Beer Review: Tesco Value Lager

THIS is Tesco Value Lager.
Four Pack of Tesco Value Lager

It is priced at £0.88 pence for a pack of four 440 millilitre cans. At 22 pence per can, this is by far the cheapest drink I have yet tested. It is also the price that caused a storm in November 2007 when Asda and Sainsbury’s joined Tesco in selling lager at this “cheaper than water” price. Compared to the typical £0.30 to £0.50 pence retail price for a bottle of water, this value lager is undeniably cheaper. But is it any better?

Before doctors, the media and Jacqui Smith rush to condemn me as socially-irresponsible and deserving of an ASBO, here is my theory. At only 2% alcohol, there is little chance of the drinker becoming in any way sozzled. For that to happen, one would either need to consume seven hundred cans, or have all the bulk of Keira Knightly. Where this drink could find its niche is as a substitute for water. Think about it. Thirsty but can’t afford a bottle of water? Buy a can of value lager at half the price. Can’t afford to send water to a remote African refugee camp? Send them a crate of value lager. It could become as essential as the Red Cross in relief efforts. But, for that to work, this value lager must not be revolting. Let’s see how it does…

The can omits to mention the origins of the brewery. So to does it fail to mention the head brewer or the centuries of tradition. We do get a list of the ingredients. A symbol indicating 0.9 units of alcohol. And something they really splashed out on: a monochrome photo of drink in a glass.
Tesco Value Lager front of canTesco Value Lager back of can

Once poured into a glass, we can see how different it is to even the unglamorous illustration.

Tesco Value Lager poured into a glass

The head is barely discernable. After a couple of minutes, the head escaped the drink entirely. The colour is a near enough the colour that one would expect of lager. The smell too, is a vaguely correct approximation. If you sniff hard enough, you can make out a hint of malted barley and hops.

As far as taste is concerned, it does taste roughly like cheap, weak lager should. It is mildly bitter and it has a sour aftertaste. If you can imagine water that is flavoured to taste ever so slightly of lager, you would be close to imaging what this tastes like.

If value lager is to be an effective substitute for water in the world’s disaster zones, then it must be equally drinkable. And I’m pleased to say, that it is nearly as drinkable as water. But that is of little surprise when the ingredients list tells you that water is in fact the chief ingredient. One blessing is that it is not as gassy as I had feared.

Tesco value lager is not difficult to sum up. It is water that is yellow in colour and tastes a little of barley. Need we fear the devastating social consequences of pricing cans of this lager alongside King Size Snickers or Pot Noodle? Not if my experience is anything to go by. Will it solve the world’s drinking water shortages the next time an earthquake hits a dust bowl ruled by a dictator? Only if that dictator has low standards.

Rating: Something between 0 and 1.

Have you tried Tesco Value Lager? Or similarly priced lager from any other the other retailers? If so, leave your thoughts about it in the usual place.

1st Update: April 2011

That was unexpected. A big thank you everyone for linking to this old post, reading it and commenting! You’ve made this old ‘review’ one of the surprise hits of the blog. As a reward, here’s a quick update. Back when I posted the review, the four-pack was 88 pence. In October 2010, it was up to 92 pence. By April 2011, it was demonstrating the effects of tax increases and inflation by scraping the Pound mark at 99 pence. That means that by the time you read this, you’ll be buying your four-pack of Tesco Value Lager from Harrods. Nevertheless, while Tesco Value Lager remains value, here are photos of the ‘new look’ can.

Tesco Value Lager updated design four packTesco Value Lager updated design front of canTesco Value Lager updated design back of can

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64 Responses to “Beer Review: Tesco Value Lager”

  1. stymaster Says:

    So it’s *not* responsible for the downfall of society?

  2. Mark Higgins Says:

    I’m drinking a can right now. It tastes sort of like water and sort of like lager. It’s also a bit fizzy, which is nice. Really you can’t complain at the price you’re paying – surely you know you’re not going to be getting top notch booze.

