Pittsburgh Brewing Co.

Reconstituted as the Iron City Brewing Company post-bankruptcy.

When formed in 1899, this syndicate of sixteen Pennsylvania breweries immediately became the nation's third largest brewer. In the 1940's and early 1950's, PBC suffered from a violent conflict between its brewer's union and the Teamsters. Business was good until black tavern owners, concerned about PBC's hiring policies, began a boycott in 1971. The brewery soon came to an agreement with the NAACP, but nervous white residents began their own boycott in protest. In response, PBC continued to diversify its labels, and sold an unprecedented number of different brands by the late 1970's [Robertson].

The Pittsburgh Brewing Company was the largest contract brewer for the Boston Brewing Co until 1999.



Lager and Dark lagers.

American Beer.

Interested reader Mark Wilson (MW hereafter) explains:

Supposedly the #1 American imported beer in Russia, solely due to the name/can. IC produced a special can commerating the Russian Penguins hockey team. They also make American Non-alcoholic and American light.


And Brigade Light.

Iron City.

"The official beer of the Pittsburgh Nation,"
"Can't keep an Iron Man Down,"
"It's a 'burgh thing,"
"The Beer Drinker's Beer," and others [MW].

Chris Heithoff (cheitof@vt.edu) tells me PBC also makes Iron City Light, Iron City Ice, and Iron City Golden Draft, and notes that I.C. Light won a silver in the American Light Lager category at the 1994 Great American Beer Festival. The Ice, Dry, and Golden products have been discontinued.

Old German.

Originally brewed by the Queen City Brewing Company of Cumberland, Maryland, and acquired by PBC in the 1970's.

Commemorative Cans

Mark Wilson explained that Iron City is "actually one of the better American lagers around," and is the "only beer sold by vendors in 3-Rivers stadium." He comments that he has I.C. cans commemorating the Browns-Steelers rivalry (came out when Modell announced moving to Baltimore), assorted Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins National Championships, many bicentennial cans, and notes that "you can supposedly get custom Iron Cans with whatever you want on them with a 1000 case minimum order."

Examples of I.C. products with interesting stories or pictures include:

Evansville Brewing Company

The Pittsburgh B.C. acquired the remains of the Evansville Brewing Company around 1997 and moved production to Pennsylvania. Brands such as Cook's, Drewrys, Drummond Bros, Falls City, Sterling, and Wiedemann surely qualify as cheap beer. I believe that Pittsburgh made at least: Cooks, Drewery's, Falls City, Sterling, Weidemenn, and Gerst, but I'm not sure what's in production at the moment.

Steve DeBellis of Saint Louis, Missouri writes:

Lemp brewed the first lager beer in the western hemisphere behind his St. Louis grocery store in 1838. It was a giant seller by the turn of the century, with depots from coast to coast. Lemp created the Falstaff brand in the 1890s, then sold it when Prohibition closed the Lemp brewery in 1920.

In 1939, William Lemp III began brewing Lemp at the former Central Royal brewery in East St. Louis Ill. Production was moved to the Warsaw Brewery in Warsaw, Ill. in 1945 and production ceased by 1946.

Then in 1988, the Evansville Brewery in Evansville, Ind. began canning Lemp and Lemp Light. Production has been shifted to Pittsburgh Brewing Co. with the demise of Evansville. Pittsburgh-brewed Lemp and Lemp Light are sold in St. Louis area Schnuck's Supermarkets for $3.99 a 12-pack.

Since it doesn't fit anywhere else, the Lemp Brewing Company is picking up the brand, with production by the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre.

Former Beers

Robin Hood.
Hop'n Gator.

A relic from the brewery's various attempts to appeal to a market besides middle-aged steel workers. Hop'n Gator = Beer + Gatorade.

This precursor to Zima was temporarily reintroduced.

In another addition to the citrusy beer market, PBC sold IC Light Twist.


Aimed at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon) students [MW]. I seem to recall reading that the school wasn't too happy with the beer appropriating it's name, but I can't find any references just now. Discontinued in 1978 and now sold as Old German, according to IC.


Also Sierra Light. Another IC brand, recently revived [MW].

