OK, maybe that’s a tad overdramatic in the way that the “snakebite” celebration used by the Arizona Diamondbacks was a tad annoying. But I really did sample Yuengling beer in Pittsburgh over the weekend and it proved as solid as promised by several friends.
Smooth. That’s the best way to describe it given my simple palate. In fact, it went down so easy that I was confused – is this a quality craft beer or cheap, watered-down keg brew? Of course, I also thought it was Asian upon hearing the name, so …
And like every cult favorite, there’s a cool back story – parts of which may or may not be true. The Wikipedia entry is pretty lengthy and indeed confirms hat Yuengling is the oldest brewery in America. Nice.
What’s less clear is why the brand hasn’t gone national. It has breweries in Pennsylvania and Florida and is available in a limited number of states. Neighboring Ohio was just brought into the fray last week. The Wiki entry references union and financial issues and local lore – at least, according to the one Pennsylvanian I know – is that the company has never had enough money to go big time.
So maybe Yuengling just didn’t want to grow. Or maybe it couldn’t grow (although that seems unlikely since the POTUS has given it his unofficial endorsement).
This is part of what makes the food and beverage industry so fascinating. Some go big and others stay (relatively) small, some by force and others by choice. It’s not always (and maybe hardly ever) about quality. And I’m pretty OK with that.
Take Spotted Cow, for example, another local beer. You can’t get it outside of Wisconsin, where it’s made. On one hand, that’s frustrating. But it also adds a layer of romance. I savor the flavor (I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it) whenever it hits my lips and once brought back a six pack for future consumption. (And, for the record, I’m a one-beer guy. Seriously. Total lightweight.) Being able to have it all the time might ruin the experience.
I won’t forget you, Yuengling, my new friend. One day, we’ll meet again.