Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The case for Iron City
Ever since my grandfather's kitchen was redone and I was able to take his 20+ year old fridge into my basement as my designated beer fridge, my monthly beer buying routine is to stock up on beer once a month. Each time, I buy a random microbrew case or sampler pack to try to expand my beer drinking horizons. I also buy a 30 pack of Iron City. While I'm planning on starting to share my experiences with the microbrews, I want to start my beer reviewing career with a look at Iron City.
My purpose here isn't to judge Iron City, because all of us know exactly what it is, a macro-produced pilsner style beer along the lines of Budweiser, Miller and Coors, but instead to make a case for why it is every Pittsburgher's duty to support our local brew.
The reality is that in a blind taste test, there is almost no chance any of you are going to be able to tell the difference between the Big Three and Iron City. You just aren't. So why do so many people claim that "Bud Light is my favorite beer."? Marketing. Marketing is the only thing that differentiates these different beers. The entire mass-produced corporate conglomerate beer market is designed to appeal to as many people as possible, thus the indistinguishableness between their products. It doesn't pay to be bold in that market.
So why Iron City? Because it encourages greater diversity in choice. Recently I watched the documentary Beer Wars, which takes a hard look at the beer industry's dirty tricks. The Big Three (actually, Big Two now that Miller-Coors have merged) do everything in their power to increase their market share, which includes taking over shelf space from competitors, limiting distribution channels, creating inferior "craft brew" competitors to price smaller breweries out of the market, file frivolous lawsuits that independent businesses can't afford to defend, etc. So when you choose Iron City over the alternatives, you are, at the least, making a statement that commercials won't dictate your buying habits and, at best, eating into some of their market share and encouraging suppliers to provide more diversity.
So the next time you're at the distributor (or, God forbid, the grocery store if you're outside of Pennsylvania) and you find yourself faced with the decision on which mainstream beer to purchase, do yourself and everyone else who wants more flavors to choose from a favor and buy local. If you're in Pittsburgh, buy Iron City. If you're in Maryland, buy Natty Boh. And so on.
Up next on the Blast Furnace beer tours: Craft Brew Night at Rock Bottom in Homestead on Thursday where we'll be sampling the local winners of the home brew contest.