We took four pints of the new Yuengling’s Ice Cream—Chocolate Marhsmallow, Black & Tan, Vanilla Fudge Chunk with Pretzels, and Root Beer Float–to a dive bar in NYC’s East Village. It was 2 pm on a Monday and the place was crowded with young app addicts, bloggers, musicians and sundry other Starbucks abstainers. Yuengling Lager is the Monday special at the bar, going for $2 a pint. Some sipped their lagers broodingly, others frenetically between stabs at Flappy Bird. A long-bearded heartbroken 23-year-old played Tom Petty songs on the Internet jukebox. “Give it a rest,” said another patron as “American Girl” played for the second time, “you’re taking the juke out of the box.” Three young men raised their glasses to the woman for saying that. She was extraordinarily thin and her smile took over her face. You half-expected her teeth to be tattooed also, to match the rest of her, but instead they gleamed like icebergs in Alaskan cruise commercials. It was when she smiled that we broke out the new Yuengling’s Ice Cream. You can take the kid out of his childhood, it turns out, and put him in a seedy bar on a weekday afternoon, but you can’t take away the fact that he wants a treat. Everybody, except for the poet in the back, lined up for scoops of Yuengling’s.
Snippets from what our phone recorded: “Holy crap, Yuengling really is the special today.” “How much, dude?” Free. “Load me up then.” “Yuengling has always been my favorite small brew, man. It’s like micro but big and nationwide, you know? Plus I’m from Pennsylvania.” “This is gonna be IT for me–Yuengling’s Ice Cream is totally Olympian.” A nod to the TV, Sochi downhill. ” “It’s not like ice cream for kids, it’s named for beer, it’s got beer bones–it’s more for me.” “Is the Black & Tan alcoholic?” “I’m gonna combine ’em!” Plop, a scoop of Chocolate Marshmallow into a half-finished imperial pint of lager. “Yeah, lemme get a Black & Tan for my Black & Tan!” The bartender drew another. The sleepy afternoon was transformed by sugar and a familiar brand name. One patron, sitting in front of the tap, held up an empty carton comparing the elaborate Yuengling’s signatures on both products. “Yup, it’s authentic. The real thing.” Will you buy this when you get home? A few patrons looked at us strangely at the mention of home. The thin woman who knew from juke said absolutely and smiled again. She looked as though she could eat ten pints and be healthier for it. “Hey, you know what’s funny,” said the Tom Petty player, “no matter what kind of Yuengling you get, it comes in a pint!” Did you know that Yuengling’s Ice Cream got started back during Prohibition, to help support the family when they couldn’t brew beer? “That’s awesome–a total pivot.” “Cool, smart.” “Glad it’s back, man.” “What’s prohibition?” The Yuengling family will be pleased.