City Brewing's plans to restart the former Latrobe Brewing plant got a shot in the arm yesterday when Boston Beer Co. said an undisclosed amount of its Samuel Adams beers will be brewed there.
Boston Beer Co. said it would invest $3 million to $7 million in the Latrobe brewery so it could accommodate the proprietary yeasts and extended aging time its brewing process requires. The company also is considering taking an ownership interest in the facility, acquired by City Brewing last year.
"This partnership ensures that Latrobe's historic brewery will be back up and running and is the first step in building a thriving and vibrant operation in Latrobe on a long-term basis," said City Brewing Chief Executive Officer Randy Smith.
It won't be the first time Sam Adams has been brewed in Western Pennsylvania. The Boston beer formerly was brewed at now bankrupt Pittsburgh Brewing in Lawrenceville.
"We're looking for good things to happen up there with Boston because they sell a lot of beer," said George Sharkey, business agent of the IUE/Communications Workers of America, which represents workers at the Latrobe brewery.
He said Samuel Adams accounted for about 60 percent of production at Pittsburgh Brewing before Boston Beer made other arrangements about a decade ago.
Boston Beer produced 1.6 million barrels last year, up 18 percent from 2005. Just how much the company will rely on the Latrobe facility could depend on whether it supplements production at breweries in Boston and Cincinnati by building a plant in Freetown, Mass.
The company is obtaining preliminary bids for the Massachusetts project, based on producing more than 1 million barrels of beer and its Twisted Tea brands. Boston Beer estimates the project would cost $170 million to $210 million and expects to decide this summer on whether to proceed.
City Brewing produces beer, energy drinks, flavored malt beverages and other drinks under contract for Boston Beer and other companies. The LaCrosse, Wis., company purchased the Latrobe plant from InBev.
Production of Rolling Rock halted in July after Anheuser-Busch purchased the brands from InBev for $82 million and moved production to its Newark, N.J., brewery.
Gov. Edward Rendell visited the Latrobe plant in January to announce $4.5 million in aid for resuming production and promised more than $7 million in additional assistance.
Employment at the facility is projected to reach 100 by year's end and 250 within three years.
Len Boselovic can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1941.