5 Questions | Stone Cold Steve Austin
Flash back with us if you will, to the “Attitude Era” of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) This era was from the mid-to-late nineties through the early 2000s. It was dubbed the attitude era because of the in-your-face style of entertainment that was put on by the highly skilled athletes of the WWE. Over the top would be an understatement for the quality of entertainment a fan was able to witness in this era. From high-flying acrobatics and extreme stunts to wild promotions and one wrestler who always seemed to end up kicking his own bosses’ ass! We’re referring to the legendary WWE Hall of Famer, Stone Cold Steve Austin, who recently embarked on a beer collaboration with El Segundo Brewing Co.
You would be hard pressed to find a wrestler more synonymous with the attitude era brand than Stone Cold. He quite frankly did what he wanted, when he wanted, not to be contained by anybody, including his boss. Stone Cold was able to pull his character off because of his authenticity. What you saw on television very closely mirrored the Steve Austin in real life. Fans appreciated what he was doing and how he went about doing it. He wasn’t one to just lay down and say yes sir or yes ma’am, that’s just not how things were going to go. His entrance music for when he came out to the ring, began with the sound of glass breaking and soon became the phrase of “when you hear the glass, you know it’s your ass.” The glass breaking sound would immediately prompt thousands of fans to explode with cheers of excitement for their real-life hero, often times making it seem as though the roof was going to fly off the arena.
As much as we could sit here and talk about the wrestling career of Stone Cold, that’s not why we’re here today. We’re here to talk about his line of craft beer in collaboration with El Segundo Brewing Co. Stone Cold has long since been retired from professional wrestling and one of the things that’s been keeping him busy has been teaming up with El Segundo and creating the Broken Skull line of craft beers. So far, the line includes an IPA and a Lager. We had the pleasure of sitting down and having a phone conversation with Steve and we asked him a few questions about beer! Talking to Steve was an honor and he was very authentic and down to earth, he didn’t seem to mind to just talk about beer and other things over the course of about forty-five minutes. Please read on and we hope you enjoy, we certainly did!
PorchDrinking (PD): What’s your history with craft beer, have you always been a craft beer drinker?
Stone Cold (SC): I had always been a light beer drinker all my life. At the time I kept hearing about this craft beer stuff, and I had always thought craft beer was for snobs, but I was like man let me check this shit out and so I started messing with the craft beers as an alternative. I started off with the Pale Ales and after drinking Pale Ales for almost a year and a half I kept hearing about this India Pale Ale. So, I tried my first IPA, and it was a little on the hoppy side for me at the time, and for me it was an acquired taste. I discovered though that when I went back to the Pale Ales, they didn’t have enough hops for me. Therefore, I went back to the IPA, and I’ve been in IPA land ever since then.
PD: How did the collaboration between you and El Segundo Brewing come about?
SC: Hell, I wanted to get in the beer business a long time ago and I was going to get into the business when I was with the WWE, but we had a parting of the ways so that never happened. Years later I still wanted to get into the beer business, and I started talking with an outfit our of San Antonio and we ended up not all being on the same page so that didn’t pan out. As it turns out though, one of my agents at the time had gone to high school with Rob Croxall, founder of El Segundo Brewing. So, he told me, let’s put you guys together in a room and see if you guys like each other. Well, we weren’t in a room, we were at El Segundo Brewing Company. We were just sitting there talking and drinking beer and I liked him, and he liked me, and we started talking about coming up with something. So, after that initial meeting we ended up having another meeting and we were in a room with about thirteen or fourteen different kinds of beers, and I would explain to him how each beer resonated with me. I don’t like something that’s too forward, I like something that comes on about mid-palate. I didn’t want something that lingered too long and didn’t want to creep too high into the ABVs. Long story short, based on our conversation over that drinking spree, he had a notepad and was taking notes and he ended up coming up with a grain bill and we brewed that beer. A month later we came back and started trying it and that’s how the Broken Skull IPA was born. I honestly thought it was going to take seven or eight tries to get it right, but I remember going back and we poured a couple of glasses, and it blew me away. I remember looking at him and saying this is a good fucking beer! Rob told me to go home and sleep on it and see if I wanted to change anything about the beer. So, I went home and was asking myself what we could do to make it any better. After thinking about it I decided that the beer was exactly what I wanted, and I didn’t want to fuck it up, so I called Rob the next day and told him to go with that formula. Rob told me that I’m glad you said that Steve, because if you weren’t going to use it then I was.
PD: How involved were you in the complete process of the Broken Skull IPA?
SC: We were just sitting there talking and he was taking his notes and I wasn’t watching him taking his notes he was just writing shit down as I was talking about the different beers that were in front of us. He came up with the grain bill and the hops which were Cascade, Citra and Chinook hops, and for reasons of how I resonated with everything on the table he came up with the grain bill to go with the hops and there we were with that beer. He obviously had experience using those hops before and knew what he was talking about and with his knowledge and my palate is how that beer was chosen.
PD: If you could choose any WWE superstar, past or present to sit down and have some Broken Skulls with, who would it be?
SC: You know what, it would be a real honor and a treat to be able to go back in the day and sit down with Andre the Giant when he was still alive. He’s probably the king of all time of beer drinking for the amount or quantities of beer he could consume. He would drink anything like multiple bottles of wine, or the firsthand accounts of him drinking over a hundred cans of twelve-ounce beer. Just the fact that he was such an amiable guy who loved to laugh and who loved to drink and have fun. So, it would have been a total honor to have some cold ones with the best beer drinker in the history of the world, Andre the Giant.
PD: What’s something you’ve learned about the craft beer industry being on the inside that you might not have known before?
SC: The craft beer community is a very competitive community, but it’s a very close-knit community. I’m sure there are some rivalries, which in most things there are rivalries, but most of the people in the industry are really cool with each other and very supportive of one another even as competitive as it is. The whole craft beer scene is kind of like small companies against the whole world. I respect the big breweries because they have their history and their beers, but there’s something about these small craft breweries. I’ve learned you have a hard time competing for shelf space much less getting it on the truck for distribution. If you’ve got a brewery that makes a kick ass batch of beer, these folks that work at other breweries aren’t afraid to tell these other breweries that their beer is kick ass. There’s a lot of work and time involved in this industry, but at the end of the day the comradery is second to none.
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We would like to personally thank Stone Cold Steve Austin for taking time out of his schedule to talk with us about craft beer. Steve was authentic, down to earth and a great storyteller. It was an absolute privilege to be able to talk with him and get his take on all thing’s beer related and some other things non beer related! We hope you enjoy reading this article as much as we enjoyed talking with Steve.