less costly wine. Spending about 2/3rds less. Beringer is just fine with us.

  9. JPropaganda says:

    I find myself focusing solely on Trader Joes and their bottles of 3 Buck Chuck. Not the best wine in the world, but its GREAT considering you bought it for 3 dollars.

  10. lpranal says:

    Coincidentally, I started drinking way less when the recession hit, though it really had nothing to do with the recession. I used to drink every weekend, but now it’s more like a couple beers or some wine once or twice every month. I just care too much about my health to drink like I used to, saving money is an awesome bonus.

  11. TheDustball says:

    These are fairly obvious (to me) but here’s what I do to keep myself in the sauce without breaking the bank:

    #1 – Buy in bulk: Hit Costco for almost everything booze (and no membership needed! The price of a decent 6-pack of suds in my area has hit around $8 in recent times, whereas Costco sells a case of 24 Newcastles for $20.99. Their spirits are cheaper per ounce as well. Sure I only use vodka for an occasional white Russian (in tribute to The Dude), but that vodka can sit in my cool cabinet for a long time.

    #2 – Comparison shop long before you need it: This goes for things other than alcohol of course but in the case of booze it can really pay off. Trader Joe’s may sell Guinness for $7.99 a 6er and you go there twice a week, but did you know that BevMo you pass every day on the way home from work has a sale on it for $6.49? Look around at every place you go that sells booze, the weirdest places will have strange pricing. The nearest liquor store to me, which as most liquor stores are, is usually a rip, for some reason sells Samuel Adams at a decent price. Now I know if I’m a bit buzzed and need to restock I can swing by there and still get a decent beer without getting ripped off.

    #3 – When going out, always hit happy hours and prescout the deals: I look for the restaurants near the office and home that have the best happy hour deals and then use them when needed. A lot of places have a second happy hour (usually from 10-close) that is great for winding down with a buddy. You need to scrutinize the deals themselves, as they vary widely. One place nearby only offers $1 off Bud and Bud Light and $2 off margaritas, while another have $1 off all beer, $2 off well drinks, $2 off appetizers and 1/2 off pizzas.

    • Powerlurker says:

      @TheDustball:

      The Fox and Hound near me has a $2 pint night on Thursdays. This even includes Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA; at that price, it’s even cheaper than buying it in the grocery store.

    • theblackdog says:

      @TheDustball: The problem with #1 and #2 is assuming that these stores can sell alcohol. I can tell you that while the Costco in AZ can sell booze, the one in MD cannot. At least in MD there’s enough liquor stores to do a comparison shop.

    • bohemian says:

      @TheDustball: A gallon of Jack Daniels at Sam’s Club is about $32.00. Buying two smaller bottles to total up to that gallon cost $50 at the liquor store. I only made that mistake once.

  12. zombies.like.lattés.too says:

    I actually brewed my own beer this summer. Part of it was for the savings (which was pretty decent – I usually drink microbrews, which can run ~$10 per six pack), part of it was because I’m interested in starting some home brew projects next year.

    Lots of states probably have similar businesses – they have the ingredients and equipment needed to make the beer, you simply choose the recipe, brew it, and bottle it yourself. One batch was enough to fill 78 twenty two ounce bottles and it cost around $175.

    Don’t drink the liquor, myself. Spent too many days in college miserable and hungover from the stuff.

    • Ubik2501 says:

      @zombies.like.lattés.too: I’ve become an obsessive homebrewer in the last year, and after losing my job in July I decided to stop buying commercial beer entirely. Instead, now I only keep homebrew on hand in my apartment, and occasionally have a beer or two when I go out. It’s definitely cheaper (average of $30 per 5-gallon batch) than buying the craft brew I normally get, and the fun of the process and pride in my craft are huge bonuses.

    • Savvy1982 says:

      @zombies.like.lattés.too: I also homebrew, as it is a passion of mine. The cost savings are pretty significant too, once you pay off the brewing equipment itself:

      Grain Mill: $175
      Wort Chiller (homemade): $25
      Lauter/Sparge Tun (homemade): $35
      Brew Pot: $70
      Glass Carboys (2): $25 each
      Primary Fermenter: $30
      Misc. Spoons, hoses, etc: $80

      This is for brewing from-scratch, all-grain beers (to me the ONLY way), but it went from hobby, to passion, to serious cost-savings.

      -Granted

  13. Blueskylaw says:

    That photo has to be from Stew Leonard’s Wines in Norwalk, CT. (all signs are handmade)

    The world is a small place indeed.

