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My Three Rules for a Celebrity Beer

I recently heard the news that Michigan Brewing Company, brewers of Kid Rock’s American Badass beer, went belly up.  While it’s sad to see a craft brewery go under and get gutted at auction by MillerCoor’s craft beer division Tenth and Blake, I’m kind of pleased to see a “celebrity” beer bite the dust.

Nothing against Kid Rock (we went to high school together and he’s a nice guy), but I have come to the realization that a celebrity has to satisfy certain criteria for me to consider their attempts to brew a beer anything more than a money grab or a way to extend their “lifestyle brand.”

Here are my three rules for taking a celebrity beer seriously, even before considering how the stuff tastes: 

RULE #1: The celebrity must be a beer geek.  I bet if many of you guys and gals hit the big time, you’d consider opening up a brewery.  Why?  Because you’re beer geeks, and if you had the resources to make beer a part of your professional life, you’d jump at the chance.  You might suck at running a brewery, but at least you wouldn’t be looking to extend your portfolio of branded merchandise into the beer world (looking at you, Mmm-hop!).  Instead, your heart would be in the right place and you’d simply be using your wealth and status to buy a plaything that you adore, like a billionaire buying an NFL team.  That’s what being rich is all about!

– RULE #2: The celebrity must have homebrewed at least once in their lives BEFORE they decide to produce a beer.  This is my acid test for a celebrity to prove they were a hardcore beer geek before they were famous enough to have the opportunity to have their own beer.   The reason is simple: If you have any real interest in producing a beer, there’s a very good chance that you’ve homebrewed at least once.  Now, I’m not saying that Bradley Cooper can’t suddenly get turned on to homebrewing by a buddy and decide that he wants to go pro – that happens to IT guys, art directors and college students all the time – but I think it has to happen in that order.  The other way around (hey, I’m famously famous and want my own brand of beer – how do you make this stuff anyway?) will most likely produce bad results.

– RULE #3: The celebrity cannot put their name on the label.  This is a biggie for me.  If you’re truly serious about being a brewer, then keep your likeness away from your beer.  Adrian Grenier, who played Vince on Entourage is a co-owner of Churchkey hipster-pilsner, but his face is nowhere on the label.  I really like that.  Unfortunately, he or his partner Justin Hawkins aren’t really beer geeks, so they don’t comply with RULE #1 above, but if any celebrity-associated beer out there comes close to making the grade, it’s Churchkey.

The truth is, I don’t think any celebrity beers comply with these three rules.  Actually, I don’t know of any celebrity beverages that do.  I know that P-Diddy built the CIROC Vodka brand, but he’s not a master distiller by any means, and I remember former Rams coach Dick Vermeil opened a vineyard when he retired from the NFL, and that he took it very seriously and produced some decent wines.  But I just did a little googling and discovered his brand is called “Vermeil Wines” and there are cheesy “coach” references all over the website, clearly violating Rule #3.  Bummer.

Maybe one day there will be a beer backed by a celebrity that’s actually worth celebrating.  I just hope if there is, we won’t even know they’re involved, we’ll just love the beer.

Have you tried any celebrity hooch?  Any of it decent?  As always, let us know below.

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Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Beer, Lifestyle

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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49 Comments on “My Three Rules for a Celebrity Beer”

  1. elle cee
    July 10, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    Maynard Keenan (of Tool, APC & Puscifer) makes more than decent wine under the Caduceus Cellars & Arizona Stronghold labels.

    • July 10, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      Well if he’s a wine geek (wine nerd? vint geek? vintnerd!! There it is VINTNERD!!) then that’s great – it’s how it should be done.

      • elle cee
        July 10, 2012 at 10:43 am #

        I really think he is – there’s a great documentary about him and his passion for wine – Blood into Wine. I believe it’s available for instant viewing on YouTube, if you are interested.

        • July 10, 2012 at 10:51 am #

          Blood into Wine is also on Netflix. Awesome documentary, because he *is* aware of how iffy such a proposition can be.

        • elle cee
          July 10, 2012 at 10:52 am #

          Er – sorry I was thinking ‘Netflix’ and typed ‘YouTube’.

        • July 10, 2012 at 11:02 am #

          You mean he’s aware that being a celebrity and making an adult beverage can be seen as a money grab?