    Non-offensive in every way – certainly bland and perhaps it doesn’t hit the spot, but I don’t see a problem in a can every now and again when times are hard.

  3. Some Dude Says:

    Try the Tesco Value Bitter (aka Sainsbury’s Basics Bitter — they’re all from the same source). 97p for four cans, 2.1% alcohol, and an actual beer taste. Sure, it’s still rather watered down, but at least you feel like you’re drinking some kind of beer.

    I’m not a big fan of bitter, but funnily enough the cheap bitter tastes more like lager than the cheap lager 🙂

  4. bobby Says:

    This lager is pretty alright for the price. Ive just paid 88 pence for four cans of tesco value lager. To be honest i was expecting water, maybe slightly flavoured, that was left there for a while.
    But no! It actually tastes mildly of lager, and at that price, you just can’t moan. And due to its lack of alcohol presence it could even be suitable for children hehe.
    Considering price 2.5/5

  5. nick a Says:

    This ale is top notch, drank 18 tins today and haven’t even thought about slapping the missus yet…
    Well done Tesco, i’ve still got cash to spend this week.

  6. Jelly Man Says:

    I would really like to try this beer
    Seems bad though

  7. Mike Says:

    “This ale is top notch, drank 18 tins today and haven’t even thought about slapping the missus yet…”

    Haha, well Stella is MUCH more epenisive… ya get what ya pay for…. XD
    Stella is my pint of choice, never even tasted the tesco’s own brand…

    The way I see it, if I’ve not got enough for a premium lager, I haven’t’ got enough for any lager…

    C’mon 2%? I think for the price, 3.5% would be acceptable… 3% minimum…

  8. Ade Says:

    22p/can is a great price for an OK weak beer (or any other kind of beer). I think the fact it’s only 2% doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I’m gonna buy another couple of 4-packs for those times when I fancy a refreshing lager flavoured drink but need to not be drunk. It’s well drinkable!

  9. Chris H Says:

    TVL (as we call it) tastes pretty bad when drunk at home. But try it in the sunshine, on a boat on the Norfolk Broads and it tastes amazing!

  10. Zweibel Says:

    Well, I’m on my second. Not bad at all…and I can still concentrate and work.

  11. Hopeless Joe Says:

    are you kidding, this stuff is the shit FO REAL!!!!!! drank 32 cans mother fucker!!!! good job i was chillin’ in pizzool otherwise my piss be showin’ YO!

  12. Dave Says:

    Awesome review man!

  13. Mark Says:

    Tesco value lager is the only lager I buy these days. It’s quite refreshing in a sunny day drinking in the garden but definitely quite embarrassing to be seen buying it though.

  14. canetoad Says:

    TVL rocks! Crisp, refreshing, as others have said great for a sunny day when you want a beer but don’t want to get wrecked too quick. Makes a good “pace yourself” session drink in between cans of something stronger. Also you can’t clearly smell it on your breath so no nagging “youve been drinking” grief from the fairer sex. Consider it the backing track/support act to the likes of Becks, Stella etc.

  15. Peach Says:

    This was my favourite beer until they changed the recipe. Now it tastes like I expected to taste when i first tried it.

  16. rob Says:

    its ok

  17. Shims Says:

    Ha ha I use this stuff to kill the slugs in my garden!

    I pour an inch or two into sawn-off cans placed in the ground near slug hot-spots. The slimey blighters love a sup of ale, and next morning the bottom of the can resembles a cell in Bow the morning after St Paddy’s day.

    The slugs, smelling the ferment make a bee-line (slug-line?) for the beer, they cruise up the side of the can (I leave an inch of each can sticking up to avoid garden friends like spiders and beetles accidentally falling in) climb over the jagged razor sharp edges, and slide down the inside, drink their fill, get innebriated, and slide off into the beer and a warm fuzzy death.

