Prohibition and After
The History of the Pittsburgh Brewing Company

This Document First Published: March 31, 2017
Additions April 2017, January 27, 2018, October 20, 2019

Prohibition and After

When the word prohibition is mentioned it is common to associate it with the ban on alcohol from 1920 until 1933. But there was a prohibition enacted in 1919 that was essentially nation-wide. On July 1, 1919 measures were put in place The Wartime Prohibition Act took effect on June 30, 1919

Testing the Ban on Beer
The Pittsburgh Brewing Company was taken to court by the United States District Attorney after filling a suit on July 9, 1919. The brewing company violated the wartime ban on beer that stipulated that beer could not contain more than one-half of one percent of alcohol. The company was found to have sold 17 barrels containing a greater amount of alcohol. Warrants were issued for the arrest of eleven of the company’s officials. This was noted in Current History, a monthly magazine of the New York Tunes, Vol. X, April 1919-September 1919. This action was prior to the passage of the Volstead Act but the District Attorney undertook this as a test case. The Times did not report on its outcome.

1920 – 1933 Prohibition

The 18th Amendment
As much as the Temperance movement would like to take credit with the passage of prohibition it was really the first world-war that compelled the United States to enact the law. The war effort required grain for food (wasn’t required before hand?) and for alcohol. Woodrow Wilson wanted to conserve materials for the war effort. Congress passed the 18th Amendment, which was proposed on August 1, 1917. Wilson signed. The States Act required the States to pass the amendment for it to become law. The ratification only took 11 months as the last state, Wyoming, passed the act on January 16, 1919. The amendment took effect on January 17, 1920. It was a “temporary” amendment.
The Volstead Act
The 18th amendment banned making, transporting, selling, etc. but there was no enforcement to compel anyone to abide by its provisions. As passage of the law was forthcoming Congress passed the National Prohibition Act, more commonly known as the Volstead Act, named after Mississippi Representative Andrew Volstead. This gave the federal government the power to arrest and incarcerate. Wilson actually vetoed this but as we know it was over-ridden. Lawyer Bidwell Wayne Wheeler of the Anti-Saloon League drafted the bill. The Volstead Act took effect on January 29, 1920

Brewing During Prohibition

The “Roaring Twenties” was a time of economic and cultural prosperity, unless you were a brewer. The majority of breweries closed when prohibition took affect and Pittsburgh was not immune. Of the XX breweries in the Pittsburgh Brewing portfolio, only the Iron City Wainwright and Straub brewery remained open although Straub and Wainwright did not no longer brewed. The Iron City Brewery in Lawrenceville manufactured non-alcoholic and cereal products and the Straub brewery in Bloomfield made Tech ice cream. Wainwright remained as a cold storage facility. Eberhardt & Ober was open during prohibition but unknown when it closed. The Pittsburgh Post reported on its re-opening on October 3, 1933. Pittsburgh Brewing Company installed new equipment. All of the other plants never reopened other than Eberhardt & Ober..

Pittsburgh Brewing Company Plant Inventory of 1920

The Iron City Brewery plant did not shut down, nor did it cease brewing. Pittsburgh Directories during the 1920’s and early 1930 noted several brewers and other workers at the plant. As the company divested into other produces it continued. Below is a list of the breweries in operation prior to prohibition.
Eberhardt & Ober (sold in 1953)
F. L. Ober Brothers (sold in 1953)
Iron City (sold in )
Mount Pleasant

Iron City Plant
The plant continued in manufacturing non alcoholic beverages.
The writing was on the wall and in 191 Pittsburgh Brewing was making cereal beverages.
1929 Iron City Extra Lager
This brand was advertised in the Pittsburgh Press, June 20, 1929, page 29 as being available “today”.

Tech, Iron City, E & O, Winter Straub and a root beer.
Eberhardt & Ober plant was open. Charles F. Ober was superintendent in 1922.
Keystone Brewery was closed on September 1, 1918.

