Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Visit To The Former Stoney's Brewery, Smithton, Pa...Or, "For the love of God, drink more beer!"



      It was one of those mid December days in south western PA, cold.  We have been pretty lax on the posts lately, so we wanted to do something fun, something......we can relate to.  It's sort of been an unwritten rule w/ us at SWPARE.  We do a hit, then usually end it w/ a trip to the flea market and pizza and beers .  Today, we decided to mix it up a little and hit the beer first.

     Stoney's Beer.  Say that around your grandmother, and references to your pap, hanging out w/ his cronies down the local beer garden will soon follow.  Founded in 1881 by William "Stoney" Jones, the first brewery was in Sutersville, Pa and then moved to Smithton, Pa to these buildings in 1907.  There is an awful lot of history to this beer, and a lot of it interesting and amusing, as the story about Stoney winning the brewery in a card game,  but I'm going to let the official history page of the Stoney's website do that story telling.


One of my flea market finds from last year
   


  A short video below on some more Stoney's information





     We headed on down that Friday the 13th, just expecting to get some exterior shots for the FaceBook page, but quickly found out the gift shop/offices were open.  As we browsed the shirts and vintage collectables on display, we started talking to Joyce, who works for Stoney's,  and she she gave Chip and I a history of the brand.  Really nice lady.   She invited us back into the taproom, a large "entertaining room" of sorts, done up nicely w/ deep wood tones, to look around.  This is the room that would end the tour of the brewery, and you could sample a beer.  All sorts of cool old photos, memorabilia and signs adorn this room.  It's worth a trip down here just to check that out.   An interesting sidebar to this story is, is that Shirley Jones, from TV's Partridge Family, is the grand daughter of Mr. Stoney Jones, and paid frequent trips to the brewery.





They have a kick ass gift shop known as Stoney's Corner.  Great stuff and at a really nice price!


     Stoney's brand beers were produced on this site from 1907, until the plant became too antiquated to be profitable, and was shut down in 2001.  From there, manufacturing took place at another Pittsburgh favorite brewery, Iron City, in Lawrenceville, Pa, until financial troubles caused them to move all production to the old Rolling Rock plant in Latrobe, Pa. 



Old aerial shot hanging on the office wall.  Looks like from the 70's

The Tap Room.  After tours, we reckon you could have gotten a nice cold sample here.  It still functions. 
    
 Joyce gave us permission to walk about the site for pictures, and as we did, we ran into the current owner of the property, Bob.  Bob bought the property a few years back, and told us all the old equipment inside had already been salvaged, and nothing brewery related remains inside.  He is reluctantly (in time), tearing the old brewery down to make room for his current undertakings.   Before yinz hate Bob for doing this, we have to say, he seems like a really good guy, but as a business man, he recognizes the liabilities old buildings like these can pose. He related stories of people coming in, only to vandalize the place.   Places like this would make awesome loft type apartments in the right area but the sad fact is, you can build them but who is going to fill them?  It's the same old sad story that a lot of other old buildings and towns face. 




What is not to love about Stoney Jones, riding atop a keg of Stoney's beer?  We'd party w/ this dude.
     
This whole trip was so inspiring, that I decided that I am going to make Stoney's our official beer here at SWPARE and bought a case of bottles on the way home, one of which I'm enjoying as I type this.    I'm sure Chip won't mind.  Danielle? She's happy w/ a Sun Drop pop.Man, we gotta work on her!



More rich wood tones adorning the tap room

Stoney's sponsored stock car


Visit here!  It's great! Open M-F, 9:30A to 4:30P.  Just 2 miles off Rt 70


Bottling house and walkway

Walkway to bottling house


This speaks for itself.  15 seconds after I took the picture, these were whisked inside to the tap room, right behind the door.  MMMmmmmmmmm......Fresh Beer.....

Part of the old production line.  All I could think about was Laverne and Shirley.....

Back of the brewery, by the CSX tracks.  If you look at the old 1970's picture earlier on in the post, this is where the smokestack was.  Demo has begun.

Stoney's and my favorite, Stoney's Dark,  fresh on tap down Bower Brothers bar in Fredericktown, Pa




Hey!   Smithton has coke ovens too!  We need another visit!










Great old sign



A whole lotta love is what we'll be bringin'....... Stoney Jones' grand daughter, Shirley Jones.  We've heard she paid numerous visits to the brewery while it was in operation.


Your friend and humble narrator enjoying a Stoney's Dark down at Bower Brothers bar in Fredricktown.