    • cmac says:

      @Blueskylaw: Ah, Stew Leonard’s. The world just can’t have enough dancing fruit and soup cans.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        @cmac:

        The dancing Chiquita bannana, the chicken laying the eggs, the 3 animated animal people singing southern songs, the singing milk cartons, the decapitated mooing cows head and the choo-choo train riding between the meat and dairy aisle are my favorites.

  14. ExtraCelestial says:

    Actually yes. Not only have I started drinking more at home, I also began to develop my palate (if you can call it that) for beer in order to take advantage of $1 specials at bars.

    I’m a sucker for Sidecars and Grand Marnier so my new strategy is saving me quite a bit. And I’ve found that I genuinely like Dogfish Head and Yuengling.

    Of course I saved even more when I was single and didn’t have to buy my own drinks *grumble,grumble*

    • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

      @ExtraCelestial: Dogfish is my fiance’s favorite brewery. They have some excellent brews, and we try to sample as many as we can. We just found a place nearby that stocks Chateau Jiahu, Sahtea and Theobroma. I was pretty excited by that.
      Unibroue is still my favorite, though.

      • ExtraCelestial says:

        @h3llc4t has a slow work day: I totally just jotted down all of those names. No I’m not joking.

        I recommend he try their seasonal pumpkin flavor if he hasn’t already. They add brown sugar and nutmeg without remotely approaching sickeningly sweet wine cooler territory. It’s crisp, smooth and perfect for fall. Definitely got my novice approval.

        @squinko: Ha! You should have seen my starter choices (hint- Miller Lite Chill was involved). I really wasn’t aware of all of the stigmas, snobbery, stereotypes and fanaticisms associated with beers. It’s been both a hilarious and enlightening ride.

        • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

          @ExtraCelestial: Out of the 3, Chateau Jiahu is my favorite, as it has a nice combination of fruity/spice without being overly sweet like a lambic. (I won’t lie though, I first bought it because of the label.) Theobroma was lighter than I expected and has more chocolate in the nose than in the mouth. Check out the history of that brew if you’re into Aztec stuff- it’s really neat what they’ve done. Sahtea is unusual; if you like spice and chai, you might really enjoy that one. I love pretty much any pumpkin beer (pumpkin anything, really) and you’re right, their seasonal is quite nice. :)

          Having said that, Dogfish recently lost their brewmaster to another brewery. Our local microbrew store owner said that she doesn’t expect any changes in quality, but I’m still looking out for any changes in the company.

          About Miller Chill…the boy and I went kayaking a few years ago and stopped on the way to get drinks. Standing by the cooler, we were debating what to get when some guy walks over with a clipboard and says “Hey, I heard great stuff about that Miller Chill. It’s smooth as hell, man.” The boy said “Okay, thanks!” and bought a six-pack. He, unlike me, did not see the Miller logo on the guy’s clipboard. The beer was awful and he learned to never again take beer recommendations from people working for a beer company. Whenever he makes a stupid beer choice it is perpetually referred to as “smooth as hell, man.”

          • ExtraCelestial says:

            @h3llc4t has a slow work day: I feel like I’ve been schooled. I’ll definitely have to see who is selling them in my area. Chateau Jiahu sounds especially nice.

            • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

              @ExtraCelestial: If you’re in a state where it’s not illegal to sell, try to find the 120 Minute IPA. It’s 20% ABV, almost sickeningly sweet but it’ll knock you on your ass by the time you get halfway through the bottle. Sweet, hoppy blunt force trauma!

    • pop top says:

      @ExtraCelestial: By “develop your palate”, you mean “drink shitty beers”, right? ;)

  15. znewman3 says:

    For me I would rather drink water than swill. I take to not buying alcohol when the money isn’t all there. Swill is well… swill.

    • warloc66 says:

      @znewman3: I’m with you. If I’m short on cash, damned if I’m drinking Smirnoff over Stoli or Ketel. All vodka may taste the same, but try drinking cheap vodka and see how you feel in the morning.

    • subtlefrog says:

      @znewman3: If I can’t afford to drink good beer, I can’t afford to drink. I’m not 18 anymore.

  16. diasdiem says:

    People are cluing into the fact that paying $3.50 for a domestic “pint” (bring your own measuring cup if you want to know) at a restaurant or bar is bullshit. Also $5-6 for a glass of wine that costs $10 by the bottle at a grocery store.

    I find it’s actually cheaper to go out for dinner to a bar that serves food. It’s cheaper to eat at a bar than drink at a restaurant.

  17. Buckus says:

    “We can drink toilet wine here…”

  18. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I don’t drink any less, but I do feel somewhat guilty about paying $12 or more for a 12-pack of “good” beer when I can get a case of something like Lienenkugel’s, Grain Belt, or even High Life for $15.

