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.
Never had a bottle of Rolling Rock that wasn't "skunk beer". Nasty stuff.
And why wasn't you drinking P.O.C.? ;-P
"Bud is cold soapy water, so nasty."
Yeah. I came home on leave from Germany in 1983. Passed a billboard celebrating "Bustin' Bud Suds!" Yuk...
Geez... Anyway, our command sergeant major who had spent fifteen years in Germany was retiring and somebody asked him how he could ever get re-accustomed to American beer, and he replied that he would start out by taking German beer and gradually adding to it... Clorox!
Olympia Beer is now brewed by Pabst Brewing Company in San Antonio Texas"
Pabst has no physical plants. Virtually all their labels, including Oly, are brewed by Miller under contract. The Pabst HQ will soon be moving to Woodridge, IL since the Midwest is their biggest market.
Saw your post and it reminded me of the town I grew up in, Azusa, CA. There was a Lucky Lager brewery there from the time I can remember. They sold out to Miller Brewing in later years.
Just Googled to see if there was any info and a Wikipedia piece has the history of Lucky Lager. It says they also opened a brewery in Vancouver, WA in 1950. I had no idea and I now live in Vancouver, quite a coincidence.
I never did drink much Lucky Lager, it was lousy beer.
For the last 4 years, I've been living in the 5th district in the Northwest of Pa. I have been following the Murtha/Irey race with great interest though.
This is not a thread about your favorite "local beer" or your favorite "micro beer" - it is a thread about Rolling Rock.
I hear you WA (Olympia) and others - I know it has happened to you too. But don't hijack this thread into yet another "my pricey micro-brew is better than yours" thread.
If you have a comment about Rolling Rock (good or bad), post it. If not, please do the right thing and just refrain.
So apropo talking about cold beer and warm wee, together.
Isn't it also a thread about bashing "beer snobs"?
I'm from Latrobe and I am serving in Iraq. I will really miss Rolling Rock. I grew up with it. What a shame to see it go. My wife bought me a case to drink when I get home. I loved growing up in LATROBE. I used to run the Rolling Rock 5 mile run every year. We always took rolling rock to Jimmy Buffet concerts. What a shame!!
You hit it right on the head. I remember that feeling. I love RR and I also love Point Special, brewed in Stevens Point Wisconsin. Gives me the same feeling.
Dang. Rolling Rock was a staple of my college days.
"Rolling Rock From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you."
No more greenies. I use to love those little small green bottles.
I'm a little annoyed at them for continuing to print the 33-word pledge. Even with a disclaimer ("we quote from..."), it's still trying to pretend that a beer's taste doesn't depend on where the ingredients come from.
Newark, NJ?!? I wouldn't drink the water in Newark if it came out of a sealed case of imported spring water. Just the atmosphere in Newark is enough to gag a maggot... Nah, the ol' beer is no more. Damn...
It goes very well with spicy foods like hot wings and mexican.
I'm not even a Western PA guy (North Central), but my times at Penn State cemented...should I say CEMENTED my love for Rolling Rock.
God Bless Ya Latrobe, and Thank You for all you have contributed to this world (more than NYC). Arnold (The King), Mr. Rogers, and Rolling Rock is quite a resume.
So Pace is now made in...Noo Yawk City! Get a rope!
Rolling Rock was my favorite beer back in my school/early post-school period. Cheap and went down easy, so easy I wondered how much alcohol was really in there....
Arnold will always be the King. He has always epitomized the absolute best that sports and competition has ever offered us.
Back in the early 80's some non-descript tour pro was asked what he thought of Arnold Palmer and what he meant to the PGA Tour. His reply was something like "I would take my shirt off and shine his shoes with it."
I'm still spinning out my last few...
> I'm not even a Western PA guy (North Central), but my times at Penn State cemented...should I say CEMENTED my love for Rolling Rock.
I spent my late teens and early 20s in south NJ outside Philly, and the green glass of a pony is forever associated with those good times...
> God Bless Ya Latrobe, and Thank You for all you have contributed to this world (more than NYC). Arnold (The King), Mr. Rogers, and Rolling Rock is quite a resume.
Yep. It's a shame to see it pass, but a joy to have enjoyed it while it was here. Thanks for your thoughtful post on this -- most folks don't necessarily "connect" with a legendary beer, but I'm one like you who does.
I remember an old friend from PSU who got her dream job by simply holding a Rolling Rock in her hand at some networking event.
A CEO (Obviously a PSU Grad) came up to her and asked her if she had ever been to the Skeller. 20 Minutes later she had a job.
Rolling Rock is my favorite beer. Not many bars serve it anymore. Its delicious!
It's not my favorite PA brew. I always preferred Yuengling over Rock. But still, Rock is far better than the average mass-produced swag beer. It's a shame that a good brand is probably about to get ruined.
I also was in college when "Rolling Rock in the ponies" was an important part of the culture. Dang.
Fear not, the beer starts warming up the minute you take it out of the fridge or once it's out of the keg. On a warmish day, most of the glass or bottle will be at around 45 (average) by the end of the first one, assuming you're not chugging it. If you start out at 36 or 38 degrees, it'll be nearer 50. That's just too warm.
You're right that beers taste more different at higher temps, but it's good to start cold. One exception: stout. Other than that, I say the colder the better.