We here at NakYouOut are pleased and humbled to be a part of the Pittsburgh Brewing Company‘s 150th anniversary celebration tonight at PNC Park in conjunction with Light Up Night. Pittsburgh Brewing Company (PBC) has a lot of things in the works for 2012, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to tell our lovely readers all about them. We sat down earlier this week with PBC President and CEO, Ed Lozano, to learn more about his thoughts on taking over the company earlier this year and what’s in store for 2012 and beyond.
Kymbo Slice: What efforts has Iron City made to maintain its Pittsburgh roots?
Ed Lozano: That’s a trick question already. You’re supposed to throw me a softball. You’re supposed to say, “When did you buy the brewery?” And I’ll say, “Ohh April 1st!” (chuckles). First and foremost, we ensured that the company is going to be headquartered in Pittsburgh. We had the option of moving outside of Pittsburgh, but we believe in the roots of Pittsburgh and the affinity the city has with the brand and the brand has with the city. We have also partnered with iconic institutions that are synonymous with Pittsburgh. So you have the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Penguins, Zambelli. Those are all Pittsburgh institutions – icons that we elected to partner with and that we’re proud to partner with and we hope to have longstanding relationships with moving forward. We also partnered with small up and coming organizations, like Nakturnal – an all-women owned business that is growing and making their mark in the event marketing and promotions arena. We had the opportunity to partner with other businesses, both large and small, but we’re pleased with what Nakturnal is doing and that we’re solidifying our roots in Pittsburgh.
We’re currently looking for Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, which we’re getting close to finalizing. One is centered around recycling, which is relevant to our business and industry and very near and dear to the heart of Pittsburghers. Secondly, a charitable goodwill cause such as helping families and children who are disadvantaged. We’re finalizing our plans for 2012 where we’ll invest heavily and be focused on that – not only Pittsburgh Brewing Company, but our entire organization.
KS: What accomplishments are you most proud of since you took over?
EL: I think we have turned around some of the negative perception of Iron City and demonstrated – not just talked – that we’re serious about re-establishing these brands and making consumers in Pittsburgh and beyond proud of those brands. Secondly, I’m proud that I’ve grown jobs. We hired on five people since I’ve come on board and we plan on continuously growing jobs and growing the business to the benefit of Pittsburgh. Thirdly, I’m proud of what our team has been able to accomplish in a short amount of time. I’m not exaggerating. Having worked at multiple Fortune 500 companies and encountered global situations with the best of the best, what we’ve done is comparable to, if not better than in some cases what an Anheuser-Busch or a PepsiCo has done. To say that you did that with a small group of employees in a difficult and challenging environment like Iron City presented is something to be very proud of and I think we have quite a future in it.
KS: What does this 150th Anniversary mean to you as a President who signed onto the company within the past year?
EL: This brand is bigger than me, than the employees – it’s an iconic institution that is owned by the city of Pittsburgh and consumers. I’m not BS’ing you when I tell you that it’s a pretty big honor to be able to impact the future of a brand that’s 150 years old that means so much to the people of Pittsburgh. It’s not a run of the mill brand that doesn’t mean anything. It’s got 150 years of history and it’s going to have 150 years of even better history going forward. To have a small role and influence its direction is a privilege.
KS: Can you tell us about some of the new products Iron City has in store for 2012. I’ve heard about the “Man Cans” – what else?
EL: The Man Can was based off of two primary drivers – The 24 oz. package, single serve is a high-volume, high-demand product in convenience and drug stores. Our sales team asked for it, our consumers asked for it, and we delivered. The second aspect of it was that IC Light is our core brand franchise in Pittsburgh. Now that we took over the business we were thinking of ideas on how to reinvigorate the brand with consumers. I haven’t seen a lot of IC Light marketing, promotions or packaging innovation in a long time. We partnered with the Pirates, that was one aspect. We did some innovative packaging and new branding with the Pirates, that was another aspect. Now that the Pirates’ summer baseball season was over we started thinking of what other innovative packaging initiatives we could come up with. We talked about a larger single-serve package around bars, tailgating, etc. that consumers actually wanted, above and beyond just coming out with a bigger can. We really took the initiative to really brand that can. Not only are we promoting IC Light as a brand, we’re promoting a somewhat unique package with a very fun, cool descriptor called the “Man Can” to resonate with the young consumer who is looking for something more than just a larger package, something they can connect with.
There’s also Iron City Amber, a super premium, craft-style beer handcrafted by one of the best brew masters in the country, our very own Mike Carota. Iron City Amber is brewed with the finest ingredients such as Bavarian, Czech and Cascade hops and two row malted barley. In addition to Amber, we’re introducing Throwback cans. The Throwback can is a return to the famous “bullseye” packaging of the sixties and seventies. We’ve packaged the cans in a neat, resealable case carton that we’re certain will be a hit with consumers.
