04 February 2009


Rating: 7.8
Brewery: Yuengling (Pottsville, PA)
Glass: Pint
ABV: 4.4%
Seller: The 13 Original Colonies
When Enjoyed: Just about every evening

Growing up near Philadelphia, there are a few things you inherit as a cultural birthright. Beyond undying allegiance to the area sports teams, we are brought up with an allegiance to either Pat's or Geno's, a special appreciation for Sylvester Stallone, and a general disgust for most things New York. Yuengling is such an inherited object. As a child, I knew that drinking was wrong, but I also could comprehend that Yuengling was something special. When there was beer around my house or at a party or a ballgame, it was Yuengling. Once I was within shooting range of 21, it didn't take long to appreciate Yuengling, even though I was at school in a state that didn't have it.

For those of us who grew up around it, Yuengling has defined what a Lager means. Now, Lager is not just a style of beer, it is a broad name for a brewing technique that encompasses many different styles, like Pilsner or Bock. Ask for "A Lager" in Chicago or LA and the bartender will give you a deranged look. Ask for "A Lager" in Philadelphia, you will receive Yuengling. This happens not because Yuengling is "America's Oldest (surviving) Brewery" or because it is brewed in Pottsville, which is at this point a suburb, but because to most of us, it does define what a lager should taste like. It is refreshing, but not watered down and has enough body to give it the heart it needs to stand out amongst the PBR's and the Budweiser's of the world.

Ubiquity alone is not a qualification for a good beer. Yuengling, despite having an unassuming taste, has endeared that very taste into the mouths and hearts of millions in the 13 original colonies. It hasn't achieved this through advertising (in fact they just started their first-ever TV ad campaign, "Yuengling, Lager's first name"), but simply by providing what the people want, and in this case, the people's taste can't be discounted. Yuengling is an Amber Lager, served in a green bottle or on draught and unmistakably has a distinct body to it. It certainly is a refreshing beer, but one that you don't mind chewing over from time to time. At 4.4%, you can spend an evening with a six-pack and feel very good about yourself. One needs to be careful not to over analyze the taste, because it is really important that this beer remains free of pretensions, otherwise we stand to disrupt the superb balance of aesthetics and populism that this beer offers.

1 comment:

  1. Despite a hearty guffaw at my initial glance at the rating, Jim's sedulous review firmly put me back in my place as a closet philly-boy. God bless this alcoholic Schuylkill water, god bless Philadelphia.