Yuengling Becomes Biggest American Brewery

According to new estimated beer sales data for 2011 from Beer Marketer’s Insights, Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania has now eclipsed the Boston Beer Co. (makers of Samuel Adams) to become the biggest American brewery. Yuengling’s area newspaper, the Lehigh Valley’s The Morning Call, had the story this morning. The numbers shake out like this:

Yuengling sold 2.5 million barrels of beer in 2011, up 17 percent from the previous year, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights in Suffern, N.Y., a magazine that tracks the beer industry. Boston Beer sold 2.4 million barrels in 2011, the magazine estimated.

Boston Beer, a public company, has yet to release final sales for 2011. Beer Marketer’s Insights based its estimate on Boston Beer sales in the first three quarters and the company’s own sales forecast for the fourth quarter.

Even if Boston Beer had a surprisingly good fourth quarter, it wouldn’t close the gap with Yuengling, said Eric Shepard, editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights.

The Morning Call also created the chart below to illustrate the shift in sales between the two companies over the last five years.



  1. Ted Fox says

    That seems crazy to me as I’ve never seen a Yuengling beer in the wild. Though I do live in the last bastion of non-BevMo Northern California.

    • says

      Yeah, I don’t think they’re even anywhere west of the Mississippi yet. We used to get some grey goods here in California in the late 1980s/early 1990s. But don’t forget that in the 1970s Coors was easily the number three big brewer even before their beer was distributed on the East Coast.

      • says

        Coors wasn’t #3 in the 1970’s- Pabst, Miller and/or Schlitz always out-produced Coors in that decade, so Coors was 4 or 5. Coors wouldn’t hit #3 until 1990 (“Office of R. S. Weinberg” numbers- from Tremblay).

        Yuengling Pilsner (their flagship adjunct light lager, pre-“Traditional Lager”) and Yuengling Porter were both briefly distributed nationally by Charles Finkel/Merchant du Vin in the late ’70’s-early ’80’s (MdV had similar deals with Cold Spring and Schell’s). The story goes that when Finkel found out Yuengling Porter was bottom-fermented, he approached Samuel Smith about reviving the top-fermented English Porter style.

        • says

          Thanks for keeping me honest, Jess. Robert is great for that kind of information. I miss his talks at CBC. Yeah, I just pulled that out of my posterior on the fly. My point was that they had impressive sales while not beng national, just like Yuengling today, which holds true even if they were at #4 or #5. Best, J.

          • says

            Yeah, I think we all do that- we’ve been thinking/saying “The Big 3″ (now “2”) and “BMC” for a while now, that’s it’s sometimes easy to forget that that’s only been the case since the 1990’s, and it wasn’t too long ago that it was still the Big 5/6.

            And while Coors was the last of the top brewers to be a regional brewery, it was pretty common before the 70’s, when breweries like Schaefer, Ballantine, Rheingold, Hamm and Heileman were among the Big 5 or 6 in the US while having primarily regional markets – altho’ they were generally more populous regions that Coors’.

  2. Beer Delivery Guy says

    Ah!!, COORS………just remembering College days when we brought it back to the Midwest after a visit “out West” to Colorado.
    Still the best of the BIG (Whatever #) in my humble opinion

  3. Adam says

    Never had a beer of theirs I liked (had maybe a half-dozen)–too bland and uninteresting for my tastes. The Sam Adams brand has always been so much better to me.
    Good for them though. Hope they stay independent.

  4. beerman49 says

    Yuengling’s cheaper than anything Boston Brewing produces, AND they don’t spend megabux advertising on TV. Good for them! I’ll drink Yuengling lager any day in a pub when I can’t get a decent CA beer (as in SN PA or Anchor Steam) when I’m on the East Coast. Sam Adams beer is decent, but Koch’s ad presence turns my stomach, so I refuse to buy it – especially when I have tons of BETTER choices.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>