This is not a drill. Yuengling, America’s Oldest Brewery, and Molson Coors Beverage Company announced a long-term brewing partnership that will bring Yuengling’s beer to additional states out west and in New England. Yes, you heard that right: Yuengling is heading west. But what does this mean, and why should you care? Let’s take a look…
Yeungling + Molson Coors Joint Venture
We know you have questions. Here’s what we know so far, from the Yuengling & Molson Coors press release and this morning’s press conference:
The joint venture between Yuengling and Molson Coors will oversee any new market expansion beyond the 191-year-old brewer’s existing 22 state footprint plus any future New England expansion. The partnership is expected to begin by launching in the second half of 2021 and will be governed by a board of directors, consisting evenly of Yuengling and Molson Coors family members and executives. Importantly, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. remains a family-owned business and the existing company will operate separately from the joint venture with Molson Coors.
“We are excited to launch this brewing partnership with the team at Molson Coors. Like Yuengling, Molson Coors has an established commitment to quality and rich history of family brewing excellence. This partnership is a great opportunity for us to grow our distribution footprint for the long-term, while continuing to support our existing markets and the communities in which we operate.”Wendy Yuengling, Chief Administrative Officer, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc.
The Yuengling family will work closely with the iconic Coors and Molson brewing families, and the Molson Coors Beverage Company, to brew Yuengling products and expand their geographic footprint as an extension of America’s Oldest Brewery. Together, Yuengling brewers will work hand-in-hand at Molson Coors’ world-class brewing facilities and tap into their expertise in brewing and distribution to make the Yuengling brands more accessible to fans by opening markets the company can’t currently reach.
Read the full text of the press release here.
What Does It Really Mean?
The current operation of Yuengling will stay in place and remains owned and operated by the family that has run the brewery for 6 generations. This existing operation, which distributes to 22 states, will continue to operate separately as D.G. Yuengling & Sons, Inc. The existing breweries will continue brewing as normal for their existing customer footprint.
The Yuengling family will work with, and at, the Molson Coors breweries to make Yuengling beer for the new markets. Which states will get Yuengling first is still being determined, or at least, is not yet being disclosed. Since the partnership is officially launching in late 2021, don’t expect to find Yuengling at your local bottle shop just yet. The new board of directors is expected to announce more details in the next several months.
“This is a huge growth opportunity for Yuengling, it’s a huge growth opportunity for Molson Coors, and we’re going to make a whole lot of Yuengling fans out west really happy. Today, three storied brewing families and their collective 18 generations of brewing excellence, have come together with one goal for the future – a future focused on growth. That is worth celebrating.”Gavin Hattersley, President and CEO of Molson Coors Beverage Company.
What we do know from the press conference this morning is that Yuengling will focus on distributing their more popular year-round beers first: Yuengling Traditional Lager, Yuengling Light Lager, Black & Tan, and FLIGHT. Then, depending on how thirsty the market is for Yuengling beer, they may add the Golden Lager and some seasonal offerings, such as Oktoberfest and Hershey’s Chocolate Porter.
What’s the Big Deal With Yuengling?
If you’re not familiar with Yuengling, here’s a crash course:
Yuengling, out of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, has been brewing since 1829, making them the oldest running brewery in the United States. Officially known as D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., the brewery has been family-owned for six generations, passing from father to son (and now, daughters) in the Yuengling family. The Pottsville brewery, along with a brewery in Tampa, Florida, supports the production of Yuengling beer for their current 22-state market. With the production of more than 2mn barrels of beer annually, Yuengling is already one of the largest brewers in the country, even before this new partnership.
Yuengling is best known for its flagship Yuengling Traditional Lager, a medium-bodied amber lager with roasted caramel malt and a combination of cluster and cascade hops. Traditional Lager accounts for a significant portion (some reports say upwards of 80%) of Yuengling’s sales. Despite its limited distribution, Yuengling Lager is one of the best selling beers in America. The lager is so popular in Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware that you can just order “a lager” and they’ll know you want a Yuengling.
Oh, and in case you’re not already familiar with the brand and you’ve been scratching your head at the name this whole time, here’s a video to help you learn how to pronounce Yuengling. You’re welcome.
Our Thoughts on Today’s News
With such a big buzz surrounding today’s news, you may be wondering if Yuengling is worth the hype. We’ve only had the lager, and we thought it was quite good. But indeed, a big part of why so many western drinkers long for Yuengling is based on regional scarcity. East coast transplants who had Yuengling-a-plenty before moving west are undoubtedly the most excited about today’s announcement. Will Yuengling make a big splash with beer drinkers less familiar with the brand? We’ll have to wait and see.
As for the partnership: In our opinion, more beer choice is always a good thing, so we’re always happy to hear about expanded distribution. It’s nice to see that the Yuengling family was able to create a partnership with Molson Coors to expand without giving away their control of the family-owned brewing operation. It’s also nice that Yuengling family members will be equally represented (50/50 with Molson Coors) on the board of directors for the new partnership, so they will have a voice in how the expansion of their brand is handled.
Does this mean that Yuengling isn’t “craft” anymore?
Probably, and as the top producing craft brewery in the U.S., it will be interesting to see how this partnership affects their status with the Brewers Association. But for many fans of independent beer, they weren’t always accepted as a craft brewery anyhow. Yuengling only started being considered a “craft brewery” after changes in the definition were made back in 2014.
Furthermore, as the beer market tightens and more independent brands look for ways to strive and survive, they each have to make business decisions based on their individual needs. As the industry changes, our thoughts on the importance of this classification has changed a bit as well. While we still prefer local beer from independent brewers, we don’t fall into the “it’s craft or it’s crap” camp as hardcore as we did in the past. If the beer is good, and the brews made by Molson Coors is the same quality as what you’d find from Yuengling in Pottsville, then we won’t hold their new joint venture against them. This type of partnership was bound to happen, and for what it’s worth, at least it was with Molson Coors. (We’re still not the biggest fans of AB-InBev. We softened, but not that much.)
What do you think?
Are you excited about the possibility of Yuengling becoming available near you? Do you have a favorite Yuengling beer or a new take on why Yuengling Lager is so dang popular? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on one of our social media channels. We’d love to hear your two-cents on today’s big announcement.