KS: Is Mango going to be back next year?
EL: Undoubtedly, definitely, mark your calendars. It is coming back. We are thrilled. We can’t wait to re-launch it. We almost considered not taking it off and making it a year-round beer because consumers wanted it. There may be another flavor that will follow Mango and we’ll reveal that when the time is appropriate.
KS: What is Iron City’s involvement with Light Up Night?
EL: Surprisingly, Iron City hasn’t been a part of Light Up Night, but thankfully, this year we’re partnering with Light Up Night for the first time in its 51 year history. We are the title sponsor of the Fireworks Grand Finale, which is the granddaddy of Light Up Night. Pittsburgh loves fireworks, they love their city and we’re sponsoring what is arguably the most important part of Light Up Night, the Zambelli fireworks. We’re very excited and proud of that. This solidifies our association and our commitment to the city of Pittsburgh and other institutions associated with Pittsburgh. In conjunction with Light Up Night and our sponsorship of the fireworks, we are celebrating our 150th anniversary at PNC Park, the home of the Pirates, another iconic partner that we’ve been working with. We are going to unveil our Amber beer, which is our second new product this year. This is exciting because consumers were thrilled with Mango and the feedback on our first new beer was strong.
KS: You have been sponsoring a lot of music related events in Pittsburgh. What is your interest in this market?
EL: We are passionate about fostering and growing artists and performers from Pittsburgh. Everything we do is rooted in Pittsburgh and this was an area, based on our partners from Nakturnal, who felt this had tremendous potential – musicians, promoters and artists who don’t have the support they need to break out to the next level. So, as a brewery committed to the city of Pittsburgh, we thought this would be a great fit. We’re working on an exciting platform, which is music, and at the same time helping young, up-and-coming artists, emerging talent who are in need of some support and marketing just to get them there. We’re happy to help them out.
We here at NakYouOut have been sitting on this for quite a while, working closely with Iron City to hand-pick a batch of local talent that we feel are poised for the “next level”. We are excited to finally announce the artists who will represent “Iron City Sound”, an initiative that fosters the advancement of local musicians, spotlights regional and national acts in Pittsburgh and blends our hometown music culture and Iron City Beer into one mighty, satisfying groove. Without further adieu, we present to you the Iron City Sound Ambassadors:
1,2,3 - Indie darlings 1,2,3 have gained national attention this year with their breakthrough release New Heaven, which has landed them gigs at CMJ and other impressive stages across the country. They are signed to Frenchkiss Records, a label they share with the likes of The Hold Steady, Passion Pit and Local Natives.
DJ Bonics - Locally, this guy needs no introduction. He’s a well-known former radio personality and sidekick to superstar Wiz Khalifa, another hometown hero who needs no introduction. Bonics has been traveling the world alongside Wiz, providing the soundtrack to his flow and soaking up the sights and sounds of the world. That doesn’t mean he’s left Pittsburgh behind. It’s very much still a part of his heart, and we wish him the best of luck as he takes it to the next level alongside his pal Wiz.
Dream Job - A powerhouse trio of musicians, Dream Job is rising on the local scene and booking gigs across the country. Known for their folky, blues-rock sound, their songs have been featured on numerous PBS documentary film soundtracks. We’re happy to help them on their journey as they make a name for themselves beyond Pittsburgh.
Kellee Maize - Google “female rapper” and you’ll find Kellee Maize at the top. She’s fresh off her third album release and subsequent party last Friday at Istanbul. Her new album is approaching 100K downloads on Frostwire and she had the opportunity to perform at Bonnaroo this past summer. It’s only a matter of time before Kellee breaks out to the next level.
Bear Cub - Bear Cub splits their time between Pittsburgh and Nashville in an effort to break their band onto the national stage. They describe themselves as “aggressive folk” but I find them to be quite charming as performers. This four-piece is doing it right, landing gigs around the country, yet remaining mindful of their Pittsburgh roots. If you haven’t had a chance to catch them live yet, make sure you do on their next stop through town!
We’d also like to announce an upcoming artist sponsorship contest. Iron City will be offering the winning band or artist a $5000 sponsorship. There will be an application process in which Iron City will select five finalists. These finalists will be subject to a public vote that will take place online. This contest is slated to start early next year, so polish those pipes and tune your strings, because we’ll be calling upon local talent to put this contest into full gear!
We’ve got a lot of fantastic things in the works for 2012, blog-wise and in the realm of Iron City. We couldn’t be happier about the direction things have taken this past year, and are excited for what’s ahead. We hope you enjoy these Iron City-sponsored artists as much as we do. Enjoy Light Up Night, Pgh!