Affordable Beer Bars in St. Louis You Can Visit Before Payday

Stretch your dollar at these cheep beer bars

click to enlarge CBGB. - THEO WELLING

Here at the RFT, we know the importance of stretching a dollar. So for all you folks who want to hit up a bar for a good brew but don't want to spend a fortune, here are our recommendations for affordable beer bars.

BJ's Bar
184 West Washington Street, Florissant; 314-837-7783

People around Florissant know BJ's Bar for a variety of reasons: its outstanding, Provel-free version of St. Louis-style pizza; its odd-shaped corner building; the smokers outside pumping on overdrive during the municipality's Valley of Flowers festival. But it's the vintage, light-up Stag sign that hangs prominently over what was likely the front door at one point in time that shows that, ultimately, BJ's is an unpretentious, beer-focused watering hole. The quintessential dive bar has served as a place for blue-collar Florissant natives to belly up for decades; popularized by its large and small-sized Mason jars of icy-cold domestic brews, this is not a place where you ask to see a craft-beer list. Such beverages pair poorly with the Bob Seger blaring on from the jukebox in the back anyway. —Cheryl Baehr

The Cat's Meow
2600 South 11th Street, 314-766-8617
No website

Here in St. Louis, we love a no-frills bar, and the Cat's Meow is offering exactly zero frills. There's an internet jukebox on the premises and the toilets flush, but that's about all you're going to get when it comes to amenities in this small Soulard watering hole. At the Cat's Meow, the tables are nothing special, the floors are dingy and the decor is a hodgepodge of crap, kitsch and Mardi Gras leftovers. But do you know what they do have? Good vibes and cheap beers in abundance. The people there are friendly, and if you're drinking alone, you won't have any problem finding someone to split a bucket of beer with in this bar. And if you're not scared of mosquitoes or the occasional opossum, take that bucket out to the back patio for a nice night of Soulard drinking under the stars. —Jaime Lees

3163 South Grand Boulevard, no phone
No website

Named after the famed New York City establishment where iconic acts like the Ramones and Patti Smith got their start, South Grand dive-bar mainstay CBGB carries on the punk ethos even after its namesake burned out long ago. The patio facing Grand is the best real estate in the city on certain nights. The men's room, which has been known not to lock, features two toilets squaring off against one another. The drinks are cheap. The only food on offer are small bags of pretzels and Fritos, and a few other snacks. They do have an NA option, which appropriately tastes like ass. The whole place smells like smoke. Don't bring your mom and dad unless your mom and dad are Iggy Pop. —Ryan Krull

click to enlarge DB Cooper's Safe House. - DESI ISAACSON
DB Cooper's Safe House.

DB Cooper's Safe House
6109 Gravois Avenue, 314-499-7119

For decades now, adventurers have scoured the American Northwest in search of the millions that a man known as D.B. Cooper had with him when he jettisoned himself from an airplane somewhere over Washington state. They say a penny saved is a penny earned, so instead of getting the skyjacker's money, just head to DB Cooper's Safe House and score some incredibly cheap drinks. As the massive sign outside attests, the beers are only $1.25. Even better than the cheap drinks is the bar's open concept. Built in a former auto-repair garage, the Gravois side of the establishment opens onto the street. When the breeze comes through you'll feel like D.B. himself, soaring in the clouds. —Ryan Krull

Fast Eddie's Bon Air
1530 East Fourth Street, Alton, Illinois; 618-462-5532

Fast Eddie's Bon Air is a regional favorite known for good times and great eats. The Alton institution serves up live music and delicious food, with people flocking to try their cheap burgers and the famous Hot Chick On-A Stick. It's the kind of place meant for the manner of day-drinking wherein you devote the entire time the sun is in the sky to living at Fast Eddie's and taking in whatever comes your way. But cheap beer is what built this place, and cheap beer is what keeps it going. It first opened in 1921 as "Bon Air" — a bar set up by Anheuser-Busch. Eddie Sholar Sr. (a.k.a. "Fast Eddie") bought it in 1981 and cranked up the party, and it's been expanding ever since. The bar now serves half a million customers each year who drink over 50,000 cases of beer. —Jaime Lees

The Heavy Anchor
5226 Gravois Avenue, 314-352-5226

The Heavy Anchor doubles as a bar and music venue, and it's never immediately clear what version of the south-city dive bar you'll get. Known to host a rowdy concert or two, the venue's stage has welcomed innumerable local music acts in addition to comedy open mics every Monday. Other weekday festivities include movie nights and karaoke. But one constant at the Heavy Anchor is its cheap beer: You'll pay as little as $3.50 for brews of the Bud Light, Busch, PBR and Stag varieties. The two most expensive drinks on the menu are a sazerac cocktail and a pale ale by Modern Brewery, each priced at $9. You'll find local brews on tap, as well as such hometown munchies as Dogtown Pizza and Billy Goat chips. On the menu you'll also find nonalcoholic and CBD offerings such as Mighty Kind's line of seltzers. The Heavy Anchor caters well to the indie and punk crowd, but only those who are 21 and older can enter. —Monica Obradovic

