It has to be all-American with a name like Yuengling
So, it's a summer holiday weekend. Or any summer weekend -- everyday is a holiday. You have the grill fired up. Friends are on the way. Things popping left and right and exploding in the night sky are about to induce a flood of patriotic feelings. All this leads to the really tough, important question, the only one that will require any thought all day: What beer do you stock the fridge with for this momentous occasion?
Most people's criteria here are going to be the same. It has to be good for a crowd with potentially different tastes and attitudes. Good on a hot day. Good to drink all day/night long. It has to be cheap and unpretentious. It has to be American, especially on that most American of holidays, July 4th.
To be honest, none of these criteria are ones I personally give much thought to, usually. But, a little effort should always be made to find the proper beer for the proper setting.
The beer here may as well be Yuengling Traditional Lager. Despite the name, it's about as American as you can get. Brewed in America's oldest brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania since 1829. Which, as far as I can tell, is a cave somewhere outside of Philadelphia. At least it's in the same state as Philadelphia -- how much more patriotic do you want to get? Don't tell me about that Sam Adams stuff. I like it too, but you don't want it to look like you're trying here.
Unfortunately, that's the rub with Yuengling. Unless you live on the Eastern seaboard, you are probably going to have to try mightily to get any. It's sort of like Coors used to be. Maybe that's what they're going for. In that area, it's everybody's favorite beer. Visitors visit, as they do, and leave wanting more of it. Probably just because they can't have it. They always bring back several cases whenever they have the opportunity. It has some sort of mystique about it. Exactly like Coors was back in the day. Then they decided to let everybody have Coors all they time, and we all realized it was really just rubbish beer all along.
Yuengling is better than Coors. It's better than practically any macro, but retains enough of the familiar traits to keep everyone comfortable. It looks a bit redder than the typical American lager. The aroma is nothing overpowering. It's there. It smells about like everyone expects a run-of-the-mill beer to smell like, but just a hint more grain to it. The head is gone in a flash. It's not a beer to look at and admire.
The flavor is not complex. It's not going to lead to discussions about whether or not you can taste the plum undertones. This is a beer you knock back while wolfing down burgers and dogs hot off the grill, tossing a ball around, or just lounging around watching everyone else do all that. It does have a little more flavor to it, though. There's more malt in it, giving it a caramel sweetness. Maybe some honey. Then a smattering of hops gives it just enough crisp bitterness to make this a worthwhile summer refresher. It's smooth and easy to drink for everyone. Maybe just slightly heavier than some will be used to, but it goes down well. The snobs will be grateful it's not Bud Light. The masses will be happy since it's similar enough to what they normally drink, but allows them to feel like they're being adventurous. It only has 4.9% alcohol, so you probably won't have to worry about everyone collapsing in a stupor.
Did I mention it is cheap? If you can find it, it's roughly the same price as the rest of the usual suspects.
Yuengling is the beer that easily fits all the above requirements. It's not a great beer. It's a good, solid, American, swilling type of beer. You drink this stuff while you're doing and thinking about other things. If you want to think about the beer, this isn't the one.