Good Beer Hunting

Yuengling Taps Indiana, its Sixth New State in Three Years

Yuengling is planning to quench some thirsty Hoosiers. Beginning in 2017, the company will expand distribution throughout Indiana, having tapped Monarch Beverage to cover the majority of the state. Per the Indy Star, Five Star Distributing and Indiana Beverages will handle distribution in the state’s “far northern” territories. In a statement, a Monarch spokesperson said Yuengling beer would available in packages and on draft at the end of the first quarter of the New Year.

Many beer drinkers this side of the Mississippi River likely know someone who has, in the course of visiting Pennsylvania, stocked up on Yuengling’s flagship Lager to mule it back home. And that’s because even though Yuengling is America’s largest craft brewer by volume, the company is known for its reluctance to spread its footprint to new markets. To wit, only three years ago, the 187-year old brewery only sold beer in 14 states. And that’s despite having a volumetric output closer to companies like Boston Beer Co. than your average regional player.

Recent years, though, driven by an apparent market blitz, have signaled a bit of a change. At the tail end of 2013, for starters, the company announced it would bring its beers to Massachusetts. Five months later, Yuengling detailed plans to show up in Rhode Island. A mere three months after that, Connecticut got the good news. These states share more than a home in New England, however. Each marked a return for the company, as Yuengling once sold beer in all three states, but pulled out in the ‘90s due to capacity constraints.
But the company’s recent strategy hasn’t revolved solely around resurrection. Earlier this year, it made its debut in Mississippi. “It’s taken since 1829 to get Yuengling here,” one publican told the Sun Herald at the time of the launch. Then this past June, the brewery continued its Southeastern build out, announcing a launch in Louisiana. Now, it takes on Indiana, which will serve as the 20th state where its beers are sold. 

(For what it’s worth, vice president-elect Mike Pence is currently the sitting governor of Indiana. Yuengling, you may recall, controversially endorsed Trump earlier this fall.)

Yuengling leadership did not respond to request for comment by press time, but it’s safe to say drinkers shouldn’t necessarily take the company’s recent salvo as a sign of things to come. In a Q&A with the Central Penn Business Journal published last week, fifth generation owner Dick Yuengling said the company is looking to build its presence up and down the east coast, but added, “We don’t have to be all over the country.” In fact, under his leadership, the company seems to adamantly reject the idea.

“It took us 187 years to get to this point. Give us some credit,” said Yuengling, of his company being designated quote-unquote national. “It is what it is and you fight through it.”

No less, the company has clearly been making a concerted effort to slake the thirst of a number of new markets the past three years, while simultaneously reacquainting itself with familiar, if long forsaken, drinkers elsewhere on the east coast. Now 73, Dick Yuengling has no public plans to retire anytime soon. But it will certainly be worth watching to find out how the sixth generation of family ownership feels about all this "national" stuff.

—Dave Eisenberg
Yuengling beer is coming to Indiana [Indy Star]