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Beer We Go Steelers

Written by Dan Gigler on .

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Food writer extraordinaire Bob Batz reported Wednesday that Steelers legend and decorated Vietnam Veteran Rocky Bleier will partner with the Pennsylvania Brewing Company to produce 'Bleier's Brew' -- a beer that will benefit construction of WWII memorial on the North Shore.

The beer is a repackaging of Penn Gold, a Munich Helles Lager which has won multiple medals at the Great American Beer Festival and continues to enjoy very high national ratings.

This is the second microbrew named in homage to a Steelers great this year. In the spring, Atlanta's Sweetwater Brewery released something called "Mean Joe Bean," an Imperial Coffee Porter that's part of it's annual "Dank Tank" series.

iron_mean_joe_beanThe bottle includes cheeky references to the Steel Curtain defense and Mean Joe (i.e. "Have a Bean and a Smile") and the brewery's bizarre Dank Tank mascot dressed in Greene's jersey.

Beer and football are among my two favorite things on God's green earth, so it got me thinking -- the Steelers used to be on beer cans all the time.

From the 1970's through the 1990's Steelers images and logos routinely appeared on Iron City Beer cans, commemorating Super Bowl wins, Hall of Fame inductions and other milestones. The Penguins and Pirates have also been honored numerous times, and even Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia have been celebrated.

Some of the Steelers cans are featured in this outstandingly campy vintage TV ad from the 1980's:

Below is a collection of images of classic Iron City cans and can "flats" honoring the Steelers. This is not comprehensive. A local collectibles dealer, Chuck Thomas, has an extensive number of these for sale, and that's where many of these photos are lifted from.

First up -- 1975-81 -- starting with a really hard to find tribute to the Super Bowl IX Champions. After that, Iron City produced almost annual team picture cans, usually celebrating a Steelers' championship ...

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Later cans would honor the Steelers' 50th season:

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And The Chief and Chuck Noll:

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Of course, the mid to late 1980's gave less to cheer on the field, but each year brought new inductees from the 1970's teams to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and they were honored with cans -- Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Mel Blount, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Mike Webster & Chuck Noll, to be exact. Myron Cope got one too. No recent cans were minted for Lynn Swann or John Stallworth (or Rod Woodson or Dick LeBeau, for that matter).

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Blount was also featured (along with a young Stan Savran) in this classic Iron City ad from the 80's:

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With the Bill Cowher coaching era came a new Steelers excitement, and eventually new Iron City Steelers cans.

The one on the left was made during the playoff run of the 1994 season; it's basic design was reprised the next year and distributed during the two weeks between the AFC Championship victory and Super Bowl XXX.

As best as I can tell, the one on the left is the last Iron City can with a Steelers logo on it, though later ones would reference NFL owned terms like the Lombardi Trophy, etc.

To their credit, the Steelers still sell Iron City at Heinz Field, though you have to make something of an effort to find it (note to Aramark: get some locally made Penn, East End, Church, Fat Head's and Full Pint on the taps at Heinz!)

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A pair of classy tributes showing rust-belt solidarity came in the 90's: in 1995 Iron City paid homage to the end of the Steelers-Browns rivalry and in 1999, they welcomed them back to the NFL.

The front side of the can on the left had part of the Iron City logo ringed in Browns' orange.

Well played, gents.

Another classy tribute came in 1996: although Steelers' greats Rocky Bleier, Ray Mansfield and Andy Russell were not quite Canton cloth, Iron City saw fit to honor them anyway. 

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Steelers bars around the country even got a nod in 1998.

After Super Bowl XL, I.C. Light honored Jerome Bettis on a can (and aluminum bottle), and most recently, in 2009, Iron City found a clever way to skirt the wrath of the NFL lawyers in charge of intellectual property:

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Finally, in "researching" this post, I came across the following old Iron City ads. Enjoy.

The first, simply put, is the greatest beer commercial ever made. Period. Bar none. Although maybe it should be re-cut today with James Harrison.

This one should be played on the Heinz Field scoreboard after every Steeler touchdown, ironically or whatever. It's hilarious (throwback Steelers jerseys before they were throwback!).

Bonus! -- this wasn't an actual Iron City ad (it's a takeoff of a Pepsi ad) , but fun nonetheless: 

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