23 comments:

  1. Great story guys! I was raised on Stoney's growing up in the Connellsville area in the 1970's. I moved away from PA in '83 or '84 and in my travels never found a beer that compared. Stoney's, Fort Pitt, Esquire and Old Shay Ale if I remember were the brews from The House of Jones. Just up the street from the brewery was Elinore's Hotel (I think thats how her name was spelled) where the standard fare was 2 Esquires for a buck. This place was decorated inside with Christmas lights, about 2 miles of can pop-tops strung from wall to wall and autographed photos of Hollywood stars of the 1950's and 1960's. A cool guy sporting a disco era hair style named Melvin was bartender. The town of Smithton was also well known for The Magic Lantern Cinema. I've returned to PA (Monarch) and enjoy your explorations and have a renewed interest in exploring our local heritage. I want to get back to the iron furnaces in the Dunbar mountains, Casparis mines and so many other places that I have passed by before they are gone or no longer accessable. Thanks so much... and I'm getting thirsty... Bill.

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    1. Be careful, The Dunbar Mountains are know for harboring a Still or two.

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    2. Correction: Shirley Jones was Stoney's daughter. My dad, Frank Podroskey Sr. held her in his arms just after she was born. He was the refrigeration technician/repairman and good friend of Jones before world war two. He was also a radio operator for the Army Engineers at lock four in Charleroi. He transmitted river levels and weaqther reports to the river boats on all three rivers around Pittsburgh in morse code

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  2. Wow! Just saw this great article, video, and pictures. But it's very sad to see the brewery in this state. Stoney Jones was my Great Grandfather and so you know I grew up with Stoney's in more ways than one. I remember touring the brewery when I was little and being impressed by the large copper brewing kettle, bottling plant, etc. We used to hammer plugs in the kegs at the end of the brewing line and I can remember pouring pitchers of beer straight off the bottling line for the adults just up the street at Mammie's house (I never met Stoney). My Mom's Dad, John Steiner, was the Treasurer of the Brewery for many years and you see him in many of the old pictures too. I remember visiting the office and sitting at my Grandpa's desk in the Administation Building and him giving us trinkets with the Stoney's brand. We lived in Charleston WV and when we came home from visiting my grandparents the trunk was full of "free" cases of Stoney's and Esquire Beer. We always had ton's of Stoney's memorabilia when I was young but unfortunately didn't keep much. I've started collecting and am amazed at how popular the vintage Stoney's items are. I've stored as many pictures as I can find and the ones you had here are great, except of course, seeing the brewery in such poor shape. I think I'm going to have to come visit the Tap Room the next time I get up north (live in Texas now) and see all of the history. Hopefully, the brewery will still be standing. Again, thanks for sharing. Made my day! Bob Thomas rcthomas67@yahoo.com

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    1. Hi Bob...I just read what you wrote back in 2014 about Stoneys Beer. I live in NH & have been collecting Stoneys since the 80's. Was wondering if you'd like to exchange some pictures of items in our collections?
      Thanks & hope to hear from you
      Bill Stoney
      bstoney68@gmail.com

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  3. Thanks for the history lesson-fascinating stuff! A friend from Smithton posted this article/vid on FB.

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    1. Awesome! Tell him thanks for the share......we noticed a lot of activity on this post recently.

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  4. great story. stoneys was always my dad's favorite beer, until they switched breweries in 01. now it's Duquesne in the house. keep doing what you're doing, makes me feel closer to home

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    1. I drink that on and off myself.... Pretty good too. Thanx for reading and commenting!

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  5. Thanks for posting this! Makes me so sad to see the brewery in this condition. My dad, my grandfather and great grandfather, and so many other people put a lot of time and hard work into this place. Spent a lot of time here as a little girl! Then working at the gift shop as a teenager. I am going to stop in next week to get some pics before it is gone. I spent so many times running through that tap room....dad's office was right next to it. I would love to see it again. I wish in 1986 things would have been different but they weren't....If only....Thanks again for posting. Bill "Stoney" Jones would be thanking you also!
    Karen Jones

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    1. Thanks for the nice words. Very nice chatting w/ you online earlier as well. Feel free to send us any pictures you might get that are different. Nice to think that Stoney himself would approve!

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    2. 12/12/14
      I'M CONFUSED> IS THE JONES BREWERY STILL IN OPERATION??
      IF SO, WHERE COULD I FIND THEIR BEER IN INDPLS, IND?
      I'VE ALWAYS BEEN A FAN OF SHIRLEY JONES.
      SINCERELY, DANA ALFREDS

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    3. Well, Dana, The beer is brewed in Latrobe, Pa, at the old Rolling Rock plant. In fact, I just picked up a 30 pack tonight at my local place. Check w/ some of your good beer stores over there to see if ya can get it there.

