Vaden Todd Lewis will admit he never thought he'd become a professional rock and roll musician, but the Toadies' front man had even fewer expectations about becoming a beer brewer.
Sunday, Lewis and his band mates celebrated the release of an original craft beer called Bockslider, their second developed in conjunction with the local Martin House Brewing Co. More than 2,000 people crowded the brewery to get the first taste of the beer, a Texas bock, and enjoy an outdoor concert from its creators with the Trinity River and Fort Worth skyline as a backdrop.
"What do you guys think of the new beer?" Lewis asked to resounding applause before launching into "Backslider," the 1994 song for which the beer is named.
Also on tap Sunday was the Toadies' debut brew, Rubberneck Red, released in spring 2014 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the band's hallmark album, Rubberneck. In both cases, Lewis and drummer Mark Reznicek were hands on throughout the creative process, giving Martin House brewer Cody Martin stylistic direction and sampling variations until the balance of flavors was right.
"I'm not a real picky drinker," Lewis said in an interview prior to the release party. "I like beer and I like to be able to put back two or three of them and not be drunk, so I wanted a sessionable beer."
The same applied to Bockslider, which clocks in at 5.6 percent alcohol content. For this recipe, Lewis and company were going for something akin to Shiner Bock but with a unique twist. That twist comes by way of a solid malt profile, which gives the beer a full-bodied mouth feel and thick, roasted aftertaste. It's complex, clean and oh so delicious.
Sunday's beer launch -- which went off without a hitch despite austere gray clouds and tornado warnings -- acted as a kick-off for the Toadies' busy year ahead. Lewis promised a tour and a "complete left-turn album," due out this fall.
The yet-to-be-named album originated as a concept from Dia De Los Toadies, the band's annual music festival in Fort Worth, when the band plays a stripped down acoustic set on the first day of the fest.
"The longer we did it, the more we started messing with the arrangement and changing the instrumentation," Lewis said. Eventually the band would be playing Toadies songs using mandolins, 12-string and pedal steel guitars, among several other uncharacteristic music makers.
The majority of new album will be original Toadies song reinvented in this way, but Lewis said it will also include never before released tracks as well as newly penned tunes. He described the project as "bizarre," but hopes fans will enjoy it as much as the hits.
"I believe you can take any decent song and you can put totally different instruments on it and play it and it will still be a good song," Lewis said. "We took that belief and applied it to our own music."
We can't wait to see how theory applies to the Toadies' next craft beer.
Bockslider is a limited-release beer, available on tap at bars and restaurants as well as in six-packs of 12-ounce cans at retail establishments as of Monday. Rubberneck Red has since been retired, but band and brewery plan to collaborate annually and maybe release a variety six-pack down the road.