    (The cans are the remains of human consumption of a mid-range beer, so the slugs don’t think they are being fobbed off with some cheap aled-up water)

    At the moment, I am testing Tesco Value Lager against Tesco Value Bitter for slug peference and slaying ability.

  18. TightWad Says:

    Damn, you’re right Peach, the sods have changed it. It was drinkable but now it’s pretty nasty.

  19. Ringzlord Says:


    This stuff is found at local estate Chav partys and the only thing it’s for is the toilet. It’s not worth putting your liver to work drinking this stuff.

  20. Rachel Says:

    I was weirdly gifted 12 cans of this tesco value bitter recently – wouldnt dream of drinking it alone but with lemonade and a touch of lime its quite nice.

  21. Bellx15 Says:

    I just picked up a 4-pack out of sheer curiosity and nostalgia, as we used to try all the really cheap beers years ago just for fun. I seem to recall Viking as the last one before the ‘alleged incident’ changed all that.

    It’s OK. The taste is inoffensive, and I can well imagine it chilled, in the Summer, as being quite pleasant.

    As for the 2%, at least it’s the cheapest alcohol you can buy, apart from Frosty Jack – need I say more?

  22. Bellx15 Says:

    I’ve just finished my second can and I feel out of focus. Could it be the number of cans you drink, rather than the amount of alcohol, that really matters? I’ll need to look further into this …

  23. Entropy Says:

    You should try Co-op lager if you get the chance. I’ve only had it once but it made a fine curry drink, and I was surprised to find that it was reasonably flavoursome – in fact better than some branded lagers I’ve tried.

  24. Will Says:

    If you do all the maths (you have to drink two and a half times the amount to hit the ordinary continental 5% stuff) then at current prices it works out at 80p a pint against around £1.04 a pint. Not that much dramatically cheaper if all you’re thinking about is hitting the spot.

    But funnily enough I rather like it and it’s great for shandy!

  25. Mark Says:

    The cans I bought recently have changed again. They have the same packaging as your last pictures but it is now made in France and does not have maltose or cereal syrup in it which gave it that shandy taste. It’s actually not bad now, tastes like a light French lager.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    This testes like shite

  27. Anonymous Says:

    I prefer the ALDI alternative, much mOre whack to it.

  28. Chris O'Brien aka Obes Says:

    I mainly drink orange juice, but sometimes as im standing by my keyboard set, i like to drink this lager and i think its qite nice. The 2% suits me fine and its a great drink to relax and watch the Simpsons to

  29. Bobo Chimp Says:

    SOmetimes in the virtual jungle, me and my virtual friends like to drink only premium lager. THIS IS NOT PREMIUM<DO NOT DruUNK It. 1*

  30. Glenn McCrae Says:

    I do not reccomend this drink especially as I ride my bike to work and have been feeling unsteady as a result. Also when I am driving my car in the video games it results in many crashes which make me quite angry. Aviod at all costs

  31. Patrick Says:

    No no. Just no…

  32. Bellx15 Says:

    I’m sorry to say I have moved on to the hard stuff – Tesco 4% lager. It costs, mind you – around £2.24 for 4 cans – but you can taste the difference. It’s a man’s drink.

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  34. Cockney John Says:

    Tried this the other night after a few cans of tesco 5.3%cider,what a revelation….i was honestly pleasantly suprised..81p for 4 cans,it was chilled to perfection and was quaffed back rapidly,leaving a quite pleasant aftertaste…it even tastes better than tesco 4% lager in my opinion…always nice to find a dark horse!

  35. Anonymous Says:

    You knocked back four cans in quick succession! That’s almost a can of Special Brew. You must have felt quite tipsy!

  36. John Says:

    A perfectly acceptable drink. I like the fact that it’s 2% alcohol. Until 15 years ago or so it wasn’t uncommon to find 2% beers in bars – good for gulping down a few pints after a day’s hard, manual work without getting steaming drunk. The quality and range of beers available now is much better than in the past but they do tend to be very much stronger and the consequences are there for all to see on the street at closing time and, out-of-sight, in living rooms – people regularly wrecked drunk.