Just Bill's
2543 Woodson Road, Overland; 314-427-2999
No website

North county positively overflows with divey drinking holes, much like a draft beer with too much head, but for our (dwindling) money, there's just no bar in town that can compete with the rock-bottom prices at Just Bill's. The Overland establishment isn't fancy by any means, but for the bourbon-and-Busch-beer set that dominates its clientele, there's nowhere better. Indeed, a thirsty patron can slap a five down on the weathered bar and receive a bottle and a shot in return, with enough money left over to give the bartender a well-deserved tip. Just Bill's owner Robin Field frequently explains that the spot is hardly a money-making endeavor — he makes his living through a day job elsewhere — but he says the sense of community that comes through keeping his prices as low as possible more than makes it all worthwhile. On that point, his grateful customers gladly agree. —Daniel Hill

click to enlarge The Silver Ballroom. - THEO WELLING
The Silver Ballroom.

The Silver Ballroom
4701 Morgan Ford Road, 314-832-9223

The Silver Ballroom's "Retox Center" and dedicated staff of "Enablers" have been keeping thirsty denizens of St. Louis' Bevo Mill neighborhood quenched for more than a decade now by adhering to the three Ps: punk rock, pinball and PBR. Sure, the bar has a menu of specialty cocktails and fancier drinks on offer, but those looking to wet their whistles for as little money as possible know that their best bet is to plunk down $3 for a tallboy of Pabst (or Stag, Busch or Busch Lite). And there are few bars in town with better options for spending the pennies you've managed to pinch in the process — with its expertly curated jukebox, plethora of pinball machines and, of course, the astoundingly delicious Korean food of in-house eatery Tiny Chef, the Silver Ballroom makes a strong case that the cheapest play is indeed the best one. —Daniel Hill

Stella Blues
3269 Morgan Ford Road, 314-762-0144
No website

Stella Blues is a total gem tucked away in a corner of Tower Grove South. Named after the final track on the first side of a 1973 Grateful Dead album, this neighborhood bar is definitely worth making a special trip. The drinks are reasonably priced, the bartenders are friendly and the vibes are great all around. In addition to the expert bar service, Stella Blues also offers Korean American fusion BBQ. Kyochon-style chicken wings and a torpedo sandwich with bulgogi beef are two of the standout offerings. When the weather is nice, it's hard to beat the back patio, which is sequestered from the traffic on Morgan Ford, giving it the feel of a south-city backyard hang. It's a great place to spend a night out with friends or to go make some new pals — strangers stop strangers just to shake their hands. —Ryan Krull

Trophy Room
5099 Arsenal Street, 314-664-4810

There's nothing particularly fancy about the Trophy Room. A longstanding south-city establishment parked at the corner of Brannon Avenue and Arsenal Street, the unassuming sports bar has the usual amenities: dartboards, pool tables, a decent patio and more A-B products than you can shake a stick at. But in its simplicity lies its magic — and its danger. With its low prices and exceptionally thirsty clientele, the Trophy Room is uniquely able to launch its customers into a state of delirious intoxication before they even know what hit 'em. One minute you're staring idly at the Keno numbers, the next you're surrounded by a boisterous bar full of cops and criminals in equal parts, all downing suds like water and having an unforgettable night that no one will remember the following day. Handle with care. —Daniel Hill

The Waiting Room
10419 St Charles Rock Road, St. Ann; 314-890-8333

In the Year of Our Lord 2022, when nearly all transactions take place via microchips and satellites, the concept of cash can feel somewhat old-timey — and the notion of small, metal discs one trades for goods and services even doubly so. But your change is welcomed at the Waiting Room. That's in part due to the St. Ann bar's selection of pinball machines, of course, but also due to its low prices, which make it plenty possible to pay for your purchase with pennies. But it's not just Stag and Busch on offer here. Part of the Waiting Room's mission is to support local businesses, and in keeping, the bar keeps a rotating stock of six local craft beers on tap — meaning even the frugal can imbibe with good taste at the forefront. —Daniel Hill

Whalen's Bar & Restaurant
3837 St. Anns Lane, Normandy; 314-385-0829
No website

If you're looking for a cheap brew on the north side, head to Whalen's without delay. Tucked in the crook between Florissant Road and St. Anns Lane in Normandy, Whalen's offers pretty much any domestic beer at a reasonable price: $2.75 for longnecks (no cans) during happy hour (3 to 6 p.m.) or $4.25 otherwise. A true neighborhood and family bar, Whalen's comes alive each night as the regulars drop in for a brew, a bite of its Irish and American fare or Saturday night karaoke. You know stopping in is going to be a good time upon hearing the bar's unofficial slogan: "We're Whalen's, damnit." —Jessica Rogen

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