Cheers! Illinois has nation's cheapest beer
Land of drinkin’ benefits from healthy competition to top off Michigan
By Ted Cox
Cheers, Illinois! We have the lowest beer prices in the nation.
An annual study released this month by the Simple.Thrifty.Living website found that the Land of Lincoln had the lowest average price in the United States for a case of mass-market mainstream beer like Miller or Budweiser.
To create a level playing field, the site checks the price for 24-pack cases of Bud Light and Miller Lite, and Illinois claimed the top spot for lowest price at $15.20. Only South Carolina, New York, and Rhode Island came close with prices under $16, as last year’s champ, Michigan, slipped to $16.07.
Beer prices are surprisingly fluid, and Illinois and Michigan were the only two states to reclaim spots in the top five from the previous survey in 2017.
Illinois benefits from being located exactly between the flagship cities of the two beer behemoths, Milwaukee’s Miller and Bud in St. Louis. According to the Chicago Tribune, it’s also beneficial that Miller outsells Bud in Illinois, forcing the so-called King of Beers to cut prices to compete and Miller to respond in kind.
Because, after all, they’re also competing against the state’s burgeoning craft-beer market. The Trib reported in December that the Chicago area had claimed the top spot in the nation as the city with the most breweries, 167, more than Denver, Seattle, or San Diego.
According to the Brewers Association for Small and Independent Craft Brewers, Illinois has 200 craft breweries, to rank 12th in the United States, and they have a $2.6 billion impact on the state economy, to place eighth in the nation.
Illinois beer drinkers also benefit from how relatively accessible beer is in most areas of the state — available in grocery stores and markets where some states still sell it solely in state-run stores.
Beer costs more than twice as much in Alaska — priciest in the nation at $31.21 a case — and, away from the continental 48 United States, also costs $22.39 in Hawaii. Other states placing in the top five for costliest beer are Wyoming at $26.68, Montana at $22.28, and Tennessee at $22.25.
So bottoms up, Illinois beer drinkers. We’ve got a lot to celebrate because we have a lot of beers to celebrate with.