My latest Dayton City Paper article ran today, covering the Yuengling in Ohio phenomenon. I'll be honest, when my editor and I first discussed the piece, I was dreading it. I was headed to Three Floyds and FOBAB that weekend and thought, jeez, if we should be excited about any beer coming to Ohio, it should be Three Floyds--monster craft brewer that tops most trades and best lists, not Yuengling, a pale lager with a cult following.
But in covering the story, I grew to appreciate the beer. Not everyone loves the Three Floyds giants, but most folks can get behind Yuengling. It's not the most complex beer in the world, but I don't think it's trying to be. It's price-point takes aim at the Budmillercoors of the world, not of the craft brew set (it's about a $5-6 sixer). More than anything, it's likely to act as a gateway beer, turning folks onto flavor who would normally drink pale yellow macrobrews.
And there are some really cool stories associated with the beer. The brewery's history is interesting, given how far back it dates (seriously, Andrew Jackson was president and several of the midwestern states weren't even part of the union yet!). But what got it for me was how much people who drank Yuengling had a connection with the beer. I wish I could have printed everything that Matt, Benjamin, and Sarah had to say about the beer. It's true that it was like coming home for them.
And that I do understand. In college, at Ohio U, The Union always served Schlitz at insanely low prices. I think bottles were under a buck ($.90?), and we were poor, so we drank a lot of Schlitz. I have a lot of fond memories associated with that brand, even though I know it doesn't stack up to Three Floyds, etc. I'll tend to chose a craft beer almost every time, but if an old college friend showed up with a case of Schlitz, I'd be perfectly happy to help him or her work through it.