A plea to save Latrobe’s brewery

May 26th, 2006 | Posted by Real Beer

Pardon the length of this post, but here is a letter sent to the president, vice president, and other board members at Anheuser-Busch Inc.

There’s also an online petitition to save the brewery.

To Whom It May Concern:

It was on Friday May 19, 2006, when I received a phone call from my father Richard Pavlik, who is a 22 year long employee of Latrobe Brewing Company, when I got the news. “The label was bought by Anheuser-Busch for $82 million.” I quickly asked about the future of his job in which he replied, “I have 60 days then I no longer have a job.” Immediately I broke down in tears for many reasons, one of which was my concern for the well-being of my parents and the effect this job loss will have on their lives. I have to admit that along with my sadness, I was very angry. “How could someone do this to, not only my father and the other 200+ employees of Latrobe Brewing Company, but to a whole community whose livelihood revolved around their pride and commitment to Latrobe Brewing Company-more specifically Rolling Rock beer.”

Despite my anger, I understand that Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of Rolling Rock was a decision based on business. However; I feel that this decision was made without an understanding of the devastating impact that the removal of Rolling Rock would have on the people of Latrobe and the surrounding communities. In addition, I feel that Anheuser-Busch may not have thought enough about how keeping Rolling Rock in Latrobe could help their own company from a business standpoint.

Ever since the announcement of Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of Rolling Rock and the plan to move it out of Latrobe, it’s as if a large dark cloud has settled over Latrobe. Not only has this decision gloomed the employees of Latrobe Brewing Company, but it has gloomed those who are also committed to the greatness that Rolling Rock brings to Latrobe. It feels as if someone took something so important out of our lives that we can never get back. I know that I am speaking for everyone who has pride in Rolling Rock when I say that we are truly hurt and devastated for this loss.

I found a noteworthy quote in an article dated March 30, 2006 from Anheuser-Busch. This article was titled ‘Who Would You Have A Beer With?’ Robert C. Lachky, executive vice president, global industry development, Anheuser-Busch Inc. is quoted saying that “Beer is about sharing moments and creating memories with good friends and family.” This quote could not be truer. Rolling Rock beer has allowed us to create these memories with our friends and family here in Latrobe. Though these moments and memories cannot be taken away, the opportunity to create more of them with our loved ones has been.

After Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of Rolling Rock, Mr. August A. Busch IV, president of Anheuser-Busch Inc. hit the nail head on when he was quoted for saying, “We have an ideal opportunity to grow this historic brand. This beer is not like others, and it’s consumer following is EQUALLY DISTINCTIVE.” It is apparent that Mr. Busch and other’s in Anheuser-Busch see Rolling Rock for what it is and for what THE PEOPLE OF LATROBE have made it. While Anheuser-Busch may be able to brew Rolling Rock beer using the same “time-honored” recipes, it is virtually impossible to replicate the committed employees of Latrobe Brewing Company and people of Latrobe, which go hand-in-hand with Rolling Rocks craftsmanship and heritage.
The history of Anheuser-Busch states that in 1864, Adolphus Busch joined the fledgling brewery that later became known as Anheuser-Busch. Though the early years were demanding, Mr. Adolphus Busch continued to have a keen vision for the success of the company. The history further indicates that the distinctive contributions made by each succeeding generations of the Anheuser-Busch family clearly show that the history of Anheuser-Busch isn’t a story about a company-it’s a story about people. People with dreams and perseverance. Like Anheuser-Busch, the story and history of Rolling Rock is not a story about a company, but a story about people. The Tito brother’s wanted a unique beer that could represent the heart and soul of Latrobe. As a result, Rolling Rock beer was introduced in 1939 and since that time, it has become more than a beer and a product of a company. Rolling Rock indeed became the heart and soul of the people of Latrobe. Telling someone that “I’m from Latrobe” is accompanied with an enormous sense of pride.

