ST. LOUIS (AP) – Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., citing consumers’ need for variety in beer, said Friday it will pay $82 million to purchase the Rolling Rock beer brand from InBev USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev SA. The company, the nation’s largest brewer, said it will begin producing Rolling Rock and Rock Green Light in August at its Newark, N.J., facility, one of 12 Anheuser-Busch breweries across the country. The plant where the beer has historically been brewed, in Latrobe, Pa., and which employs more than 200, will be sold, InBev USA said. The deal will allow Rolling Rock brands to be made available to more consumers, St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch said. “We have an ideal opportunity to grow this historic brand,” Anheuser-Busch president August A. Busch IV said. “This beer is not like others, and its consumer following is equally distinctive. “We live in a diverse world where consumers are hungry for variety,” Busch said. “Acquiring Rolling Rock enables us to reach a new audience and to continue building our broad portfolio of products that meet the wide-ranging needs of consumers.” Ben Steinman, editor of the industry publication Beer Marketer’s Insights, said the purchase is part of Anheuser-Busch’s growing effort to diversify its product line. In February, the brewery signed a deal to be the sole U.S. distributor of Grolsch, a high-end European import. At the time, Busch said the company was looking to add more import beers to its portfolio. “A-B was something of a monolith _ they had these megabrands, Bud and Bud Light, and serviced the needs of a great number of drinkers,” Steinman said. “What’s been happening in the last several years is drinkers crave more variety and more choice. What you’re seeing is A-B trying to get after this.” InBev USA, based in Norwalk, Conn., said it will sell the Latrobe brewery and focus its U.S. business on its imported beers, which include Stella Artois and Beck’s. The company is in talks with potential buyers. “The decision to sell the Rolling Rock brands was based on InBev’s strategic approach to the U.S. market, which is to focus on the high-growth import brands in our portfolio,” said Doug Corbett, president of InBev USA. Rolling Rock was introduced in 1939 by Latrobe Brewing Co. It was acquired by InBev’s Labatt U.S.A. in 1987. The sale has imperiled the jobs of the workers at the Latrobe brewery, which has operated for more than a century and has become a local and regional fixture. Scores of unionized workers from the brewery gathered Friday at a hotel to pick up severance information. “They’re claiming we’re going to stay open two and-a-half months,” Joe Mulheren, a union steward, told Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV. “If we don’t get a buyer in two and-a-half months, we’ll be done July 31st.” A closure could significantly affect the local economy as the brewery is among Latrobe’s top sources of real estate tax and one of its biggest buyers of water. Ed Dobies, who has worked at the brewery for 42 years, said that “taking Rolling Rock out of Latrobe doesn’t sit right with me.” Anheuser-Busch said it will maintain Rolling Rock’s and Rock Green Light’s recipes, and will continue to sell the beers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Shares of Anheuser-Busch fell 6 cents to close at $46.13 on the New York Stock Exchange. AP reporter Daniel Lovering in Pittsburgh contributed to this story. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!