Thursday, January 3, 2019

Episode 22: Yuengling with the Luxuriant Bryan Ailey

I. Introduction

Mouthfeel? That's the name of your sex tape, isn't it?

In 1829 London, England established the first modern professional police force, Andrew Jackson was sworn in as the President of the United States, and  Greek War of Independence ends with the signing of the London Protocol.  That same year saw the birth of clothier Levi Strauss, Apache leader Geronimo, and American President Chester A. Arthur.  John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States, died in 1829, as would James Smithson, the British scientist whose vast fortune would lay the groundwork for the establishment of the Smithsonian Institutes in the young American Republic.

Fifty-three years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and thirty-two years before the first shots of the American Civil War, 1829 is also the year that David G. Yuengling first established the what was then called the Eagle Brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, an institution that has, for six generations, remained in the hands of his family and, equally, remained the touchstone of beers in eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. Each generation buys the brewery from the previous, and this generation’s owners, a quartet of sisters, has followed suit.

Today’s beer is a strange and wonderful beastie, the fourth largest beer distributor in the United States – though it serves only fourteen states – and the largest family-owned brewery in the United States.

Today, on Pickled Eggs & Cold Beer, we’re talking about Yuengling.

Today's music is Bessie Smith’s 1925 “At the Christmas Ball.” 

II. Our Bearded Guest, Bryan Ailey

From left to right, in order of increasing excellence - Eric Drummond S
mith, Jason "Cheeseball" Clayman, and Bryan Ailey

III. Rubric, Reviews, and Talking Points: Yuengling Lager

The Mitt Romney of beer. 

BeerAdvocate: 3.41 of 5

RateBeer: 2.79 of 5

Untappd: 3.48 of 5

ABV: 4.5%

Ingredients: This is an adjunct made with corn grits, water, roasted "caramel" hops, cluster and cascade hops

Cost: $

Appearance: Amber, fairly transparent and translucent, light head.

Aroma: Very little nose to this one. 

Flavor: A little sweet, a fairly high quality adjunct lager.  Get it in the can - the bottle is green guys, and that means skunky. 

Mouthfeel: Nice, smooth.  

Authenticity, Marketing, and Other Factors: The new designs are nice, but nothing to write home about.  We like the eagle design, a throwback to the original name of the brewery, but still it isn't one of our favorites.  Television advertising is relatively absent from our local networks in Southern Appalachia, but the examples we found online are fine, but nothing to write home about.  

There are questions about authenticity - hops are from out of region these days, adjunct seems to be a major element of the recipe, and the grains are non-local as well.  How much do Yuengling recipes reflect older traditions? We just aren't sure.  

Yuengling's most recent owner is politically contentious - an active opponent of unions and unionization (busting the house union in his own shop) and an active, and probably more importantly for their bottom line, outspoken supporter of Trump and contemporary conservative groups, he alienated a lot of young left-leaners.  We're curious about whether the Sisters Yuengling who co-own and run the company now will keep a more dampened tenor in their public discussions of politics.

Overall: Bryan gave this one a 3.2 of 5, Clayman a 3, and Eric a 3.25, for an average of 3.15. To quote Mr. Ailey, "This is a beer you can take to a party and no one will get upset or make fun of you, and no one will be overly excited. It's just fine."

IV. Rubric, Reviews, and Talking Points: Yuengling Black & Tan

Marginal approval.

BeerAdvocate: 3.24 of 5

RateBeer: 2.96 of 5

Untappd: 3.48 of 5

ABV: 5.2% 

Ingredients: Unclear - the official literature notes that the Premium, which constitutes 40% of the Black & Tan, use two- and six-row barley malts; presumably the porter element (the remaining 60%) includes a high percentage of roasted malts; the question of adjuncting and how much remains, as well as what hops are used. 

Cost: $

Appearance: Very dark, neither transparent nor translucent. Not a lot of carbonation.  Holding it up to the light the edges seem rather reddish.  Weak legs. 

Aroma: Not much aroma, a little malty. A very mild smokiness, maybe a very, very light piney-note.

