Pittsburghers will buy Sam — and his dog — a drink during Boston series, just not a Sam Adams
Consider it a beer cooler version of the penalty box.
Patrons of Howlers Coyote Café in Bloomfield will have slightly fewer beer choices during the NHL Eastern Conference finals between the Penguins and Boston Bruins that begin on Saturday. For the series' duration, the tavern is banning sales of various versions of Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
“I have a roll of caution tape,” Shaun McGhen, a Howlers manager and bartender, said on Thursday. “We're going to put it up around the three types of Sam Adams that we have in stock — the regular, the summer and the coastal wheat.”
McGhen, 28, of Bloomfield conceived the Pens-prompted prohibition shortly after starting his Wednesday shift at the Liberty Avenue tavern known for its rock shows. Howlers isn't a sports bar with ubiquitous flat-screen, high-definition TV sets displaying Godzilla-sized evidence that Pens superstar Sidney Crosby needs considerable dental work.
“I got in there and a guy was sipping a Sam Adams,” McGhen said. “I told him if he wanted another one, he'd better get it now because in a couple days we're done with it.”
McGhen indicated the same thing on the bar's message board, which he photographed and posted on Howlers' Facebook page.
“It had about 3,000 Facebook hits after an hour. I checked after my shift, it had over 6,000 hits and a hundred likes,” he said. “That was not what I was expecting. It's a dangerous thing, that Internet.”
The ban likely will further fray a relationship between the 'Burgh and the beer once as solid as the head of a Guinness draft. When Sam Adams debuted in 1985, it was produced under contract by Pittsburgh Brewing Co., the folks who once turned out barrel after barrel of Iron City beer.
Times were simpler then. Today, Iron City is brewed not in Pittsburgh but under contract at City Brewery in Latrobe. Some Samuel Adams kegs are brewed in Boston, but the company has breweries in places that don't automatically trigger thoughts of one of the architects of the American Revolution: Cincinnati and Breiningsville, Lehigh County.
After Howlers' shot across the beer, will Boston bars retaliate? A cursory survey of several sports bars indicated they won't, and not just because Iron City isn't really poured — or even heard of — in Beantown.
“They can do what they want in Pittsburgh but this should be settled on the ice, not in the bar,” said Peter Colton, manager of The Four's, a tavern whose website boasts 42 flat-screen, high-definition TVs that, it is to be hoped, are about to air a series of Bill Buckneresque moments of heartbreak for Bostonians.
If you think Howlers having Sam Adams sit out the playoffs is a punishment more silly than severe, think again.
Most hockey penalties last two minutes. Serious rule infractions will get you five. If the Pens-Bruins' battle for the right to play in the Stanley Cup finals goes a full seven games, the penalty against Samuel Adams will last two weeks.
That's 4,032 times longer than a hockey goon would spend in the box for head-butting.
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.