Riteaid. This is the iconic pharmacy store that used to be a Thrifty back in the early 90’s. And as far as its history go, it was a Thrifty even before the 90’s. I remembered this location as being called Thrifty before Riteaid Corp bought the company and renamed it to Riteaid. In any case, this past Friday, instead of going to my local CVS to do my usual runs for liquor or to Smart and Final to see what other malt liquors I can find for cheap, or to BevMo to see what other below $3 imported beers that I can find to drink, I decided to stop over to Riteaid to see why there seems to be a lot of people stopping by to buy booze (particularly beer) from this location.
By now, you should know that if you live near a local CVS, they sell some pretty damn good deals for booze, and particularly hard liquors: rum, tequila, vodka, gin, whiskey, cognac, etc. BevMo, Smart & Final, and Riteaid is more of a recent thing. I started going to a BevMo because I wanted to get started on writing more articles about beer and Smart & Final was just plain dumb luck that I noticed that they started selling slightly cheaper malt liquors. I don’t know if the Smart & Final will expand their selection of cheap malt liquors but if they do, I’ll probably expand on that and make a dedicated malt liquor section on my blog. But for now, I’ll keep Bud Ice under the more general “beer section.” As far as Riteaid is concerned though, I decided to make a few runs to check out their liquor section to see if their prices were comparable to the one at my local CVS or if they were higher or lower. As it happens, their liquors were definitely priced a bit higher even for their “on sale” items but I did find some bottom shelf brands that were selling for much lower than the CVS. More often than not, it seems to be the case that they were down to the last bottle for each type of liquor.
While there, I decided to check out their beer selection as well. So far as I can tell, they sell a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) and Rolling Rocks for a super low price of $7.49. Damn that’s cheap. Admittedly, I used to go to the Little Tokyo Marketplace to get a 12-pack of Hite beer at regular price for $5.99 until they recently raised the price to $9.99. Incidentally, they raised the price of Hite just after Dodger Stadium sponsored it in more recent times, which sucks for beer and booze drinkers looking for a cheap booze option for their Friday nights, ya know what I mean? But hey, it’s not all doom and gloom. Occasionally, (and I mean like every other weekend), they will put that beer on sale for $6.99 or $7.99 for a 12-pack but certainly, not like the old days when it was regularly priced at $5.99 everyday. When those prices got raised, I opted instead for their 6-pack tall cans of Hite D Dry Finish, which at the time, was priced at $4.99 regular price. Remember, these are tall cans of 16.9 fl oz. But again, since Dodger Stadium featured the Hite brand, the prices of this also went up by a $1. So regular price is $5.99 the last time I checked, which was a few months back.
Getting back to the Riteaid though, by comparison to the new prices at the Little Tokyo Marketplace, the PBR and Rolling Rocks are a better deal ($0.50 cheaper), at least at the moment. Plus, it’s closer to my home. I can literally just walk there within 15 minutes rather than walk to the local train station, take the rail, get dropped off, go to the market, come back and take the rail back home.
I’m not entirely partial towards PBR. PBR is traditionally known as a hipster’s drink. AKA, cheap beer for poor white folks. I’m not white but I can understand why they’d choose PBR. It’s pretty much the same way I’d choose an Asian beer for an equivalently cheaper price, relative to other beers on the market. The one thing I like about PBR is that they are literally everywhere and in almost every store you go to, they will almost always be cheaper than the next cheapest imported or domestic brand. Rolling Rock on the other hand? It seems to be a Riteaid exclusive brand but I could be wrong though. I’ve certainly seen Rolling Rock pop into my local Smart & Final on and off but never really remaining a permanent beer selection at the beer fridge section. And to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never seen Rolling Rock appear at my local CVS.
As far as tastes are concerned, PBR has a clean taste if it’s cold and well carbonated. Otherwise, it’s pretty skunky and hard to drink at room temperature and when the carbonation dissipates. Rolling Rock, on the other hand, tastes clean either cold or room temperature, which I find rather interesting. And unlike PBR, it doesn’t skunk up at room temperature. There isn’t as much carbonation in this one either.
Bottom line, if I had to choose between the two, I would choose PBR, hands down, for the sheer fact that it has a slightly higher ABV (alcohol by volume) per bottle or can: 4.74%. It might not seem like much of a difference to the average drinker but I assure you, it’s a world of difference especially when Rolling Rock measures at a measly 4.4% per bottle or can. And I’m saying that because I recently purchased a 12-pack bottle of Rolling Rock and I want to say that it was at around my 10th bottle on an empty stomach that I really started getting that reminiscent buzz that I would get from drinking booze. By comparison, PBR, I would say that around my 4th or 5th can or bottle is about where I would start getting that good buzz. That’s pretty bad, all things considered, ya know what I mean? On an empty stomach, I should get a good buzz by the 6th can or bottle, but not Rolling Rock. So effectively, that extra 0.34% of alcohol actually makes a difference in whether you’ll get that buzz sooner rather than later. But if clean taste is all your after and don’t mind getting that buzz until your 10th can or bottle, you should go with Rolling Rock.