by Thomas Leskin
Published: February 8, 2014
Starting next month, America's Oldest Brewery will be shipping up to Boston.
D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc., Pottsville, announced Friday that it will be expanding the distribution of its "highly sought after brands" to Massachusetts in early March, making it the 15th state in the brewery's footprint.
This initial rollout includes its flagship beer, Yuengling Lager, as well as Light Lager and Black & Tan brands.
Jen Holtzman, marketing manager at Yuengling, said Friday that the brewery will eventually bring its entire portfolio but believes that focusing initially on the main three is best.
"Porter and (Lord Chesterfield) Ale will likely follow and then seasonals," she said.
Seven wholesalers have been assigned to distribute Yuengling products across the state - Atlas Distributing, Craft Brewers Guild, Girardi Distributing, L. Knife Distributing, Quality Distributing, Seaboard Distributing and Williams Distributing.
According to Holtzman, the expansion isn't the first time Yuengling has been sold in Massachusetts, as this marks a return after it scaled back in the 1990s due to supply limitations.
"They had to pull back when they first introduced Lager and couldn't make enough," Holtzman said. "They had to pull back the footprint. Many people didn't even realize that we were there."
Holtzman said that this expansion was an interesting one, with Yuengling inviting all of the new wholesalers to the new offices at the Mill Creek brewery.
The wholesalers attended a forum where they could ask questions, then got to visit each department in the brewery.
"This is something totally different that we've done this year," she said. "We didn't have the opportunity to do that in Ohio."
In October 2011, Yuengling started marketing in Ohio, allowing it to distribute products in 14 states and Washington, D.C.
Its most recent expansion to Massachusetts is said to be thanks to numerous additions and upgrades to production capabilities.
According to newspaper archives, in 1999, Yuengling bought a former Stroh's brewery in Tampa, Fla., and opened a second brewery there.
In 2000, Yuengling built Yuengling Beer Co. at Mill Creek, just outside Pottsville. Beer production started there April 1, 2001, and in 2003, the Mill Creek brewery started ordering supplies by rail.
In 2010, Yuengling expanded its Mill Creek brewery, adding two buildings and more fermenting and storage tanks.
That same year, Yuengling ranked fourth in the top 50 overall U.S. brewing companies by beer sales volume.
In April 2012, Yuengling announced that the brew house it had been running its operations out of in Florida was about 60 years old and a larger facility was badly needed, so they began work on a new brew house.
The new brewery started running in March or April 2013.
The original factory in Florida was a 450- to 475-barrel system and the new brew house brought a larger capacity, 675 barrels. The project was placed at $5 to $10 million.
Also in April 2013, the Port Carbon Zoning Hearing Board unanimously approved a variance for Yuengling to add six storage silos and a liquid adjunct tank to its operation at Mill Creek and the work was completed shortly after.
Holtzman also said that other improvements include a new pasteurizer and packer at Mill Creek that allows Yuengling to run 1,800 bottles per minute when running 24 packs.
"The efficiency that we are running at now is not only unprecedented for the brewery, but for the industry," she said.
With the newest expansion, many may be thinking that Yuengling will now be competing with Boston Brewing Co. on its home turf.
This is also after the announcement in 2012 that Yuengling and Boston Beer shared the title of largest American-owned brewery, when according to the trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights, based in Suffern, N.Y., they sold 2.5 million barrels of beer in 2011.
Holtzman noted that Boston Beer, while headquartered in Boston, Mass., also produces Samuel Adams at a plant in Fogelsville.
"Dick (Yuengling) and Jim (Koch) are close friends," she said. "It's friendly competition."
Richard L. "Dick" Yuengling is the fifth-generation president and owner of the brewery.
According to newspaper archives, it was started in 1829 when David G. Yuengling established the Eagle Brewery on Centre Street in Pottsville.
It burned down in 1831 and a new brewery, D.G. Yuengling & Son, was established at Fifth and Mahantongo streets.
The business has become known as "America's Oldest Brewery," according to its website, www.yuengling.com.