"I've got a tear in my beer..."

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .


 A man driving a delivery truck stopped at the Quick Stop convenience store across the street from the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. yesterday.

He declined to comment on the record about the brewery leaving for Latrobe, but he offered this, as an Iron City drinker for 22 years: "I'll be drinkin' Yuenglings. It's a good beer that just got better."

His beef was with the public way many workers found out that the brewery will be closing, he said. But others are bitter about being forsaken.

You never get used to rejection. Every one feels like the first kick in the teeth. Pittsburgh's had its share of being left, but Iron City is iconic. It was first brewed when Abraham Lincoln was president. We were iron before we were steel. "Iron" is a symbol of immutability. What's an iron-clad rule if not one that can't be changed? A tyrant runs his country with an iron fist.

It matters not to the average guy that corporate headquarters will remain. It would be great for the 51 workers to be retained to work at the former-Rolling Rock brewery, but a pull-out is a pull-out. To the brewery, it's a business decision, but to most of us, it hurts to hear good-bye.

Tim Hickman, PBC's president, said the factory on Liberty Avenue in Lawrenceville is antequated and would have to be completely retrofitted to run a modern can line. He said Iron City is a regional brand and that Latrobe is just "down the street."

Regional it is. I remember as a kid in north-central West Virginia watching the Iron City commercials that came on between televised innings of Pirates games. One catchy jingle, which, if memory serves, was paired with an ad showing an attractive group of friends running around with a football and laughing, went like this:

 "Drink, drink the beer drinker's beer,

"Iron City Beer, the beer drinker's beer,

"Beer after beer after beer after beer,

"Beer after beer after Iron City Beer."

Whether or not you like Iron City, it's an iconic brand, as Pittsburgh as the Pirates, Primanti's sandwiches, Myron Cope and a polka band.

In fact, in the vestibule of the PBC offices, a room of carved-wood on the stairs, walls and ceiling, a mural shows all those icons and more: Andy Warhol, August Wilson, two of Pittsburgh's bridges, a steel mill, a Ferris wheel, Arnold Palmer (the Latrobe connection) swinging a golf club, Roberto Clemente swinging a bat, a riverboat, a trolley, Sophie Masloff, fireworks above the skyline and Bill Mazeroski rounding third and some guy handing him a can of Iron City. Andrew Carnegie is sitting with a can of Iron City resting on his knee.

And a sign on the mural reads "We Built this City - Iron City Beer."

Jim Nied has owned Nied's Hotel, a tavern on Butler Street, for 32 years and is the third generation owner.

"I've got a tear in my beer over these guys leaving," he said. (The company has six or seven days of production left after cleaning out the bottle shop, which flooded after last week's rain.) "I can remember my dad getting a plaque in 1983 for serving Iron City for 50 years.

"They supported our neighborhood pretty good, donating to many events, including staff and beer.

"I think it will be a detriment to our city's identity not to have it here. What do you think they sell at Steeler Nation bars in different cities? Iron City.

"We were strictly an Iron City bar in regards to signage," he said. Asked if that will change, he said, "Yes. I was turning down offers and promotions from Coors and other brands. Iron City will still be a prominent brand here, but I thought it was time for me to think of my own horizons a little bit."



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