Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

Archive for June, 2010

Yuengling – Oldest (Craft) Brewery in the US?

Hands-down, Yuengling Brewery is the oldest American brewery and in 2009 it celebrated its 180th birthday.  Two locations brew the beer and also feature tours: Pottsville PA and Tampa FL.  When prohibition took over the US, Yuengling and Son Brewers shut down their alcoholic beverage line and concentrated on a dairy farm, and an almost beer (0.5%).

While the extent of their brewing does not include a range of brewing styles, they do feature their traditional Yuengling Lager, a Yuengling Light (98 calories) and Yuengling Light Lager (99 calories), a Premium (pilsner) beer, a Dark Brewed Porter, Chesterfield Ale (originating in 1829), Black and Tan (made of Dark Brewed Porter mixed with the Premium).  More variety than your run of the mill Coors or Miller!

Without knowing the strict definition, I wondered (based on my assumption that Craft or Micro was defined as 1. small production; 2. variety of “specialty” (i.e., non-watery) brews; and 3. intention to be part of the craft industry) — would Yuengling qualify to be called a “craft brewery”  (they do some non-traditional brews) or is it eliminated based on the volume of their production line ( quotes that they use over 300,000 gallons of water a day is used at the PA plant which implies a high volume of production)?

I did a bit of research and found out this:  The designation to be a Craft or a Micro (interchangeable terms) Brewery is based on the quantity of beer produced and ownership according to the American Brewers Association definition.  (I was partially right!):

An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional.

“The Brewers Association created the definition of what a craft brewer is so the organization could provide statistics on a growing beer industry segment consisting of the majority of the breweries in the US.

An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 2 million barrels. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.”

Wikipedia has different definition:

A microbrewery, or craft brewery, is a brewery which produces a limited amount of beer.[1] The maximum amount of beer a brewery can produce and still be classed as a microbrewery varies by region and by authority, though is usually around 15,000 US beer barrels (1,800,000 l; 460,000 US gal; 390,000 imp gal) a year.[2][not in citation given]

I don’t know the “official answer” but I suspect that is Yuengling qualifies today (I think they produce too much!) it will soon surpass the production limit.

What I do know is that America’s oldest brewery used to be America’s best kept beer “Secret” and it was not only hard to find, but it was usually a substitute on tap when the other popular beers ran out (think Bud, Bud Light, etc.)

Today, with improved brewing methods, tried and true recipes, a penchant for variety, coupled the good marketing and adorable puppy glasses (fashioned after their 1907 calendar lithograph called “A good story”), Yuengling has established itself not only as THE oldest brewery in the US, but also as an upcoming (specialty) brewery of note.

While Yuengling is not yet available west of the Mississippi, there are expansion plans for the company.  Onwards and upwards Yuengling!

Have a good (tasting) weekend!

The (un)official beer goddess.

Heartland Brewery Seasonals… Wildflower Wheat Ale is a Gem

One of my favorite haunts in NYC is Heartland Brewery (multiple locations) in the summertime for their Apricot Ale!  I went there with my son and daughter during a Manhattan visit yesterday and discovered a wider variety of summer seasonals than in several years.

Here’s the list of new brews for the summertime:

  • Buffalo Bock: Delicately kilned specialty malts lend a mellow sweetness and a touch of toasted caramel to this smooth, mahogany colored lager. 5.9% alc/vol.
  • NY State Wildflower Wheat: This light, crisp golden ale is made with New York clover honey, lavender, and a selection of NY malts and hops. Served with a lemon wedge for a bright floral nose and a light, crisp finish. 4.9% alc/vol.
  • Summertime Apricot Ale: A succulent summer wheat ale with a light, fruity sweetness and a pleasant bouquet of fresh apricots. 5.5% alc/vol.
  • Empire Premium: Pale golden with a crisp, dry finish, this traditional Czech lager will quench your thirst and invigorate your senses.

A couple of other pale ales were also on tap but not listed on the website (my photos of the list didn’t do the names justice!)

The grand surprise of the afternoon surpassed my traditional Apricot Ale favorite:  The smooth and almost hefeweisen unpasteurized taste of the NY State Wildflower Ale.  If you like hefeweisen’s and blondish wheat beers (not quite Belgian!) be sure to try this new seasonal.  But hurry in because when the supply runs out in a couple of months, it’s gone for the season.

To better pints and more tastings!

Until next time… I remain the unofficial beer goddess.

Let me know what you think – have you been to Heartland Breweries lately?


Is it too late to catch up on beer tasting?

There’s a saying that the more you know, the more you know you don’t know – and boy, oh boy – do I ever feel that way today!  I did research on all the various craft and micro brew blogs and websites and am simply amazed at number of blogs, pages, postings, opinions, yada yada  on craft beers.  It is overwhelming!

And despite this – I still know more about beer than 99% of the people I know or meet in my US and international travels (of either gender).  In the U.S. the major lager brewers (Miller, Michelob, Anheuser-Busch, Coors) still dominate the market amongst my peers (who are typically highly educated middle-aged professionals!)  Whenever I go to a local pub with friends, it’s common for the beer of choice to be Budweiser or Miller Lite!  But slowly, my “beer snobbery” as they call it is starting to rub off on colleagues who now imbibe such radical choices as Hoegarden.

It’s also fairly uncommon for a female to like beer period.  Whenever I visit a brewpub in a city where I happen to be working for the week (I do training and consulting in my day job), it is seldom that I see women enjoying craft beers.  In fact, usually I find that women who come in typically drink wine even when there are hundreds of choices of craft beers to choose from. A common lament from women is that they simply don’t like the taste of beer (as if it is a single flavor!)

My goal for this blog is simply to share and record the new beers I find in my travels and provide links so that others (like me) in Florida and around the world can try new tastes and maybe visit some of the great places I find!

I know I’ve got a lot of catching up to do in the beer blogging world, but I take solace in the fact that I enjoy beer tastings, brew fests, and simply talking beer.  So, while I’m no longer a 20-something beer sampler, I do have an enjoyable and exciting life of travel, work, friends, and tasting nights.

Let me know what you think – is it too late to catch up on beer tasting?  Is there hope to become a beer blogger of any status?


Summer Brewfests…

One of the reasons to love summer is the number of Brewfests that emerge nation-wide.  Last week it was Philadelphia Brewery Week and I discovered just how many craft brewers are in the vicinity!

Then Saturday night, I was part of The Florida Aquarium’s SudsFest 2010 to raise money for programs and events put on by the not-for-profit Florida Aquarium in Tampa, FL.  Can you believe in the once Anheuser Busch stronghold of Tampa Bay, we now have Pepin Distributors bringing in over 35 craft brews from across the nation?

Here’s a sampling of the “new” beers on the Florida menu (from the SudsFest Beer Menu) which I know are available at both Publix (the larger ones) and also at Total Wine: (note: ABV means Alcohol By Volume and is expressed as a %)

Obviously absent was any appearance by Sam Adam’s Brewing Company or Rogue Breweries (also available in Florida grocery stores!)

It’s so great now that the former lobbyists who were so intent on keeping Florida an Anheuser state are now less powerful and we can finally join the nation in raising a craft brewery toast to the microbrewery industry!

This weekend, I venture to NYC for their annual Brewery Festival on Governor’s Island.

Until next week,

Beer Goddess…

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