OK. In my first post for this blog I mentioned that I might occasionally diverge from my ramblings about starting this brewery to other random thoughts on the "state of beer" in this city and beyond. I've yet to do that so far. The imminent arrival of Yuengling in Ohio seems as good a time as any to start.
Let me first start by saying that I in no way intend to offend anyone with these occasional diatribes. If you find something in one of these posts that you feel is a personal affront to your sensibilities then I apologize in advance, as that is not (and will never be) my intent. End disclaimer.
I don't hate Yuengling. I've had a few of their beers a few different times. Any brewery that can survive as long as they have and still be a family run operation is aces in my book. I applaud their success and careful expansion into new markets when they feel the time is right. That being said, I can't see what all the fuss is about. The beer was......OK. A fine example of what American Lager is supposed to be. It's a better beer than Budweiser/Miller/Coors. In the end though, it is still plain old American Lager. But for as big a deal as everyone is making out of them finally coming to Ohio you would think it is the most amazing beer ever to grace this Earth. People that aren't even that "into" beer come up to me and say how excited they are about Yuengling coming to Ohio and they've never even tried it before. I know way too many people that have made road trips to Pennsylvania or Tennessee to fill their trunks up with the stuff and then stash it away and hoard it as if it was Pliny the Elder or something. I even know a guy who buys it to stock his fridge and he doesn't even drink beer. He just likes to give it to people when they come over to his house. He proceeds to rave about how good it is and harps on the fact that you can't buy it here as if he is doing you some great service by giving you this "rare treat". Weird.
I just don't get it. Is it the nostalgia of it? (I refer to this as the "Burger Beer" effect - "My Dad used to drink XYZ beer so now I do too") Is it the scarcity of Yuengling that has elevated it to this mythical status around here? Is it the allure of being able to drink a reasonably priced lawnmower beer that didn't come from the big corporate behemoths? Is it because a Bud/Miller/Coors guy finally has something else he can drink that doesn't "offend his tastes" like other craft beer? I guess we'll see. Once the novelty of not having to drive to another state to get it wears off, will it still be the coolest thing around? Who knows.
Again, I am not begrudging Yuengling at all. I hope they are very successful in Ohio and beyond. I'll even drink one myself occasionally. I just don't get why everyone is going so crazy over it. If we were just getting Leinenkugel's or Old Style or Iron City into this market would everyone be so damn excited? Besides, there are a lot of things happening in the local craft beer scene that are getting overshadowed by this "big news". Just remember there are only so many tap handles in a bar. Bud and Miller will still have theirs. Now a third "fizzy yellow water" (to borrow a phrase from Greg Koch) will be on tap at a lot of bars too. Who's the one who loses out? That's right. The tap that used to have that nice local Pale Ale or craft IPA (for example). Taste diversity is a great thing. The coming of Yuengling may set this town back a bit in that department.....
I was just in a Kroger perusing the beer aisle as I am known to do and I couldn't believe what I saw:
They have actually cleared a space on the shelves in *anticipation* of having Yuengling 10 days in advance! I really think this has gone too far. Anybody in the beer business will tell you that grocery store shelf space is a VERY valuable commodity. And yet here it sits....empty. Are they purposely trying to drum up more excitement by this ploy? Couldn't you put some craft beer on this shelf at least until the 13th? There are a lot of small breweries out there that will KILL for this shelf space...even if only for a little bit.
ADDENDUM TO THE ADDENDUM 11-10-11
Sometimes I hate it when I am right....Today I was in a local tavern that I occasionally visit and noticed they now have Yuengling on tap. No big deal, that's happening in a lot of places these days. This particular establishment has 12 taps and a relatively OK selection including DogfishHead 60 minute, Left Hand Sawtooth, and a few other good craft beers to go along with the requisite Bud and Miller taps. They also carry Rivertown and Mt. Carmel. Guess which tap the Yuengling is now on? That's right, they bounced off one of the locals. In this case Mt. Carmel. So at least for this bar, my prediction came true (unfortunately).
Of course the bar has the right to do what they feel will sell the best, and maybe Mt. Carmel was the slowest moving beer there. Still, makes me a bit sad. I'd rather drink a Mt. Carmel than a Yuengling anyday.....