Yuengling daughters talk about future of family's brewery


If you're not among the 70,000 yearly who take the Yuengling Brewery tour in Pottsville, Schuylkill County, you may not be aware that the brewery sits upon a large cave constructed for refrigeration.

"You get to see the caves that were dug in 1829 and it's a lot of oldness here and history, and people appreciate it," said Dick Yuengling, the brewery's fifth-generation owner.

Now, it serves to support a foundation - underneath many layers of family tradition - including the next generation, Dick Yuengling's daughters -- Jennifer, Wendy, Debbie and Sheryl. They all work for the company and are next in line to take over.

"I think knowing the perseverance that the prior generations have gone through, we want to still continue that, and we're proud to be a family-owned brewery," Debbie Yuengling said.

As the daughters have stood in the shadows of their father and the brewery, they've been watching and brainstorming about what will be new for "America's Oldest."

"Yeah, I think it's natural when a new generation comes in, they bring in new ideas, and they've got different backgrounds and perspectives on things," said Wendy Yuengling. "I actually think it's very healthy to keep a company growing and stay relevant with consumers, because they certainly change from one generation to the next."

A trend that has come to define the next generation is the growing craft beer industry, but the Yuenglings believe they preceded it.

"We've never defined ourselves by what people call craft or not craft," Wendy said. "We feel like we've been making good beer since 1829. Some of our beers are craft, like porter and ale, which we've been brewing since the beginning."

Their father speaks of creating beers with staying power, and his daughters said their latest brew speaks to that.

"Last year, we came out with our Golden Pilsner, which was our first year-round brand in 17 years," Debbie said.

The next question after what's new, is what's next?

"We are doing some work at the Tampa brewery. We are hoping to have a campus experience," Debbie said. "Rebuild the beer garden, possibly a hotel/restaurant, so they're in the works with the community down there."

The Yuenglings are reticent about revealing too many plans. Their focus right now is on Saturday, and a celebration expected to double the population of Pottsville.

"It's been a great effort of downtown businesses and the whole community coming together to put on this event," Wendy said. "It's a massive undertaking."

The celebration, headlined by the band Better Than Ezra and fireworks, is already exceeding expectations.

"It's a much bigger vision than we originally set out to do, and I think that it will be a very proud day for the entire Pottsville community," Wendy said.

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