Rolling Rock’s Enigmatic Charm | The Well

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Well—your quick-sip breakdown of the best stories behind the drinks we can’t live without. Today, we’re cracking open a cold case: the enigma of Rolling Rock and its mysterious ’33.’

The Story of Rolling Rock

Rolling Rock isn’t merely a beer; it’s a chapter from the American cultural playbook, rich with folklore and the soft clinks of countless toasts made in its honor. Originating from the Tito brothers in the robust landscape of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, this extra pale lager has been a fixture in fridges and on dining tables, sparking speculation with its iconic ’33.’

But what exactly is the story behind the number 33? The theories are as numerous as they are entertaining. Some say it commemorates the 33 steps from the brewmaster’s office to the brewery floor—each step a testament to the dedication behind every batch. Others suggest it marks the brewery’s founding year, 1933, right before Prohibition’s curtain call, hinting at a celebratory origin. Yet another yarn links it to the Masonic order, suggesting layers of secret societal tributes.

The lore doesn’t end at the brewery’s gates. Rolling Rock was crafted as a local staple, with its production firmly rooted in Latrobe until 2006, when Anheuser-Busch relocated the operations to New Jersey. Despite the move, the beer’s spirit remains tethered to its birthplace—Latrobe, where groundhogs are revered almost religiously and the local identity is as robust as the ale itself.

Embedded in its brand identity, ’33’ also appears as the brewing temperature (in Fahrenheit), the number of words in the beer’s quaint quality pledge, and even the number of letters in its ingredients list. Curiously, the number also connects to the supposedly 33 natural springs that feed into its brewery reservoir, adding another layer to its mystique.

Today, Rolling Rock’s appeal lies not just in its flavor, but in its capacity to ignite imagination and debate. It’s the beer of choice for those who value a good story and a crisp, reliable lager. The beer’s history of quirky theories and undeniable ubiquity at casual gatherings makes it a perennial favorite—an understated companion to moments both big and small.

Why I Love Rolling Rock

  • It’s straightforward yet mysterious, familiar but always capable of sparking conversation.
  • It doesn’t pretend to be the craftiest beer on the shelf, but its charm lies in its simplicity and the stories it inspires.

Doug Patrick
Growth & Marketing, Saucey

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