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Texas Brew Review: Martin House’s Rubberneck Red rocks

Posted 6:21pm on Saturday, Mar. 15, 2014

Way back in 1994, when the fledgling Fort Worth band the Toadies launched its seminal album Rubberneck, Texas craft beer wasn’t much to talk about. Houston’s Saint Arnold was barely 2 months old; Shiner was in the process of returning to viability after being on the back burner for many years. Essentially, if you wanted a beer in Fort Worth you were probably looking at a Budweiser or Coors. If you were feeling adventurous, imports like Guinness, Heineken and Red Stripe were about as good as it got.

Fast-forward 20 years and you’d be hard pressed to find a bar or local music spot that doesn’t serve at least a few craft beers. Venues like The Grotto on University and Lola s on Sixth feature a variety of beers that give listeners multiple options while taking in their favorite bands.

With Rubberneck Red from Martin House Brewing Company in Fort Worth, launching on draft Monday, in cans March 24, and for statewide distribution shortly thereafter, beer lovers and Toadies fans across Texas will be able to enjoy a beer that honors the 20th anniversary of one of its beloved musical acts.

It makes sense that members of the Toadies would approach Martin House to brew a beer in their honor. Relatively unknown before the launch of Rubberneck, the Toadies since have become an internationally known band. Joining forces with a brewery like Martin House, which is set to expand farther than the founders would have expected at this point (chiefly because of their collaboration with the Toadies), draws some obvious parallels.

The beer is an American amber/red ale that’s based on one of Martin House’s other beers: the Imperial Texan. But rather than be as bitter as some of the songs of broken love on Rubberneck, the Toadies wanted Rubberneck Red to be a beer with less alcohol and bitterness. And, as Toadies lead singer Vaden Todd Lewis recently put it in an interview with Billboard, they wanted to “drink a s----ton of it.”

If you’ve had The Imperial Texan, you’ll notice similarities. It features many of the same hop flavors and a similar semi-sweet malt backbone, but Martin House was successful in brewing a beer that retains a full body without being difficult to drink and doesn’t have some of the aggressive pine-needle bitterness that makes The Imperial Texan a slow sipper. With Rubberneck Red measuring in at 5 percent ABV and The Imperial Texan clocking in at 9 percent, it will be obvious that, despite having some similar ingredients, these beers are very different.

Tickets to Sunday’s launch party for Rubberneck Red sold out in less than three minutes, so it’s obvious that hunger for the Toadies and this beer is strong.

(Click above for an interactive graphic that explains what goes into Rubberneck Red, and how it comes together.)

Quick sips

Untapped was unwarm, but still great: Despite being way colder than most predicted, Untapped Fort Worth was a booming success with big turnouts, excellent music performances and about as good of a beer selection as you’ll find at Texas beer festivals. Untapped-associated Canned Fest Denton is Sept. 6, Untapped Houston will be Sept. 20 and Untapped Dallas will be Nov. 1.

Karbach coming soon: Houston’s Karbach Brewing is expanding very quickly, and is expected to arrive in DFW in the next two to four months. With canned offerings like Weekend Warrior Pale Ale and Sympathy for the Lager and their much-sought-after F.U.N. Series, Karbach is set to become a major player in Texas brewing and its arrival in the Metroplex will be celebrated.

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