As most of you know, the brewing multinational corporation InBev purchased the iconic American brewer Budweiser a few weeks ago. What does this mean for American brewing? Most of the big “all American” beer companies are now owned by foreign conglomerates. Salon‘s Edward McClelland goes in search of the next great domestic brew. Pabst (which I didn’t know was hip) is making a play already, calling itself “the last of the famous iconic U.S. brewers to be fully independent and American-owned.” But, as Joshua Claybourn noted, Pabst itself doesn’t actually brew beer anymore. It closed its Milwaukee brewery in 1996 and farms out production to Miller, which is South African. Stymied here, McClelland then turns to a smaller-scale brew dear to any East Coast partisan like myself–Yuengling.
Established in Pottsville, Pennsylvania in 1829, Yuengling boasts that it’s the oldest operating brewery in the United States and is still under the control of the Yuengling family. While the town of Pottsville has seen better days (though it did have an NFL team in the 1920s and it gave us Jude Wanniski), Yuengling is still going strong. It is the 6th largest brewer in the United States, producing over one million barrels annually. Yuengling lagers are great, I concur, but problem is, if you live west of Ohio you’re not going to find it anywhere. Yuengling is a regional brewer with two plants in Pottsville and one in Tampa, Florida (where they bought an old Stroh’s plant). They’ve limited their distribution to ten states in the East, which may be part of the appeal. As they say on their web site, “While there is significant interest for our products nationwide, unfortunately we do not have the manufacturing capabilities to service customers across the United States. As a result, our focus and efforts continues to be on our loyal customers and markets that are logistically feasible to our production facilities.” Yuengling eventually may become the next Coors–a regional lager to go national–but I think for the moment it’s presumptuous to call it the next great American beer.
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