#50: Yuengling Lager: D.G. Yuengling & Son, Pottsville, Pennsylvania
State: The large and unloved Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The eastern half of the state is like New Jersey, the western half is Appalachia. Notable residents include Rick Santorum, Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger and Jerry Sandusky.
Brewery: Yuengling, the oldest operating brewery in the country. Founded in 1829 and still owned by the same family. It is also one of the largest American-owned breweries following mergers at Miller, Coors and Budweiser. Its beers are of roughly equivalent quality.
Beer: Yuengling Lager, which President Obama once said is his favorite beer, though he was probably being nice because it's our nation’s oldest brewery and was passing it off on some unsuspecting ‘Nucks after we lost a hockey game. Yuengling's fairly standard lager comes in green bottles and is priced competitively with Bud back East.
Difficulty of obtaining in Oregon: Moderate. Although Yuengling does not distribute any further west than Indiana, it is cheap and readily available where distributed.
Average score: 47.16
Add “making beer” to the long list of things Pennsylvania does not do well. We can state this objectively, as the Keystone state’s flagship Yuengling Lager finished dead ass last in our blind tasting of craft beers from all 50 states.
Having grown up in a neighboring state, and with my opinions on Pennsylvania firmly on the record, I cannot pretend to be surprised. Sorry yinzers, Yuengling ain’t good. I say this as someone who gave the beer one of the more generous scores among our 12-person blind tasting panel. There’s not much character to this light-bodied lager, which may account for its longevity through many decades where Americans favored beer that didn’t taste like beer. Yuengling has, to me, always seemed slightly skunky—our bottle came from the same source as several from in top 10 and was treated the same way—even fresh out of the cooler at the grocery store.
The lager is a legacy beer more fairly considered as a country cousin to Pabst Blue Ribbon than a grandfather to today’s craft brews. Pennsylvanians might complain we should have entered something like Victory’s elegant Storm King Stout—and maybe we should have, except “Yuengling” and “Pennsylvania beer” are synonymous. If we’d entered a “good beer” for Pennsylvania, yinz would have griped we’d shorted good ol’ Yueng.
For what it’s worth, this low-end brew and its piss-poor showing in our race to elect a President of Beers is really the least of the problems in its native land. Only 17 miles from the D.G. Yuengling and Son brewery in the backwoods of Pottsville, Pennsylvania sits the ghost town of Centralia, Pennsylvania.
Back in 1962, the volunteer firemen of the town of Centralia decided to “clean up” the town dump by burning up all the trash. Unfortunately, they lit an abandoned coal mine on fire. Rather than spend a few thousand dollars to put the fire out before it spread, they allowed it to spread and smoulder underground for decades. By the time they realized what had happened, it was too late. Kids started falling in smoking sinkholes and people got sick. The entire town had to be relocated on federal dimes.
The fire still burns below the now near-empty town as a few looney residents stand their ground in a land of rot and smoke.
Damn, now I’m getting depressed. Pass me a Yuengling, will ya?