D.G. Yuengling & Son is a brand of superlatives. It’s America’s oldest brewery, largest independent brewery, and probably the most boycotted beer from the state of Pennsylvania. But Yuengling is nothing if not durable: 2019 marks its 190th anniversary.
Parched for more? Here are 12 things you should know about Yuengling.
Yuengling is more than a lager.
Many beer drinkers know Yuengling for its amber lager, but that beer didn’t become its flagship until 1987. The brewery’s first beers were its Lord Chesterfield Ale and Porter brands, released more than 150 years earlier. Both are still produced today, along with Yuengling Traditional Lager, Yuengling Light Lager, Yuengling Light Beer (we’re unclear on what the difference is there), Yuengling Premium (also seems similar), and Yuengling Black & Tan.
It’s as old as the typewriter.
Yuengling founder, David Gottlob Yuengling, emigrated from Wuerttemberg, Germany to Pottsville, Pa., in 1823 and opened a brewery on Center Street in 1829. It was the same year William Austin Burt patented America’s first “typographer,” or typewriter.
Two years later, the Center Street brewery burned down. It resurrected in its current location on Mahantongo Street in 1831.
It wasn’t always Yuengling.
David G. Yuengling’s original surname was Jüngling, meaning “youth,” or “young man” in German. Jüngling changed his name to Yuengling when he arrived in the U.S.
The brewery was originally named Eagle Brewery. In 1873, the name was changed to D.G. Yuengling & Son when David’s son, Frederick, joined the business.
D.G. Yuengling had another son.
David G. Yuengling had another son, also named David. Around the time Frederick joined their father as partner of the business, David Jr. left to start his own brewery, James River Steam Brewery in Richmond, Va.
Yuengling & Son’s next heirs are daughters.
D.G. Yuengling & Son has been passed down from father to son for six generations. Most recently, in 1985, Richard “Dick” Yuengling purchased the brewery from his father. Turns out, Dick doesn’t have a son to pass the brewery on to. He has four daughters, all of whom have been working at the brewery since 2014. The sisters started a blog, & Daughters, to chronicle their experiences.
It’s the biggest small brewery in the nation.
Yuengling is the largest independently owned brewing company in the U.S., a title it has held since 2015. It was also ranked the sixth-largest brewing company overall by sales volume.
In 1986, 155 years after its inception, Yuengling’s Pottsville brewery was entitled on the National Register of Historic Places.
Its Prohibition strategy was ahead of its time.
Yuengling survived the dark times of Prohibition by getting creative. After the 18th Amendment was ratified in 1919, Yuengling switched to producing “near beer,” or 0.5-percent-ABV brews. Its products included Yuengling Special, Por-Tor, and Juvo. The latter was marketed as an energy drink. It would fit right in with the sporty, active-lifestyle beers trending today.
Yuengling has a thing for presidents (especially Trump).
In 1933, Yuengling celebrated the end of Prohibition by shipping a truckload of “Winner Beer” beer to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 2010, Barack Obama claimed Yuengling was his favorite beer. He even included it in a political exchange with Canada.
In 2016, Dick Yuengling endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Chaos ensued.
In 2018, Yuengling hosted Eric Trump on a media-accompanied tour of the brewery. On the tour, he allegedly said to Eric Trump, “Our guys are behind your father. We need him in there.” Yikes.
It has been boycotted multiple times.
After word got out about Yuengling’s support of the Trump campaign, many Yuengling drinkers boycotted the brand, including Pennsylvania state representative Brian Sims.
Sims called out Trump’s “anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-racial minority and anti-equality agenda” in a Facebook post, saying: “I’m not normally one to call for boycotts but I absolutely believe that how we spend our dollars is a reflection of our votes and our values! … Goodbye Yuengling and shame on you. Sincerely, A former customer of 17 years!”
(Yuengling’s response? “[W]e survived Prohibition. We survived two world wars, when you couldn’t get any grain. We’ll be fine,” Dick Yuengling said in 2017.)
Another, unrelated boycott occurred in 2006, when a separate scandal alleged Yuengling was a union buster.
It has a house in Florida.
In addition to its Pottsville brewery, Yuengling has two other facilities: one in nearby Mill Creek, Pa., and the other in Tampa, Fla. The latter is the former Stroh’s brewery, which Yuengling purchased in 1999.
It’s still innovating, sort of.
In 2018, Yuengling introduced Golden Pilsner, its first year-round offering in 17 years. Yes, it’s another lager. Sticking to its guns seems to work for Yuengling.