Rolling Rock

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Rolling Rock: Great Lager from Latrobe, Pa.

Nov 4, 2001 (Updated Nov 4, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Smoothness, better than other American Lagers

Cons:Low foam, aroma is a little skunky

The Bottom Line: Rolling Rock is one of America's best lager- style beers.


Rolling Rock is a lager- style beer brewed by the Latrobe Brewery in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. This beer was first produced in 1939, following the revival of the brewery in 1933. This facility had been closed, due to prohibition, but was quickly reopened when the 18th amendment was repealed.

Basic Characteristics of This Product:

Rolling Rock is sold in its infamous green bottle, with the “label” etched on the bottle itself. This beer is a refreshing lager, with a golden hue and crystal clear clarity. Poured into a glass, this beer produces a light head of white foam that isn’t necessarily impressive, but still longer- lasting than other American lagers. The aroma is a little hoppy and skunky, but not offensively so.

The flavor of Rolling Rock is nicely balanced between the taste of sweet malt and the bitter taste of the hops. Rolling Rock’s list of ingredients is a little longer than other lagers, and it includes barley malt, rice, corn, water, and yeast. These ingredients add up to a lager that’s distinctly grainy, but better tasting than other American lagers. For one thing, the taste of the hops is more distinct than you would find in, say, a bottle of Miller, and there’s no bite or fowl odor, like you get with Budweiser. This beer is actually pretty good, with a smooth, crisp flavor and a balanced taste overall. The aftertaste is mostly sweet malt and grain.

Rolling Rock comes in two versions: Premium and Extra Pale Premium. The Premium version has 4.5 percent alcohol by volume and 121 calories in a 12 oz. serving. Extra Pale Premium has 4.64 percent alcohol by volume and 142 calories in a 12 oz. serving. The only one I have ever tasted is the Extra Pale Premium, and that’s the version that this review is based on.

There are many theories and Urban Legends about the mysterious number “33” on each bottle of Rolling Rock. There is no explanation given on the bottle. One theory is that the number 33 represents the year that prohibition ended (1933). Another theory is that the 33 represents the total letters in the words of all the ingredients (water, rice, hops, malt, corn, brewer’s yeast). Yet another theory is that the 33 represents the local union number for the worker’s at the brewery. No one really knows the exact answer to the “33” question. Even the brewery’s web site fails to give a clear answer to this question.

Food Compatibility:

This is the type of beer that could easily be matched with many types of food. It could be drank in companion with burgers and fries, pretzels, pizza, hot dogs, fish, potato chips, and most any other snack food or meaty dish. Fans of Rolling Rock, of course, just love to swig their favorite brew to be social. In fact, Heinz Field, the new home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has named Rolling Rock as its official beer.

Final Thoughts:

Rolling Rock is one of the better American- style lagers on the market today. I don’t share the extreme enthusiasm that the Rolling Rock faithful exhibit over this beer, but I do agree that it’s a step above other well- known beers of similar style.

The green bottle has become a trademark of this product, much like it has with Heineken and a few other brands of beer. It would be better, though, if they ditched the green bottles in favor of brown because the green bottles do not offer sufficient protection from light. I don’t expect this will happen any time soon, but it would be better to use brown bottles.

For myself, I will always prefer a good stout or porter to a lager. But when I do feel the need for a light, crisp, refreshing lager, Rolling Rock is one of the first beers that comes to mind. It’s a good- tasting beer for social activities, drinking with snacks and meals, and just kicking back on the couch with, while you watch a little football. Cheers!


Recommend this product? Yes

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