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A Pennsylvania Brewery Is Naming a Beer After Joe Paterno—And Everyone Wants It

As the dust has largely settled around Joe Paterno—the late Penn State football coach who became embroiled in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal of 2011—a Pittsburgh-based brewery is releasing a beer in honor of ol' JoePa. And nobody is...
July 21, 2015, 5:20pm
Photo courtesy of Duquesne Brewing Company.

For better or worse, the dust has largely settled around Joe Paterno—the late Penn State football coach who became embroiled in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal of 2011—so why not toss a beer back and forget the whole thing?

Better yet, why not toss back a beer named after Paterno himself?

With little fanfare and even less backlash, that's exactly what one Pittsburgh-based brewery is doing. The formerly defunct Duquesne Brewing Company, which was a major beer brewer from 1899 until its closure in 1972, was revived in 2010 by local attorney Mark Dudash. In addition to its flagship pilsner, the company has recently announced that it will soon release a limited-edition Paterno Legacy Series lager, produced in conjunction with the Paterno family. Dudash told PennLive that the beer, which is scheduled to be released in the third week of August, "is best described as a red lager with no aftertaste."

Paterno's son Jay claims that the beer isn't part of a concerted PR campaign, but rather an effort to restore the much-loved coach's legacy. But while the NCAA has since restored 111 vacated football wins to Penn State—voided in the midst of the Sandusky scandal—and Paterno supporters have rallied to raise a new statue in his honor, that legacy is still suspect for many.

At the same time, Paterno's supporters are legion; recall the thousands of students who rioted in protest of his firing by Penn State, and those who sought to protect his statue from being removed from the university campus. As such, there has been no firestorm of resistance to the news of Duquesne's commemorative beer.

In fact, there's been quite the opposite reaction: sold-out success.

"If there was concern of any backlash, it didn't take long to disappear, to the point where Dudash has been stunned by the product's early success," reports PennLive. "The expectation was to sell out an initial run of 500 barrels by late September, but through pre-sales alone, over 2,800 barrels have already been sold without even venturing into Philadelphia or Pittsburgh."

"Something special is in the making," Dudash told the news outlet. "I just said to Jay [Paterno], 'There's a guardian angel up in heaven somewhere.' What's going on right now, it just doesn't happen. This thing is crazy."

Despite the brew's initial success, the sports blogosphere still has its skeptics. "Shower Your Friends With A Can Of Joe Paterno Beer," reads the headline from TotalFratMove's blog post about the beer. "This is the perfect beer for when you're underage," it adds. "Joe Pa will be sure to look the other way."

"I heard they are calling it 'The Enabler,'" quipped one Reddit user.

CrossingBroad not-too-subtly jokes that the beer can is "designed to be crushed and flattened into an indistinguishable object which can be recycled or simply swept under your rug for a decade or so while you drink countless more beers and scream 'WE ARE' at the top of your lungs."

Regardless of those few outliers, the overall lack of controversy is perhaps a bit curious, especially considering that a recent proposal by a Pennsylvania lawmaker to name a bridge after Paterno has been met with serious resistance. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called the proposal "a very insensitive and harmful idea," arguing that the bridge would be better named after someone actively working to end child abuse.

The editorial board of PennLive itself published an editorial in opposition to the proposal, saying, "There are hundreds of bridges, highways and stretches of roads in Pennsylvania named for famous people or to honor those who did something heroic … This is not one of those cases."

And maybe a bridge does deserve more handwringing than a lager. After all, it's a piece of public property that will stand for years. But beer? It all goes down the toilet in the morning.