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10 Biggest Small Beer Brewers in the U.S.

1. D.G. Yuengling & Son
Pottsville, Pa.
2012 production:
2.79 million barrels

Founded in 1829, Yuengling is the oldest active brewery in the country. It skated through Prohibition as a dairy and is still owned by family member Dick Yuengling to this day.

It is the largest U.S.-owned brewer in operation and has breweries in Pottsville and Port Carbon, Pa., as well as Tampa, Fla. -- the latter of which just recovered from a recent fire. It's still primarily known for its lager, pilsner, Black & Tan and Porter, but has expanded its line in recent years to include Lord Chesterfield Ale, Yuengling Bock and an Oktoberfest.

Despite being a member of the Brewers Association and despite Dick Yuengling's appearance at Brewers Association events, though, Yuengling isn't considered craft. BA doesn't like the fact that Yuengling uses adjuncts such as corn in its beer, though German and Czech immigrant brewers commonly used maize in their original recipes in the 1800s to make up for the shortcomings of inferior U.S. barley. It also doesn't seem to like its use of a light lager as its flagship beer.

For its part, Yuengling doesn't seem to give a damn. It partners with small Pennsylvania brewers on state tax and distribution legislation and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with them arguing for more brewer-friendly laws. It comes to Philly Beer Week each year, it lends advice and some occasional equipment to small brewers and is still seen as a point of pride in Pennsylvania, where brewers of similar heritage and longevity still dot the landscape. Besides, Yuengling production has jumped from 1.811 million barrels in 2008 to nearly 2.8 million barrels last year.

That's basically akin to building Sierra Nevada over a five-year span in fewer states. When you're that beloved of a regional brewer and have built your success on your beer alone, who cares what anyone but your drinkers thinks about you?

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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