A rock-n-roll legend gets into the beer biz
Before George Clooney, Michael Jordan, Kendall Jenner, Dwayne Johnson, and all those other celebs started hocking booze, Sammy Hagar founded Cabo Wabo Tequila nearly four decades ago. He’s the O.G. of celeb-backed booze. Now, Sammy is making beer: Red Rocker Lager.
The beer launched last October in the Detroit area, with a now fulfilled promise to find its way to other markets. This week, Red Rocker Lager hit distribution channels in California. The beer is described as a crisp, easy-drinking lager brewed in the Mexican style. Users on Untappd seem to rate it at about 3.5.
Young ‘uns probably don’t even recognize his proper name, much less the longtime frontman’s nickname, The Red Rocker, but Sammy Hagar is a bona fide rock star. Since the 80s, when his career really hit its stride, he has wanted to make a beer. Sammy says that back in the day, in the pre-craft era, he explored the idea with some of the mega breweries. We can only imagine how well that idea was received by the grey suits in the A-B boardroom.
“I tried to make beer first. My fans back in the ’80s, when I was in my heyday, were beer drinkers, man,” Sammy told The Oakland Press. “[My fans] didn’t know nothin’ about tequila. I’ve been trying to make beer forever. It just felt right to me. It’s just been the story of my music and my rock… I’m real proud of it. It’s not like this just came out of the woodwork in the last week or so. I’ve been working on this for frickin’ over 20 years, before I made tequila. So it’s about time.”
According to Hagar, who calls California home, “Red Rocker Lager is inspired by California’s chill attitude and beach lifestyle. From Huntington Beach to the San Francisco Bay and across the Sierra Nevada, this is the perfect beer for chilling, grilling, skiing, and surfing, as well as for cheering for your favorite team in the Super Bowl!”
Who is actually brewing the beer?
When originally released, Red Rocker Lager was brewed by Brew Detriot, a contract brewing company in Michigan. Presumably, they’re still brewing it. There’s been no announcement about who is brewing the beer in California if it is not coming from Detroit.
Red Rocker Lager is its own company and the plan is to brew the beer in several other cities across the country: Red Rocker has already applied for licenses in nine other states. It could make for a lucrative contract-brewing arrangement for a local brewery.
Will Sammy start a trend of rock stars and rock legends attaching their identities to beer? Seems unlikely, but it worked in 1996 Sammy released Cabo Wabo Tequila, and then it took decades for everyone else to catch on. It probably depends on how well Red Rocker Lager sells. By all accounts, it’s been well-received in Michigan.
I should mention that back in 2010 a Seattle area rock legend introduced a beer: Whip Ale. Michael Wilton, founding member/guitarist of Queensryche, worked with Lazy Boy Brewing and Diamond Knot Brewing. Like Hagar’s beer, the name reflected Wilton’s nickname. Whip Ale was around for about a year.