Flavor: Not very porter-y, very different from a traditional black and tan (Guinness topper on a Harp base, typically).  

Mouthfeel: Again, little carbonation.  

Authenticity, Marketing, and Other Factors: See above. 

Overall: Ailey really likes this one - a 3.87 (I know) of 5's worth.  Clayman and Eric are a little more hesitant to roll out the red carpet - we respectfully give it a 3.2 and 3.3 of 5.  Overall? A very respectable 3.46 of 5. 

V. Rubric, Reviews, and Talking Points: Yuengling Golden Pilsner

BeerAdvocate: 3.34 of 5

RateBeer: 3.6 of 5

Untappd: 3.48 of 5 

ABV: 4.7%

Ingredients: Corn adjunct, water, malt, and Saaz and Hallertau hops.  

Cost: $

Appearance: Very transparent, very translucent, golden yellow.

Aroma: Malty in a not great way.  Ailey describes it as reminiscent of a dirty diaper. Clayman describes it as the carpet of a cheap hotel on a wet night; comparable to his least favorite beer so far, Bud Light.  Eric compares it to mealy fruit.

Flavor: Immediate reaction of all us - this is not a good beer.  Starts out with notes like an inexpensive lager, a little floral fruitiness or vegetable-ishness at the back.  A skunky flavor without a skunky odor, which is weird. 

Bad.  Cat-piss. Old-sauerkraut. 

Mouthfeel: Sticks to your mouth, residuey. 

Authenticity, Marketing, and Other Factors:  See above. 

Overall: We don't recommend this one very much - Ailey gave it a 2.2, Eric a 2, and Clayman sank it with a 1.3 of 5.  Overall it came in at a 1.83 - not great. 

VI. Sponsors

This episode was sponsored by two wonderful local businesses:

Leben Farms of Abingdon, Virginia

Leben Farms is a community supported-agriculture (CSA) program that offers locally grown fresh vegetables in weekly boxes to its members in Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee.  Using organic and regenerative practices to grow nutrient dense food, community-supported agriculture is a food production and distribution system that directly connects farmers and consumers. In short: people buy "shares" of a farm's harvest in advance and then receive a portion of the crops as they're harvested.

Check them out on Facebook or Instagram.


Glade Pharmacy in Glade Spring, Virginia
33472 Lee Hwy, Glade Spring, VA 24340

Locally owned and managed, Glade Pharmacy provides the highest quality pharmaceutical service in the Emory/Glade Spring area.


Abingdon, Virginia

VIII. Selected Readings and Viewings

Tom Acitelli. March 20, 2017. "When Yuengling Went the Traditional Route." All About Beer Magazine.

Lew Bryson. January 25, 2016. "Yuengling: So Much Better Than it Was."  All About Beer Magazine.

Robert Dixter , Jason Zucker and Colleen Brennan. November 25, 2017. "Yuengling is the oldest brewery in America and it's owned by one family." Circa. 

Ryan Dougherty.  Fall 2009.  [supplemented by Sean McAtee in Spring 2010] "Yuengling: An American Tradition."  The Pennsylvania Center for the Book.  

Mike Gorman. July 1, 2016. "Underground Brewing: Yuengling's James River Steam Brewery."  All About Beer Magazine.

Adam Lapetina. February 3, 2014. "13 Things You Didn't Know About Yuengling." Thrillist.

Ronald Theriot. September 20, 2016. "Yuengling Original Black & Tan (revisited)." Louisiana Beer Review. On YouTube. 

Ronald Theriot. October 15, 2016. "Yuengling Double-Down." Louisiana Beer Review. On YouTube. 

Ronald Theriot. September 16, 2018. "Yuengling Golden Pilsner." Louisiana Beer Review. On YouTube. 

David Wright. October 24, 2009.  "American Snapshot: Yuengling: America's Oldest Brewery." ABC News

IX. Selected Advertisements

c. late 1990s, early 2000s?

c. 2006

c. 2008

c. 2018

X. Obama. 

Looking at this more closely, we think this is Guinness. So: 

Here is one where we know he is drinking Yuengling.  Bam.

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