Say it ain't so, Joe. The Latrobe Brewing Company, makers of Rolling Rock lager, has been purchased by Anheuser Busch. When I think back to my college years I still remember the words painted on every green bottle, "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. '33'" My friends and I certainly did our part toward keeping Latrobe in business back in the '80's.
The mysterious "33" painted on every bottle has created a certain mystique around Rolling Rock that is absent from other American macros. The reason for printing these twin digits on each bottle has never been explained. 1933 was the year Prohibition was repealed, and there is also a beer made in Vietnam called 33. Beyond these two indisputable facts no one really has a clue. Could it be the symbol of some Satanic beer cult? Maybe one comprised of drunken college students who sold their souls to the devil in exchange for good grades or success with girls? Who really knows. The brewery isn't talking.
What is known is that the brewery in Latrobe, Pennsylvania is up for sale with production of Rolling Rock moving to an A-B brewery in New Jersey. I haven't had a Rock in probably fifteen years but I still think this is a loss to American brewing. While the bottles may look the same, just knowing that the beer is being brewed in "Joisey" by the makers of other bland American macros turns me off. We're losing another piece of Americana in the name of corporate greed.
Tuesday is Independence Day, a day we traditionally spend at Lake Greenwood, SC with members of my wife's family. We'll have brats, BBQ, and burgers on the grill. We'll cruise the lake by pontoon boat and swim off the dock. We'll have fun with in-laws, sons, daughters, and grandkids. And along with it all, I will be toasting the Fourth with cold, green bottles of genuine Rolling Rock for one last time, thinking of friendships, parties, and youthful days gone by.