    …so recently I’ve been drinking those beers instead of St. Pauli Girl and Negra Modelo. And I’m pretty OK with that.

    I’ve also been buying liquor out of the bargain bins…we run out of gin, I see what’s in the bargain bin and buy some brand I’ve never heard of for 50% off. Sure, it tastes different on the rocks than Bombay Sapphire or Tanq Ten, but different doesn’t always mean worse, and if you’re making a gin & tonic, doesn’t matter anyway.

    • EarlNowak says:

      @YouDidWhatNow?: Down here high life is $6.99 for a 12 pack of bottles. Compared to $6.99 for a six pack of most other beers, there’s absolutely no contest in terms of price.

  19. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

    Well, the recession caused me to get a second job, put myself under much more stress, get sick and need antibiotics. I can’t drink on them so it was a mandatory “hey lush, shut your booze hole for 2 weeks!” thing, but I figure it still counts.

  20. utensil42 says:

    Being a graduate student, I never had money for the “good stuff” but I also don’t have the palate to be able to distinguish most of it. Two Buck Chuck (or whatever is on sale at Nugget), Newcastle, Kirkland vodka, Beefeater, Jameson, etc. is fine with me. I’m a strictly mid-shelf kinda gal.

  21. RandomHookup says:

    I’ve had to switch to generic Roofies for my substance needs.

  22. Eels says:

    My boyfriend’s mother drinks wine every day. It was never anything fancy, but now it comes in a box.

  23. mindshadow says:

    I’m a self-proclaimed beer snob and can’t stand the cheap beers. I’ve personally drank a LOT less since the recession began and my finances have been hit. I’d rather have a special 6 pack ($11-$14, depending on what I want) every once in a while rather than drink cheap beer just to have beer.

    • bohemian says:

      @mindshadow: This is where I am at. I just drink less. I won’t drink cheap generic booze or most macro-brewed beers. These things don’t even interest me or at the worst make me sick. I would rather drink something good on fewer occasions.

  24. mjpd1 says:

    I actually just picked up several bottles of Trader Joe’s infamous “Two Buck Chuck” for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised. No more $10-$20 bottles of wine for me, when $2-$3 tastes just as good!

  25. jacques says:

    I’ve changed to stocking up at the NH state liquor store. Since I don’t drive by there but once every few months, I buy in bulk. Saves me on average $12-15 off a 1.75 of Knob Creek, plus no tax. But beer, well, I’ve changed to more Molson than microbrews lately, which is a shame.

    • frank64 says:

      @jacques: Yeah, I live in MA but decided NH was going to get my alcohol business. MA just started taxing it twice. Excise and THEN sales tax. Gees.

  26. Kuchen says:

    I saved on booze by getting pregnant.

  27. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    I buy the good stuff almost exclusively now. But that’s because my wife and I have cut back quite a bit. Since we don’t drink as much, we figure why keep Canadian Club around when a bottle of Crown Royal will last a long time?

    I do have an unopened jug (1.75 liter) of Captain Morgan’s that will probably never get consumed by either of us. I bought it last spring for a party that we were throwing. Turned out that everyone wanted frozen margaritas instead of rum-based drinks. When I drink rum, I prefer Meyer’s.

    So if you’re in the East Vally (metro Phx) and want a jug-o-Captain, it can be yours for the low-low price of nothing!

  28. WelcomeToMyWorld says:

    Here’s a news flash – the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has finally decided to join the rest of the world in allowing beer sales in regular grocery stores. Since the 1930′s (end of Prohibition) it has only been possible to purchase beer by the case from beer distributors – a special type of retailer – in Pennsylvania.

    Just recently we’re trying an experiment of allowing 6-pack sales in Giant Eagle, maybe 4 or 5 locations in PA. Wanna guess where this is going? Almost every other state has allowed sales of beer & wine in grocery stores for the last 50 years or so. Finally we’ll have competitive pricing, better selection and (hopefully) better service.

    Now to get rid of the State Liquor Stores!!!

  29. halothane says:

    A 6-pack of Yuengling, my favorite beer, costs $6 at the bodega down the street. That’s $1 a beer. Compare that to the cost of a Diet Pepsi from my work vending machine- $1.25.

    If cheap beer isn’t for you, a bottle of Smirnoff costs what, $20? That’s also around a dollar a shot.

    Alcohol is cheap, especially when you’re not splashing out for the high end stuff. It makes sense that people aren’t cutting it out.

