Taking FLIGHT with Debbie Yuengling

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Case of Flight by Yuengling

FLIGHT by Yuengling is the latest brand from America’s Oldest Brewery — D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. — conversationally known simply as Yuengling.

I was lucky enough to interview patriarch, Dick, (twice, actually) for the Mid-Atlantic Emmy-nominated documentary Poured in Pennsylvania.

At the time, while all four of his daughters — the sixth generation — had returned to the company in some capacity, he remained the predominant face of the family business. This same business, which Dick purchased from his father, and ultimately saved when he created the beer that became so popular it’s simply ordered by style in most of Pennsylvania — “Lager.”

Today, however, the Yuengling sisters officially will be the next owners of D.G. Yuengling & Son and often take the spotlight to discuss new products.

Debbie Yuengling posing in brewery

Joining the family business

I recently chatted with Debbie Yuengling about her role at the family-owned company. We talked about how Yuengling stays relevant in an industry that looks markedly different from even 10 years ago.

As kids, the four girls often accompanied their dad to his evening shift at the brewery. However, it wasn’t until Debbie was in college that he asked his daughters how involved they wanted to be in the family business.

At the time, Yuengling was planning its expansion. (They now have two breweries in Pottsville, Pa. and a brewery in Tampa, FL). And Debbie was studying accounting.

“I knew with an accounting degree, I could take that back to the brewery,” Debbie said.

She started right out of college in the accounting department.

And though her role has evolved — pricing, sales — today, Debbie heads employee engagements and culture. This means engaging with and working closely with Yuengling’s sales force in 22 states.

“I collaborate with all 350 employees to make sure they feel a part of the company and help broaden the culture of the company,” Debbie said.

She also ensures employees understand who Yuengling is as a family company. That includes teaching how they can persevere through hard times, including today’s current health crisis.

Debbie also works closely on community-related events and opportunities for Yuengling to give back.

Yuengling sisters holding beer

All four sisters play well with each other’s strengths and weaknesses, working varying roles and capacities to keep the brewery churning.

“With the four of us getting together, we’re able to collaboration in our knowledge in what we deal with on a day-to-day basis and then discuss things that way,” Debbie said.

The oldest beverage in the world

Consider today’s pandemic, and the struggles that breweries and businesses of all sizes are enduring, what could this mean for America’s oldest brewery?

“We’re comfortable that we have made it through Prohibition. We have made it through World Wars. We have made it through the Great Depression,” Debbie said. “Some things might be different but everybody still comes back to wanting to have a beer. There’s always innovation and creativity.”

She references FLIGHT by Yuengling, the newest brand from the brewery — a low carb, low-calorie light beer.

“I think staying in touch with the consumers and listening to what they want is keeping us going.”

Yuengling has its core offerings: Lager, Black & Tan, Light Lager, Golden Pilsner (the latter its first new brand in 30 years). Debbie said as they listen to consumers, they want a lighter, crisp beer.

Yuengling flight beer in Harrisburg, PA

FLIGHT by Yuengling

And that’s exactly what FLIGHT by Yuengling offers.

If you haven’t noticed, a bunch of breweries are focusing on light, low-cal beer. (In some format, we call these lawnmower beers — the refreshing, easy-drinking, pour-one-down after a hot summer afternoon outside.) Victory has one, Dogfish Head too, plus many other smaller breweries, including Free Will, ShuBrew, Wallenpaupack in Pennsylvania alone.

Creating a new brand is a lengthy process. FLIGHT took nearly a year to develop, Debbie said, from the branding to dialing in the beer recipe.

“We’re known for our really great beers,” Debbie said. “People drink them because they know the quality and the flavor, and that’s what we wanted to make sure came across with FLIGHT.”

I’d say they nailed it. I was lucky enough to reap quite the sample from the brewery, and it is as advertised. Crisp, light, refreshing. If you’re following me on IG, you know I’m in my garden a lot this summer, and this is the perfect beer to go alongside it.

Stats: Yuengling FLIGHT is 4.2% ABV, 95 calories, and 2.6 carbs.

Raise the Bar

The tagline for FLIGHT by Yuengling is “Raise the Bar.”

Debbie acknowledged that Yuengling doesn’t exactly follow the rest of the beer industry.

“Go above and beyond. Do something extra. Take that risk. I think that’s who we are as a company,” Debbie said. “We want to be creative and be innovative, while at the same time listening to our customers. Drinking tastes have changed, and we need to evolve and be changing as well.”

Pennsylvania: Home is where the beer is

One way Yuengling won’t be changing any time soon is away from Pennsylvania.

Though Yuengling is well known far beyond the Keystone State — it’s distributed in 22 states — they stay closely tied to their history here.

“Pennsylvania is our home,” Debbie said. “We built the brewery here in 1829, and it’s been neighbors, community, and employees that have helped us get here.”

During the pandemic, Yuengling partnered with Hospitality Assistance Response of Pennsylvania (HARP). They also are working with Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, Aaron Nola, who had a celebrity auction giving back to local restaurants, businesses, and communities.

Yuengling also took 6-packs of FLIGHT by Yuengling to front-line workers, donating beer to employees during shift changes.

“It was great to see their appreciation, but also to express to them how much they mean to us,” Debbie said. “It was a very special way for us to give back.”

Sisters as Yuengling Beers

Just for fun, I challenged Debbie to describe each of the Yuengling sisters’ personalities as a Yuengling beer.

At first, she said she wouldn’t go there, but she rattled them off quite quickly!

  • Debbie — Traditional Lager (“I’m classic with a bit of a sweet taste to appeal to everyone”)
  • Wendy – FLIGHT by Yuengling (“She raises the bar”)
  • Jen – Golden Pilsner (“refreshing, outdoorsy”)
  • Sheryl – Lord Chesterfield (“Has that hoppy spunky personality”)

Find FLIGHT by Yuengling

FLIGHT by Yuengling is widely available where Yuengling products are sold. Click here to find it near you.

Meanwhile, stay tuned to Yuengling’s social media for updates about upcoming releases and other news!

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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