Nearly as many people in America drink beer as those who drink water. That’s something of an exaggeration, but the National Beer Wholesalers Association reports that in 2020, adults in the U.S. consumed over 26.1 gallons of beer and cider per capita, with the beer industry shipping 205 million barrels. A small portion of that deserves particular attention: Yuengling Lord Chesterfield Ale, America’s oldest beer.
Beer is old. Beer-like beverages have probably been made for about 9,000 years. There is evidence that the earliest examples were brewed in the Middle East around 7,000 B.C. By 3,000 B.C., beer was present in Europe. Over the centuries, Germany became known as the home of master brewers.
24/7 Tempo reviewed information from various media sources and breweries themselves to determine America’s oldest beers. The first recorded one brewed on American soil dates all the way back to 1587, and the first commercial brewery popped up in 1632. However, the oldest continuously operating brewery in America dates only from the 1800s. That brewery is still making the same beers that it did nearly 200 years ago.
Yuengling was founded by David G. Yuengling in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, in 1829 – more than a dozen years before the next-oldest widely available beer that is still sold today (Schaefer Lager). Originally called Eagle Brewery, the name was changed to D.G. Yuengling & Son in 1873. During Prohibition, Yuengling sold dairy products and near-beer to remain profitable. (Here’s the best beer in every state and D.C.)
The oldest beers in America originated in only a handful of states, with Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Missouri home to several of them. In some states, whether it is because of climate and culture, beer consumption is far higher than others. (Learn which states are drinking the most beer.)
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