Joe Sixpack’s column last week about Independence Brewing’s business plans had a few sober readers, including brewery president Bob Connor, scratching their heads about some fuzzy-headed logic that spilled from my keyboard.
Namely, that Independence’s plans to merge with Pittsburgh Brewing was a threat to the sanctity of good ol’ Philly beer.
Among other things, I fretted that the deal would do for our beer industry what Pittsburgh has done for our city’s banking and hospitals.
One thing I should clear up: Connor plans to continue brewing Independence at his Comly Street brewery in the Northeast. He said it’ll operate autonomously from the guys from the West, and the deal – which he believes is the best way to guarantee his business future – will not affect the quality of his beer.
I confess, my burghian fears may be traceable to the horrible memory of actually consuming one of Pittsburgh’s stranger malt beverages.
No, I won’t bash Iron City, a cultural icon in Pittsburgh that apparently is best appreciated after a few tongue-numbing gulps of Imperial whiskey. Locals, I’m told, drink themselves silly with the shot-and-a-beer concoction known as an Imp and an Iron.
Nor will I slander I.C. Light, an inconsequential brew that my softball coach insists upon dumping into the team cooler. Like Coach Thompson himself, it does its job.
Rather, my dread stems from a nightmarish bout with something called Hop’n Gator.
Like it sounds, it’s beer mixed with citric juice – limeade or, possibly, Gatorade. Invented in the mid-’60s, this brew could claim to be the originator of those newfangled fruit-flavored beers, except that brewers have been adding fruit to beer for about 1,000 years. Nonetheless, it first gained popularity during that forgettable malt cooler phase in the ’70s.
The taste – it’s permanently implanted in my cerebral vortex, as one of those subconscious, self-protective reminders that forever warn you to STAY AWAY FROM THAT STUFF – was just what you’d expect if you poured green Kool-Aid into a glass of lager.
Everyone I know who ever drank more than two cans of Hop’n Gator emptied his guts within 15 minutes.
They still brew the juice and, presumably, actually ingest it in Pittsburgh. Please, please – don’t bring that stuff to Philly.
Pittsburgh Brewing is responsible for a wealth of other brewing innovations, strange and otherwise.
It is best known as one of the early contract brewers of the trend-setting Boston Brewing Co. Chances are, that bottle of Samuel Adams lager in your mitt was brewed in Pittsburgh.
Among its brands, is something called American Beer, which is naturally the No. 1 import in Russia, and Wanker, a favorite among Pitt sophomores who get off on the labels of scantily clad ladies.
If you look around, you might find cans of Billary Beer, “the politically correct choice” that promised to donate 25 cents from every case to the federal government. The Cheap Beer Server on the World Wide Web (www.tinsel.org), describes its taste as “sour [with] a citric, acidic bite moderated by a noticeable sweetness, but disturbingly little hop character.”
The company also has hopped onto the microbrew train with its all-malt J.J. Wainwright Evil Eye and Black Jack labels.
For my money, the best of Pittsburgh’s brews is Olde Frothingslosh, and not because of the taste.
The brew features the absolute best cans in the history of American brewing. Their artwork and slogans make them collectors’ favorites. Known as “the pale, stale ale with the foam at the bottom,” it was produced annually with a different label each year.
In my formative years, it featured a photograph of Fatima, the reigning Miss Frothingslosh, a corpulent beauty whose hobbies included arc welding.
Pittsburgh didn’t produce Frothingslosh in ’97, but there’s a good chance the brewery will bring back Fatima later this year.
Bud drinkers needn’t worry about laying in a supply of their favorite lager yet.
Union members at Anheuser-Busch, who have been working without a contract since March, still haven’t decided if they’re going to walk off their jobs.
Last week, the Teamsters narrowly rejected A-B’s latest offer, and there is talk of either a strike or a nationwide boycott.
A-B produces more than half of the beer consumed in America.
Joe Sixpack (written this week with a bottle of Weyerbacher India Pale Ale) appears every other Friday.