        • July 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

          no, he’s aware that he sunk A LOT of money into a small vineyard after which he now has to fight mother nature and wild animals for the grapes to produce a good wine, it’s in Arizona (?) not CA, so he’s outside that whole California wine marketing strategy, and now he’s got to break into markets to get his wine out there if he’s got a chance of making any of his money back.

        • Don
          July 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

          Well, at least he can self distribute, a luxury that breweries are not afforded.

        • July 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

          For a while he held the record for the most expensive bottle of wine purchased at auction, I think. I do know he spent almost $50k on a 6L imperial of Penfolds Grange a few years back.

  2. Don
    July 10, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    I think Sammy Hagar might fit this profile with his Cabo Wabo Tequila. His name is nowhere on the label, he was into craft distilling in Meheeco before he launched his brand, and he is definitely into Tequila, thus making him a Te-geek-la nerd?

    • July 10, 2012 at 11:00 am #

      Ooh, that’s a good one, Don. Forgot about Sammy and his sleeveless passion for high-grade hooch.

      What about Akroyd as well?

      • Don
        July 10, 2012 at 11:11 am #

        Not sure about Akroyd. Not sure he fits criteria #2.

        • July 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

          Akroyd is big into his vodka. He played a large roll in the product itself, not just the brand. The story I heard was that he couldn’t get Patron in Canada and he already owned vineyards so it was a natural extension. The dude was pretty hardcore when he rolled into town. His own bus, stayed until everyone had their bottles signed, posed for photos and made a great impression on the stores.

        • July 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

          I think he’s definitely taking it seriously, that’s for sure.

  3. elle cee
    July 10, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Isn’t Land Shark a Jimmy Buffet thing? (not sure if his name’s on the label or no)
    Also – why in heaven’s name do I know that?

    • July 10, 2012 at 11:16 am #

      Yes, but I think Landshark is 100% a brand extension of the parrothead “lifestyle” as opposed to a beer born out of a passion for brews.

  4. Doug
    July 10, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Landshark started as a Buffet thing, but is an AB/InBev product now. Feels like a sell out.

    • July 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

      I’m sure it was created to be a sell out, so it has achieved its destiny!

    • July 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

      No, Corona quit sponsoring Buffet, so he went to AB and they made a product for him. All of Jimmy Buffet, from day one, was designed as a sellout.

  5. July 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Was Sam Calagione a brewer before he became famous? I’m having trouble remembering . . .

    • Don
      July 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      I think so…

    • July 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

      Sam was an English major in college and, after his first homebrew (which included blueberries from a local fruit stand) he decided he was going to be a brewer. Then he opened the pub in Rehoboth (after lobbying the DE legislature to allow brewpubs in DE) to use use to support the beer effort. He’s famous due to the beers he brews. A fair amount of hard work went into becoming an overnight celebrity.

    • July 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

      Wait, Sam Calalgione brews BEER?!! 🙂

      • July 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

        I know. It’s hard to believe. The guy’s everywhere. Anyway, he used to brew beer, before he became a TV legend and rock star. Now they just bottle his sweat.

  6. craigt126
    July 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    Some of the best beer in Chicago is produced at Piece Brewery & Pizzeria. Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick is one of their major investors. While that fact is widely known, it is not emblazoned on their walls or menus. I don’t know if Mr Nielsen has been a homebrewer, but from all I’ve read he does appear to be a beer geek. Of course, since Piece doesn’t bottle their product or distribute outside their restaurant, I’m not sure your celebrity rules apply.

    • July 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

      I really wanna throw in a funny Cheap Trick reference here, but I don’t know any. It’s probably for the best – I use that same cheap trick all the time…wait a minute!!

      Sounds like he’s into it, and that’s really what matters. I certainly don’t begrudge a celeb using their notoriety to get their business off the ground. I’d do the same.

      • Don
        July 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

        I’ve heard he goes in and plays his guitar while brewing…kind of like talking to plants… 😉

  7. Brendan
    July 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Landshark is definitely marketed for the Parrotheads. Nasty stuff, like low-end Corona, which is not a good end in which to be.

    This post reminds me of (drum roll) Billy Beer. I was too young to drink the stuff, and boy does it feel good to be able to say that, but it came out in July 1977. 10/14/78 is when his big brother signed the bill that legalized homebrewing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Beer

    Could be a slippery slope, could be a reaction to the taste of Billy Beer – we may never know.

