Friday, June 12, 2009

Brouhaha about Iron City Brewing

The Best City in the World, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, is losing its hometown brewery.  

No longer will the Best Beer in the World, Iron City, be produced on the shores of the Allegheny, as its canning and bottling lines move to the shores of the Loyalhanna Creek in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  The former brewer of Rolling Rock beer will now house the production of Iron City.  

And according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, people are pissed!

The most interesting of the pissed that Mr. Boselovic interviews is one, Chris Hoel who is, I qoute:
"a Pittsburgh attorney who specializes in the beverage industry"
That's Awesome!  I know a few lawyers in town, and none of them have specialized to such a degree, that I know of at least.  Maybe my wife should specialize in the Pittsburgh "Fries on a Salad" industry, or the Pittsburgh Pierogi industry.  Now I bet those would be lucrative.  Anyway this guy is hilarious.  He says calls Iron City...

"one of the most glorious breweries in the United States"
(Why not most glorious brewery in the World I wonder?)

And as someone who loves Iron City beer, probably more than anyone else in the Mt. Washington Brain Trust & Pipe Club, I still think this is a bit of an exaggeration, of which I've noticed a trend of in PGH lately.  (See Wednesday's post)  

Iron City: delicious, undoubtedly.  Iron City: provides skull splitting hangovers the next day, no question.  Iron City: most glorious brewery in the U.S.,  um... really?

Of course the Union Workers of the Lawrenceville plant are unhappy.  These same workers who took 15% pay raises when ownership changed hands just 3 years ago are now losing their jobs entirely.  They have a right to be pissed.

However, the formerly pissed off employees of Latrobe Brewing have got to be pretty happy right now.  These union workers who so unceremoniously had their jobs swiped away by Anheuser-Busch, so that the same piss-water ale could be produced in New Jersey, may now have jobs again.  And look how that worked out for the producers of Budweiser.  Rolling Rock has always been a terrible beer, but many of us drank it just for the hometown loyalty.  When they moved, we all stopped buying it.

The question is:  Will Iron City feel the same backlash from moving its operation outside of the city limits, that Rolling Rock experienced?

It may.  But it will be much less of a knee-jerk boycott than the Rolling Rock debacle.  Latrobe after all is only about an hour away from the city, and even gets the annual visit of the Pittsburgh Steelers and rapid fans each August for NFL summer training camp.  Latrobe is no stranger to this town.  In fact it mirrors Pittsburgh in many ways, though on a much smaller scale.  It is/was a primary manufacturing center, still home to Kennametal and a variety of other steel and metal working factories, of which I am too lazy to recall or look up.  And it actually has a truly state-of-the-art brewing facility.  

In fact, that's my concern.  Iron City was not made in "the most glorious brewery" in the world.  It was made in a sucky old plant with sickly Pittsburgh water.  And it was GREAT!   What's going to happen when you try to brew the same product using the pristine waters of the Loyalhanna in a high-tech modern facility?  I guess we'll see.  

I'm going to give the Latrobe Iron City a chance.  Dammit, I'm running out of home-town beers to drink during the game.

"Never scald your tongue on another man's soup."

by Lord Johnson

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