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How to Make Cheap Beer Taste Better

Salt? Lime? Ice cubes? Sometimes you need a little something extra to help that cold one truly hit

I recently had the unique misfortune of being stuck with all the beer and hard seltzers leftover from a hotel wedding. Thus, for the past several weeks, half of my entire refrigerator is full of Miller Lite that I’m not going to drink anytime soon. Don’t get me wrong, Miller Lite is head and shoulders above most of the beer I’ve had in my lifetime, but I’m not one to casually crack open a Miller Lite to savor and wind down after a long day. 

That being said, if I could give cheap beer a little more oomph through some heavier or richer flavors, I might reconsider. To that end, is it possible to make shitty beer taste better

According to Aysegul Sanford, cookbook author and purveyor of the food blog Foolproof Living, there are a number of things worth trying. Before you add any type of flavoring substances to the beer, Sanford recommends cooling it down. “Putting your beer in the freezer for a bit makes it crisper and gives the bubbles more vibrancy,” she explains. “You’ll feel positively refreshed after your first sip, and it’s a great way to mask any unwanted flavoring. But only do this with bottled beer and leave it in for no longer than 20 minutes,” or else your beer won’t be drinkable, given it will have exploded all over your freezer. 

Speaking of cold beer, there’s a school of thought that adding ice to beer makes it taste better. This isn’t for me, but I know a handful of grandparents here in Chicago who take their beers in a glass with a couple ice cubes. Hey, it works for whiskey, who’s to say it won’t mellow out the flavors of a harsh, bitter beer? 

For National Beer Day last month, Miller Lite produced a viral marketing stunt with “Beer Drops.” The product, which actually existed and has since sold out, was intended to “make other light beers taste better” by squeezing a few drops of the serum into your glass. However, “better” in this case meant “more like Miller Lite,” and we’re specifically trying to avoid that. 

Lucky for us, it’s easy to reproduce the same logic and process behind Miller Lite’s Beer Drops and get better results. Instead of squirting concentrated Miller Lite flavoring into your beer, try a squeeze of lime juice. “It’s not unknown that citrus is a great way to add some more life to a lacking lager,” Sanford tells me. “It adds a bit of freshness and the sour flavor feels similar to adding some fizz to it.”

According to Thomas Feeley of, limes should be used specifically in lagers, “while a dash of coriander works for cheaper witbiers and a couple of ounces of lemonade is best for hefeweizens.” “It’s a lot like hyperdecanting a cheap red wine,” he tells me. “You’ll still know it’s a cheap beer, but you’ll be much more satisfied.” 

Outside of infusions of various citrus, you could always try adding a pinch of salt to your beer. Within the hallowed halls of Reddit, besides “drinking more,” and “smoking weed before you drink,” a number of people argue a dash of salt is the best way to make cheap beer taste better. 

Not only will some salt increase the carbonation if your beer’s gone flat, but it’s a natural flavor-enhancer, which might be the slight tweak your taste buds need. As for other things beer-additives people have attempted, there are those who swear by pouring espresso into their beer, as well as putting a dash of Sprite or Gatorade into their beer and calling it a “shandy.” 

Finally, you could go for the tried-and-true hot sauce hack. A few droplets of Tabasco in beer is the perfect way to enhance its flavors and give it a little bite as well. “The acid and salt in a few drops of hot sauce will bring out the subtle sweet or malty notes in the beer, which, for a light beer, is hard to find unadorned,” chef and food writer Jim Mumford told me last year. “Plus, the hint of spice allows for a palate cleanse, so to speak, from some of the bitterness such beers have.” 

Seeing as I just bought a new bottle of Tabasco, I guess that’s my sign to start chipping away at the mountain of Miller Lites in my fridge.