PHOTOS AND STORY BY DARREN DONALDSON

These Bottles (and cans) won’t let you down!

Fifty-two years ago (June 30, 1969), Merle Haggard poured out one of his greatest hits, “The Workin’ Mans Blues”—a tribute to his core fans, the American, blue-collar working man.

“It’s a big job just gettin’ by with nine kids and a wife,
But I’ve been workin’ man, dang near all my life but I’ll keep workin’,
Long as my two hands are fit to use,
I’ll drink my beer in a tavern,
Sing a little bit of these working man blues.”

Well, this round up is dedicated to you, the hard-working, ass-kickin’, name-taken, ‘Merican-flag-wavin’, workin’ man. These six beers represent some of the most traditional breweries from around the country. Now, before some of y’all tar and feather me for not picking the go to Budweisers and Millers of the world, I wanted to expand y’all’s horizons just a bit further to some of America’s oldest breweries. From the coal mines of Pennsylvania to the gold mines of Colorado, these cold ones have been in the callused hands of some pretty dadgum hard workin’ sons of guns.

One final note: I think what I enjoyed most about this round up, beyond “sampling” my selections, was the spirit of the men who founded these American staples. The hard work, the desire to better their lives, the dedication to their craft. I don’t know about you, but that is the America I know and love. So, cheers to hard work and taking personal responsibility for your own success. God bless America!

Yuengling Lager

The story of Yuengling is the story of the American Spirit. It’s a tale of shared dreams, individual tenacity, and an unwavering dedication to standards of quality. Like many American stories, it started amid the dreams of countless young immigrants looking for opportunity and emerged from the strength and will of one family determined to build their legacy in a new country. The story of America’s Oldest Brewery began when David G. Yuengling arrived from Wuerttemberg Germany to settle in the sleepy, coal-mining town of Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Since 1829, Yuengling has been delivering iconic lager to the hands of Pennsylvanians, and now you can get the beer as far aqay as Texas.

Genesee Cream Ale

The Genesee Brewing Company, based in Rochester, New York, is one of the largest and oldest continually operating breweries in the United States. Established in 1857, the brewery makes the Genesee line of beers, including the iconic Genesee, the refreshing Genny Light, and The Original Cream Ale. Introduced in 1960, Genesee Cream Ale was met with great with fanfare. Over the next 20 years, the beer’s popularity exploded drumming up sales that exceeded one million barrels. “Genny Cream” won two gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and became America’s best-selling ale. Today, the Genesee Brewing Company continues brewing quality beers that people have loved for over a century and a half.

Straub Lager

At age 19 (in 1869), Peter Straub traveled to the United States and settled in Pennsylvania. He moved around the region working at two breweries; until 1872, when he moved one final time and settled in St. Marys, Pennsylvania. Today, his brewery has been designated as an American Legacy Brewery™, celebrating 146-plus years of fierce independence in brewing. Straub has produced quality American Lagers for more than five generations and represents the passion and dedication of a single family, who successfully managed, expanded, and often protected a way of life that the brewery represented. Today, a new generation of Straub’s descendants carry-on his brewing traditions, maintaining the quality and relevance of their products and carrying out his legacy.

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pabst Blue Ribbon is an American lager beer sold by Pabst Brewing Company, established in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1844. Gottlieb and Frederika Pabst and their 12-year-old son Frederick arrived in the United States in 1848 and settled in Chicago, where Frederick found work on the ships of Lake Michigan. In 1862, Frederick married Maria Best, daughter of the founder and owner of the Best Brewing Company and in 1863 became a brewer at his father-in-law’s brewery. When Philip Best retired to Germany in 1867, Pabst and Emil Schandein—his sister-in-law’s husband and the vice-president of Best Brewery—worked to transform the company into one of the nation’s largest brewers, capitalizing on the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that destroyed 19 Chicago breweries and helped position Milwaukee as the leading beer-producing city in the United States.

Lone Star

Lone Star Brewery, built in 1884, was the first large, mechanized brewery in Texas. Adolphus Busch, of Anheuser-Busch, founded it along with a group of San Antonio businessmen. The brand has endured and has refreshed generations of Texans. The beer “from the big country” is always abundant at backyard barbecues, rodeos, or in the front row at your favorite Texas country music show. In the 1970s, Lone Star’s sales exploded as the beer became adopted by the Cosmic Cowboys of country music. This era was spearheaded by Jerry Retzloff, former marketing and promotions manager for Lone Star Beer, and his close association with Willie Nelson, the Austin music scene, and their Giant Armadillo. As Texas evolves, Lone Star symbolizes all that Texans know and love about the Lone Star State.

Coors Banquet

In 1868, Adolph Coors, a German brewing apprentice, headed to America to live on his own terms by his own rules. Within five years, he founded the Golden Brewery where it still stands today. With conviction, Adolph Coors headed west and refused to rest until he found the perfect water for his beer. He found it flowing through the mining town of Golden, at the base of the Rocky Mountains. By the 1930s, Coors Banquet’s distribution was limited to just a handful of states in the western U.S. The brewery unveiled the Stubby Bottle in 1936, and after 17 dry years, the iconic bottle became a symbol of standing tall in the face of adversity. For decades, Coors Banquet was only available in 11 states, none of which were in the East. Despite its limited distribution, presidents, celebrities, and everyday folk alike wanted a taste of the West. In 1991, Coors Banquet finally showed up in all 50 states.