One thing I do miss about my life before the soul-crushing debt, round the clock collector calls and general feeling of numb is my nightly Newcastle. Ironically, it was around the time my financial house was falling down that I noticed the price of six packs, across the board, going up. Actually, that's not true: I first noticed it when gasoline prices jumped and showed no signs of coming back down a year and a half ago or so. Funny, but when petrol came back down, beer prices did not follow. Imports remain too rich for my blood--unless I resort to giving blood.
Call me an ale snob, but it has been a bummer sticking with the domestics--when I can even afford those. When a guest comes to my home lugging a sixer or two of the imported stuff, a tear forms in the corner of my eye, my nose starts running and I have to sob the lame excuse, "allergies," before running off to the powder room.
By the way, the best, cheapest beer I have ever found was the $5.77 12-pack of Taurino Cerveza of El Salvador at the Fresh & Easy in Huntington Beach, although that was on special that week. (I just checked and it's $6.99 there now, which is still a great deal for those partial to the more expensive, very similar Corona.) But when it comes comparing prices, why do it yourself? Why not hire a middleman? In this case, a middleman who works for free. Actually, two middlemen, Fullerton college students David Echanique and Brandon McKenney. They founded the website ThriftyBeer.com to help beer drinkers save a little money during these gloomy economic climate.
ThirftyBeer.com scans prices from thousands of stores across Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties to help beer drinkers find the lowest per-ounce cost for an array of beer brands, domestic and imported.
Visitors first land on a home page with the requisite links at the bottom to MADD and 1-800-4-MY-TAXI. You are directed to enter your birthdate--to prove you are 21--and agree to their terms. Next you select the county and then city you want to do price comparisons in. For the purposes of this "test," I chose Santa Ana. The 10 cheapest stores popped up in a box. They are two Ralph's supermarkets, four Food 4 Less stores, three Stater Bros. and an Albertsons.
Ralph's has the cheapest beer in Santa Ana currently, according to the site: 30 packs of Bud/Bud Lite, Coors/Coors Light and MGD/Miller Lite for $16.99, which breaks down to $0.0472 per ounce. When it comes to suds I actually want to drink, Ralph's has Sierra Nevada for $0.1041 per ounce. But thanks to ThirftyBeer.com, it's revealed that's the same cost for Newcastle at an Albertsons on South Bristol Street. Of course, given my current finances, perhaps I should take it down a notch to Sam Adams at the same Albertsons for $0.0902 an ounce. Or just down a much cheaper Bud and live with the accompanying headache. Decisions, decisions.
By the way, finding these stories in no problem because ThriftyBeer.com includes Google map displays the store locations. Them boys think of everything.
Them boys, Echanique and McKenney, both attended Troy High School in Fullerton. Echanique is now going into his junior year as a political science major at Cal State Fullerton, while McKenney is finishing his general education classes at Orange Coast College. They have plans to expand ThriftyBeer.com to Arizona and Northern California by summer's end.
"We started with just Fullerton last year, but about a month ago but we revamped the site to do all of Southern California and officially launched last week," Echanique tells me.
There are currently a couple ads on the site. Will that possibly be enough to pay for this vital online service?
"We haven't made up our initial costs yet but we expect to a see a profit soon with traffic increasing every day," Echanique says. "It probably takes around 10-12 hours throughout the week to research and input all the prices for all of Southern California. Hopefully traffic is going to jump substantially, we have a on-air telephone interview with 92.5 KYHY The Block FM tomorrow on their morning show."
Cheers to the ThirstyBeer.com boys not only making it but enjoying many thirsty returns.
Previously in Welcome to the Poorhouse: