I love beer. Specifically, I love Yuengling. Being a native Pennsylvanian, I've always felt a loyalty to their brand, almost like that urge to root for hometown sports. Over the weekend, we decided it was finally time to head out to see what all the fuss was about.
Dan, my Dad and I all went to visit the Pottsville location, which is actually Yuengling's oldest and original location. Upon arrival, we headed into the Store + Tasting Room where we told the front desk that we wanted to participate in the tour. It's completely FREE to participate in their brewery tour, so the next time you're stumped trying to think of something affordable and unique to do this Summer or Fall ... keep this in mind.
Since Yuengling was started by David G. Yuengling in the mid-1800's, refrigeration didn't exist which meant that he had to get innovative with the beer fermentation process. Many often wonder, why the brewery is housed alongside a mountain, and that is because there are actually caves dug into the mountainside that acted as refrigeration back in the day. I believe they said it took ten years to complete those caves by pickaxe by close to four hundred men. Talk about a project! Seeing the caves alone was reason enough to come out to the brewery.
Throughout the remainder of the tour, we got to walk through the rest of the facilities and see what the progression of the company was, which was fascinating. Since we went on a Saturday, the brewery wasn't running, but if you go on a weekday you'll actually be able to walk around with everything up and moving. How neat!
The history buff in me loved that the integrity of the company's past was so well-preserved. Around every corner, even in the caves at some points, there were details pointed out that we were able to focus our attention on and it truly felt like we were in a museum. I loved the fact that we were able to get two experiences out of one visit - we learned about the brewing process and the backend of the business but also got to take a lot of historical knowledge home with us (and a few t-shirts!).
Of course, the tour saves the best for last ... the tasting room! Before going to the brewery, I actually didn't realize how much variety they had. I was used to their traditional lager and had also sipped a Premium a handful of times, but didn't know that they had others.
At the tasting, we were each allowed two (well-sized) samples of the beers from the tap. This was definitely the most exciting part for a couple of different reasons.
We learned on our tour that the four Yuengling daughters are preparing to take the company over. As a female, I was of course excited to hear this and felt empowered to learn that they'd be one of the only (if not the only) female-owned brewery in the country. Boom! The four women are the sixth generation of brewers, and just created their first product.
Yuengling's Golden Pilsner will be launching into stores this month throughout the state of Pennsylvania, so keep an eye out! The Golden Pilsner is not going to be a seasonal beer, but rather a core product; in fact, it's the first new core product in seventeen years.
I did get an opportunity to sample the Pilsner, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. I'm not someone who enjoys a super hoppy or bitter beer, and this was a smooth blend that didn't sacrifice flavor. It has a distinct Yuengling taste to it, but is light enough to sit outside and drink on a warm day.
My second sample I wasn't sure what to get, but I wanted to try something I hadn't before. I kept hearing good things about the Black & Tan, but was hesitant because I don't enjoy dark beer too much. Since it's a combination of the Porter and Premium, I thought I'd give it a chance. Y'all ... this might be my new favorite (now tied with the Pils). Black & Tan was smooth and easy to drink, with subtle caramel flavors that weren't too sweet. Dan and I both agreed that we'll need to pick up the Pils and the BT after our vacation ... or maybe on it!
The Brewery Tour hours are M-F 10-3 on the hour and on Saturday's they begin at 10:30AM and run every 45 people until the last tour leaves at 3:00PM. If you're going with a large group of 15 people or more, it's required that you call ahead and make a reservation. The tour itself lasts just over an hour, and then you wind up spending a bit of time in the tasting room as well. Make sure to wear closed shoes for this ... the caves can be slippery! I wore Sperry's and would probably wear a sneaker if I did it again. In all, we had a great time at the Yuengling Brewery and I highly recommend that you take some time to visit if you get a chance soon.