“The road to Yuengling Brewery winds through some strange, backwoods country: heaps of churches, porno shops, and prefab houses, set on the small, steep hills, all facing the road, so that each looks into another’s backyard. Down the road is the smoking turf of Centralia, where coal mines were accidentally set on fire fifty years ago and will burn for hundreds of years to come. A dreary sky broods behind dark clouds and throws an occasional spatter of rain at us. The macadam is gray. The journey is holy. Mecca. Jerusalem. Lhasa. Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
In the double-level brewing chambers a mural sweeps across one wall and a stained glass window squares itself in the ceiling. These contrast with the grimy appearance of the floor, the railings, and the brewmaster. The huge stainless steel vats look spotless, however. Workers clean them at the end of every day. The crusty guide explains that the vats used to be copper and the glare was so bad from the ceiling window that the colored glass was installed. Someone makes a joke about this being a church and no one laughs.
Finally, we are led into a narrow, wood-paneled chamber that houses a bar with several taps. We sit down on an oak bench and check out the ancient photos and awards that line the walls. Everyone is given the choice to taste any of the Yuengling brews: Lager, Black and tan, Premium, Light, Lord Chesterfield Ale, and the number one Porter in the world. The beer tastes fresh and smooth like malted spring air. We all comment on the wonderful flavors and textures, praising the process we had so recently witnessed.”