Rolling Rock

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Rolling Rock
RollingRock301 Logo.JPG
Type Pale lager
Manufacturer Anheuser–Busch InBev
Introduced 1939
Alcohol by volume 4.4%
Website www.rollingrock.com

Rolling Rock is a 4.4% abv pale lager launched in 1939 by the Latrobe Brewing Company. Although founded as a local beer in Western Pennsylvania, it was marketed aggressively and eventually became a national product. The brand was sold to Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis, Missouri, in mid-2006, which transferred brewing operations to New Jersey.

History[edit]

From 1939 until July 26, 2006,[1] Rolling Rock was brewed at the Latrobe Brewing Company in the Pittsburgh suburb of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. As stated on the bottle, it was brewed in large glass-lined tanks, which were considered state-of-the-art at the time of its introduction (in part due to sanitation concerns).[2]

On May 19, 2006,[3] Anheuser-Busch purchased the Rolling Rock and Rolling Rock Green Light brands from InBev for $82 million[4] and began brewing Rolling Rock at its Newark facility in mid July, 2006. The final batch of Rolling Rock was shipped from Latrobe on July 31, 2006. Union leaders in Westmoreland County organized a nationwide boycott of Anheuser-Busch and InBev brands because of the move.[5] Anheuser-Busch has said that Rolling Rock's original pledge on the label will be preceded by these words: "To honor the tradition of this great brand, we quote from the original pledge of quality." In July 2008, InBev reached a deal to acquire Anheuser-Busch, thereby returning ownership of Rolling Rock to InBev, now known as Anheuser–Busch InBev and based in Belgium.[4]

In 2009, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced that it was exploring the sale of the Rolling Rock brand.[4]

Original "pony" bottle of beer[edit]

A 7 oz. bottle of beer that became known as a "pony" was originally brewed for Rolling Rock Beer by Latrobe Brewing Company of Latrobe, PA.[citation needed]  The 7 oz. beer was served because when prohibition was repealed in 1933, America was still coming out of the Depression and the smaller size beer was for the working man who could not afford a full 12 oz. beer.  The 12 oz. bottle has a picture of a horse on it, so, when coming into a tavern or pub, the customer would ask for either a horse or a pony, meaning a 12 oz. beer or a 7 oz. beer respectively.

Number 33[edit]

Rolling Rock bottle with original quality pledge

The number 33 is printed prominently on all bottles of Rolling Rock. Many have speculated on the significance of the number 33: that the "33" refers to the founding year of the Pittsburgh Steelers (who have their team practices in Latrobe);[6] that 33 degrees is the proper temperature to keep beer; that Latrobe test-brewed 33 batches of beer before coming up with the final formula for Rolling Rock. (A Pabst Blue Ribbon's advertising campaign from the late 1930s through the early 1940s asserted that Pabst "blended 33 beers" to get its final product. Yuengling, like Rolling Rock, brewed in Pennsylvania is also reputed to have mounted a similar ad campaign, touting a similar amount of "rough" brews blended to make the final product.[7]). Other theories concerning the number 33 are that there were exactly 33 stair steps from the brewmaster's office to the brewing floor in the original Latrobe brewery. Also that the PA fish and game commission at the turn of the century numbered the streams within the commonwealth and the water that was used to brew this beer was taken from the stream numbered 33.

One widely held belief is that it marks the repeal of prohibition in 1933.

James L. Tito, former CEO of Latrobe Brewing, opined that the "33" signifies the 33 words in the beer's original pledge of quality, which is still printed on every bottle:

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.

—Current pledge written on the Rolling Rock bottle

While the original wording on the label was somewhat different, it also contained the 33 following words:

A little nip from the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe. We tender this package as a premium beer for your delight and economical use. It comes from the mountain springs to you.

—Original pledge written on the Rolling Rock bottle

This was followed by the "33". The current pledge is on the 12 oz. bottles, while the "little nip" pledge is from the 7 oz. bottle version.

A founding executive is said to have written "33" at the end of the slogan to indicate the number of words it comprised as a guide for the bottle printers. They assumed it was part of the text and incorporated it into the label graphics. Hence, the first batch of bottles carried the number "33" and they remained that way since they were continually collected and reused.

Tito admitted, however, that there is no hard proof for this theory, and that at this point no one really knows what the true origin of the "33" may have been. Nonetheless, the tradition of the printing explanation has been sustained by the company as the wording on the labels has changed over the years, and the verbiage is carefully structured to retain a length of 33 words. The Rolling Rock nomenclature on the bottles is painted on, not paper or plastic. However, In New Hampshire in the 1980s there were bottles with printed paper labels. These bottles were a bit shorter than the long necks served in bars and taverns. The original pledge and "33" were printed on the backside of the paper labels, therefore being readable by looking through the beer from the back of the bottle. They followed the 33 word pledge printed above.

Rolling Rock Red[edit]

Rolling Rock Red logo

Anheuser-Busch rolled out a red lager version of Rolling Rock called Rolling Rock Red. While the number 33 has been a traditional part of Rolling Rock iconography, Rolling Rock Red's label has a "3", presumably signifying the name of the beverage ("Rolling Rock Red") or the words in the tagline "Finely Crafted Lager", which appears only on the Rolling Rock Red bottles.

References in pop culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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