People love a good comeback story, especially when it involves beer.
Dancing Gnome recently partnered with Pittsburgh Brewing Company (PBC) to resurrect Robin Hood Cream Ale, a popular PBC beer first released in the mid-1970s. Starting Tuesday, you can order it online.
“The term cream ale is a bit of a misnomer,” says Andrew Witchey, who opened Sharpsburg’s Dancing Gnome in 2016. “It’s a dry, crisp, clean beer with a little more malt sweetness than a traditional lager. When you think about beer, that’s what this is.”
At his Main Street brewery, Witchey worked with longtime PBC brewmaster Mike Carota to whip up 20 barrels, or roughly 700 gallons, of Robin Hood Cream Ale. At 4.5 percent alcohol by volume, it’s an easily quaffable beverage, good for summertime imbibing.
The iconic brew is the first, but not last, PBC revival on tap.
As the company approaches its 160th anniversary in 2021, it wants to collaborate with more local suds-makers and, perhaps one day, bring brewing back to the Burgh, says Anna Angotti, PBC marketing specialist.
Right now, all PBC products — including Iron City, IC Light, IC Light Mango, American, American Light, Old German and Block House Pumpkin Ale — are made in Latrobe, Pa. Iron City Beer, the first brewski with a pull-tab can, made Thrillist’s recent list of 30 Beers That Changed America.
In 2018, coal executive Cliff Forrest purchased the old facility on Liberty Avenue in Lawrenceville, the site of PBC’s corporate offices. The nine-acre property boasts numerous buildings, some of which are getting facelifts.
“They’re restoring the exterior of the buildings, bringing them back to life,” Angotti says. “They’ve got a lot of charm inside and out.”
In the meantime, PBC is working to reconnect with its Pittsburgh roots. Top Hat, a marketing agency in Millvale, was hired in 2018 to rebrand PBC’s products to reflect the institution’s heritage and help them network with newer businesses.
PBC also teamed up with North Side-based Press House Coffee to create Iron City Bean Nine to Five Blend, a medium-dark roast touted as “the best damn diner coffee you’ve ever had.” Bags of whole bean or ground coffee are available online and at the Press House tasting room (the former Green Dragon Roasters) at 922 Western Ave.
“We’re working with the community because we want to support local brewers and local companies,” Angotti says. “We’re trying to remind people we’re here and we’re a proud Pittsburgh company.”