Friday, September 9, 2011

Yuengling tries their hand at seasonal beers

If you live on the East Coast, chances are you know Yuengling. They tout themselves as America's oldest brewery (a title they claim in part because unlike other breweries, which switched to other products during Prohibition, they kept brewing by making near beer) and run neck and neck with Boston Beer Co., makers of Samuel Adams, as the largest American-owned brewery.

That's right, folks, your Budweiser is actually owned by a Belgian company, Miller is owned by a British company founded in South Africa, and Coors is owned by a Canadian company. You want to support American beer? Stop drinking Bud, Miller, and Coors.

Anyway, Yuengling is not known for their inventive beers, creative marketing, or ridiculously high-endbrews. They are known for producing traditional, very standard lagers and ales and offering them at a low price. Nothing wrong with that. They provide a great alternative to the giant brewers mentioned above. Their beer is better, the price is the same, and they're local.

(Full disclosure: I'm not a big fan of Yuengling's beer. It's really not that different than Coors or Heineken or whatever to me, fairly ordinary stuff all around, though I did drink a lot of it at one time and think for the price, their porter and black & tans are fine purchases. Also, if you're having a party or just stocking the fridge with some normal, everyday quaffing beers, it's hard to go wrong with 12 packs for $6.99. So I may not drink it, but I'll still recommend Yuengling for people who enjoy Bud, Miller and Coors. It's a good alternative that won't hurt your wallet.)

So Yuengling is known for doing the everyday drinking beer. Craft brewers dabble with special releases and seasonal beers and all the rest. Meanwhile, Yuengling just keeps chugging along.

But for only the second time ever, Yuengling will be doing a seasonal beer, specifically an Oktoberfest. (The first was their bock beer.) The thing is, it will be easy to miss. It will be available on tap only, and they are doing almost no marketing for it. From this news story:
Most drinkers are stumbling onto the new brew the same way Terry Mentzer did last week at the Market Cross Pub in Carlisle.

The Adams County Yuengling drinker just happened to spot the bright orange tap handle and decided to give it a try.

He wasn’t disappointed.

“It’s a little heavier than the lager, and it’s got a nice, smooth mouth feel,” Mentzer said.
Even the folks at Yuengling admit this is new territory for them, and that juggling many varieties of beer is "difficult." It's just not what they do. This is a traditional brewery, so no surprise that they brew in a traditional, conservative manner. That will translate to the beer, too. You can expect that whatever seasonal beers they make will be quite approachable and won't assault your taste buds, making them perfect for the casual drinker but uninteresting for the ardent beer geek. That seems to be the early verdict, too.
“I’m glad Yuengling is expanding their horizons,” Otto said. “I wouldn’t say their Oktoberfest is the best, but it is less aggressive than some of the others, and you can drink more of it. Definitely anyone who drinks Yuengling will be happy with it.”
I'm glad they're expanding what they do, too. I may not be a regular consumer of their beer, but I respect what they do and would like to see them succeed in helping chip away at the big guys.


  1. For those who care, Oktoberfest is available in bottles. I had six of them today! And in my opinion, its fantastic!

  2. Sounds like last year's experiment with the Oktoberfest was a success if it's now in bottles. Thanks for the update. Cheers!