The Yuengling Brewery is the longest running brewery in the United States.
The Early Days: David Yuengling Brews Dreams in the U.S.
David Jungling had grown up in a family of brewers in Germany. His father operated the local brewery in a town called Aldingen. Unfortunately for David, he was the younger son, which meant that his older brother inherited the brewery from his father. With limited career prospects in his home country, David decided to try his hand at being a brewer in the United States.
David settled in Pottsville, Pennsylvania and in 1829 he opened The Eagle Brewery. To this day, Yuengling Brewery still bears the trademark of the Eagle, a symbol of strength and freedom. David opened the original brewery in Pottsville’s North Centre Street, but just two years after opening up, that brewery was decimated by fire. David persevered however and soon re-opened the brewery nearby on Mahontongo Street, where Yuengling’s operations continue today.
David’s first son had left for Virginia to start his own brewery, so in 1873 David’s second son Frederick joined his father as a partner in the brewery, which they renamed D.G. Yuengling and Son Brewery. During these early years of the business, brewing beer was a time-consuming process. The malt for the beer traveled nearly 100 miles from Philadelphia by way of the Schuylkill Canal. Once the beer was brewed, it was delivered throughout the region by horse-drawn wagons.
In 1899, Frederick passed away, leaving his only son Frank to take over Yuengling. Frank ran the brewery until 1963. During his time as Yuengling’s president, Frank guided the company through many challenges, not the least of which was the Era of Prohibition.
The Prohibition Era brings Challenges and Success to Yuengling
In 1919, the United States Congress passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which banned the manufacture and sale of alcohol throughout the country. The passing of this law ushered in the Prohibition Era, named for the prohibition of alcohol throughout the U.S. This was obviously a difficult time for many bars and breweries all over the country, many of which closed their doors for good due to prohibition. Frank Yuengling, however, came up with some creative ideas to keep his grandfather’s dream alive.
Frank was confident that prohibition would not last long, and if Yuengling could just stay afloat for a few years, the company would be just fine. With this hope in mind, Yuengling began to brew “near” beers. These were drinks that tasted like beer, and were brewed in a similar manner, but did not contain alcohol. The brewery produced three such beers: the “Yuengling Special” which was their most popular near-beer; the “Yuengling Por-Tor” which was a take on their popular “Celebrated Pottsville Porter” beer; and finally an experimental brew which produced a cereal beverage called “Yuengling Juvo.”
In addition to the near-beers, Yuengling opened a dairy across the street from the brewery. The dairy produced ice cream and other milk products to the surrounding community and stayed open until 1985.
In 1933, Frank’s prediction became a reality when prohibition came to an end, and alcohol became legal again. In honor of the end of prohibition, the brewery produced their “Winner Beer,” even going as far as to send a case of the beer to President Franklin Roosevelt as a way to say thank you.
Growth and Modernization of Yuengling Brewery
In 1963, Frank passed away, and his sons Richard and F. Dohrman took over the business. The 50’s and 60’s turned out to be tough times for the brewery, as there was a rise of national breweries as well as a decline in the local market. Frank’s sons’ hard work and dedication to their family’s business helped to keep the business afloat. Finally in 1976, the brewery received some good fortune. 1976 was, after all, the Bicentennial of the United States or its 200th birthday in other words. With this birthday celebration, came a wave of patriotism along with a renewed interest in Yuengling. The Yuengling Brewery was officially recognized as America’s oldest brewery and the brewery building itself was placed on the national and state historic registers.
Today Yuengling Brewery has expanded to include additional beers such as their Premium Light Beer, Traditional Larger — an amber beer — and Yuengling’s Original Black and Tan — a unique blend of its Premium Beer and Dark Brewed Porter.The brewery produces well over 300,000 barrels of beer and is well-known in bars and restaurants, especially in the eastern U.S.
Yuengling Brewery Fun Facts
- Yuengling funded the creation of dance halls in NYC and Philadelphia
- Yuengling re-opened its dairy and now serves ice cream. Some of their flavors include Root Beer Float and Black and Tan, which is made of Belgian Chocolate & salty caramel – not beer.
- Yuengling is one of the favorite beers of former president Barack Obama