  30. DirectMailFan says:

    The Canal’s liquor store down the road from where I live in NJ has trouble keeping the inexpensive wines in stock: Tisdale at $4.19 a bottle, or Crane Lake (from the people who bring you 2 buck Chuck)-$4.29-Chardonnay, Merlot, or Cab. That’s when I head up to the Roger Wilco store on Rte. 73 for some reaaaallly cheap wine.

  31. wadewood says:

    All vodkas taste the same. Ok there might be some slight variation, but it is probably the water they add to cut it to 80 proof. Per US regulation, vodka must be distilled to 190 proof and be “neutral spirits, so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color.”

    ABC did a story here:

    [abcnews.go.com]

    So save your money. If you must have the prestige image, then buy one expensive vodkas bottle and refill it. Do you know why Vodkas are sold in such tall, skinny bottles? Answer – Vodkas producers are putting their products in tall skinny bottles so they will not fit on lower shelf, forcing bars to place them on “top shelf”.

    • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

      @wadewood: Yeah, try a shot of Kamchatka after downing a shot of Vox and tell me that it tastes the same.

      • Coelacanth says:

        @wadewood: Spoken like a person who doesn’t regularly drink premium vodkas. Or, if you did, probably it was cut with something else to where quality didn’t matter.

  32. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    When you drink Irish whiskey, there’s not a lot of choice. Jameson, Bushmills and Tullamore Dew are all pretty close in price.

  33. SonicPhoenix says:

    I have only one rule when it omes to drinking hard liquor:

    Nothing out of a plastic bottle; it has to be in a glass container.

  34. Ubik2501 says:

    I have a different solution for this problem: Homebrewing! Since I’ve become an obessive hobbyist and will be going to school to eventually become a brewer, brewing my own beer is not only cheaper than buying tons of craft beer, but is more fun. And I’ve gotten good enough that it compares well taste-wise, too.

  35. GuidedByLemons says:

    Silly Consumerist, Stoli is swill =)

    I’m still drinking my high-class Jameson.

  36. amberlink says:

    WOW, people are sitting on their stoops and getting to know their neighbors? Oh, GODS, what will happen to this country if we all get along and talk?

  37. Coelacanth says:

    Sorry Marc, all vodka doesn’t taste the same. Well vodka almost always tastes lousy. I’ve been known to reject many drinks because the bar decided to use horridly cheap stuff that burns or tastes like odd chemicals. Then again, I tend to savour beverages as opposed to chugging them down.

    Among the premium, super-premium, and ultra-premium vodkas, there might be distinctive flavors. Potato vodka (Ketel One, Chopin) may taste different than Wheat Vodka (Grey Goose). There’s something funny about Skyy that I can’t quite put my finger on.

    Contrary to most people’s preferences, I cannot stand Absolut – usually Smirnoff tastes better, even if it’s generally considered a step down.

  38. fatetwister64 says:

    Nope, this is one area I down right refuse to let suffer. My bar is a point of pride.

  39. zzxx says:

    The recession and fear of losing a job cause me to cut out bars and restaurants.

    I can cook better at home. Many times I want to take what my wife cooks, bring it to the local restaurant, and show them what a real meal is. In my small town none of the restaurants are better than my own cooking. Also when I cook at home I don’t have to drive on average 12 miles to get at one of these places. Restaurants and delis are now relegated to being used when we are too tired to cook at home and that is rare.

    Charging $4.00 plus tip for a bottle of Bud is complete BS. They should turn a profit at $1.50!! Imagine how many people would go to bars then!! I truly think that many people in the bar / restaurant industry are too lazy / unsavvy to realize that they can make it big by doing volume business at realistic prices. They’d have to work hard but that comes with the territory.

    Booze and food at home versus going out is a great way to save money and not sacrifice a thing.

    For the last two nights I watched the World Series from home even though I was offered extremely discounted tickets about 5 hours before game time. It is much more comfortable from home. I don’t have to drive two hours to get to Yankee Stadium. I can make a wonderful Bombay Sapphire Gin and Tonic for about $3.00. My snacks come from Costco and I made a few frozen to oven mini pizzas for 60 cents each. If I went I would have to pay $150 for the ticket, $40 to drive back and forth with tolls. lousy beer for $9.00 per cup. Who knows for snacks? No gin and tonic. Get home no way before 2 am and sit in a lousy small seat.

    There is one bar in my neighborhood that gets the volume thing and they are handsomely rewarded with steady business. It is a clean, no-nonsense Polish Legion Hall. They have comfortable seats and a nice pool table. A bottle of beer is $2.00. A 12″ pizza is $5.00. Not too bad. They make good money but they have to work for it.