Straub Plant
Pittsburgh Brewing created a new company called Tech Food Products. The main activity of the company was to manufacture ice cream. The Straub plant was re-configured for this and the name Straub was no longer used. I go into more detail on this in the Tech Foods chapter of this work.
Wainwright Plant
The Wainwright Brewery was converted for use as a cold storage facility.


1933 -
At the end of prohibition the Iron City brewery receives permit PA-U-331 that allows it to manufacture beer. The beer does not exceed 4% alcohol by volume.
These permits, which was an Internal Revenue Tax Permit, allowed breweries to produce beers with an alcohol content of not more that 3.2%. Each brewery that had a permit had a tax number. These permits were required from April 7, 1933 until 1935 or 1936. A Federal tax was imposed on every container of beer.
Eberhardt & Ober brewery on the North Side reopened for brewing but closed in the1950’s. The facilities were evaluated and improvement were made to put the plant in operations.
Internal Revenue Tax Paid Stamp
This was a stamp that had to be placed on every container of beer. It was mandated from April 7, 1933 until March 1, 1936.
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
Establish December 1933, 4 days before repeal. The repeal of prohibition was December 5, 1933 with the ratification of the 21
st Amendment.
The Pittsburgh Brewing Company placed an ad in the December 5, 1933 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette advertizing Regular Beer and Hi-Test Beer. Regular was bottled with a grey cap and contained 3.2% alcohol by volume. High Proof had the red cap and contained, according to the ad, “
not less that 5% alcohol by volume nor less than 10% American Proof Spirits.
Pittsburgh Brewing cans beer for the first time. The cans had instructions on how to open the can with an opener that was given with each purchase.
The Uniontown plant was modernized under new manager Harry Isabel. Special German and Blue Label beers were produced.
1941 – 1946
Production in the Uniontown plant was dedicated for the military contracts. The plant was closed in 1948.
See this:
For 1913
Pittsburgh radio personality Rege Cordic coins the brand for Sir Lady Frothingsloth. Old Frothingsloth was "pale, stale ale with the foam on the bottom".
1959 March
Iron City Brewing (Entity Number 2270513)
Incorporated: March 5, 1959
Owner: Pittsburgh Brewing Company
Fictitious name filed: March 5, 1959, owner: Pittsburgh Brewing Company

Working with Alcoa, PBC introduced the first snap top cans in the word, which were test marketed in Virginia. PBC was also the first in the world to print scenes on their cans.
Pittsburgh Brewing moved to acquire Duquesne Brewing of Pittsburgh but was denied by the US Department of Justice.
PBC purchases the DuBois Brewing Company (brands only) and close it in May
Frank Hahne (b. March 31, 1856 Neiderfeleris-on-Rhine, Germany – d. 1932) founded DuBois in 1897 with partners Mike Winter and Jack Weil. Hahne was a former brewmaster for Eberhardt & Ober (1887 – 1896). His son sold the DuBois brewery to PBC in 1972.
Purchased the Queen City Brewing Company of Cumberland, Maryland.
Jack Isherwood leaves Pittsburgh Brewing.
Jack Isherwood Mini Bio
Partner in Birchmere Capital Management
President of Pittsburgh Food and Beverage
President and CEO of Pittsburgh Brewing Company
COO of Heileman Brewing Company
Chairman of Pennsylvania Brewing Company
Chairman of the Board for Allegheny General Hospital
Jack Isherwood leaves Pittsburgh Brewing
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Board chair from 2006-2014
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Board from 2000-2015
President and CEO of Pittsburgh Brewing Co., president of Pittsburgh Food and Beverage, and COO of G. Heileman Brewing Company.
1980 and Sam Adams Beer
PBC developed the recipe for the first 700 barrels of Sam Adams beer.
Pittsburgh Brewing board of directors voted on May 15, 1981 to liquidate after striking workers rejected what management called a final contract offer. William F. Smith Jr. was the company's president. Smith left Pittsburgh Brewing in October 1981 to become President and CEO of the Pabst Brewing Company. It was announced in February 1982 that Pabst Brewing was to buy Pittsburgh Brewing in a tax free reorganization. The sale never took place.

