PINELLAS PARK — Barack Obama had it all wrong.
The folks in the working class areas of Pennsylvania don't cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people not like them.
They cling to Iron City beer.
Then they guzzle it. Then they wipe it from their chins and hold the barrel-shaped bottle to the sky and yell "Go Steeeeeeelershhhh."
Okay, that's probably not exactly true, either. Makes a hell of a marketing campaign though.
Psssst. Iron City … call me!
Wednesday night, a small smashed smattering of Steeler fans took the stage at the 148-year-old beer company's official kickoff to a week of, well, beer drinking.
Iron City held its first Super Bowl tailgate party at the Pinellas Park Quaker Steak and Lube, a Pennsylvania-based chain that mixes muscle cars, motorcycles and food.
Oh, and football. Iron City is hoping to convince enough of the local Steeler bars to stock up on its brew. It started here on bike night, where Big Daddy Don Garlits was actually the bigger draw.
Still, a handful of folks were kind enough to turn their leather-clad selves toward the stage to watch as six Steeler fans were beckoned to crack six beers open — one for each Super Bowl title.
(Yeah, I know: it's only five. They're already counting Sunday, and I would have corrected them, but I did mention it was biker night, right?)
What was supposed to merely be a toast to the titles turned into a chug-a-thon. Half the six contestants downed their 16 ounces in one fell swoop, wiping their chins in glorious satisfaction.
The other half were men. One said he was buzzed after just a few gulps, but that's ridiculous. It takes at least three-quarters of one before you begin to feel the effects.
I mean … uhhh … from what I hear.
According to Shelby Cole, the promotions coordinator for Iron City beer, Iron City beer is to Pittsburgh what, say, Milwaukee's Best or Miller or Old Style or Pabst or Hamm's or Old Milwaukee is to Milwaukee.
So Iron City decided to bring the beer to its people, down here for Sunday's big game.
Cole was a trouper, for someone trying to peddle Steeler beer at a Cleveland Browns bar, which I'm not sure she knew beforehand.
While Cole was able to elicit a few cheers from the small group Steeler fans, the dude in the Kellen Winslow jersey with the Bud longneck gave a thumbs down.
I tried to toast him with my second stubby Iron City bottle, and he laughed. … I mean, he would have laughed if I had actually had, uhhh, a second bottle, much less a first one, to toast with, which I didn't, because I was working.
Ashly Browne, a local waitress decked out in Troy Polamalu jersey and earrings, a Terrible Towel hanging out of her Steeler shorts and black-and-gold socks, knows this crowd.
She worked here for years. Had to work the room every Sunday with the 200-plus strong crowd of Cleveland Browns fans.
They protested at first. Eventually, she won them over.
"They wanted me to wear a Browns shirt," she said. "They kept hassling me. I said no way. I told the guy, okay, how about I bring in a Steeler shirt next week and you wear that. He said no. From that point on we clicked."
Browne's husband Ken was enjoying a bottle of Iron City. He vowed for its tastiness, but admitted, "I buy it because it's made in Pittsburgh."
Ashly, she just flat out likes it. "It's got a nutty flavor," she said.
Personally, I found it to be a more delicate balance between white grape juice and sweet corn. The flavors really come out in that third bottle.