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TheStreet Open House

5 Beers That Aren't Craft, But Should Be

5. D. G. Yuengling & Son
Why it's not craft: Uses adjunct ingredients in its beer, not "traditional"

The Brewers Association doesn't like that this brewery's main beer is a maize-fueled light lager. OK, but not "traditional"? Your little clubhouse was built in 2005 while this brewery has been in existence since 1829. It survived prohibition, you survived Bud Light Platinum. Get off the high horse.

The problem is that the Brewers Association doesn't know what to do with a regional brewer such as Yuengling. You could knock it for brewing nearly 3 million barrels of beer in 2012 to become the largest American-owned brewery in the country, but then you'd have to do the same for Boston Beer. That would take all of Boston Beer's growth out of the equation, too, which is disastrous when craft beer's mouthpiece hitches so much of small brewing's success to numbers. In 2012, small and independent craft brewers as defined by the Brewers Association saw their industry grow 15% by volume, driven by big gains for Boston Beer. In the first half of 2013, volume grew by an additional 13%. A lot of Sam Adams went into those numbers as well, though much of Boston Beer's 20% first-half gain in 2013 came from cider.

Instead, the Brewers Association points to the fact that Yuengling uses corn in its mix and accuses it of cutting corners and trimming costs. The problem is, as we've pointed out before, older breweries founded by German immigrants tend to use a bit of corn in their recipes because they didn't have access to two-row barley from home and had to cut into the higher protein found in the native six-row barley.

Considering how much of the the backlash that followed Goose Island's recent buyout by A-B centered around how its recipies might change, one would assume those aggrieved craft beer geeks would welcome a brewery such as Yuengling sticking to its original formula for all these years. Besides, it isn't as if Yuengling is cheaping out. With the price of corn exploding after the biofuel push of the 2000s, nobody's getting a break by subbing in corn for malt.

Besides, even Pennsylvania craft breweries aren't opposed to keeping Yuengling around. Not only does Yuengling take part in craft events such as Philly Beer Week these days, but it's also teamed up with craft brewers such as Victory Brewing to address issues including self distribution that affect craft and regional brewers alike.

With the Brewers Association already including Yuengling among its members, it wouldn't kill BA to let a friendly, independent face into the mix.

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