As North Texans, we'd like to consider alt-rockers the Toadies trendsetters in making an original craft beer. In truth, the Fort Worth-bred band, which released its Rubberneck Red ale in 2014 with Martin House Brewing, wasn't the first with this idea and it certainly won't be the last. (At the very least we can say we foresaw celebrity brewers becoming a "thing.")
The number of musicians lending their names to beer labels is on the rise, with at least two new collaborations announced in the first couple months of this year alone. Rock, country, metal -- artists across the spectrum of genres are jumping into the game.
Rock Brothers Brewing is a young Tampa brewery that focuses exclusively on beer-and-band releases. Founder Kevin Lilly, who spent more than a decade in the music industry, noted two key reasons that musicians get behind the mash tun.
"There's the economic reality of it ... [bands] are looking for alternative revenue streams, but they want those streams to be genuine," Lilly says, which leads him to his second point -- artists feel like they can stand behind the product. "The band literally has a stake in each beer from the recipe, to the label and design."
Deleware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has been releasing tunes-inspired beers since 2010. Through a partnership with Sony Legacy Recordings, the brewery has honored musical milestones for blues man Robert Johnson and rock band Pearl Jam, among others, with an original recipe.
Because we know that few things pair better than music and beer, here are 11 musically-inspired brews you should know about. (Note: Not all of these are available in Texas.)
The Grateful Dead - American Beauty
Dogfish Head attempted to bottle the immeasurable success of the Grateful Dead with this American pale ale. The company enlisted the help of the public too, by running a contest to find one special ingredient that represented the band as well as the beer. Out of 1,500 suggestions, brewers chose granola (100 percent all-American granola, in case you had doubts). The result is a lively brew clocking 9 percent alcohol content sure to keep you truckin'.
311 - Amber Ale
Members of the alt-rock band 311 and its collaborating breweries -- Rock Brothers, Cigar City Brewing and Nebraska Brewing -- debuted an original craft beer, Amber Ale, in summer 2015, releasing it in Texas during a statewide run of shows. The name is fitting, you know, because amber is the color of your energy -- whoa-oh! The brew is an easy-drinking 5.5 percent ABV with roasted caramel malts and Equinox hops that's citrusy on the nose and palate. It is available year-round.
The Toadies - Rubberneck Red and Bockslider
These beers "come from the water" ... OK, in all seriousness, they were brewed with Martin House Brewing Co. in Fort Worth, where the Toadies spawned a music career. Rubberneck Red hit the market in 2014. A vivacious 5 percent ABV red ale, it's a less intense version of the brewery's imperial red, brewed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band's debut album Rubberneck. In 2015, the brewery and band teamed up again for Bockslider, named for another 1994 hit. Consider it a more complex version of Shiner Bock. Both beers were limited releases, but Martin House co-founder Cody Martin said the brewery may consider releasing a Toadies six-pack in a few years. Keep an eye out for another collaboration in spring 2016.
Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
In another ode to music history, Dogfish Head created Miles Davis Bitches Brew, named for the legendary record and released in conjunction with its 40th anniversary in 2010. The brewery tried to be as smooth and daring as the album, creating "a dark beer that's a fusion of three threads of imperial stout and one thread of honey beer with gesho root," according to the website. At 9 percent alcohol, you may just be drunk enough to keep time.
Hanson - MMMhops
The Tulsa-born Hanson brothers win the award for punniest beer with this pale ale, which plays off the name of the band's (only?) 1996 chart-topping hit "Mmmbop." The beer hit the market in May 2013, but isn't widely distributed. At least until the boy-turned-man band's fall concert tour, which includes beer launches in 10 cities. And yes, that includes Dallas. If you're dying to try it now, however, you can order it online.
Dan The Automater - Positive Contact
This one might blow a couple minds -- it's a craft beer and cider hybrid brewed with Fuji apples, roasted farro, cayenne pepper and cilantro. Apparently those are hip-hop artist (and half of Deltron 3030) Dan the Automator's favorite ingredients. The beer, brewed by Dogfish Head, is named for the musicians first album and comes in at 9 percent ABV.
Robert Earl Keen - Honey Pils
Texas country legend Robert Earl Keen joked about wanting to make an original beer for years. But when he mentioned the idea to Lee Hereford, the Pedernales Brewing Co. founder jumped at the opportunity to make that dream a reality. The result, which came out in October 2014, is a 5-percent ABV pilsner brewed with Central Texas honey. Or as Keen called it in a recent interview, simply a "gold and bubbly beer." It is available year-round.
Robert Johnson - Hellhound on My Ale
Dogfish Head released this ale -- a profoundly hoppy brew at 100 International Bitterness Units -- in 2011, in honor of what would have been the legendary blues man Robert Johnson's 100th birthday. In addition to being brewed with an incredible amount of hops, the beer is also dry-hopped. Johnson was rumored to have sold his soul, so Dogfish Head attempted to make the beer as big as the legend at 10 percent alcohol. Other ingredients include lemon peel, which is an ode to Johnson's mentor, Dallas blues legend Blind Lemon Jefferson.
Umphrey's McGee - Nothing Too Fancy
One of the most beloved jam bands currently touring the festival circuit has jumped into the craft beer game with an original recipe that debuted in 2015. True to the name, it's described as a sessionable American wheat ale that promises fruity hops flavors. Although Rock Brothers devised the recipe with help from Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, the beer will be produced by Boulder Beer Co. in Colorado.
Pelican - The Creeper and Immutable Dusk
Indiana's 3 Floyds Brewing Co. has earned clout as one of the more hard-core breweries in the States for its series of metal band-inspired brews, including two it created with headbanging four-piece Pelican. The first, The Creeper, is a German-American style Doppelbock brewed for the band's 10th anniversary. The second, Immutable Dusk, is a black IPA clocking 7 percent alcohol content. Also in 3 Floyds' catalog: recipes for Lair of the Minotaur, Pig Destroyer, EYEHATEGOD and Municipal Waste.
Pearl Jam - Faithfull Ale
Pearl Jam's discography is extensive, but this brew specifically celebrates Ten, released in 1991. Unsurprisingly, Dogfish Head created a beer to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Ten -- a Belgian-style golden ale described as fruit-forward on the brewery's website due to the addition of black currant. Despite the album name, Faithfull Ale weighs in at 7 percent ABV.