1984 – 85
PCB was the first brewery in the country to brew Samuel Adams under contract. The year of 1984 has been mentioned in other publications but the 1985 date is noted in the court case: BOSTON BEER CO. v. SLESAR BROS. BREWING CO.
The Boston Beer Company is a fictitious name owned by the Pittsburgh Brewing Company for the purpose of brewing beer for a foreign company. The Boston Beer Company is registered as a foreign company in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was created on January 21, 1985.

Business acquired by Swan Brewery Ltd. of Perth, owned by Bond Brewing Holdings Ltd. of Perth, Western Australia. Bond also acquired the Heileman Brewing Co. of LaCrosse, Wisconsin in 1987.
1986 and Penn Pilsner Beer
To be added in future

Alan Bond purchased the G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin, makers of Blatz, Old Style and Colt 45 malt liquor.

Pittsburgh Brewing Company (Entity Number 1032745)
3340 Liberty Avenue
Incorporated: April 6, 1988
Owner: Keystone Brewers Inc.

Jack Isherwood becomes President of The Heileman Brewing Company’s Eastern Division located in Pittsburgh. 1993 Michael Carlow obtains control of the brewery.

Alan Bond declares bankruptcy after going into $620 Million in debt. He then went to prison for fraud.
In mid-1991 Bond Holding sold Swan, Castlemaine, and Toohey brewing companies. PBC was independent this year.

1995, September 12
Keystone Brewing Company under Joe Piccirilli acquires the land, which was recorded on November 20, 1995.

In 1996, Carlow was sentenced to eight years in prison for running a $31 million check-kiting scheme on PNC Bank. (Check-kiting involves writing a check on an account with insufficient funds and covering it with another check written on an account with insufficient funds.)

Pittsburgh Brewing, then the 8th largest brewery in America entered negotiations with Red Bell Brewing of Philadelphia but no buyout occurred.

1998 Wildlife Brewing partnership
Wildlife Brewing moved production from Wisconsin to Pittsburgh under a five-year contract with PBC.

1995 October
Pittsburgh Brewing Company (Entity Number 2660152)
3340 Liberty Avenue
Incorporated: October 10, 1995
Owner: Joseph Piccirilli

1995 November
Pittsburgh Brewing Company (Entity Number 2665076)
3340 Liberty Avenue
Incorporated: November 13, 1995
Owner: Joseph Piccirilli, President
Prior names:
Keystone Brewers Holding Company
PBC Development Company
Pittsburgh Brewing Company

Boston Beer stops production at Pittsburgh. Boston Beer production moved to Latrobe and City Brewing in 2007.

2002 January 10 Stoney Beer
Jones Brewing Company of Smithton, Westmoreland County, Pa., maker of Stoney’s beer, closed. The brewery was started by the Jones family but was currently owned by Gabby Podlucky. Production was tmoved to Pittsburg Brewing Company.

2003 October
On Tuesday, October 28, 2003: A U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for IRON CITY BEER by ICB ACQUISITIONS, LLC, PITTSBURGH, PA 15201. The USPTO has given the IRON CITY BEER trademark serial number of 78319826.

2005 Pension Plan
The Pittsburgh Brewing Company Pension Plan, sponsored by Keystone Brewers, Inc. was terminated on April 1, 2005. It was acquired by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation on May 21, 2005. The PBGC noted 499 people in the plan but Pittsburgh Brewing listed 530 in other documents.

2005, December
Pittsburgh Brewing files for bankruptcy protection. The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority was seeking payment.

2007 March
Iron City Brewing Company (Entity Number 4015427)
3340 Liberty Avenue
Incorporated: March 7, 2007
Owner: ICB Acquisitions LLC

2007, June
Unified Growth Partners of Greenwich, Connecticut buys the property. Pittsburgh Brewing Company becomes the Iron City Brewing Company with Tim Hickman as President. The Chief Financial Officer of United Growth Partners was John N. Milne but was removed by United’s board after a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of his other company, United Rentals.

