Tampa Tribune, Fla., 06/15/1999
By Jerome R. Stockfisch, Tampa Tribune, Fla.
Jun. 15--Otto Wiesneth slides open the stainless-steel hatch atop a
16,000-gallon mash tub, releasing a pungent cloud from the bubbling
"That's why I come to work every day," the longtime plant manager says, breathing deep. "I've missed that for a couple months."
The aroma of malt is once again permeating the brewery at 11111 N. 30th St., which is stirring to life under the name Yuengling.
Dick Yuengling, the fifth-generation brewer who can't keep up with demand for his family's beer in its Northeast markets, sees more
potential in the 40-year-old brewery than did Stroh, the previous owner that shut it down in January. Or Pabst, the owner before that. Or
Schlitz, the original owner.
"This is a good plant," said Yuengling. "It'll be fine. This thing is going to be humming in a couple of years."
Yuengling visited the Tampa plant Monday. Casually dressed in khakis and a brewery polo shirt, working a stick of gum, Yuengling ushered in a new way of doing business at the once-stodgy, corporate brewery.
Tampa employees who introduce themselves learn quickly to drop the formalities; "It's `Dick,' not `Mister,'" Yuengling tells them.
Executives' business cards display the brewery's corporate address the way they might provide directions back home: "Fifth & Mahantongo
Streets, Pottsville, PA."
Yuengling had speculated that Stroh might have to shut down plants when it lost a huge contract to brew Pabst beer last fall.
His initial plant tour was a side trip from this spring's Philadelphia Phillies fantasy camp in Clearwater, where Yuengling wrangled a day off
from the likes of Richie Hebner and John Kruk.
He liked what he saw. Yuengling quickly lured Wiesneth, the plant manager under Stroh, out of retirement. "The first time I met him, we
jelled just like that," says Wiesneth, snapping his fingers.
Now, about 25 workers are cooking up the first kettles of D.G. Yuengling & Son beer in Tampa. The new batches will spend about a month
fermenting and finishing before the plant's packaging lines clatter into action.
Early production is destined for the brewer's key Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware markets, where the brewer hasn't met
demand for eight years.
"I've got to supply them with beer -- like, soon," Yuengling says.
But Yuengling has a Tampa distributor in place, and the brand will start appearing on Tampa store shelves "whenever the wholesaler is ready to
go," he says. "Hell, we're here to sell beer."
Though employment is a fraction of the 200 on hand when the brewery was operating at capacity, the mood is upbeat. And Yuengling is confident he can be a force from Maine to Florida.
"The consumer will ultimately decide that," he says, pointing to one of his ornate bottles, "based on what's in there."
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