Yuengling, Molson Coors form joint-venture to expand geographic footprint of Yuengling’s beers

By Peter Frost, 15 September, 2020

Molson Coors Beverage Company and D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. have formed a joint-venture to oversee and execute the westward expansion of Yuengling beer into states beyond its existing 22-state footprint and New England, the two companies said today. 

The partnership will bring beers from America’s Oldest Brewery to millions more drinkers in 25 states outside its mostly East Coast distribution territory. Brands like Yuengling Traditional Lager, Black & Tan and Flight are expected to reach into new markets in the second half of 2021.

“Yuengling’s iconic beers are beloved by those who live in a state fortunate enough to have their brands and desired by those who are visiting. And just as was the case with a certain brand out of Golden, Colo., more than a few people have smuggled Yuengling across state lines in the trunk of their car. But soon, millions of fans won’t have to resort to such tactics,” said Gavin Hattersley, president and chief executive officer at Molson Coors.

“Our new partnership is a huge growth opportunity for Yuengling. It’s a huge growth opportunity for Molson Coors. And at the end of the day, we’re going to make a whole lot of Yuengling fans out west really happy,” he said.

The new entity will be governed by a six-member board of directors evenly split between Yuengling and Molson Coors family members and executives, with Yuengling holding the chairmanship. A leader for the new enterprise has not yet been named. Yuengling will retain the rights to its brands and trademarks and remain a family-owned business. Its existing 191-year-old company will operate separately from its joint-venture with Molson Coors.

Under terms of the deal, Yuengling beers will be brewed and packaged in select Molson Coors’ breweries under Yuengling brewers’ supervision, and distributed into new markets — largely in the western half of the United States.

The pace of expansion is expected to be measured and methodical, following the disciplined and steady approach the company has followed for more than 190 years, said Wendy Yuengling, a sixth-generation family member and chief administrative officer of Pottsville, Pa.-based D.G. Yuengling & Son.

“We are excited to launch this partnership with the team at Molson Coors. Like Yuengling, Molson Coors has an established commitment to quality and rich history of family brewing excellence,” Wendy Yuengling said. “This partnership is a great opportunity for us to grow our distribution footprint for the long-term, while continuing to support our existing markets and the communities in which we operate.”

The additional capacity offered by Molson Coors breweries will allow for Yuengling to expand into additional states while continuing to operate its breweries in Pottsville, Pa., Mill Creek, Pa., and Tampa. The joint venture does not change Yuengling’s existing operations, breweries, family of employees, or distributor partnerships within its 22-state footprint.

“Fans can expect the same Yuengling recipes and great taste they have come to love for more than 190 years,” said Jennifer Yuengling, sixth-generation family member and vice president of operations of D.G. Yuengling & Son. “But remember, it took our company 190 years to open 22 states along the East Coast. This new venture will follow the same steady pace and discipline that has brought our family brewery success for all these years, opening one market at a time.”

For Molson Coors, the deal is the latest in a string of moves aimed to solidify and fortify its core of American lagers. Since embarking on a sweeping restructuring and revitalization plan late last year, the company has made several noteworthy moves, including taking a significant minority stake in non-alcohol beverage incubator and developer L.A. Libations; launching a slate of new products, including the top new beer innovation in 2020 and one of the fastest-growing hard seltzers in the U.S.; and a line of cannabis beverages in Canada via a joint-venture called Truss; and new campaigns behind its biggest brands, Miller Lite and Coors Light.

Yuengling is the oldest operating brewing company in the United States. Established in rural Pennsylvania in 1829 by German immigrant David Yuengling, the company has grown to become America’s largest craft brewer, according to the Brewers Association definition.

Much of its growth has taken place under the watch of Dick Yuengling, who took over as president in 1985. Two years later, the brewery reintroduced an amber lager, Yuengling Traditional Lager, that has grown to become Yuengling’s flagship beer and accounts for the majority of the company’s sales.

To help meet growing demand for its beers along the East Coast and beyond, Yuengling would go on to add a brewery in Tampa in 1999 and a second production brewery in Mill Creek, Pa., which is near its home in Pottsville. It now ships more than 2.5 million barrels of beer annually.

The company’s new partnership with Molson Coors will allow it to continue marching west with distribution, and both companies are betting that pent-up demand beyond Yuengling’s existing footprint will be just as fruitful.

“There are millions of fans who regularly ask when they’ll be able to enjoy Yuengling’s great beers without having to hop on an airplane or smuggle them across state lines,” said Wendy Yuengling. “Launching this partnership will allow us to bring our portfolio of iconic American beer to even more consumers and markets.”