Known for its distinctive green bottle and quality pledge with a mysterious "33" at the end, Rolling Rock has been brewed in Latrobe since 1939. But Belgium's InBev USA, which owned Rolling Rock and Latrobe Brewing, sold Rolling Rock to Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. for $82 million in May. Anheuser-Busch plans to brew the beer in New Jersey beginning in August.This marks the end of an era for Latrobe. The bottling plant where Rolling Rock has been brewed nearly 70 years officially closed yesterday. More than 200 jobs are in limbo, and so is the loyalty of those beer drinkers left with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Latrobe residents considered the beer and the town an equation -- one a pale, 12-ounce distillation of the other. Middle-class, easy-to-love, with enough quirks for character: The definition fit both the place and the brew. [...]This is so emblematic of how employer-employee relationships have evolved in our country. Their is no sense of loyalty or appreciation for all the years of hard work that people give companies. It's all about making as much money as possible for the shareholders, CEO, top executives and board of directors. The worker gets discarded like an empty beer can tossed carelessly out the window.
Mr. Erney, in the human resources department at Latrobe Brewing Co., guessed roughly 90 percent of Rolling Rock drinkers in Latrobe will now switch brands. Among plant workers, the percentage might be even higher. At a Friday goodbye picnic, 45 outgoing salaried workers reached their hands into the stuffed coolers. Nobody drank Rolling Rock.
I feel for you Latrobe, and I feel for the workers who face an uncertain future. I'll think of you tonight as I sit on my porch and drink a cold one in your honor. Don't worry, it won't be Rolling Rock (or anything else from the Anheuser-Busch family for that matter).
[Click here for an explanation of why that mysterious #33 is on the Rolling Rock bottle.]