Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Iron City Brewery...changing with the times

I used to travel quite a bit with work, oftentimes returning to the same city for a week or two every few months.  I visited places like Lynchburg, VA, Windsor Locks, CA, Andover/Tewksbury, MA, Sacramento, CA, Phoenix, AZ, Dayton, OH, Houston, TX, and Pittsburgh, PA several times.  This was mostly from the mid 70s to mid 90s.  I'd often tried to sample the local brew when I hit those towns, although during the early part of those travels there weren't a lot of breweries to sample.  By 1977, there were only 40 breweries left in the country.  Among those left, was the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, brewing Iron City lager.  Whenever I travelled to Pittsburgh, that was my brew of choice...mostly because I liked the name and wanted to support a local brewery, as the brew itself wasn't really distinctive.  Actually it seemed to pick up some of the metallic taste of the can, or maybe iron really was one of the ingredients.

Draft beer packaged in cans
Iron City Brewing Company goes back a long way to 1861 to its founding by Edward Frauenheim on 17th Street.  You can read the whole story there, but it quickly grew and took over many other local breweries and eventually by the end of the century became the third largest brewery in the U.S as the Pittsburgh Brewing Company.  In the 1980s the company started going through a period of hard times, in spite of having come out with a lite beer in the late '70s that boosted sales for awhile.  In 2007, the bankrupt remnants of the company were bought once more and the name returned to the Iron City Brewing Co.  Their product line is much more diverse now and their namesake brew is a Pilsner, but is joined by a couple of Munich Dunkels, a Vienna lager, fruit beers, a pale ale, a brown ale, several other lagers and malt liquors.  I look forward to getting back there to give them another try.

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