Yuengling–Small Craft Brewery?? Why?

26 January 2011

imageI’ve been following the breaking news out of Yuengling and it’

s becoming pretty interesting.  If you haven’t heard, our beloved Yuengling has just joined the Brewers Association.  Because the Brewers Association is almost completely geared toward craft or “small craft brewers” this is an odd change of events.  Now of course it helps that the Brewers Association recently adopted a new definition of “small craft breweries” to include breweries that have an annual production of under 6-million barrels (up from the previous 2-million barrels.)  Oddly enough Yuengling hit just over 3.6-million barrel production with the addition of their Tampa, FL. 

Now keep in mind, there are still issues for Yuengling being a “small” craft brewery” because of some of the corn/adjuncts they use, but the Brewers Association has made exceptions in the past.

…so why did they join?  

First off keep in mind Yuengling can get significant tax breaks for being a “small craft brewer” so for me this is why they’d want in now that the yearly production limit has been raised….but why would the Brewers Association want them?  While some believe it is to gain the bump in member dues, for me it seems obvious.  If Yuengling brings their production totals under the umbrella of “craft brewing,” the craft brewing segment will gain a significant portion of the overall beer market share just by Yuengling signing up.  The big question for me is will we see the Brewers Association make an exception or will we see Yuengling change their recipe.  I’m betting on exception, but stay tuned.

11 comments (click to read or post):

Lew Bryson 26 January, 2011 10:09  

What we're seeing may be the first steps toward a merger of the BA and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas. The only thing keeping Yuengling out of the BA is their use of corn; God knows they're independently owned!

Anonymous,  26 January, 2011 10:13  

Nothing for nothing but 3.6-million barrel production hardly seems "small or craft" just sayin

Anonymous,  26 January, 2011 10:32  

Why does everyone pick on corn? It makes no sense to me that rye, wheat, and oats are perfectly acceptable adjuncts, while corn is like the red headed step child of the beer world. It just seems so “snobbish” to discount corn as valid beer ingredient when every other adjunct is considered satisfactory. Corn was a plentiful grain in America when the first European setters arrived here, and barley was not. So they brewed beer with good ol’ American ingenuity, and what was available to them: corn, pumpkin, squash, and pine needles, etc. It just made good sense, not to mention a historic and cultural shift in beer. This was no different than every other style of wonderfully diverse beer that was created out the same need for folks to brew and enjoy a beer with the ingredients that were available to their region. IMO, *all* should be celebrated including the American Pilsner Lager.

mybeerbuzz 26 January, 2011 13:02  

It should be interesting. I always wondered why the distinction between the two (B.A. & MBAA)...and yes I'd agree they're only seperated by a little corn syrup.

Next stop...Pabst!

mybeerbuzz 26 January, 2011 13:14  

Yep..the current definition allows you to brew up to 6-million and still be small craft. I guess that explains why Sam Adams is ramping up Twisted Tea packaging this week!

mybeerbuzz 26 January, 2011 13:16  

No disagreement on corn Anon. Any why Corn & Rice carry that macro-beer sort of brewing stigma I don't know. Personally I was surprised that the Brewers Association has held on to that defenition (involving the use of corn). It should be an interesting note to see if they make a corn-exemption for Yuengling.

JessKidden 26 January, 2011 16:48  

Where's the 3.6m bbl figure for Yuengling come from? Most sources put them at 2,025,000 bbl. for 2009 and an 80% increase would be pretty incredible for a company that size. And, of course, Tampa's been a Yuengling brewery for over a decade.

Maybe that's the rated capacity of the 3 breweries?

Also, note that simply joining the Brewers Association doesn't make them a "craft brewery" under the B.A.'s definition - a number of "non-craft" breweries are members, including all the BMC's run breweries, and those only partially owned.

JessKidden 26 January, 2011 17:12  

Lew, Do you mean a merger of the Brewers Association and the Beer Institute (aka "the big brewers' organization"), rather than the Master Brewers Association of the Americas?

Yuengling didn't/doesn't belong to the BI, tho', either- although a number of craft breweries do.

mybeerbuzz 26 January, 2011 18:24  

Thanks Jess...yes it is.

Professor Bartels,  27 January, 2011 08:47  

Anon is right, nowadays brewers can throw any kind of berries, beans, bacteria, etc etc into a beer and it is seen as innovative and special but if you put some corn in you are a leper.

Had corn not been used for the past 100 years or so it would probably be COMPLETELY embraced by microbrewers and beer snobs today celebrating every "corn ale release" and paying $25 a bomber for it. Makes you realize just how silly some of this is.

mybeerbuzz 27 January, 2011 09:40  

I like it Prof....let's start the FaceBook campaign to bring corn back to craft brewing!

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