August Busch Sr.’s vision and determination to keep his company going during the Prohibition resembles the vision of the Latrobe Brewing Company employees and the people of Latrobe. We are determined to keep producing Rolling Rock beer in Latrobe where it belongs. History reports that August Busch Sr. was able to keep many of his skilled workers employed and his equipment up to date during the difficult time of the Prohibition. Obviously, he was able to see the importance of dedicated and skilled employees. I feel August Busch IV would be proud to employ the current workers at Latrobe Brewing Company. They are, indeed, highly skilled and committed to producing Rolling Rock. It is important to note that there has not been a labor dispute at the Latrobe Brewing Company in over 24 years. This is a clear indication of the dedication and loyalty of the employees in this establishment. Also during the Prohibition, Mr. Busch Sr. kept his equipment up to date. Likewise, recent additions and modifications to the equipment at Latrobe Brewing Company have been made to keep up with the demand of the highly sought after Rolling Rock beer in this competitive field.

After researching Anheuser-Busch’s history and values, I feel that a partnership with Rolling Rock, if kept in Latrobe, can be more beneficial for Anheuser-Busch as a company. The employees at Latrobe Brewing Company have these same values and commitment to the product that they make here.

Anheuser-Busch is known for, and prides itself, for their unique commitment to their belief statement, mission, and values. In fact, the Anheuser-Busch web-site relates that these values are “a concern for people, communities, and the environment.” I am asking that you please follow these values and show your support for our people and our community whose lives and passion revolve around having Rolling Rock Beer brewed in Latrobe. Please rethink your decision of taking the pride and passion out of our lives.

Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. Statement of Beliefs includes the following belief: The understanding that well-trained and motivated employees acting with the highest integrity are critical to our success. As a former part-time seasonal employee at Latrobe Brewing Company, I have witnessed first hand how the employees making Rolling Rock beer contribute to the company’s success through the dedication and pride the employees have in their jobs and the product they produce. I’ve also witnessed this dedication from retiree’s, such as Albert Pavlik my grandfather, who is a 35 year veteran of Latrobe Brewing Company.

Finally, The Vision of Anheuser-Busch states: Through all of our products, services and relationships, we will add to life’s enjoyment. We dedicated consumers of Rolling Rock beer and the employees of Latrobe Brewing Company understand how the product adds to life’s enjoyment. Please allow us to work together in Latrobe to accomplish the vision of Anheuser-Busch.

I sincerely thank you for your time,

Christina M. Gumola
Proud daughter of
Richard L. Pavlik-Employee of Latrobe Brewing Company

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20 Responses to “A plea to save Latrobe’s brewery”

  1. Kevin Says:

    It would be fantastic to see Dick Yuengling purchase the Latrobe plant and brew yuengling at this facility for distribution in western Pennsylvania, WV, Ohio, and points west………..

  2. Stan Hieronymus Says:

    Business logistics probably mean that it won’t happen, but there is a grand idea.

  3. John Says:

    This is just another part of major changes in the beer industry. In my part of the country we had long-established regional brewers that were able to expand their markets beyond the Pac NW. Rainier in Seattle, Olympia in Tumwater, Heidelberg in Tacoma, and Blitz-Weinhard in Portland. All were plants about the size of Latrobe, all were kept up to date, all were bought up by larger companies, and all shut down. Most of the labels live on – pasted on commodity beer produced in mega-plants located far from the Pac NW. The former Rainier brewery is now a coffee plant (well, it’s in Seattle). Most of what’s left of the Heidelberg brewery in Tacoma is vacant though part houses a tire retreading plant. B-W in Portland was redeveloped for condos and retail. And the former Olympia brewery at Tumwater sits empty after being shuttered and sold by Miller-SAB. I latched on to RR by looking for a beer – any beer I could buy in Seattle – that was actually made where it originated. Sadly, looks like time for a new search.

