Ballin’ on a Budget

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Beerin' on a Budget

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When I turned 21, my No. 1 goal was to teach myself to like beer.

I tried it once in England — to immerse myself in the culture, obviously — and it was disappointing, to say the least. I was convinced that all beer tasted the same and I hated all of it. But, wow, was I wrong.

These past few months since turning 21, I’ve been visiting the various breweries around Eau Claire and frequenting the beer aisle at Woodman’s to find some new brews. I don’t have a favorite style, but I usually stray away from IPAs or stouts, unless they sound really appealing (I’m looking at you, Gunpowder IPA at The Brewing Projekt).

However, I’ve noticed that a lot of craft beers can get pricey. I like to try a brew or two (or three) at different places I visit — but I can’t really do that if each beer is around $6.

When I head out on the hunt for a brewski, I try to bring cash so I know I won’t spend more than the amount I bring, which is usually about $10 to $15.

I’ve found a few tips and tricks that have helped me become a low-key craft beer fanatic, while still sticking to a budget.

Get flights

Flights are the answer to everything. Want to try three beers? Four? Five? Flights are your best bet. Rather than paying per beer, beer lovers can try a few flavors for anywhere from $4 to $10 in Eau Claire.

At The Brewing Projekt — my personal favorite — customers can try three beers for $4. Their beer menu is constantly changing, so every time I visit I can usually try a new brew, whether it be pineapple, dark chocolate or green tea flavored. And at $1.33 per beer, that’s well within my budget.

At Lazy Monk Brewing, a flight of five beers is about $9. That brings the price to $1.80 per brew, which again, is within my budget. Lazy Monk has a less adventurous menu than The Brewing Projekt, in my opinion, but their “biers” are still tasty.

Sharing is caring

Whether getting a flight or a pint, sharing is one of my favorite ways to cut down on costs during my beer-snob sessions.

When sharing with a pal, I can try six beers at The Brewing Projekt for just $4. This is one of my favorite things to do when I visit because I’m not always sure I want to commit to a stout or a hoppier beer and a little taste is all I want.

When grabbing a beer from somewhere like The Firehouse, where they don’t do flights, beers regularly cost about $5.50, so splitting is the way to cut costs.

Happy hour

I love happy hours. They differ depending on where you go, but deals can range from $1 off to half off beers for a few hours in the evening.

The Joynt has one of the best happy hours in town. Their already ridiculously inexpensive pitchers of beer are just $3.75 and a single glass is 50 cents.

Bug Eyed Betty’s has a “talls for smalls” deal, where you can get a giant glass of beer for about $4 or $5 — the price of a small glass.

Not to mention that most places also have food deals during their happy hours, so it’s cheaper than ever to grab an appetizer portion of cheese curds to complement my chosen brews.

Bottle shares

If you have a squad of craft beer fans like I do, you can participate in what the above-and-beyond beer snobs call bottle shares.

Basically, grab an intriguing bottle of beer at Woodman’s (I find that beers are cheaper there) and tell the squad to do the same. Then split all of them evenly among friends and try a bunch of new beers — all for the price of one.

Cheers!

Wentland can be reached at [email protected]

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