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%
Color gold/yellowish

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.


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]

Pony bottle[edit]

Rolling Rock's 7 U.S. fl oz (207 ml) pony bottle has been very popular, so much so that this has given rise to the folk etymology that "pony" is from the Rolling Rock horse logo. This is incorrect: the term pony in "pony of beer" has been used the US since the 19th century,[6] predating Rolling Rock by over 50 years, and is due to the diminutive size;[7] similar words include pony glass and pony keg. Indeed, advertising for Rolling Rock from the 1950s uses the term "pony bottle" generically, stating "... Rolling Rock is the Largest Selling 7 oz. Pony Bottle of Premium Beer in Pennsylvania".[8]

Though it did not originate the term, the popularity of Rolling Rock doubtless reinforced it: one could refer to a regular (12 oz.) or small (7 oz.) of the beer as a "horse" or "pony" respectively. It also likely lead to the standardization on a 7 oz. size: major national brands introduced 7 oz. pony bottles in the early 1970s, of which the most prominent is Miller High Life (pony introduced 1972[9][10]).

Number 33[edit]

Rolling Rock 33 is named after a throughbred race horse that was owned by the owners of Rolling Rock. Hence the thoroughbred racehorse pictured on the bottle.

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);[11] that 33 degrees is the proper temperature to keep beer; the 33 degrees of Scottish Rite Freemasonry; 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.[12]). Other theories concerning the number 33 are that there were exactly 33 stairsteps 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 was painted on, not paper or plastic. However, In New Hampshire in the 1980s there were bottles with printed paper labels.[citation needed] 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 slid 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]

  • In the Friends episode "The One Where Rosita Dies" Rachel Green and Joey Tribbiani can be seen drinking Rolling Rock whilst sitting in their respective chairs. The Characters (Joey Tribbiani Specifically) can also be seen drinking Rolling Rock in various intros throughout season 8.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Abstinence", Kramer can be seen at his door holding a bottle of Rolling Rock and a cigar, apparently in a drunken stupor from playing poker.
  • In Michael Chabon's novel The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Art Bechstein and his friends regularly drink Rolling Rock.
  • In the film Old School, Will Ferrell as well as other guests at the party are seen drinking Rolling Rock.
  • There are numerous scenes in The Deer Hunter that feature Rolling Rock.
  • Rolling Rock can also be seen in the film 30 Minutes or Less when the pizza guy is drinking at his house.
  • In Yes Man, Carl (Jim Carrey) orders a Rolling Rock at a bar when he meets Allison (Zooey Deschanel) there.
  • Rolling Rock is the main beer brand appearing in the independent film The Station Agent.
  • Rolling Rock is a commonly seen beer in the comedy-drama Entourage.
  • In an episode of The Sopranos, they celebrate Hugh's 75th birthday, and Tony Soprano and Tony Blundetto among other characters drink Rolling Rock.
  • In many episodes of Lucky Louie.
  • In the film The Wrestler, Marisa Tomei can be seen chugging a single bottle of Rolling Rock at a bar.
  • In the film That's My Boy, Adam Sandler can be seen drinking Rolling Rock throughout certain scenes in the movie.
  • In Homeland season 2 episode 12, Diego Klattenhoff and Damian Lewis are seen having a couple of Rolling Rocks.
  • In "Heavier than Heaven", it is Kurt Cobains beverage of choice.
  • In the film Reality Bites several times.
  • In the film Rocky Balboa when he walks in the bar and asks for a beer, little Marie gives him a Rolling Rock.
  • In HBO's drama The Wire Season 4 Episode 3 Jimmy McNulty and William "Bunk" Moreland are seen sharing a few six packs of Rolling Rock during one of their drinking sessions.
  • In Red Dawn, Jed (Chris Hemsworth) can be seen drinking Rolling Rock in one of the opening scenes.
  • In the 2013 film Side Effects Jude Law can be seen drinking a Rolling Rock.
  • In "The Sure Thing", Gib (John Cusack) and Lance (Anthony Edwards) drink cans of Rolling Rock.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd has a characteristic taste for Rolling Rock as he always drinks it whenever he becomes too frustrated from playing bad games; one episode featured him making a humorous coincidental comparison with Rolling Rock and the NES accessory, the Roll 'n Rocker.[13] The bottles also serve as health indicators in the The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures video game.
  • In the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Mark Ruffalo's and Elijah Wood's characters can be seen drinking Rolling Rock while they are erasing the memories of an unconscious Jim Carrey.
  • In the Joel Plaskett song "A Million Dollars" from the "La De Da" album, the singer proclaims "let's get drunk on Rolling Rock and stroll down to the sea."
  • In an episode of That '70s Show, season 2, episode 11, Red Foreman is seen drinking it at the dinner table.
  • In the Brian Setzer penned song, "We Are The Marauders" the lyrics mention buying Rolling Rock. Setzer wrote the song for Altoona, Pennsylvania based band The Marauders, who toured with Setzer in 2006. Altoona is located about 75 miles East of Latrobe.
  • In Johnny Cage's ending in Mortal Kombat 4, various things, including Rolling Rock can be seen thrown at him.
  • Rolling Rock is a commonly seen beer in the serial political drama The West Wing
  • In the novels of Robber B. Parker, the character Spencer regularly drinks Rolling Rock.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ (March 3, 1935). "Inside of a Huge Glass Lined Beer Tank". Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved on April 7, 2014
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c WallStreet Journal: Anheuser Explores Sale of Struggling Rolling Rock
  5. ^ Scott, Rebekah (May 24, 2006). "Latrobe brewery's boosters calling for boycott". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved on April 15, 2009
  6. ^ Americanisms, Farmer, p. 430 cites New York Journal, 1885 August; see pony for details.
  7. ^ Notes and Queries, August 8th, 1896, p. 126: “It seems probable the origin is due to the diminutiveness of the glass;”
  8. ^ The Pittsburgh Press, Oct 21, 1952, p. 4
  9. ^ Advertising and the Food System, p. 309
  10. ^ CSA Super Markets, Volume 50, 1974, p. 68
  11. ^ Why is there a "33" on Rolling Rock beer labels? from The Straight Dope
  12. ^ [1] from
  13. ^ "FAQ". Cinemassacre Productions. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 

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