Steve Radabaugh figured he had to hit the grocery store early Monday.
It was the first day that D.G. Yuengling & Son started selling its coveted beer in Ohio, and he didn’t want to miss out.
Before 10 a.m., he had two 12-packs — Traditional Lager and Original Black & Tan — in his grasp and was headed to the checkout at Buehler’s Fresh Foods in Montville Township.
“First day, I’m going to get it before it runs out,” said Radabaugh, of Medina. “I assume it’s going to run out sometime in the first week or so.”
To nonbeer drinkers, the arrival of Yuengling is much ado about nothing; just another beer in a crowded beer aisle. But it was a huge day for Radabaugh and other Yuengling fans who until Monday had been unable to buy their favorite brew in the Buckeye State.
Some people camped out overnight in suburban Columbus to be the first to buy it. In suburban Youngstown, the Youngstown Sports Grille turned every tap handle into a Yuengling handle.
“I thought that this launch was going to make history for Yuengling and set the standard for future state launches, and Ohioans are going to make that happen,” said Patrick Noone, the brewery business development manager overseeing the move into Ohio. “It’s crazy. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
The family-owned brewery, which promotes itself as “America’s Oldest Brewery,” is based in Pottsville, Pa. Despite being in a neighboring state, Yuengling had never sold its brands in Ohio, blaming the reason on a lack of production.
Yuengling recently expanded one of its breweries to make the push into Ohio.
The beer has a major cult-like following, and there are plenty of stories about Ohioans making special trips to Pennsylvania to stock up. Its arrival has elicited comparisons to Coors, which for years wasn’t sold on the East Coast.
Jon Albrecht, the beer buyer for the Acme Fresh Market chain in Akron, predicted that Yuengling sales will soar at first because loyal fans will snatch up the beer and many people will be curious to see if it’s as tasty as the hype.
“People are psyched for this beer,” he said. “If you look at the history of Yuengling and Ohio, people made weekend trips from Akron to Pennsylvania to buy this beer. It’s great to keep these dollars in the state.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be selling something new and something different,” he added. “It’s fresh and exciting for our stores. We love it.”
Some of the attraction, Noone said, stems from Yuengling’s brewery dating back to 1829. People are gravitating toward Americana, and Yuengling falls into that category, he said.
It doesn’t hurt that Yuengling is perceived as a better beer at domestic prices. A 12-pack sold for $10.49 at Buehler’s on Monday.
The Lager, Light Lager and Black & Tan are available in the eastern portion of the state. The company is rolling out its beer in the Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo markets starting Oct. 31. Other Yuengling brands, such as Porter and Lord Chesterfield Ale, are expected to arrive next year.
Fishers Foods, a grocer based in Stark County, is so certain that people will want to sample the beer that it’s holding a Yuengling tasting from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at four of its stores: 8100 Cleveland Ave. NW, Plain Township; 4403 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton; 5215 Fulton Drive, Jackson Township; and 4401 Tuscarawas St. W, Perry Township.
Yuengling is the fourth-largest brewer in the United States, according to the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colo. Despite Yuengling’s size, Ohio became only the 14th state where the beer is sold.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his beer blog at www.beer.ohio.com.