Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Yuengling effect

Ah yes. My beer of choice.

My east-coast folks know of the wonders of Yuengling. My west-coast folks are relegated to drinking DeSchutes (which ain't a bad choice at all). Either way, they have ties to me, so it's all good. I've even promised my brother-in-law I would sneak him some Yuengling in time for his wedding next month.

Hopefully TSA won't mind the six-pack. I doubt they will, since it'll be in checked luggage anyway.

Anyway, I digress...shocker, I know.

Why Yuengling and, specifically, why Yuengling Lager? Obviously, it's a damn good beer. It goes down fresh with a smooth aftertaste, one that becomes more pronounced the closer you get to Pottsville, Pa., where the beer is fresher than here in DC.

And yes, I'll come clean: A year ahead of me in college was this pretty, personable girl who I dreamed of marrying. In fact, I guarantee pretty much every man worth his salt on that campus dreamed of marrying her. Her name was Debbie Yuengling. In addition to the previous positive qualities, she was rich and could had access to free beer forever. I do very much love my current wife, however, and I'm certain I've told her this story before. Thankfully, she understands.

But I digress. Again. Shocker.

There is, for me, a cultural significance to Yuengling. Growing up an hour east of the brewery, Yuengling has been something I've always known, whether I was allowed to drink or not.

It was a refreshing way for my blue-collar ancestors to finish off a hard day in the nearby coal mines or in the field, farming their land. There's not much I share with them anymore, with my white-collar job and big-city living. My beer is about the only way I know to re-connect with my area's past.

Yuengling is America's oldest brewery, too. It's not often our little section of Pennsylvania can say it has a superlative in much of anything; and those things that can elicit a lot of pride from the locals. (The brewery was founded in 1829, making it 30 full years older than the state of Oregon and 159 years older than DeSchutes.)

It's impossible to compare DeSchutes and Yuengling; they're in two vastly different regions and, generally speaking, serve two vastly different audiences. But for my folks out west, DeSchutes' Mirror Pond Ale comes fairly close to approximating Yuengling's flagship, Lager.

But, as I've told others, it is my dream that a case of Yuengling and a case of DeSchutes will one day meet in a cold warehouse in Chicago or St. Louis. As for now, they only serve the coasts; but one day, I'm convinced, it will happen.

I don't plan on spending any appreciable time in the Midwest until then. No Yuengling and no DeSchutes? Forget about it.

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