Joe Paterno beer selling quickly as brewer tries 'to keep up with demand'

ByDarren Rovell ESPN logo
Monday, August 31, 2015

Sales of beer with Joe Paterno's name on it are so brisk that the company that makes it, Duquesne Brewing, is gearing up for a second run after just a week on the shelves.

"We've sold close to a million cans," said Mark Dudash, owner of Duquesne out of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. "We're just trying to keep up with demand."

When word of Duquesne Brewery's plans made it mainstream, some panned the move to associate the former Penn State football coach with alcohol.

"In the beginning, there was some reluctance," Dudash said. "Wholesalers didn't want to overbuy and then have some fire sale."

But Dudash said, after the initial wave of criticism, the European lager thrived and blew past his initial projections.

"One distributor would order one palette, then the next day four palettes and then next day a half of a truckload," Dudash said. "We had hoped by the fifth Penn State game to have sold 500 barrels worth. We're up to 3,000 barrels already."

Each barrel holds the equivalent of 13 cases (which contain 24 12-ounce cans each) of beer.

And that's all regional sales. The beer is currently only being distributed throughout Pennsylvania and in parts of New Jersey.

Paterno's 46-year career as Penn State's coach came to an end on Nov. 9, 2011, when he was fired in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. He died less than three months later.

When George Bradley, general manager of a distributor four miles west of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, first got the call from Dudash on selling a Paterno beer, he was admittedly cautious.

"There are people on both sides of how they perceive the coach," said Bradley, a Penn State alumnus, whose Westy Beer Distributors services south central Pennsylvania. "We didn't want to get caught in a political battle."

But when he started surveying his retailers who would be interested in carrying the product, the response, Bradley said, was "shockingly positive."

Nearly 100 retailers in Bradley's area wanted to carry the product, and Bradley sold a full tractor trailer load (2,000 cases) in three days.

"I've been in this business for 17 years and I've never seen the response to a beer product like this," Bradley said. "My retailers want more now."