Apologies ahead of time as I am a bit late for posting this story due to the doing nothing nature of our long weekend. We both needed this rejuvenation to get back in order for work. Anyway, enjoy!
It is truly fascinating to discover what adventure is lurking just around the corner if you just open your eyes without having to open up your wallet.
When we stumbled upon the Yuengling brewery tours in Tampa, we knew what we had to do. All stars in the galaxy of my beer connoisseur of a husband’s eyes twinkled at once. Who needs the Milky Way when we have the Ale-y Way?
Let me back up a little bit though. I think my husband and I have created a blue print for ourselves within the past year. We decided that we want more out of this life since we only get one. We’re postponing major life events to make way for other minor life events for the ‘right now’ of life. Both of us want to travel the world and experience everything life has to offer as if we were babies–fresh and brand new. I want to put the world in my pocket by means of my camera and he wants to take it upon himself to taste all of the beer the world has to offer and dissect accordingly. This cheery tour goes hand in hand with that in a sense. You have to start somewhere, right?
Well, lucky for us we discovered a local brewery which in particular happens to be quite a big deal. This year of 2014 marks the 185th anniversary thus making Yuengling the oldest American Brewery. The tour was completely free and open to the public.
We were seated among picnic tables to receive the first portion of the tour. We were handed the lowdown of basics and the foundation of the organization. One very interesting fact I took from the speech was that Yuengling marketed and produced ice cream during the Prohibition with a dairy farm they acquired. Their main flavors were caramel and chocolate hence the recurring theme of black and tan they seem to enjoy. Another interesting fact we learned in the laboratory portion of the tour is that marijuana is so closely related to hops and that in some small breweries near Colorado, they will use marijuana distributors couldn’t sell in a batch of hops. The tour guide explained to us that you wouldn’t really be able to tell but it was interesting nonetheless. The third most interesting bit for me also was that cans come in two pieces. The top is placed on the rest of the can with a small utensil that spins it into place. I am a platform for absorption when it comes to small facts such as these.
We paraded through multiple stages of the tour and learned so much about the distribution, the production, the canning and bottling, and so much more about the process that goes into that brew you pop open on a Friday night after work. We viewed old machinery and new machinery then learned why certain changes were for the better in terms of production and quality goes. We also learned about the process that goes into the ingredients of a good amber brew. There are machines to grind oats and sugar to make a large grit-like substance that is then transferred to another machine like clockwork in order to heat up and kill enzymes. Who knew there was so much sugar? The equipment rooms that were outdated and no longer in commission smelled heavily of lingering beer. They used all of this equipment for many years but in 2013 they built a brand new beer house across the stairs with a more efficient ventilation. In our next step, we learned about the process that goes into softening the water and removing limestone to put into the sugary oatmeal-type substance. Apparently all of the quality is very similar in each brewery no matter the state because of multiple tests and standards just within the water procedures. After we climbed stairs here and there and made our way through a maze of machinery and walkways, we landed in the lab. We weren’t supposed to take photos of the lab but it was one of my favorite portions. It smelled odd and it was a bit updated but I think that’s why I liked it strangely. We passed around bottles of grains all of which contributed to different types of beer, whether it be dark lagers or light ales. All I know is they smelled heavenly and one even smelled like coffee.
On the website, we read that there are no sampling of the beer on Saturdays probably due to the massive volume of the tours. However, the very last stop of our tour was catered with brewski. Again, the stars in my husband’s eyes twinkled and I saw him smile bigger than I’ve ever seen him smile. It truly made me happy knowing that there are little things in life like this we fulfill together that contribute to his happiness just as any of our adventures would for me as well. We both tried different types although I’m not much of a beer drinker at all. I enjoyed the sampling and the beer wasn’t even distasteful. My silly husband expected that he would be getting my portion of the sample. They offer two decently sized cups of whichever of the five brews they have on tap you desire. I chose Oktoberfest and Porter because I enjoy seasonal beers and anything to do with pumpkin. (Pumpkin spice, holla!) My husband chose Porter and Black & Tan. Of course he enjoyed them. Our choices of Porter and Black&Tan were resulted of the fact that they aren’t sold in our region due to low demand.
Before we left, we stopped into the gift shop. Yet again the souvenir glass buying ritual struck again. My honey got a super awesome new beer glass to drink out of and to add to our collection. We had a lot of fun and I would recommend to anyone into this kind of thing.