Yuengling fans in the Hoosier state have been hoping this day would come for a long time.
“They’ve been waiting 188 years,” Yuengling’s vice president of operations Jennifer Yuengling joked.
America’s oldest brewery, based in Pottsville, Pa., is finally launching its Original Lager, Light Lager and Black and Tan in Indiana, the 20th state in the company’s slow expansion.
Products will be on draft in bars and restaurants starting March 6, and will be available on store shelves the first week of April.
Others on social media, though, compare the launch to Colorado’s Coors Light or Texas’ Shiner Bock arriving in Indiana, predicting that the frenzy will soon fizzle.
Love it or hate it, it’s coming. IndyStar sat down to chat with Yuengling at Monarch Beverages, which is distributing the products in Central Indiana. She is in the sixth generation of the brewing family, and daughter of current president and owner Dick Yuengling.
Question: What took you so long to come to Indiana?
Answer: We grow very methodically. We have a very controlled growth business model. You’ll notice that the states we go into, they are all contiguous. We also look at our capacity restrictions, too. So, based on the amount of beer we can produce at our two Pottsville plants, as well as what we can produce out of our Tampa (Fla.) plant, that basically dictates to us which markets we are going to go into. Indiana was just a perfect fit for us this year.
Q: Craft beer is booming all over the country — and definitely in Indiana. How will Yuengling compete with our local craft brewers?
A: That’s interesting because Indiana is not alone in the different craft beer pockets that have cropped up throughout the country. And I think it is a mindset among consumers now — they don’t have a brand loyalty, they like to drink local and whatever is most popular and what’s new. It’s been more competitive. The landscape has definitely changed over the last 10 or 15 years. … But we feel that the quality of our products, the history and the story we have to tell — 188 years of brewing — it’s really uncompromised. We have a great authentic and unique story that we feel is going to attract consumers.
Q: When did you taste your first beer and was it Yuengling?
A: There is no doubt it was definitely a Yuengling. I can’t honestly remember it, but I do know we have a photograph. It was Christmastime, and I was probably a year old. My dad was giving me a sip of Yuengling premium beer in one of the old returnable bottles. So it’s etched in my memory, maybe, through a photograph.
Q: Do you drink any beers other than Yuengling?
A: The only time I would deviate from our brands and not drink our brands is if I were in a market and they weren’t available. Otherwise it is always what I would drink. I’m a beer girl.
Q: A reader who grew up in Pennsylvania said that when you ask for a lager there, you get Yuengling. Has that happened in other states? Do you think that could happen in Indiana?
A: That is true. When we become popular in the late (19)80s, early ’90s and we reintroduced our lager brand beer with the amber color in the State College market in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, it got to the point that if you asked for a lager across the bar, you would get a Yuengling. That has kind of crossed over into New Jersey and Delaware and some of our more local markets. We would absolutely love for the same thing to happen in Indiana, too.