I consider myself an old-fashioned beer drinker, and thus I sometimes cringe when beer geeks talk about “food pairings” for beer. Come on, man! It’s beer, not wine! But I do make one exception: if you’re eating pizza or burgers, you need an old-fashioned pale lager to complete the experience. I think the classic cheap lager gets unjustly dumped on by “serious” beer drinkers. Sure, the style is neither flavorful nor sophisticated. But sometimes it’s not about flavor or sophistication. Sometimes it’s a hot day and you just want a cold, refreshing, thirst-quenching beer. Sometimes you’re chowing down on Chicago hot dogs and want to wash them down with something simple and clean. There’s a time and a place for all beer styles – even for what one might call a “piss beer”. I’m constantly in search of a go-to piss beer. I have cases of Straub and Stroh’s in my basement at the moment. I’ll even drink a Budweiser at a restaurant if I have to. But if there’s one beer of this style that always does the trick for me, it’s the much-maligned Iron City. I know what you’re thinking, beer snob. Fuck you – Iron City rocks!
If I’m passing through southwestern Pennsylvania, lunch or dinner at Primanti Brothers is mandatory. There’s nothing like a Pitts-burgher cheese steak #2 best seller, but it’s not the same without a bottle of Iron City. Iron City is equally good at home – “paired” with nachos, stromboli, fried chicken, brats, Philly cheesteaks, and other fine health foods. IC is what all pale/macro/cheap/piss lagers should be: clean, crisp, thirst-quenching, and smooth – without the nasty corn adjunct aftertaste that sometimes plagues brews of this style. You have to respect a beer that has existed for 150 years and continues to go strong. Unlike Rolling Rock, which got bought out by Bud and now comes from the swamps of Jersey, Iron City is still brewed and bottled in Western PA (Do not underestimate the importance of water in the beer equation!). It’s one of our last remaining classic American "beer-drinker beers", and it should be treasured. For the very same reasons it gets slammed by beer reviewers all over the Internet, I love Iron City Beer.