So this is my first review here. I have a pile of a backlog to work through ’cause the beer drinkin’ stops for no man! It stops for no slackasses taking forever to make decisions and set up sites either apparently! We’re here though and we’re mouthing off…I mean reviewing beer! YAY!
So why’d I choose Yuengling Lager for my first review? Well, I’m from the Northeast, Yuengling is a household name here. Hell, we don’t even call it Yuengling Traditional Lager up here. You go to a bar, tell the bartender that you want a lager and this is what you get. That’s not a bad thing though! That’s the reason I wanted to review this first. Familiarity. America’s Oldest Brewery, they’ve been around a long time, even survived Prohibition. You don’t get to be 183 years old making shit beer, even if some “holier than thou” beer snobs would have you believe otherwise. Yuengling is a working man’s beer by a working man’s company. They are a brewery started in a coal mining town in Pennsylvania and they served coal miners. Well, you know, you can read the history on the website. All that really matters is that this is a brew from an American success story. It’s fully owned by Americans, for 183 years and counting, and employs Americans to serve Americans what started out as traditional German beers but have morphed over the years into something uniquely American.
OK, so why Yuengling Traditional Lager? (I’m going to refer to this as Lager from here on out because…yeah, YOU try typing all that out every time!) Simple, really, it’s a massive brewing company that still qualifies as a micro or regional brewer since distribution isn’t nationwide. They are the same size as The Boston Brewing Company, purveyors of the Sam Adams series of fine brews. They sell 2.5M barrels a year. They are number 4 on the list of largest breweries in the country. They do all this with distribution from Kentucky to Massachusetts and as far west as Indiana and a second region from South Carolina to eastern Texas and all points south. They barely cover 1/3rd the country and they out sell all but 3 of the breweries with national distribution.
They are doing something right. folks.
So living inside the original distribution, I grew up with Yuengling. The PA/NJ/DE distribution area has been a stronghold that the big brewers have been unable to fully crack. They get tons of support and around here, Budweiser, Miller, Coors…they aren’t your grandfather’s beer or your dad’s beer here. It’s Yuengling. Honestly, dad and grandad have good taste!
On to the beer! I gave it a 7 out 10. Why? Well, because, it’s a daily driver. It will serve to impress those who have not had it before but listened to some ass bassoon about how it’s horrible. It’s not. There are much more robust beers out there that will stand head and shoulders above Lager. However, price-wise, you’re not going to beat Yuengling’s Lager. It’s as cheap as Budweiser, often cheaper if you are close to one of the breweries or get it on special. That’s good. Mainly because this is real beer. This is not a light beer, this is not a watered down cheap beer either. This is a real amber lager very much in the German tradition. The point I’m trying to make here is that you do not need to buy lackluster beer like Old Milwaukee or Natty Light to have an affordable beer that has taste, substance and a decent pedigree. Yuengling is your best option. Especially when the 12 pack I bought to supply the suds for this review cost less than the 6-pack of Victory Summer Love I also purchased at the same time for another review.
Lager is actually pretty well balanced. It’s not a hoppy beer but then again, traditional German lagers are not overly hoppy using the hops as more of a subtle flavoring agent than a preservative. Then again, with ABV ratings typically in the 4% and above aside from the “light” lagers, the alcohol does more for preserving and eliminating unwanted organisms than hops. Yuengling’s Lager follows that traditional sense. It is hopped but the hops are subtle. They use two types, Cascade and Cluster. When you’re tasting this beer, look for these because they are very subtle but if you know what to look for and would like to get better at tasting beer, you’ll pick these up in no time!
Lager’s hops present in two places. Nose, which is how the beer smells when you stick it up to your face to take a swig. The other is mouth which, is how it tastes and feels in your mouth as well as the after taste. Lager presents both hops in the nose. If you smell it, it has definitive citrus scents. Almost like a grapefruit or a mild orange. This is coming from the Cascade hops which are known for the citrus flavors and aromas they bring. However, it’s hard to pin down the citrus smell because the Cluster hops impart a dry, bitter, tart aroma as well, kind of like a vermouth. This ends up giving the nose a slightly malty yet citrusy and tart smell, kind of like a Lemon Torte which would be a German cake filled with jams or mousses. Think of a lemon torte filled with a lemon mousse and garnished on top with cocoa powder and orange zest, that’s similar to the aroma of a Yuengling Lager. It’s both warming and refreshing and very familiar, even if you’ve never had this brew before. It’s like going to a friend’s grandmother’s house for the first time. It’s a house you don’t know but all the smells and sights make you think of your own grandmother and there’s just something soothing, relaxing and familiar about that.
The mouth feel is substantial but not heavy. I will admit that Lager is better out of the tap than the bottle but I’m reviewing the bottle here. I’ll get to a tap review later. The tap tends to be a bit more creamy but that’s not unusual for most beers. The flavors though subtle are fairly complex for such a large operation. The sip starts out with the typical malty sweetness of a lager but then the heat of your mouth pops that hops blend in to life and you get that sour citrus sting from the Cascade hops followed quickly by that dry tartness of the Cluster hops. The aftertaste is very subtle but it’s all malt. It’s like mom pulling off a band aid. There’s that anticipation of the yank while mom tries to sooth your nerves with sweet words and her mother’s touch and then the ripping sting that didn’t turn out so bad after all! The malty sweet after taste is just more of mom rubbing your booboo and telling you it wasn’t so bad! Granted, this is a beer so there isn’t any pain, just trying to illustrate the roller coaster it takes your taste buds on.
I like Yuengling. It wasn’t my first beer. That was a Schlitz my grandfather gave me. My friends all had me drinking Miller Lite in my formative drinking years and I really haven’t forgiven them, even if Miller Lite isn’t as bad as some would have you think. Yuengling I discovered myself after hearing about it for many, many years. It’s my favorite go to beer. If I have to stock a party, cases of Yuengling or even a quarter keg will never fail to please. Doesn’t break the bank either. Hell, I’d give a 10/10 rating if I didn’t have to be realistic. Some would say I gave it too high of a rating as is but to them I say I don’t think they’ve given it a chance and are going on beer snob popular opinion. It really is a decent brew.
Yuengling Lager is All American. Not just because it’s made in America by Americans for Americans. It’s a fighter, like Americans. It plays with the big boys, like Americans. It can take on any comers and stand toe to toe with them, like Americans and it’ll do it bigger, better and longer than everyone else without breaking the bank. If you want an everyday beer that you can afford and isn’t a snoozer of a brew, look no further, this is your beer. If you have foreign friends who think big American breweries can’t make good beer, this is a shining example of what Americans can do on the cheap. Shove it in their face and tell them to drink it and dare them to tell you it sucks.
If they do tell you it sucks…punch them in the face ’cause David G. Yuengling would have done the same because he probably wouldn’t have taken their shit either.
I’ll catch ya later! There’s another Lager in the fridge calling my name!