Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Homage to an Old Friend
The grand finale. The final in the three part series concludes with the true reason for the trip to coal country PA. While Bruiser truly captured the unique and humorous essence of our trip in his previous post, I hope this last part inspires you to grab a Yuengling.
A trip to the oldest brewery in America is not just another brewery tour – it’s a pilgrimage. For all who had the privledge of attending college in certain parts of Pennsylvania, your first Yuengling is almost a rite of passage. We didn’t embrace college life with disgusting cheap Rolling Rock or Schlitz. Instead, we were lucky that Yuengling Premium “pounders” (in returnable bottles and boxes) were cheap, and yards more tasty.
Bruiser, Paulette Bonafonte and myself grew to love Yuengling during our long days at the “Ford. Fortunately for us, leaving PA did not mean leaving Yuengling behind. The finest brewery in America has been on an upswing in the past few years, marketing their fine beers to other mid-Atlantic states. “Vitamin Y” (as I believe loyal reader “Murphy’s Lawyer” dubbed it) now surrounds us most places we turn. So thank you, Dick Yuengling, for thinking beyond the Keystone State (even though I hear you are a Republican).
But to get a full appreciation of the many brews we’ve drank over the years (but not too many, of course), we needed to see where it all began at the brewery in Pottsville, PA. The town is quaint, seemingly caught in 1955. Old churches, a quiet main street, and a brand new Dunkin Donuts greet those who visit the brewery at the top of the hill. The brewery is still the same red brick building from 176 year ago, housing caves below the surface and in the hill next door where beer was once stored. Visitors get to see it all – bottling, brewing, the old caves, and a mini museum with bottles and ads from the past (including a very odd ad campaign touting two Chinese men named “Ying” and “Ling”).
Our tour concluded with some free samples of beer, which tasted fresher than anything you get out of a keg at a bar. We didn’t get to pour our own brews, but felt just as fulfilled by standing behind the over 100 year old bar. A bit of pre-OSHA regulations history: Yuengling employees used to be able to drink at brewery bar during their workday. Now, wouldn’t that be the life?