Good day dear readers. Today we are featuring an article by a guest writer, my mom. What can I say, the love of beer runs in the blood. My mother and one of her sisters recently visited some family in Pennsylvania and she decided to take a trip to a brewery from her childhood, Yuengling. After she enthusiastically shared pictures and told of her story, I asked if she would like to write an article? She eagerly obliged! So grab a beer, sit back and enjoy a trip to America’s oldest brewery.
Hello Folks, This is Barley-Mom, Cindy:
Recently, Barley-Aunt Lisa and I visited relatives in Frackville and Shenandoah Pennsylvania. (The late Barley-Ggrampy Ed was from there, his parents owned a bar where he was weaned on beer, but that is story for another time). While there, the Barley-cousins took us to tour the Yuengling Brewery. What a great tour that was, and very interesting! The tour starts at the gift shop where you are given a color wrist band. Once that color is filled with eager participants, the tour starts. While waiting, we perused the Gift shop, there is literally something for everyone there. If you want to try on any of the clothing items, you are encouraged to try them on in the beer barrel dressing room. Isn’t that cool (do they still say cool)? AND for the budget minded, good prices too, i.e., pewter opener key ring: $1.99. Our lovely tour guide was as entertaining as knowledgeable. Once called to tour, we walked under the beer bottle chandelier and crossed the street to the actual brewery.
We entered the Keg room (not used anymore), but what history! It was explained how the kegs were filled and plugged with a bung by hand and lifted to form stacks until the trucks came to pick them up. The men doing all the plugging where strong, burley, and happy. Why were they so happy? Hmmm, well, it might be because there were mugs on hand at all times, need I say more? Despite this fact, the job was always done well, no complaints. Management was probably aware of the saying: Never muzzle a threshing bull (maybe our current employers could take notes).
Next stop, the cave. Yep, a cave. No, it wasn’t the original Man Cave. You see, the original brewery was opened a few blocks away, but after two years it burned down. This facility was chosen and a cave was hand dug under it. In some places it is 50 feet below ground. But why a cave? Constant cool temperatures were ideal to store the beer and no electricity was needed for refrigeration. Was that a smart idea or what? We were led into the 50 feet below part where our sights were directed to a long ladder (with no rungs at this time, so don’t get any ideas) which went up and through an opening in the cave ceiling. The opening lead to a cistern that kept the natural spring water. Unfortunately today, they don’t use the spring water anymore as it couldn’t keep up with the demand for large quantities of beer. Oh, there were remains of prohibition brick walls to stop the brewing process (hahaha, stop the brewing process). Anyway, did you know that Yuengling made a near (N/A) beer during that time and ice cream? The Yuengling cousins make the ice cream now. Also, a porter beer could be brewed for medicinal purposes in which a prescription would be written out by a doctor. You can imagine there were a lot of ill people in need of all the benefits of the grains and vitamins in the beer.
When prohibition ended at midnight, 12:01 am there was a truck stacked with beer and on its way to the White House for the celebration (shortest brewing time in history). Guess what happened to the truck, go on, guess? It was hijacked, but they only could take half of the load. The rest did get to the White House where that glorious day was enjoyed with fresh cold beer.
Beer Making Rooms:
Next were the stairs up to the beer making areas. I am technically challenged, so I won’t even begin to describe the stuff that we saw, only to say it was neat (there I go dating myself again) with all the dials and knobs and such. Here, the beer making process was explained. You all know how that goes, so I won’t go into it. Now at the Brew Kettle, there was a stained glass ceiling and NO, this is not where they thank God for beer. The original was clear glass and the glare on sunny days was hurting the employees eyes, so, a stained glass ceiling was put in and voila! No more glare. We also saw a mural of women with miserable expressions on their faces. We were told the reason for those sour expression was that these women, for little pay, worked all day washing beer bottles in hot water by hand. No air conditioning!!!! Can you imagine if they had hot flashes while doing that? Never mind.
We then were taken to the bottling room. Ironically, most of the canning is done in this facility. They have another location that pumps out most of the bottled beer (There is also a brewery in Florida). What a set up this was! The cans come fully labeled, we learned how the bottles and cans were filled and sealed. Truly impressive. I was surprised to learn Yuengling isn’t available in all states and some states do not get all of the brands they brew.
That brought us to the end of the tour, which meant it was now time to be rewarded for being good tourists. SAMPLES!!!!! Whoohoo!!! I tried their IPL, it was a bit bitter for my taste, (gasp! I know how that sounds, but I am a lager person, don’t judge, it’s beer!), a wheat beer, black and tan (mmmmm), Lord Chesterfield Ale (another mmmm) and their Premium Lager. I bought a growler of that-I liked it and it cannot be bought in Massachusetts. Can’t wait to try it at home with a side of Jack Daniels –that charcoal filtered whiskey wonderfulness. Oh, and share it with my Barley-Boys.
We left the facility more knowledgeable and satisfied. (Satisfied, not buzzed). If you are ever near Pottsville, PA, visit Yuengling Brewery, you won’t regret it.
Hope you all enjoyed, and thanks mom for your contribution to the Barley Men.
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