Hard cover, $39.95, 192 pages
As a passionate student of world brewing history, I felt honored that All About Beer asked me to review this book about America’s oldest brewery. As I began to read through Mark A. Noon’s work, I could easily see that the more he delved into the history of Yuengling, the more he wanted to find out. This is obvious to the reader, who will want the pint of discovery refilled as each new chapter begins.
The book begins on the day of David Gottlieb Yuengling’s funeral in 1877. As the town of Pottsville prepared to say farewell to their favorite son, townspeople knew that the legacy he began was still in its early childhood. A loss was being mourned in this small eastern Pennsylvania town, but the mourners knew that others along the East Coast were somber as well. This solemn day in some way explains the uniqueness of this brewery in the modern globalized brewing era of today.
As you read through this history, you quickly sense the philosophy that David was able to pass all the way to today’s sixth generation of family ownership. The old German doctrine—if it is not broken do not fix it—has allowed this company to thrive in a world of homogenized marketing. Over the five chapters you constantly are reminded that this company has the ability to buck many of the trends it has seen come and go. Sure, Yuengling went from wooden to metal keg, to bottles and cans but they did not run for the spice rack or an apothecary of extracts to acquire a bastion of fickle consumers.
This brewing empire embraced advancements but shunned the fads. Very few companies the world over have been able to accomplish this feat.
Many of the technological changes that have been introduced to the brewing industry can be followed through this book. After all, Yuengling was founded almost 20 years before Louis Pasteur’s work would begin to have an impact on brewing.
I remember my first visit this brewery and I was just as amazed with the town of Pottsville as I was with the storied brewery. Not much has changed with Pottsville, PA as a whole. And in reality this book shows you how little has changed with America’s oldest brewery. Many business leaders can learn from this story. As you read through the six generations and a company that stayed the course, you will be amazed and cheer how Yuengling has earned the honor of being America’s oldest beer.