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    4. Heather Dolfi CathersMarch 29, 2017 at 11:13 AM

      This is AWESOME!! I GREW UP IN THE HOUSE RIGHT SMACK NEXT TO THE BREWERY,IT LITERALLY WAS IN OUR YARD,WE ALWAYS WOULD JOKE ABOUT DUGGING A HOLE UNDER GROUND,we (us kids from town)would always ride our bikes in the parking lot ever since I could remember, that was our playground everyday as a child, and as we turned into teenagers we got our Lil wild streak and would collect the full cans of the warm, old,rusty skunk beer that would fall off the converyer Belt outside and we would drink it, lol we were young we didn't care that it was sitting in the sun, IT WAS "STONEYS", THATS ALL WE CARED ABOUT!!LOL!! My mom, dad, sister and I lived there for many,many years!! My dad still lives in my childlhood home and he works at the brewery (they call him Butch) he has his own office there and he runs beer back and forth!! That's where I called home!! I seen the brewery wall every morning I woke up from my bedroom!! I remember one summer looking out and there and there was a cornstalk literally growing from the gutters on top of the roof of the building cuz we would climb up on the roof and tick tack as kids and some ended up in there and there was a big stalk growing from it!! OHH, the stories I could tell!! I'm proud that I grew up there!! Gotta love a good ole' STONEYS BEER!! THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS PAGE, BRINGS BACK GREAT MEMORIES!! :)

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    5. Heather Dolfi CathersMarch 30, 2017 at 7:59 PM

      Ive seen all those old pictures many of times,but I haven't seen them lately but I just noticed the one that I can see our house in, way too cool!! OHH,and I forgot all about the bats that would come out at night from the tower and they'd always be flying in our house,in our hair,ect!! When the sun would just go down they were EVERYWHERE and we'd always sit on porch and you had to make sure the door was shut or go in OR out quickly cuz they would just fly right on in!! Lol,i swear we had "pet" bats constantly, we would actually save them from dying,I know we're crazy!! lol..

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  6. My wife and I visited the coke ovens shown. Several are in fair condition. Thanks for showing them. I have passed them several times over the years and never noticed them! We poked around and photographed the ovens, found a scale on Eureka Hill and drove thru Jacobs
    Creek and Banning. I just try to imagine what these sleepy little patches must have been like 100 yrs ago... Thank you and please keep exploring! Bill

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  7. Great work! I visited the House of Jones in August of 2009. The brewery was still intact but non-operational as all brewing was then taking place at Iron City Brewing Co. The folks in the gift shop and office were incredibly nice and we also loaded up on souvenirs as well. As I child I remember their beer was around my family's farm the old Painter place, Willow Tree Farm, on Route 31 near Turkeytown. My uncles, Grandfather and Dad were big fans of Stoney's, Gold Crown and Esquire. I would visit during the summer break from Tennessee and while roaming the house and barn found beer bottles, cans and an old wooden Gold Crown case I still have today. Lots of fond memories of Smithton and Jones Brewing Company. Thanks for your post.

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  8. Great story.... My last name is Stoney.. And I've been collecting Stoney's Beer memrobilia for nearly 30 years.... The pictures of the tap room & old display cases were awesome!! Even saw I couple things I don't have.... I live in NH and plan to take a road trip to Smithtown in the near future... They don't sell Stoney's in New England .. I remember my dad drove there about 15 years ago and brought back 4 cases of bottles & cans... Share your photos of any rare vintage Stoney's items... bstoney68@gmail.com
    Thanks, Bill Stoney

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  9. Is the gift shop still there?

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  10. Thank you for posting this.... I grew up in Smithton and my family has a long history with Stoneys brewery. My grandfather Michael Rorke owned the brewery before Stoney Jones. It was called Star brewing company back then. He never confirmed to my father whether he lost the brewery in a card game or sold it to Mr Jones.. Mt other grandfather - John Kalish was the brew master there for many years until his death around 1957.. He died in the brewery putting on his boots getting ready for work. I had several uncles who worked there at various times. I spent several fine days in the pub room. Esquire is and was my favorite beer. we knew the Jones family very well. Shirley was my babysitter way back in the day.... Thank you for sharing this. Michae j rorke

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    1. one correction above. The brewery company was originally the Star brewing co that began in Greensburg - when my grandfather owned the brewery in Smithton it was called Eureka brewing Co

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