City Brewing, Latrobe deal closer

City Brewing took a giant step toward acquiring the Latrobe Brewing facility as union workers approved a new contract.

The basics:

The union voted 113-9 on Sunday to accept a two-year contract with the La Crosse company, said George Sharkey, a union business agent for about 120 of the employees.

“There were concessions, but in the light of things … I didn’t leave the employees much of a choice,” Sharkey said. Members accepted some wage concessions, he said.

Latrobe, owned by Belgium-based InBev SA, has been the brewer of Rolling Rock since 1939, but the brand was bought in May by Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., which plans to brew and distribute the beer out of New Jersey next month. InBev SA, the world’s largest brewer by volume, has been negotiating with City Brewing over the sale of Latrobe Brewing.

City Brewing now will inspect the Latrobe brewery as part of the due diligence process, City Brewing President Randy Smith said Monday. Completing the due diligence process could take as long as 60 days but more likely will take 30 days, he said.

While much of the attention has turned to the fact that Rolling Rock is new being brewed in New Jersey (though Anheuser-Busch’s labels claim a link to Latrobe).

But let’s not forget it was InBev that decided to sell the Rolling Rock brand and that was ready to shut down the brewery. Yet InBev benefits from the deal, because instead of just shuttering the brewery it will make a little extra money from the deal.