Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pittsburgh Guinness Toast was First

Guinness Toast
By Ed Vidunas
Republished: February 2011, February 22, 2014

This was initially published in the March 2000 issue of the TRASH Can.

America has a toast every February to a good Irish beer: Guinness. The toast is a national event on par with Super-bowl Sunday and St. Paddy's day.  The toast takes place at the same time in pubs across America.  After a brief parting of the lips by the toastmaster millions of wishing-they-were-Irish lads and lassies bring their mugs together for a quaff in unison. The toast used to take place at 9:00 pm but has been moved to 11:00 pm to get the west coast involved at a more convenient drinking hour.

What may not be known about this event is a bit of a sore spot with me.  The toast did not come from a Dublin pub or Guinness but was "fermented" here in Pittsburgh.  First tapped at A. M. Lutheran Distributors in West Mifflin it was the creation of Mr. Roger Wilouby Ray.  He brought the idea to the attention of Mr. Mel Lutheran and the rest is history.  Incidentally, Roger was inspired to do this since he couldn't find his favorite beer in Pittsburgh bars.  So few bars had it ten years ago (1990) and this got his Irish up.  OK so he was English but he drank well and only in places that had it.

What my peeve is that the (now closed) A. M. Lutheran Co. played a major roll in getting this now nationwide event off the bar, so to speak.  This was a great event made even greater when Guinness took it nationally.  But does the country know about Pittsburgh or Lutheran?  I don't think so.  Guinness seems to not want to bring this out and I think that is a shame considering the work Mr. Ray and Mr. Lutheran put into this. It would never have happened without them.  So when you hoist your Guinness pint think of Roger and Lutheran.  It is my understanding that Mr. Ray died about 1994 or 1995.

Former Trash member Joe Kolozi contributed to this story.