    Simple snobbery means that I would hesitate to serve this to visitors but it doesn’t appear to be a materially different product to higher status branded lagers (whereas the 4% Tesco lager seems to me an inferior offering with high levels of syrup concentrate added).

    It’s crisp tasting and refreshing with just enough alcohol to give me a little buzz after a couple of cans. I paid 81p for four cans and I am a satisfied customer.


  37. Anonymous Says:

    Well I’ll be dashed if you’re not right! I tried to get hooked on the 4% stuff but I was only fooling myself. it’s crap. I am just experimenting with Fosters 4% now, and it seems a bit better.

  38. Pepo Says:

    Grrh, they’ve changed the recipe again- there have been three different recipes sine the new everyday range was launched. The latest is the worst- glucose syrup is the third ingredient and the beer has a sweet flavour like those made with corn syrup etc. made in the uk. Oh well, maybe they’ll change it back until then I’ll go back to drinking fizzy water

  39. nealypealy Says:

    I agree Pepo, the recent change to the insipid colour of the stuff it normally “leaves” as terrible compared to the nice “bronzey” colour it was. The taste was also very good and I have been drinking it for a number of years. However the taste is no better now than the zero percent offerings available. I have been drinking this to reduce my alcohol intake although I am not a “big” drinker. However now it has gone back to the recipe of a couple of years ago, I may just have to go teatotal

  40. Sean Enos (@sonicsean89) Says:

    Just going to say, it tastes a lot like PBR

  41. Bitter Better Says:

    Avoid the Tesco Value Lager and the Sainsburys Basics Lager. The Bitter is tolerable (actually a pretty nice drink as long as you don’t compare it to real beer) but the lager definitely isn’t.

  42. Anonymous Says:

    I have just drank 11 cans over 3 hrs … Enjoyed it . Still got the relaxing feeling holding and swigging the can without being hammered ,,, just got a night of pissing ahead of me …

  43. NWLagerdrinker Says:

    I have just purchased 4 cans of these from the local Tesco, I wanted to get 16 but my wife wouldn’t let me as we are on a strict budget and I spent £1 on 3 packets of red laces (3 for 1). I was thrilled to read the reviews and find out that it will not in fact, as my lovely wife stated, “taste like piss”. Not that she drinks or to my knowledge has ever tasted piss, I have (long story about being trapped in a padlocked tent and having an accompanying Labrador waking me up by pissing in my mouth in the morning). Anywho, I also picked up 4 cans of Carlsberg just in case these 4 cans fail to make an impact, so to speak. I will report back later for my verdict.

    • Bellx15 Says:

      ” just in case these 4 cans fail to make an impact, so to speak”

      Well, you are not going to get pissed. Let’s put it that way 😀

  44. NWLagerdrinker Says:

    Well, as promised, here is my feedback. Bellx15, you may be right, but I am a bit of a lightweight. After consuming a hearty meal of steak and chips, I settled down to continue watching the Stoke vs Everton match. After around 23 minutes, I decided it was time to indulge in a 25 pence can of lager, none other than Tescos Own Brand. First impressions it is lighter coloured than I thought, which bought a smile to my economically hardened face. Smelled pretty good, much better than piss. It poured well, a nice head. I noticed on the tin some sort of syrup was in it, probably cancer inducing but what the heck. One sip and yes, I felt a slight buzz which was very welcome. This may be only 2%, but after suffering a punch to the face less than 30 minutes before hand and a nose bleed to go with it, this may have added to my lightweightness status. Even though I am 17 stone. I enjoyed the taste, not at all piss like. Not too sweet either. After 5 gulps which I spaced out over 11 minutes, I pleaded with my wife for a 2nd can. She duly obliged, stating it was my last. Well, this can saw til half time, very nice. Haven’t had a piss yet either. Buzz has faded dramatically and since it is the beginning of the second half, which will no doubt be shit, I will cane a the last remaining cans and give an update. Than I will proceed to the Carlsberg (which to be honest, now I have discovered Tescos own brand, is just too expensive to justify buying anymore).

