Land of drinkin': Illinois has nation's cheapest beer prices, study says

Josh Noel
Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune

Weeks after Chicago claimed the crown for most breweries in the nation, the news gets even better: Illinois is home to some of the cheapest beer prices in the U.S.

According to a study by the website Simple Thrifty Living, the average price of a 24-pack of Bud Light or Miller Lite in Illinois is $15.20 — 12 cents cheaper than those 24-packs would cost in the next-cheapest state (South Carolina; $15.32) and less than half the price of the most expensive state (Alaska; $31.21).

Though it is just one study and quite limited in nature, the results underscore a point long understood within the local beer industry: Chicago, and by extension Illinois, are home to unusually cheap beer prices.

The reason is good old competition: Chicago is one of the rare markets where Miller beers outsell Anheuser-Busch. As a result, Anheuser-Busch — the nation’s largest beer company, and a subsidiary of the world’s largest beer company, Anheuser-Busch InBev — keeps prices low to entice new customers. Miller is forced to match to retain its dominance.

Competition is heightened in Illinois among retailers, particularly Jewel-Osco, Binnys and Marino’s, which are known for trying to outfox one another on pricing.

The winner? Beer buyers.

Simple Thrifty Living said it determined the prices from retailers in “up to 10 ZIP codes in each state … a mix of urban and rural areas to get a representation of different parts of each state.”

A 2017 version of the study rated Illinois as having the third-cheapest beer prices, pegging the average cost of those Bud Light and Miller Lite cases at $15, which landed the state just behind Michigan and California.

Twitter @hopnotes


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