If beer is your thing, a visit to Yuengling Brewery is well worth your time.
Free guided tours provide the history behind the nation’s oldest American-owned brewery, as visitors stroll along, seeing how beer is made and bottled.
And, of course, at the end of the tour, those who are legally permitted to quaff a brew will get a chance to sample various brands of Yuengling.
One recent weekday morning, a dozen or so gathered at the brewery’s gift shop to take the tour. Most were tourists from out of town, but a few locals rounded out the group.
A group of friends from Iowa came for a national softball tournament in Tampa. But, they took advantage of the time they had, while waiting for their flights to go home.
“It’s interesting,” said Iowa resident Kent Juergens. “I like trying different beers.”
Diana Martinez and William Lopez were on vacation from Miami.
“It’s pretty amazing how they make beer,” Lopez said. “It’s nice to know they take pride in their beer.”
For the Yuengling family, brewing beer is a family legacy dating back five generations.
Brewer G.D. Yuengling was a young immigrant from Germany when he opened the “Eagle Brewery” in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, in 1829. In 1873, the brewery changed its name to Yuengling & Son.
The brewery’s headquarters and operations remain in Pottsville to this day. The brewery building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Yuengling brewery has been in constant production since 1829. Not even Prohibition could shut it down.
The company produced “near beer,” with alcohol content low enough to pass inspection. Yuengling also began making ice cream. On the day Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Yuengling sent a truckload of a specially brewed “Winner Beer” to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at The White House.
Richard L. Yuengling, the current president of the company, is known as a hands-on boss who arrives at work at 4:30 a.m.
He has four daughters, Wendy, Jennifer, Debbie and Sheryl. One or more of them will likely take over the company.
The business isn’t inherited.
Each succeeding generation of Yuenglings has to buy the brewery from the retiring generation.
But, whoever steps in for the sixth generation will make history as the first woman to run Yuengling.
It was a Christmas gift to their father that brought Yuengling brewery to Tampa. Yuengling always wanted to play baseball with professionals. He got a vacation of a lifetime at the Philadelphia Phillies Phantasy Baseball Camp in Clearwater.
Amid the hustle of shagging baseballs and cracking bats, Yuengling heard a rumor that Stroh had its brewery on the market.
To everyone’s surprise in Pottsville, Yuengling returned home with plans to start up brewing operations in Tampa. The brewery is one of three operated by Yuengling — and the only one outside of Pennsylvania.
The facility bought by Yuengling has changed hands several times since it was built by Schlitz in 1958. It later was sold to Stroh, then to Pabst, and back again to Stroh before Yuengling took over.
The flagship brand is its Traditional Lager, but other choices include a porter, a black and tan, and an India Pale Ale.
By volume, Yuengling is the largest American-owned brewer of craft beers, even besting the Boston Beer Company that produces Sam Adams’ beers.
Yuengling is sold in 19 states, primarily in the northeast and southeast.
In recent years, as the micro-brewery world of craft beer has captivated beer lovers, Yuengling has adapted.
“Craft brewing has kept us on our toes,” Fletcher said.
Seasonal beers, including a summer wheat, have been added to Yuengling’s craft beer roster.
Riverview resident Dylan Bredengerd and his friend, Gary Recktenwald, of Augusta, Georgia, are both Yuengling enthusiasts.
Although it is mass produced, Bredengerd said, “It’s craft beer quality.”
Yuengling Brewery guided tours
Where: 11111 N. 30th St., Tampa
When: Monday through Friday from at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1 p.m.; Saturday at 10:30 a.m., and noon; gift shop is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Details: Tours begin at the gift shop and last about 75 minutes. Guides recount the brewery’s history and explain the process of making beer.
All ages are welcome. No pets are allowed. Visitors must wear closed shoes. Photography and video are allowed.
The brewery isn’t handicap accessible. However, a video tour can be provided upon request.
A valid identification must be shown to sample beer at the end of the tour.
Info: Call (813) 972-8529, or visit YuenglingBrewery.com.
Published March 15, 2017