On Thursday we tapped a keg of Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter at Pints&union. To be honest, I didn’t think we’d have the opportunity to score a keg, but one materialized and it sounded like fun to me.
What’s more, in spite of a few negative on-line reviews, Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter tastes pretty good. One reviewer slagged a thin body, but it’s no lighter than Fuller’s London Porter, perhaps because — huge revelation here — Yuengling’s way of making porter for the last 190 years has not been “robust” in the current parlance.
I’d call it an English-style brown porter, and in this instance syrup and cocoa nibs are added. The chocolate character is sweet but balanced. It isn’t cloying, as I read one reviewer describe it. The usual problem remains the skill set of the reviewers, not the product itself.
But I digress.
Reaction has been good, but it occurred to me that some might disapprove of Yuengling owing to politics. There may have been a time when I was among these conscientious objectors, and naturally I respect the point of view of anyone who has a principled reason to not drink, eat or consume anything.
As an example, I’ve managed to avoid Chick-fil-A for decades, primarily because the name and concept strike me as tacky. I also try to avoid chains whenever possible, and stay away from “fast food” as a rule save for weenie wagons, Cincy chili and the occasional White Castle run. I’m told there are extensive reasons to refrain from Chick-fil-A on grounds of socio-political distinctions, and that’s fine, too. However, it isn’t necessary. It’s tacky fast food, and that’s enough for me.
I seem to have digressed again.
As it pertains to Yuengling as a company, and to Hershey’s Chocolate Porter as a beer … and as these pertain to Old Man Yuengling donating to Donald Trump’s campaign and entertaining Trump’s son at the brewery … it might be noted that the brewery sent beer to the detested socialist Franklin Delano Roosevelt to celebrate the end of Prohibition. Another horrid “left-winger,” Barack Obama, apparently pronounced Yuengling his favorite beer of all (source).
It also bears a quick reminder that the American brewing business at all levels, whether macro or craft, is diverse socially and politically, and not a monolithic entity. You may believe “craft” beer is left/liberal/progressive, but you might well be mistaken. It’s not that easy.
Dick Yuengling is the fifth generation to run the family’s brewery, and his four daughters are the sixth. The latter are largely in control now, meaning that not only is Yuengling one of the oldest independent family-run breweries in the United States, but it’s also one of the oldest businesses of any sort — and it’s a female-run company to boot, something I thought we’ve all agreed is desirable.
Here’s a headline from September.
America’s Oldest Brewery donates $50,000 to support brewing education
Thursday, September 5, 2019 — Pottsville, PA – D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., America’s Oldest Brewery®, announced today a $50,000 donation to the Pink Boots Society, a nonprofit focused on assisting, inspiring and encouraging women beer professionals. With this donation, Pink Boots will partner with Yuengling to launch the Yuengling Women in Brewing Scholarship to further advance education for women in the brewing industry.
This doesn’t seem fascistic to me.
As a company, Yuengling has survived the American Civil War (Bobby Lee’s troops got to Gettysburg, within one hundred miles of the brewery), raw material restrictions borne of two world wars, and Prohibition. Amid boycott calls, the elder Yuengling has shrugged. I’m sure he and I would disagree about certain aspects of politics. I’m also fairly certain we could find a way to have both beers and conversations.
To repeat, I’m one hundred percent in favor of principles, and equally strident in defense of your right to exercise them. I’ve done plenty of it myself. The problem I’ve come to see with boycotts of just about anything — Yuengling because Trump, Founders because racism and Chick-fil-A because homophobia — is they don’t come anywhere close to addressing the root cause of society’s ills.
We’re getting ready to go out of town, and the Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter will be gone by the time we return. Go drink one at Pints if it suits you, or something else if not.
If it were possible to get a keg of Lord Chesterfield, Yuengling’s golden ale, I’d buy it — and it surprises me that none of the establishments in downtown New Albany have chosen to sell Yuengling Golden Pilsner on draft regularly.
As a final thought, Yuengling aside, just wait until Christmas. I have a surprise beer coming.