D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc., which announced earlier this year that it will move into the Ohio market, has selected the wholesale distributors who will handle its beers in the state. And those distributors have something in common -- they all currently represent Anheuser-Busch InBev. Nabbing the Yuengling business is seen as a major coup for a distributor because of the expected swell of support from Ohioans once the beer is available here.
"We feel real good about it," said Jim LaRose, president and chief operating officer of distributor House of LaRose, which covers the Greater Cleveland and Akron areas. "It's a great moment for our company and our folks." He called it an "honor and privilege" to represent Yuengling in the state, while also quickly adding that he's proud to handle the top-selling AB InBev brands.
Yuengling is the oldest operating brewery in the United States and has a cult following for its popular brands, which include Traditional Lager, Original Black & Tan, Porter and Lord Chesterfield Ale. The company isn’t distributed in Ohio now, forcing hardcore fans to drive to neighboring Pennsylvania to stock up. Yuengling, based in Pottsville, Pa., is expanding its Mill Creek brewery in Pennsylvania to handle the move into Ohio.
"The consumers and customers we've been servicing for a long time are super excited about the introduction of Yuengling to Ohio," LaRose said. "They've been getting Yuengling from other states for a long time."
Nobody knows that better than Walter Kohowski, operations manager for RL Lipton Distributing Co. in Youngstown. His territory abuts Pennsylvania and he watches people drive across the state border all the time to buy Yuengling. "Now come October, they don't have to do that," said Kohowski, who described his initial reaction to the news as "one of joy."
He added that securing the Yuengling business is "a shot in the arm" for his business. "We are looking forward to our company growing, our employment growing," he said.
Yuengling confirmed the news Friday afternoon. "We are proud of the ABI distributor network we have chosen to lead our brands in the future in the great state of Ohio," said Pat Noone, Yuengling's business development manager who is spearheading the move into Ohio. "They are a group that will make history for the oldest brewery in America, Yuengling. The Ohio launch will be the most successful launch in Yuengling history and set a new standard for future market openings."
There are great similarities between the two companies in terms of culture, he added. The AB InBev distributors are multi-generational, family-owned businesses that support their local communities, LaRose noted.
Yuengling is expected to be available in Ohio starting in October. It will be rolled out in two phases, Noone said, with one part of the state getting the beer Oct. 3 and the remainder getting it Nov. 1. The company hasn't decided yet which areas will get Yuengling first, he added. "That will be determined probably within a week," he said.