J.J. Wainwright's, Evil Eye.

Current brews, according to "The Green Hornet." J.J. Wainright's is a German lager, and Evil Eye is reportedly watered down tasting. I really need to get a reference to Eastern U.S. beers, or go visit Pennsylvania.

More recently, the Hornet has provided me with more complete reviews of the Wainright's line, which I'm reproducing here, until I get the time to format them nicely:

OK, Here's the scoop on Pittsburgh Brewing Company's "microbrews", or if you want to make it a little more "politically correct", call them "specialty brews":

J.J. Wainwrights has been around for about two years, Evil Eye a year and Black Jack is new, say 5 or 6 months.

The neck of J.J. Wainwrights says: "Joseph J. Wainwright founded one of America's oldest breweries in the early 1800's. Located in Lawrenceville, [which is technically part of today's Pittsburgh, say 3 miles from downtown] J.J.Wainwright's was one of the twenty-one Pennsylvania breweries that merged in 1899 to become Pittsburgh Brewing Company. We still craft brew special beers today in Lawrenceville using the time honored methods and quality ingredients that J.J. used for his slect beers. This all malt select lager beer is dedicated to J.J.Wainwright, the brewmaster."

The label has the "Pittsburgh Brewing Company Since 1861" circle with a picture of a building in the circle. In red letters is J.J.Wainwrights. "Select" is in fancy "gold" lettering, with "regular" black letters "FIRST BREWING" to the left and "LAGER BEER" to the right. Below that is: "True to J.J. Wainwright's original recipe, we brew this special all malt beer using roasted barley malt to impart an amber toned color and full rich flavor. We balance the rich malt flavor with the delicate aroma of his unique blend of imported and domestic hops."

For a non-micro brew, this is a good beer. Tasted like a German lager. Make you want to think "If they can brew something this good, why do they brew that crap, their flagship brew 'Iron City'? "

It says "Pittburgh Brewing Company, Pittsburgh PA" on the label.


Evil Eye has the "Pittsburgh Brewing Company Since 1861" circle with a picture of a building in the circle. J.J Wainwright's in red letters and Evil Eye Ale in "fancy" white letters. In the "background" is a green picture of an "English-type" guy with a top hat and a nasty look. It says "Pittsburgh Brewing Company, Pittsburgh PA".

The neck says "With each brewing, J.J. Wainwright would carefully and critically inspect his special ale for sparkling clarity and fine golden color. His fellow brewers would proclaim that ol' J.J. was giving it the "evil eye". Today, that same attention to detail is used to create this special craft brewed ale. We continue to use only the finest hops and malts to assure a rich, full taste. We invite you to give it your 'evil eye'."

Well, you might make an 'evil eye' when you taste it. It tastes like a "regular" Iron City, but not a lager taste, a watered down ale taste.


Black Jack has the EXACT same "evil eye" guy on a brownish gold/black label, however, there is a jack of spades in front of an ace of spades that is behind the picture of this guy. It has J.J.Wainwrights in red letters and "Black Jack" in fancy white letters, with "regular" white letter below, saying "Black & Tan". There is no "Pittsburgh Brewing Company" circle, and in fact, it says "Brewed and bottled with pride by Wainwright Brewing Company, Pittsburgh PA".

The neck of the label says "Legend has it that in 1891, during an all night card game, J.J. Wainwright played his finest hand. From his unfortunate adversary, J.J. won an old family recipe for a black and tan brew he later called "Black Jack". Today, we proudly hand-craft a blend of dark rich Porter with a light pilsner to create "Black Jack Black & Tan". Play out your hand and enjoy the rich smooth taste of 'Black Jack'".

I don't know what the deal is with the "Wainwright Brewing Company", but this is back to the good beers. This has a mild and good chocolate taste. Again, for a non-microbrew, it is a respectable beer. About the same calibur as the first J.J. Wainwrights, and blows away the Evil Eye.

Keene's NA.

Wanker Light.

In bottles, amazingly enough, this product's selling point is the labels, which feature an array of young women. A contact brew.

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Thomas Insel / tinsel@tinsel.org