2007 July
Iron City Brewing Company (Entity Number 3743428 & 3743422)
3340 Liberty Avenue
Incorporated: July 17, 2007
Owner: Iron City Brewing LLC
This company incorporated twice on this date

2007 September
The Allegheny County Health Department announced a consent agreement with Iron City Brewing LLC. ICB, LLC are the new owners from the re-organized company after the bankruptcy. The agreement, signed on September 18, requires the brewery to replace coal boilers with gas boilers to eliminate particulate matter and sulfur dioxide.

At the time, Tim Hickman said major capital improvements were to modernize with a new automated keg filling system, replace the coal fired boiler to a gas boiler, rebuild the pasteurizer, clean the Ober Haus and replacing equipment. The boiler issue started prior to the sale.

Read more:

2009, January
Canning production is transferred to High Falls Brewing in Rochester, N.Y.
Read more from the
Post Gazette, June 12, 2009.

Relocation to Latrobe, Pa.

2009, June 22
As announced on this date, beer production is moved to City Brewing Co. in Latrobe, Pa. On January 22, 2009, the last batch of beer was brewed in Pittsburgh. City Brewing Company LLC is based in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

2009 July 24
Production ended in Pittsburgh.

2009 July the Wednesday on or after 25
Production starts in Latrobe, Pa.

Historic Status

2009 October
The Iron City Brewing Co. applied for a permit on Oct. 21 to demolish five four-story brick commercial structures.

2009 November
Lawrenceville residences nominated the property for historic status. The brewing company made it public that it intended to redevelop the land and this concerned the Lawrenceville community. They feared that too much of the existing structures would be demolished without any community involvement.

Pittsburgh City Council gave the Iron City Brewery historic status on February 16, 2010 after receiving a recommendation from the Department of City Planning, Historic Review Commission. The recommendation for historic status was first made in November 2009 and a public hearing was in January 2010. This action put a hold on the demolition permit.

2011 April 6
Many people and organizations met with the company and the Historic Review Commission concerning the structural integrity and demolition and repair of the buildings.

Uni-World Capital LP is a private equity firm based in New York City and owner of the Iron City Brewing Company’s brands and assets. Iron City retains ownership of the labels. Unified Growth Partners continue to own the property.

2011 May
Pittsburgh Brewing Company (Entity Number 4030950)
3340 Liberty Avenue
Incorporated: May 10, 2011

2013, May
Uni-World LP placed Rob Matteucci as interim CEO, replacing outgoing Ed Lozano. Matteucc was a Pittsburgh Brewing Company board member from 2011 when he was placed as interim CEO

2013, July 8
Uni-World Capital LP placed Brian Walsh as CEO, replacing Rob Matteucci. Mr. Walsh comes from Long Trail Brewing of Bridgewater Corners, Vermont.
Note: lcb Acquisitions (incorporated December 22, 2010), d.b.a. Iron City Brewing Company since 2010. It incorporated in Pennsylvania as a foreign company as it is a Delaware.

Pittsburgh Brewing Company debuts Block House Brewing.
The initial beer was Pumpkin Ale in tlate summer 2014.
There is no reference to Block House in PBC’s product page and no reference to PBC on the Block House taps or packaging. A Pa. Department of State search on August 26, 2016 did not find a listing for Block House as a business entity.

A trademark for BLOCK HOUSE BREWING was filed on June 9, 2014 but was abandoned. It was reinstated on April 24, 2015. The owner (original applicant) of the mark is ICB Acquisitions.

ICB owns these trademarks:
Owner: ICB Acquisitions LLC
Iron City Brewing became Pittsburgh Brewing in 2011. It was Iron City since 2007.

Brewery Entryway Economic Revitalization Corp
(Entity Number3964429)
Pa non stock Corporation
901 Western Avenue

As of early 2017 it does not look like any action is taking place at the site. The vaults under the Liberty Avenue sidewalks have been opened months prior as they were deemed dangerous but they remain fenced off to this time.

News media announced in January 2018 that Pittsburgh Brewing Company was sold to Cliff Forest of Kittanning, Pa. Forest purchased the company from Verus Investment Partners, formerly known as Uni-World.