    • July 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      Hmm…it would be interesting to research what effect if any Billy Beer had on Jimmy Carter’s decision to sign that bill.

      You should get right on that. 🙂

  8. Troy LaBair
    July 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    For all of the movie geeks out there Francis Ford Coppola also has a winery.

    • July 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

      Coppola breaks rule #3, but he’s been doing it since the 1970s and his wine has a pretty good reputation (as I understand it), so I’d say that’s a pass. Apparently a ton of celebrities have wine though (there’s a whole page on Wikipedia for it).

      • July 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

        Yeah, I hear Lorraine Bracco’s wines are kinda one note… 🙂

    • July 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

      Kinda cheesy that they have a “Director’s Cut” series of wines, but at least none of them are called Pinot Noir Got Married (a hybrid wine, natch) or Apocalypse Noir.

  9. July 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    I think Rule #1 is a must and #3 a shudda. But one condition I can see that could trump #2, is if the celebrity just identified some struggling or wannabe microbrewers and made sure they had enough cash to make it. (S)he could probably then get away w/ telling them some of the types of beer (s)he’d like to see them brew as well.

    • July 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

      I think if you have #1 and #3 covered and are an uber-geek, then #2 can slide a bit. Then again, if you’re really that into beer, you should have at least brewed one batch, even if it’s standing around drink beer and watching someone else do it.

      • July 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

        I’m very into beer but have no desire to brew my own–I’d much rather taste the fruits of somebody else’s labor. But I am very interested in observing the process so your proviso would seem to stand.

  10. Troy LaBair
    July 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    In my younger days I would waste my afternoons watching Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous on VH1, and in every episode the celebrity would open up there refrigerator and show off there self full of Coors light, Bud light, Corona, and so on. Why would all of these celebrities drive nice cars and drink crystal champagne and then turn around and throw down a Bud. I am guessing sponsors, what do you think.

    • July 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

      These days, 100%, but in the 90’s? I dunno. Lifestyles ended production in 95, a couple of years before today’s big craft brewers existed. I bet they had good caviar and champagne, but fancy beer just wasn’t on their radar back then.

      • July 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

        Pete’s Wicked Ale would’ve been as craft as one could get around that time.

  11. Diss Content
    July 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    Where’s the love for Fritz Maytag? Talk about celebrity, who hasn’t seen a Maytag fridge or washer? He rescued the near defunct Anchor brewing company way before it was fashionable or remotely profitable. He not only left the name alone, he left the brew masters alone to keep producing what he viewed as an endangered species. I offer the fact that no one has heard of Fritz Maytag as proof of his humble approach.

    • July 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

      Was he that cat in that dirty cartoon?

      • Diss Content
        July 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

        Yes, yes he was.

      • July 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

        Ah, Fritz the Cat–my favorite toon!

  12. Diss Content
    July 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    Need some more Americana with your beer? Why not throw down a few bucks and try some Maytag Dairy Farms Blue cheese? Before their entry into brewing, the Maytag family funded a cost effective way to make blue cheese using an American formula with dairy cattle.

    Why not buy a pound or two of Maytag blue to use on your home grilled burger to enjoy with an Anchor Steam beer? Oops, did you stain your shirt with beer or cheese? Well no problem because you can put the garment stained with Maytag products into a Maytag washer and trigger…. AMERI-geddon. The battle which decides what is more righteous, American beer, cheeseburgers or the appliance which removes them from our clothing. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

  13. Ren
    July 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    What about Flying Dog being backed by Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman doing the artwork?

  14. July 10, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    Sam Neill owns Two Paddocks vineyard in New Zealand. I think he’s fairly involved with running it too, as they have a blog “from the proprietor” on the website. His face and name (other than a signature on the back label) are also absent from the bottles.

  15. Sean
    July 11, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Sad to see the brewery go but of the 13 breweries we hit in a 3 day period they were a disappointment. The taproom felt like they’d serve continental breakfast at a motel. Kid Rock’s beer was awful (which goes without saying) and the rest of their beer was meh. Granted, when your day starts out with Bell’s and you’ve just come from Darkhorse the bar is set a bit high.

  16. July 11, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    I hear Wil Wheaten is a big beer geek. Maybe he could start a line of Star Trek: TNG beers. Warf Stout….Picard Pale Ale….Yar Hoppy blonde…. Counselor Troy Barley Winey….

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