Friday, June 12, 2009

Iron City: Now with less iron!

So, Paddy sent me an article this morning: Iron City soon will be brewed in Latrobe. The headline pretty much says it all right there. But if you're not from Western Pennsylvania, you might still be confused even after reading the article, so I'll go into some more detail.

The "idled Latrobe brewery" is the Latrobe Brewing facility located in Latrobe, PA. They used to be the sole producer of Rolling Rock until Anheuser-Busch purchased the brand in 2006, and "moved" the brewing to their own facilities (read: started filling green bottles with Bud Light). I still have a 6-pack of ponies tucked away that were brewed in the Latrobe facility. I'm sure they're terrible by now, but I'll pretend they're great when I drink them some day.

But I digress. When Busch purchased Rolling Rock, Latrobe was hit hard. It was a huge source of jobs for the small town. Not much later, the plant opened back up to do contract brewing. "Contract brewing" you ask? Ah, well... that could be another article in itself. Big beer companies will sometimes play local breweries to make their beer instead of shipping from their main plant to that region. Do you enjoy that great Boston water they make Sam Adams from? No you don't. They fucking make it in Pittsburgh. Well... to be fair, its now made in many places, but originally all Sam Adams beer was brewed with the mighty waters of the Allegheny River.

So Latrobe Brewing has been doing that sort of thing for a few years, but Pittsburgh Brewing (or whatever they're calling themselves this month to dodge water bills) lost their contract with Sam Adams, and have been on the skids for awhile (see the article I linked to up above). And now Iron is moving to Latrobe. Which is great for Latrobe, don't get me wrong. I harbor no malice towards Latrobe. But Iron City is a Pittsburgh thing. And I don't mean it's a "Pittsburgh Tradition" or something like that, no; I mean it's named after the fucking city!

And not only do I not harbor any malice towards Latrobe, I actually liked old Rolling Rock better than Iron City! On a personal note, I'm kind of hoping Iron might start tasting more like old Rolling Rock once it's brewed in the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe. But that's not the point. And neither is this:

"We're moving 40 miles down the road. We don't see that the sales will be impacted."
So, what do you mean by that, Mr. Hickman? Do you mean that your trucks won't use too much more gas for shipping? Or that the locals will speak the same language? People aren't pissed at you because they think sales of Iron City will drop because of your finincial shennanigans, they're pissed at you because you're firing all your workers during a peak in unemployment and selling off the old brewery during a trough in real estate value. Because you're betraying the name of the brand you're in charge of. Because you lied to the city and the union. Becuase you're skipping town owing a metric fuckton of money to damn near everyone in the city! I also heard you molest small dogs.

And I know Latrobe needs this. I know it will be good for them. But Pittsburgh isn't exactly a shining bastion of economic might, built from gold bricks and quail eggs. And the specific area Pittsburgh Brewing is moving out of has been trying to turn themselves around for about a decade, and they're starting to succeed! What you're doing is kind of like throwing bricks through your neighbor's brand new windows. And all the while you were "looking for new canning equipment." What were you really doing all that time?

But let's be frank, this decision was motivated by the financial success of the company. You don't owe any debt to Pittsburgh... well, actually, you do. A pretty big one. Like, two or three dump trucks crammed full of money. But you don't owe any sort of emotional debt to the city. You have no obligation to do the "right thing" here, assuming you have no sense of morality, justice, or conscience. If moving to a different brewery will make you more money, then perhaps that's the thing to do. And who cares if Pittsburghers won't drink Iron City anymore? You have your huge national and international market share to rely on. Right? And there's always the amazing taste of your product, that's probably won some medals or something. Right? It's not like Pittsburghers only drank it out of a sense of loyalty to your brand. Right? If everyone in the Pittsburgh area stopped drinking Iron City tomorrow, you'd totally still be swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck. Right?

It's an uber-dick move, buddy. You pulled a bait-and-switch. You strung everyone along, promising that you wouldn't pull the obvious cocksucker move everyone was expecting. You prentended to be a decent person, then... SURPRISE! Silly us, we should have known better than to think you were anything less than a complete, self-serving bastard.

Hope Latrobe doesn't make the same mistake...


  1. I agree. But if they were gonna move outta the Burgh, I'll take Latrobe over New Jersey any day.

    Latrobe is close enough that you can still call it Western Pa and part of the Greater Pittsburgh Region. I don't think I would be as upset, if economic times weren't what they are right now.

    At least it didn't move to Stubenville, OH. I'd hate to give them another excuse to try to call themselves the "Burb of the Burgh"

  2. I haven't had a drop of Rolling Rock since they were bought by Anheuser Bush, but will continue to drink Iron City... They are still an independent, even though TECHNICALLY they won't be brewing within the city limits... If they HAD to move out of the city, I can't think of a better place than old Latrobe...

    Some great t-shirts featuring the IRON CITY BEER logo, with a large inscription stating IRON CITY FOOTBALL; REAL TEAM, REAL FANS, REAL FOOTBALL. Got me a nice hoodie..


    and another one, aptly titled THE DRINKIN' TOWN WITH A FOOTBALL PROBLEM


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