  4. j Says:

    well when they try to replicate it in jersey and cant because the water is just not the same. people will notice and just like many other region brewerys that closed and are brewed at national plants, they just dont taste the same. sales will drop but then it will be too late.

  5. Edward J Hornzell Says:

    Mr. August Busch IV,
    My cousin Rob Peterson works at the brewery,and I had the pleasure of touring the facility 2years ago when it was renovated.
    He is very proud of the brewery, and has worked there for nearly 30 years,and his father Eugene Peterson worked there.
    Mr. Busch I see you many times on TV,and am sure you are very proud of your brewery in St. Louis, Mo. and the dedicated workers employed there
    Please save Rolling Rock and the brewery in Latrobe, Pa.
    Ed Hornzell

  6. info@rockdoc33.com Says:

    ATTENTION ROLLING ROCK FAITHFUL:

    When InBev announced the sale of the Rolling Rock brand to Anheuser-Busch…and that the beer would soon be brewed in New Jersey…it was a punch to the stomach for all of us. Rolling Rock is not just a product — it is part of the fabric of Latrobe. It has been a part of our history, our identity, and an economic constant. And we need to do something about it.
    A group of Latrobe natives who are now in the television and film business are behind a documentary that is aimed at telling the story of Rolling Rock and Latrobe…its history here…the impact it has had on our lives…the economic and emotional turmoil that its moving will cause…and the fight to keep it in Latrobe where it belongs.
    We have established an e-mail address at info@rockdoc33.com, for you to send us your stories…your suggestions for people we should interview…and to keep us up to date on any and all meetings, protests and events that are taking place. Our plan is to shoot as much as we can over the next couple of months…and to follow the story wherever it might lead.
    This story will be put together by Latrobe natives…to tell Latrobe’s story and point of view. Please help us in any way you can.
    Send your stories and suggestions to info@rockdoc33.com. Thank you.

  7. James R. Gorr Says:

    Let’s hope Anheuser-Busch gets the message that they are not making any friends among true Rolling Rock fans and Western PA natives.

    Jamie
    jamie@saverollingrock.org
    http://SaveRollingRock.org

  8. Thomas Janutolo Says:

    I won’t buy Rolling Rock when the label is the only thing that is the same. AB can go to hell.

  9. Lee Chapin Says:

    How utterly disappointing to find out that my favorite domestic beer is going to be moved to another facility. Although I’ve drunk Rolling Rock for over 30 years, I won’t be continuing that tradition after August 1, when Anheuser-Busch begins shipping beer from New Jersey.

    I sincerely hope that the plant can be sold to someone who will continue to brew beer in Latrobe, PA and promise to support any beers (and, possibly, other beverages) brewed there. I will not, however, be purchasing either Rolling Rock or any Anheuser-Busch product in future.

    Sad that A-B could have kept the beer, the recipe, the beer’s fans, its quality, and its employees by simply maintaining the status quo. Instead, they chose the active step of moving production…and will thereby lose everything but the label and the recipe.

    I’m sure it’s only money that matters to them, but I hope they pay a stiff price for their decision. They certainly won’t get MY money in future.

  10. patterson Says:

    who wants to drink jersey water. Even w/the original recipe, w/out the tanks,people, and water of latrobe it will never taste the same.

  11. gordie holland Says:

    as i sit here reading this drinking an extra pale,it makes my stomach turn ,knowing its not from the old glass lined tanks of latrobe,but the rusted vessels in new jersey,all of a sudden the flavor changed,like the flavor changed in the mouths of the operating officers of A-B, the taste of corporate greed. in latrobe it was to you 33 now in st. louis its f.u

  12. Toby Taylor Says:

    I have found a few songs about rolling rock but the only one that really rocks and rolls is “Rolling Rock Blues” by Caleb Donnolley. Check out http://rollingrockblues.netfirms.com where you can hear it. It’s a kick.

