If you find yourself within 4 hours of Pottsville, PA and haven’t visited the Yuengling Brewery, stop reading this post and go there now! It is that cool!
Pottsville is a little mountain town less than 150 miles from both Philadelphia and NYC (about 180 from DC), best known for its coal and its brew. The Yuengling Brewery is the oldest American brewery and has been owned and operated by the Yuengling family since opening its doors in 1829.
Yuengling is a regional beer and is only distributed on the east coast from NY to FL and only as far west as OH. There are many more states that don’t get Yuengling than do – so there’s a definite plus for growing up in VA. I’ve always had access to Yuengling and it has been one of my favorite beers for ever – especially the light… it’s the best light beer out there in my opinion!
The tour of the brewery is open to the public and completely free – including the two samples of beer you get at the end! Can’t beat free beer! You’ll spend about an hour walking around the brewery, starting beneath the building for what I thought was the coolest part.
When the Yuengling family chose the location for the brewery, they did so planning to use the mountain as a natural storage center for the kegs of beer as they fermented. There is a football field-sized cave underneath the facility that was hand-dug (!!) over the course of 10 years and is a uniquely creepy aspect of the tour.
We also walked through the rest of the building, literally walking next to the workers as they stirred the beer, managed the canning process and just went about their workday. It was so cool to see it all in action – this definitely is a “behind the scenes” experience!
And of course, the tour culminated in the brew-pub for a taste of their different varieties. I’m used to the tradition lager, a light version and the black and tan. I didn’t even realize all the different types of Yuengling available – including Yuengling Premium, Porter, Chesterfield Ale, Bock and Octoberfest. Since we were there at the end of their winter season, between the three of us we sampled the Bock, Porter, Black and Tan, and the Chesterfield Ale.
And then I helped myself to a light lager at the post-tour stop at the local sport’s bar, Maroon’s.
The town itself is pretty tiny, with hilly side streets and lots of old architecture. Parking is at a premium, but a metered lot is available just a few blocks down the hill from the brewery.
As for eats, we found ourselves at Ruby’s Kitchen (on the same street as the garage – S. 2nd Street) for a delicious lunch pre-brewery tour. Being a Friday during Lent in a very catholic part of the country, there were lots of fish options on the menu. I threw all caution to the wind and dived headfirst into a boat of homemade mac and cheese with stewed tomatoes and a perfectly golden piece of fried cod on the side. It was absolutely delicious.
The roadtrip was a birthday celebration for my “little” brother, who towers about 6 inches over me and looks like he should be hiking the AT. We celebrated with a few toasts and a medley of birthday cake, courtesy of Ruby’s.
Awesome day, awesome tour, and pretty cool birthday celebration for the little bro 🙂