BRILLIANT - Less than a year after being introduced to Ohio's beer drinking circles, the Yuengling brand is flexing serious muscle.
The Pottsville, Pa., brewery has already snagged about 8 percent of the beer market in the Buckeye State. With roughly 105 million cases of beer sold every year in the Buckeye State, that 8 percent market share is nothing to sneeze at.
"The Yuengling brand's introduction in the state of Ohio has been the most successful beverage introduced into the state, and that crosses all beverage categories, soft drinks, everything," said Nick Latousakis, president of Choice Brands of Ohio, regional distributor for Yuengling. "It's done really well."
READY FOR DELIVERY — Choice Brands of Ohio’s Ryan Williams loads Yuengling into his delivery truck. Since its introduction into Ohio, Yuengling has scored about an 8 percent market share, making it, Choice Brands of Ohio President Nick Latousakis said, the “most successful beverage introduction” in the Buckeye State.
-- Linda Harris
Yuengling, founded in 1829, has been in continuous operation for 180 years, though, admittedly, the Prohibition years were lean ones for the family-owned and operated brewery.
Latousakis figures the "Yuengling mystique, the test profile" the brand represents, has a lot to do with that.
"Some people consider it a 'craft beer,' like Sam Adams," he said. "Others consider it a premium, mainstream beer. We're fortunate enough to be profiled in both categories."
The premium lite beer segment is the largest in the beer industry; craft beers, however, are the fastest growing segment.
Though opinions may vary, a craft beer is less about who is making it than about how they make it - the brewer's commitment to quality, its character and taste. How all that tracks with beer drinkers tends to be very subjective.
Either way, Yuengling - and through it, Choice Brands - wins.
"I thought we'd be where we're currently at in market share in our second year, after our second anniversary," Latousakis said. 'But we attained it in one year - less than one year."
Latousakis said other areas of the state saw sales spike, then dip slightly after the trial run ended. "But in our region (Jefferson, Harrison, Carroll and Columbiana counties), everybody was familiar with Yuengling ... they could get it in Pennsylvania or West Virginia, so we really didn't have a large introductory spike."
The phase-in has been gradual, starting with Yuengling Lager, Yuengling Lite and Yuengling's Black & Tan lines. Over the last two months they've added Yuengling Dark-Brewed Porter, Yuengling Lord Chesterfield Ale and Yuengling Bock Beer.
"In the fall we'll be introducing Yuengling's Oktoberfest, Premium and Premium Lite," Latousakis said, pointing out that Yuengling fans don't really need an introduction.
"We're very fortunate to have been given regional distribution rights to the Yuengling brand," he said. "It took a lot of work by a lot of people to acquire the brands, but the Yuengling brewery did its homework, did its market research in Ohio."
And he said there's lots of room for growth: Choice Brands also carries the Anheuser-Busch brands, which own an 80 percent market share.
"We have one of the largest market shares in the country for Anheuser-Busch, an 80 percent share, plus we have about an 8 percent market share with Yuengling," he said. "That doesn't leave a lot of room for growth, but there's room. We just have to struggle to (attain) it."
Latousakis said what he's seen happen so far with the Yuengling brand has been all good.
"Ohio has been the most successful new state launch in the history of the Yuengling brewing company," he said.
(Harris can be contacted at email@example.com.)