Skip to comments.Latrobe Says Goodbye to Rolling Rock
Posted on 07/28/2006 5:24:03 PM PDT by FlJoePa
Latrobe says goodbye to Rolling Rock MICHAEL COWDEN Associated Press LATROBE, Pa. - A line of trucks idled outside the loading docks at Latrobe Brewing Co. on Friday morning. In a few hours, they would haul away some of the last cases of Rolling Rock beer brewed in Latrobe.
"It's over. It's done," said Larry Ewantis, who ran the receiving department for ingredients. "Now they're just cleaning up."
Known for its distinctive green bottle and quality pledge with a mysterious "33" at the end, Rolling Rock has been brewed here since 1939. But Belgium-based InBev SA, which owned Rolling Rock and Latrobe Brewing, sold the Rolling Rock brand to St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. for $82 million in May.
Anheuser-Busch plans to brew the beer in New Jersey beginning in August. The brewery in Latrobe was not included in the deal, and is expected to close Monday.
La Crosse, Wis.-based City Brewing Co. is negotiating to buy the brewery and produce others brands of beer here. Union workers at the brewery have voted to accept a contract with City Brewing.
Ewantis, 56, who has worked at Latrobe Brewing for almost 30 years, fears the brewery will be dismantled and sold for scrap if no deal is signed.
And if the brewery closes for good, the Latrobe native will lose a job and a family tradition. His late father, George, worked at Latrobe Brewing, and his brother Mike, 62, has worked there for 42 years.
"I went from a baby bottle to a beer bottle," said Ewantis, who could see the brewery from his bedroom window as a child. "Rolling Rock is all I've known all my life."
Nick Carota, 56, has also worked at Latrobe Brewing for about 30 years. His father worked there for 46 years.
Carota wrote "Among the Green Bottles," a bitter tune about the brewery's fate set to the melody of an old Kentucky mining song. It goes: "Oh Daddy, won't you take me back to Westmoreland County / Down by the Loyalhanna where the Rolling Rock lays. / Well I'm sorry my son but you're too late in asking / InBev and AB have hauled it away."
Rolling Rock simply is part of Latrobe, he said.
"Even people who didn't work here felt like someone was taking something away from them," Carota said.
Count among them Dave Banner.
Sporting a Rolling Rock T-shirt, the masonry worker was taking advantage of the 10 a.m.-to-noon happy hour at J.L.'s Bar to enjoy its dwindling supply of Rolling Rock.
"I'll drink it till they run out of Latrobe beer," Banner said, gazing philosophically at the bottle in his hand. "This might be the last one, you never know."
Like other disillusioned Rolling Rock buffs, Banner has pledged to boycott the brew once it is made in Newark, N.J.
Steve Lopatich Sr., 79, bought J.L.'s from his mother when he returned from the merchant marine after World War II. For most of the 40 years he owned the bar, Rolling Rock was the only beer on tap, he said.
"Rolling Rock was the biggest seller in here," Lopatich said. "I wouldn't even sell Budweiser. They (Budweiser sales representatives) come down here, I wouldn't even let them in."
But times have changed. Steve Lopatich Jr., 48, runs the bar now. And Budweiser is on tap - in fact it's the only beer on tap.
Until recently, Rolling Rock was on tap too, but the last keg recently kicked, and only Rolling Rock bottles and cans are available, he said. Lopatich has already taken off the Rolling Rock tap handle, several signs and other paraphernalia. They may be collector's items one day, he reasons.
He said he won't sell the New Jersey-brewed version.
He worries about the fate of a Latrobe without Rolling Rock and the money and jobs that came with it.
"We've already seen the steel mills come and go," he said. "It's going to be a downfall. The price of gasoline is killing us already. This is just another poker in the fire."
I don't know if I'll drink the new Rolling Rock or not. I guess I'll give it a shot, but I know that it will never be the same.
I don't blame AB, I blame InBev. THEY are the ones that offered up the recipe/label without the brewery. AB just made a steal of a business deal. I can't blame them, but chances are I won't drink their version.
Damn. This is the end of an era.
I enjoyed a Rolling Rock today on the golf course. It's a crying shame this kind of stuff happens. :-(
I did the same with Picante Sauce when Campbell Soup bought Pace Picante sauce and moved the production out of San Antonio. I haven't bought a bottle since.
I went from a baby bottle to a beer bottle," said Ewantis, who could see the brewery from his bedroom window as a child. "Rolling Rock is all I've known all my life."
That quote is more tragic than a brewry closing....
There is a world out there beyond your own neighborhood, explore it.
"Carota wrote "Among the Green Bottles," a bitter tune about the brewery's fate set to the melody of an old Kentucky mining song. It goes: "Oh Daddy, won't you take me back to Westmoreland County / Down by the Loyalhanna where the Rolling Rock lays. / Well I'm sorry my son but you're too late in asking / InBev and AB have hauled it away."
I'm not sure it's an "old" coal mining song. I think it's an anti-coal mining song by John Prine, and not all that old:
And daddy won't you take me back to Mulenberg county
Down by the Green River, where Paradise lay
Well I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in askin'
Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away
Unless Mr. Prine got it from somewhere else.
For most of my life, I lived about 10 miles from Latrobe. Arnold Palmer and Rolling Rock beer. It's what made Latrobe famous. If it ain't brewed in Latrobe, it ain't Rolling Rock, and I'm not drinking it. Oops, I forgot. Mr. Rogers was born in Latrobe, although I don't know if he drank Rolling Rock.
This indeed sad news.
I remember from 1975, as though it were yesterday, the cold Rolling Rock six pack ordered to go from a suburban Clevland bar at closing time -- and consumed under the stars in the warm wee hours of a Northern Ohio summer night.
I know how you feel. The Seattle area had 2 regional breweries (Rainier and Olympia) that have been closed for several years now. Olympia Beer is now brewed by Pabst Brewing Company in San Antonio Texas and marketed in WA state but I don't drink it. Unfortunately, the beer market is either very large--ie Budweiser and Pabst, or very small micro breweries
I used to drink Rolling Rock now and then . I remember finding a dead bee in a bottle once . I wrote the company and about a week later a free case was delivered to my door by the area salesman .
Man you got that right. You'd think they were limosuine libs (Cue the cigarette holder, spectacles, and English accent).
" and consumed under the stars in the warm wee hours of a Northern Ohio summer night. "
Poetic ! Nice .
I'll add Rolling Rock to all the Pittsburgh beers that I grew up with but are now gone. Sigh.
My grandfather who lived in East Ohio right on the PA border drank only Rolling Rock. And it's been my beer ever since. Not even being stationed in Germany could change that.
You're totally right about the beer snobs. I'm a wage earner just like my Grandpa. I work in the hot sun instead of the mines. And knocking back an ice cold RR is the perfect end of the day. Unless my lovely wife is beckoning, of course.
Time to stock up on those painted green bottles. They recall hot summer nights when you stuck your face into the refrigerator freezer just to cool off for an instant.
El Presidente is pretty good too. I pick up a couple 12 packs every time I'm in S. Florida.
Anything Bud is cold soapy water...so nasty.
Probably so. And remember what Miller did to Lowenbrau.
I'm surprised we haven't seen you on the Diana Irey/Jack Murtha threads. Aren't you in the 12th district?
As of today I had to inform my favorite barmaids ( who knew to "pop a rock "when I sat down at the bar ) that I would prefer Yuengling . (and I am also a diehard Stiller fan )
John Prine wrote it. It was on his first album, which was release in 1971, so I guess by some standards that makes it an "old" song.
There's a John Prine Avenue in Muhlenberg County, of course.