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Pa. town says goodbye to Rolling Rock

A line of trucks idled outside the loading docks at Latrobe Brewing Co. on Friday. In a few hours, they would haul away some of the last cases of Rolling Rock beer brewed here.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A line of trucks idled outside the loading docks at Latrobe Brewing Co. on Friday. In a few hours, they would haul away some of the last cases of Rolling Rock beer brewed here.

Known for its distinctive green bottle and quality pledge with a mysterious “33” at the end, Rolling Rock has been brewed here since 1939.

But Belgium-based InBev SA, which owned Rolling Rock and Latrobe Brewing, sold the Rolling Rock brand to Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. for $82 million in May.

Anheuser-Busch plans to brew the beer in New Jersey beginning in August. The brewery in Latrobe was not included in the deal, and is expected to close Monday.

Larry Ewantis, who ran the receiving department for ingredients at Latrobe Brewing, has worked there for almost 30 years. His late father, George, worked at Latrobe Brewing, and his brother Mike, 62, has worked there for 42 years.

“I went from a baby bottle to a beer bottle,” said Ewantis, who could see the brewery from his bedroom window as a child. “Rolling Rock is all I’ve known all my life.”

La Crosse, Wis.-based City Brewing Co. is negotiating to buy the brewery and produce others brands of beer here. Union workers at the brewery have voted to accept a contract with City Brewing.

Some disillusioned Rolling Rock buffs have pledged to boycott the brew once it is made in Newark, N.J. At J.L.’s Bar, Steve Lopatich Jr. already has taken off the Rolling Rock tap handle, several signs and other paraphernalia.

Rolling Rock is no longer on tap, and only Rolling Rock bottles and cans are available, he said.

Lopatich says he worries about the fate of his community without Rolling Rock, and the money and jobs that came with it.

“We’ve already seen the steel mills come and go,” he said. “It’s going to be a downfall. The price of gasoline is killing us already. This is just another poker in the fire.”