Draft, brewski, a cold one: Whatever you want to call it, beer is as American as apple pie. When the Pilgrims came over to the future United States, one of the first things they built was a brewery; as the country grew and changed, so did the beer, as well as the price that people paid for it.
How Much a Six-Pack of Beer Cost the Year You Were Born
“Before Prohibition, there were 5,000-plus breweries across the nation brewing beers influenced from their ancestral background (mostly English ales and German lagers),” Yiga Miyashiro, the director of brewery operations for Saint Archer Brewing Company, told us. “After Prohibition, German-style lagers dominated the marketplace and evolved into the American-style lagers we are familiar with from the big international breweries.”
With so many changes in society and technology, the price of beer fluctuated a lot over the years. From the 1800s to 1920, the beer business was booming with thousands of small breweries scattered throughout the country. But then Prohibition derailed the industry for over a decade — and by the end of the dry years, the Great Depression was in full swing, making it difficult for more than a few hundred beer manufacturers to stay in business.
Luckily, some companies (like Budweiser) figured out a way to make cheap beer to satiate the masses and started to make the drink available at both the bar and in the home. That’s where the six-pack comes in.
“The six-pack was invented [in the 1950s] as the shift of beer consumed went from drinking establishments to at-home consumption,” said Miyashiro.
In order to assemble our list, we took the average price of a Heineken six-pack in 2016 ($8.79) and used an inflation calculator that uses the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index’s figures for beer, ale, and other malt beverages for home consumption to determine a number for each year after 1953 (though before that time, six-packs were much less common, so we’ve used other measures).
So, just how much did it cost your parents and grandparents to throw back a cold one with their pals? Why not grab one yourself and click through the gallery to find out the amount a six-pack cost from the 1930s until 2000.