Burgernomics originates from The Big Mac Index, invented in 1986 by The Economist. A tool to make exchange rate theory more approachable, the Big Mac Index uses the near-universally familiar product, the Big Mac, to compare the purchasing power parity of different countries. The Big Mac Index is now used globally by economists and academics alike. A lot has changed in the thirty years since the inception of Burgernomics and most of us would prefer to deny any affiliation with the fast food belt-buster at the epicenter of the theory. So today I bring you Beeronomics: exploring the countries where the US dollar treats you well, for the benefit of the tipsy traveler.
Each US dollar will get you about 22,000 Vietnamese dong. On the street and in stores, domestic beers, including trademark beers like the 33 lager, Saigon beer will run you roughly 18,000 dong each, about 80 cents. Splurging for an imported will be closer to 30,000 dong, or $1.34. At nightclubs, hotels, and other tourist hotspots you will most likely be paying more familiar prices. Still, at these rates you could develop a fantastic beer belly with mere pocket change.
Chances are you’ll be drinking more pisco than beer in Peru, but for our Beeronomics course we’ll look at some Backus products. Backus is one of the largest brewers in the world and produces the country’s most popular brands including Pilsen Callao, Cusqueña and Cristal, all of which will run you between 6-7 Peruvian sol. With a 1 USD to 3.33 PEN exchange rate, that’s about $2 a beer. A beer at a bar or club is about $3.54 which is, even still, much cheaper than beer in the US. On Zoom Vacations' trip, we visit the very best restaurants and tour the places that make Peru so popular, such as Machu Picchu. But that does not mean you will have to break the bank to get the full experience and still enjoy yourself! Just watch out for the local Andean chicha, a kind of homemade “moonshine” beer made from blue corn.
Here is a destination that will guarantee that your dollar goes as far as you travelled. While in India, enjoy a favorable exchange rate where $1 USD is worth 65-70 rupees, depending on the day. Kingfisher is the local favorite and typically only available in monstrous 650ml bottles. Locals pay between 200 and 300 INR for a quart of beer, about $4 USD. However, the future of Kingfisher’s rein over the Indian beverage industry is fuzzy. Vijay Mallya is chairman of United Breweries Group, who owns Kingfisher and has more than a 50% market share in India's beer market. Earlier this year Vijay (also known as “India’s Richard Branson”) disappeared, leaving behind over a billion in unpaid loans. And that’s dollars, not rupees.
In Argentina you’ll be drinking Cerveza Quilmes, which has been around since the 1800’s and has been dominating Buenos Aires nightlife since the 1920’s. A pint at a neighborhood pub will be around 60 Argentine Pesos, equivalent to $4 USD. While not the cheapest destination for beer fanatics, Argentina compensates with a growing craft beer industry and brewpub scene. Key points: Argentina is slightly cheaper than the US with quality beer, and the hipsters haven’t found it yet.
#5 South Africa
South Africans enjoy an internationally renowned local brew, Carling Black Label. Like many other countries, one brewing company dominates; in this case it’s South African Breweries (SAB). They own Carling Black and have almost 90% of the country’s market share. Unlike many countries, their popular local beer is actually quite tasty. And the best part – a beer in J-burg is only 30 rand (about $2 USD).