As a home brewer for more than 30 years, my husband Michael’s bucket list includes some unique
destinations. This one is in Pottsville, a town in Pennsylvania coal country, along the banks of the Schuylkill River.
Carol Palla is guest blogging this week about a recent visit to America's oldest brewery: Yuengling.
The brewery offers free tours that last about an hour. Our guide was knowledgeable and shared information about the beer production process with anecdotes about the brewery’s history.
The first two beers that founder David G. Yuengling produced in 1829—the Lord Chesterfield Ale and the Yuengling Porter—are still produced today, along with eight other year-round brews and two seasonal offerings. At the final stage of production at this location, the beer goes into cans or bottles. Another facility handles kegs.
The history of the brewery is a central theme of the tour. This electric switch was used to start up the
Yuengling collects spent grain, a byproduct of the brewing process, in this tank. It is sold to local farmers as feed. Our guide noted that the spent grain was why the most “hoppy” cows are in Schuykill County.
The tour includes a visit through the hand-dug caves that were used for cold storage, fermentation, and
aging for almost eight decades in the early history of the brewery.
The Yuengling Brewery had been producing beer for 90 years when the 18th Amendment took effect. Federal enforcement agents discarded all beer on site and built brick walls to seal off the hand-dug caves. When preparing for the brewery’s 190th anniversary, the caves were reopened with some of the brick walls left behind as a reminder of the brewery’s history.
During prohibition, the company moved to production of near-beer and constructed a dairy across the
street as alternative revenue sources. The dairy now houses the gift shop and is the starting point for
At the end of the tour, our guide became our bartender and offered visitors two free sample pours and
additional brews for purchase. Raging Eagle, a Pilsner style with mango flavoring, was our favorite.
To make this bucket list visit even more memorable, we unexpectedly came across owner Richard “Dick” Yuengling (on the left). The company has remained privately owned within the Yuengling family for five generations. Dick Yuengling will sell the company to his four daughters when he retires. They already play key roles in running the operation.
Know before you go: This is a walking tour that goes through a historic building with an active manufacturing environment. Closed-toed shoes are required. Participants go up and down several steps of narrow stairs. Some of the walkways are uneven and the cave floor can be wet. Our tour guide gave us plenty of time to get from one area to the next.
Getting there: 420 Mahantongo St, Pottsville, PA
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:30 a.m.- 3 p.m.; Closed Sundays, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
Carol Palla and her husband Mike enjoy brewing their own craft beer and visiting breweries.