  13. Bobby Durkin Says:

    Without even knowing it I tasted the new Bud-Rock. I can’t bring myself to call it Rolling Rock because it isn’t. I took one sip from the bottle and I knew that something was wrong. It wasn’t Rolling Rock. I don’t know what they did to it but its not a good brew. I started drinking Rolling Rock in 1968 and although I’ve tried different beers over the years when it wasn’t available. I’ve never had a beer with such a crisp taste and delightful finish as True Rock. At present I am buying up as much of the last batch as I can. When thats gone it will be the end of a tradition of beer making.My only hope is that the brewery in Latrobe will reopen and they will again brew a beer that is worthy of drinking.

  14. AL NAGY Says:

    I can remember my grandfather drinking Rolling Rock during the 1940’s.
    Did he buy it all the time…..No, he did not make much money and had to settle for a local beer at times. But when he had a few bucks more, he would buy Rolling Rock, he said it was the best beer and I would see him clearly enjoy it.
    I fooled around with different beers over the years and decided to try my grandfathers drink about 15 years ago and never left RR.
    A crisp taste and a clean finish, no kidding.
    On or about August 2006 I bought some RR and noticed it was different.
    Close, but not quite right. Another case later, close, but not quite right.
    I just learned it wasn’t me, it did change………and not better!
    To all those at Latrobe, you folks know how to brew real beer.
    It is my hope that Latrobe brewery does not close, people do not lose their jobs and a new beer name will emerge.
    You folks at Latrobe start making it, i’ll start buying and drinking it.
    Regards

  15. Dave Powers Says:

    I would like to say I share Gordie Holland’s sentiment although I’ve never met him. It turns my stomach to think it doesn’t come from the Glass Lined Tanks of Old Latrobe. I just found about this a few weeks ago. I’m madder than Hell. What is the matter with the world? Doesn’t anyone give a crap about traditions anymore?

    I have to say being a University of Tennessee Football Fan, Rolling Rock made the games a lot more tolerable than they would have been. Thank you old ’33’ for being there for me.

  16. Joe L. Says:

    my father works for a Miller distributorship in Cleveland, and according to the word of him, a “beer insider,” i have heard word that Yuengling is or has looked at purchasing the Latrobe brewery. i too found RR to be an excellent brew, and even had a chance to visit the area at the final Town Fair. Yuengling is also an excellent brew, and i would love to see their production capacity increased by the purchase of the brewery so that we in states such as Ohio and West Va. might be able to enjoy a great beer like Yuengling all the time.

    oh, and death to the bastards at Anheuser-Busch

  17. Dave B Says:

    Anheuser Busch is a long time quality beer producer.I’m sorry for those of you who feel negative about this situation.If AB had not purchased RR some one else would have,and possibly done the same.You can not fault AB for
    thinking and moving ahead in these modern times we live in.
    Anheuser Busch brews the BEST and will continue to do so despite everyones
    verbal bashing.

    LONG LIVE AB

  18. Maggie O Says:

    Dave

    Every brand of AB gives me a headache. and most other company brands as well. Rolling Rock has been the sterling exception, and its taste is unequaled . Please, Please, AB, if you are listening , don’t ruin this brand, and think again about restoring its production to Latrobe.

  19. roberts Says:

    Thank god for homebrewing no greedy corprate beer company’s water down adjunct filled swill trying to be passed off as real beer. real beer is made from malt, water,hops and yeast!!!!!!!!.not sugar and cereal grains and coffee or some spice or flavoring to replace hops!!!!!. Make your own!!!.I know its sad to loose a brand you enjoyed or maybe were even employed by but my fellow beer compadre’s all is not lost raise your homebrew and tell a&b were to go

  20. John Albin Says:

    I stumbled on this site looking for a long lost brewing co worker in the Rainier/ Blitz Weinhard days. Sad to say both Seattle and Portland had a chance to preserve a part of their city history ,but at the time no one seemed to really care. It won’t be too long before someone tries to re create what was once a good thing. I would welcome that. In the mean time settle only for well made beer and support your local brewer.