The Toadies lead singer Vaden Todd Lewis admits he didn't know much about beer before 2014, save for the fact he loved to drink it. But since forming a longstanding partnership with Fort Worth's Martin House Brewing Co., Lewis and his bandmates have learned the ins and outs of the craft beer industry by annually releasing an original brew.
Rubberneck Red (2014) and Bockslider (2015) were both solid recipes, if not entirely adventurous. But this summer, the musicians and brewers are throwing caution to the wind by releasing two beers, deemed Stars Above and Hell Below. Fans will immediately recognize the names from The Toadies' sophomore album, Hell Below/Stars Above, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.
What's more interesting than the number of beers coming out, however, is what you're supposed to do with them.
Stars Above, a raspberry sour ale, and Hell Below, a strong black ale, are two recipes brewed to compliment one another when mixed together. Pour them in one glass to create a fruity, full bodied flavor the brewers call Purgatory.
When deciding which beer styles to showcase this year, Martin House brewer Cody Martin knew it was time to break the mold. Since the brewery plans to sell Bockslider, an inoffensive easy-drinker, year-round, he thought what better time to experiment.
The uncanny idea resonated with Lewis, too. When he first heard about literally mixing and matching the next Toadies brews, he thought it was great.
Mixing beers isn't as strange a concept as it might sound, though it's not often encouraged by brewers. Many hopheads have combined recipes to create new flavors. One popular example is Odell Brewing Co.'s Easy Elephant, a mix of its Easy Street wheat beer and IPA, which is adorned with an elephant on the label.
That's not to say Stars Above and Hells Below can't be drunk on their own -- in fact, they'll be sold separately in cans (12-ounce) and on draft, so playing beer chef is up to the drinker.
Stars Above (5.2 percent ABV) is tart and refreshing sour ale Martin says will pair well with the summer months. It's kettle soured like the brewery's Salty Lady gose, however, the recipe swaps salt for fresh raspberries, which offer a sweetness in aroma and finish. Comparatively, Hell Below (8.7 percent ABV) falls on the opposite end of the spectrum. It's a dark and roasty black ale that's light on hops and full in body.
They may seem like an unlikely pair, but when mixed, the beers respect each other. The new flavor embraces both the sultry qualities of Hell Below and the bright characteristics of Stars Above.
In what's become a tradition, Martin House is celebrating the release of Stars Above and Hell Below with a Toadies concert at the brewery on Sunday, June 26. The party starts at 4 p.m. and the Toadies take the stage at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $33 for general admission and $62 for VIP, which includes early access to the event. Tickets go on sale Friday, June 3 on the brewery's website.