Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rolling Rock Green Light/Taylor Swift

Two Pennsylvanians have never been so light and inoffensive. Take an already light discipline - that is, female country pop - and make it lighter. Not far off from taking one of the lightest, thinnest, measly beers ever produced and making it even measlier (It's technically called Rock Green Light and I'm not ever sure it's still being made, but I recently found a dusty six-pack at my local beer distributor). That’s not to say our subjects are inherently “bad,” or irrelevant. Swift’s sound may have as much country in it as a Kraftwerk snyth line but she – along with Green Light – are far more culturally significant and influential than a self-indulgent blog that compares beer with musicians; they’re just completely innocuous. Like Folgers. Or Tom Brokaw.

Still, Swift and Rolling Rock each deserve a certain amount of respect. The original Rolling Rock beer – that is, the “Pale Lager” - was for most of its life brewed by the Latrobe Brewing Company in Latrobe, PA, smack in the heart of mining country; and therefore – like PBR – has always enjoyed an honest blue-collar credibility. Green Light might be the dilute descendent of the lager but it shares the lineage all the same. Similarly, Swift actually plays guitar, writes the occasional song and – personal taste aside – is pretty good at what she does (Full disclosure: I think I’m developing a spot for that Romeo song), all of which are rarities in her line of work.

But then there’s the downside. Latrobe Brewing Company has been through a dizzying series of corporate transactions, which I imagine is not unlike a long-lived career in Nashville. Without getting too bogged down in details, here’s a summary: Latrobe was started in 1893 in – where else? – Latrobe, Pennsylvania. In 1987 it was purchased by the Canadian Labatt Brewing Company, which itself was purchased in 1995 by the Belgian Interbrew, or, InBev. In May 2006, InBev sold the Rolling Rock brands to Anheuser-Busch and moved production to an AB location in Newark (the original Latrobe facility itself became a corporate hot potato and, oddly, now produces Sam Adams (?)). In July, 2008 InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, thus re-acquiring the Rolling Rock line of beer. I realize this is getting exhausting - but what I’m getting at is that like Rolling Rock, and so many other over-produced pop songstresses, Swift’s career is controlled by dudes in suits. And now on to flavor.

If InBev gave this beer the green light to be painfully boring, it succeeded. I was starting to warm up to Green Light while citing all that blue stuff earlier - but then I tried it again. I’m thinking a chemical analysis would come up “Aquafina with hints of carbon dioxide and piss-toned food dye.” Green Light is low in carbs and alcohol like a pop star’s diet and with only 83 calories offers a similar experience to nibbling on half a Wheat Thin chased by one of those tiny carrots. But I realize this is the point. So again, I’ll set aside personal taste and admit that like Swift’s three-chord candy pop, Green Light does have an endearing – if unchallenging – lightness about it.

And the mysterious number 33 printed on the back of Rolling Rock bottles? Some think it refers to the repeal of prohibition in 1933. Former Latrobe CEO James L. Tito offers another explanation, at one point claiming it refers to the 33 words in the beer's slogan: "Rolling Rock - From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you." But this is unbelievably weird and lame so I'm hoping he was lying and the prohibition thing is true. And when applied to Taylor Swift, I suppose 33 could represent three times the age of her average fan, excluding the creepy old dudes of course. And I was just kidding about the Romeo song. I swear.

Beer Info:

Rock Green Light
Latrobe Brewing Company
St. Louis, MO
Style: Light Lager
ABV: 3.7%


  1. Not even sure how I tripped across this blog. I *think* it's because I was Googling around for "beer" while I'm reading about the Beer Summit between the Prez, Dr. Gates and Officer Crowley. At any rate, as the owner/writer of a (mostly defunct) blog who maintained his blog for two years, I encourage you to keep going. Blogs like yours (well written, insightful, amusing, intelligent and original) are diamonds in the rough.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for the words. Planning to start posting again shortly.