Yuengling, as you all darn well know, is America's oldest brewery. And if you grew up in Pennsylvania as I did, its flagship brew was likely one of the first to pass your lips.
If you grew up with Yuengling and love it, but want to branch out a little, here are five more beers to try.
Yuengling: An American Standby
As a Bucknell University alum of a certain age, I spent many nights at the Bull Run Inn (aka "The Bar") downing $4 pitchers of Yuengling and savoring its easy-drinking smoothness. Long before I gained a palate for hops and began to see the beauty of bitter notes in my beer, I was grateful for Yuengling as a reliable choice in bars where there was precious little else on tap I'd want to order.
Yuengling's traditional amber lager is technically what is known as a Vienna lager or pre-Prohibition lager, meaning they did things a little differently back in the day. What you may think of as a lager now—the more widely popular Bavarian style, which is light in color and crisp in flavor—wasn't always the industry standard.
German immigrants who settled in the Northeast U.S. brought this brewing style across the pond with them, but it fell out of favor for the most part after Prohibition. Sam Adams' original Boston Lager, coming from the only other American brewery that can match or surpass Yuengling in terms of sales, is coincidentally enough the other most well-known example of a darker, more caramel-toned lager.
Because lagers ferment at cool temperatures and don't have any add-ins like fruit or spices as ales do, the malts—often including adjunct grains like corn and rice in American versions in place of hard-to-get barley—and the hops are what you're tasting loud and clear.
With its coppery hue and bready sweetness, Yuengling's historical style stands the test of time—and there are a number of breweries making modern versions of amber lagers too.
If you're a fan of Yuengling, give these 5 beers a try
- Thomas Creek Appalachian Amber - This Greenville, SC discovery is a smooth ale with none of the grainy aftertaste of a Yuengling. Its slightly sweet maltiness makes it a great gateway in the amber category—if you're feeling brave after this and want to go darker, try the brewery's Dopplebock Lager next.
- Defiant Muddy Creek Lager - When in the New York-New Jersey area, grab a six-pack (or better yet, a draft pint) of this small Pearl River brewery's amber lager. With a hoppier bite than Thomas Creek's offering, it's a toasty pour that will make malt fans smile.
- Brooklyn Lager - One of the flagship lagers of the modern craft brew era, Brooklyn Lager has happily gone nationwide with its classic take on the Vienna lager. Lighter in color than its counterparts on this list, it nonetheless retains the same smooth maltiness that defines the style.
- Great Lakes Elliot Ness - Since we're making today's post into a history lesson, this offering from Cleveland is doubly appropriate—not only is the beer a true Vienna lager with roasty, caramelized notes, but its name comes from the famous Prohibition agent who was also the employer of the brewery founders' mom.
- Ballast Point Calico - The hoppiest of the five brews recommended here, this amber ale was in fact inspired by the British Extra Special Bitter beer style (a kissing cousin to the classic pale ale). But Calico's balance of malts and hops will sit well with Yuengling lovers who might want to branch out with a little bite in their brew.
What amber lagers and ales would you recommend?
(Image credits: Casey Barber)