    • Anonymous Says:

      You must have had too much before you started on the tescos CR#p. The syrup in it is what makes it taste like a detol and lemonade on the rocks. Water on the rocks tastes better. If you can find an old tin from 2 years ago you will realise how good it wa and how CR#p it is now

  45. NWLagerdrinker Says:

    After taking rougly 22 minutes to consume there remaing 2 cans, I can say I give this beer overall a 5 out of 5 stars. 25p per can, is unbeatable value. I have a little buzz on, which had I have not eaten would definitely been a much larger buzz. There is a quiet, understated numbness throughout my whole being at present which is creating a most enjoyable experience. Shame about the scoreline. Now to crack on with the Carlsberg in which I shall compare the two beverages.

    • Anonymous Says:

      I think your wife slipped a tomazopam in your tea before you started drinking it. Either that or you had your light soff and you have already drank the carlsberg. Incidentally the OLD recipe Tescos was better than Carlsberg. Shame you found it too late to appreciate the real stuff. Having said that. If you had found the old stuff first before they changed the recipe/supplier you would now be sorely disappointed a am I ( I no longer buy it) so every cloud has a silver tin attached to it. Or something like that.

  46. NWLagerdrinker Says:

    Thanks for the input. I can say I did not have anything before I touched the Tesco’s Own brand. As soon as I started on the Carlsberg it had a much stronger, to me more chemical, smell about it. I just walked 3 of my 5 dogs in freezing conditions, and have come back in to start on my 2nd Carlsberg and can notice I am slightly buzzed. To be fair, I quiet liked the Tesco stuff. I didn’t find it at all gassy. I am a little bit disappointed I never noticed it earlier since you mention it was better, although on saying that I used to earn a lot more money and never had to be so tight with cash. What other recommendations for cheap lager or Guinness alternatives are there? What is it you drink since ditching Tescos own?

  47. NWLagerdrinker Says:

    I’m back. After finding 2 cans in my fridge from last nights 8, I just couldn’t drink them all. It appears the taste has changed again, this time to a more vodka taste. Less sweet. Very bloating. Still, can’t complain for 25p a can.

  48. John Says:

    Might give these Tesco Value cans a bash tonight, I’ll get my usual ones as well but less and see how it goes, I suppose if you regularly bought a few less of the standard four packs or the £1.20 Off Licence strong lagers and replaced the shortfall with those Tesco Value ones you would then still get the benefit of a buzz from the standard ones you still drink but then make a saving by not buying so many of those and filling the gap with the Tesco Value ones, that make sense??…..well…that’s my theory….watch it fail down in practice of course Lol

  49. John Says:

    It was exactly as I thought really, it’s a good gap filler in-between having the stronger cans so you can save a bit by buying less of the stronger ones and buying the Tesco Value cans instead but if you’re like me and drink for the effect then don’t just buy them on their own because you will be disappointed :D, not that there would be any surprise there at 2% Alc 😀 Lol, the makers would need to increase it to at least 5% for that but then they would have to jack up the price so it would defeat the whole object, as it is and as I say, they’re a great gap filler 🙂

  50. Lager Says:

    5*. I get a volume fixation after 2 cans of ‘nice’ beer. Switch at that point to value lager and I can gulp down volume to my heart’s content and wake up the next day feeling awesome. Uber weak beer = clear head.

  51. Iheartbeer Says:

    New revelation. Tesco everyday value bitter definitely tastes better than Tesco everyday value lager, but retains all those other killer selling points – price and low alcohol.

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  56. Sheila Ingram Says:

    can you get pissed on it though, because I have 16 cans of it lol

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