We Talked to Stone Cold Steve Austin About His Skull-Breaking New Beer
When not taking steel chairs to the face, it turns out that Stone Cold Steve Austin likes to gently sip on West Coast-style craft IPAs. So he made one to reflect that.
Photos by Javier Cabral
When not taking steel chairs to the face, getting his neck broken, or showering The Rock with beer on TV, it turns out that Stone Cold Steve Austin is gently sipping on bone-dry, West Coast-style craft IPAs under the warm, California sun.
Specifically, he's sipping on Broken Skull IPA—an IPA that the iconic WWE wrestler developed in collaboration with El Segundo Brewing to reflect his current personal taste in beer.
MUNCHIES caught up with him on a Friday afternoon inside El Segundo Brewing's taproom to talk about his transition to drinking only craft, what it took to come up with his own signature brew, fellow ass-kicking wrestler Goldberg's recent accusation that Austin never actually drank any beer on TV, and how he and Jerry Only of the Misfits are apparently BFFs.
MUNCHIES: What exactly inspired you to create your own IPA? Stone Cold Steve Austin: Man, I just wanted a badass beer. I've been drinking light beer for 30 years. And then I started hearing about all of these craft beers. So I was like, "What the fuck is this all about?" So I started trying them all out.
How long ago was this? It's probably been a year and half or two, give or take. Time flies by. I've been hit in the head with so many damn steel chairs—it is what it is. All of my time estimates are just a roundabout time but if you want an accurate time, ask my wife.
I started drinking pale ales first, and then I tried my first IPA. When I took my first sip of that, I was like, "Whoa, this is a little too hoppy for me." So I went back to my pale ale, but then I thought, There aren't enough hops in here! I had to go back to the IPA and that's when I got stuck, but stuck in a good way.
Sounds like quite the dilemma for your palate. What happened then? Well, there's a bunch of badass beer-makers out there. I love hops, and I love IBUs—but not too much of them. I like the bitterness in my beers to trail off. This was my journey to where I am right now with this Broken Skull IPA.
How was your transition from all of those macro beers that you drank on stage to drinking craft beer? It is a higher alcohol content brew, so what you will find is that when you are drinking a heavier beer, you have to drink it a little bit slower.
Around how many craft beers does it take to get you buzzed nowadays? Well, I would rather sip and enjoy three to four IPAs with a higher ABV than guzzle six or 12 light beers. Just recently, I was in Dallas promoting WWE Wrestlemania XXII. And when my work was finished, I asked somebody in the stadium, "Hey do you have any beers here?" The person responded, "What kind of beer do you want?" I said, "You're not going to have the beer that I want, but any kind of beer will do."
So they brought me two very popular light beers, and god-dang. Dude, I went through the first beer and I was like, "This ain't worth a shit." And then I went through the other beer, and—this is with respect to the people who make these beers that are the best-selling beers in America—but these beers are simply not where my palate is at anymore.
I was ready to get back to my hotel so I [could] get back to my IPAs.
To each his own. Hey, man—if you like light beers, stay with them. I'm not trying to convert you. Beer tasting is just like anything—it is subjective. What you like, I might hate, and what I love, you might hate. Whatever floats your boat—stay with that. I'm not here to knock on any beer manufacturers, because [they've] been around longer than I have and there are some great ones out there.
All I'm doing, when I hooked up with El Segundo Brewing, was to create the "ultimate IPA." Rob Croxall, the brewery's proprietor and brewer, captured me in a recipe and I loved it.
Do you ever catch yourself craving a Budweiser anymore? Nah man, If I'm going to drink a beer, I'm going to drink an IPA. I don't care if it is hotter than hell and 110 degrees in South Texas. I like drinking IPA beer. I like them real cold, too. Not icy, but like ten minutes out of the of the freezer in a frosted glass. I like my beer colder than most people do—almost "Stone Cold," like I would say back in the day.
You know that a lot of beer snobs say drinking beers that cold is blasphemy, right? Absolutely. There is a place in Hermosa Beach where they serve their beers a little bit colder than room temperature and I was disappointed. They didn't have chilled glasses. It didn't float my beer, err, I mean my boat—I like cold beer.
Why an IPA and not a stout or any other style of beer? Man, I dig a stout. I drink Guinness Stout whenever I'm in the UK for business. I like Murphey's, too. These are badass beers, but these are not my go-to beers. I like drinking these when it is a little bit colder, like during fall.
Do you think we'll ever a see a Broken Skull stout anytime soon? I look at it this way: I think I created—in my mind—an outstanding IPA with El Segundo Brewing. We are going to crawl with it, walk with it, and then run with it as distribution demands. Trying to take on another beer, well, I don't multitask very well, so I'm going to stick with this IPA for now. Maybe we'll brew something else down the road. I don't want to put the cart in front of the horse; we'll put the horse first.
Right now, I'm just happy with the fact that we were able to come up with a badass beer.
Any chance that you might open up your brewery any time soon? No! This motherfucker Croxall is a godsend. My brain don't work like that. I'm a guy who used to make a living in a squared circle. I've segued into hosting reality television and hosting my award-winning podcast that has won no awards. I have no interest in that business dynamic. I was lucky that I found El Segundo for that kind of stuff.
And why LA out of all places? Well, I reached out to some Texas breweries first. That was the natural place to go because that is where I'm from, but most of them were at capacity for projects already or didn't have any interest.
So breweries in your home state of Texas turned you down? The business dynamic didn't work out with them. Me and Croxall got hooked up through a friend of a friend and we just hit it off. Sometimes you just click with people so we sat down, drank a bunch of beers one afternoon in the name of research and isolated the flavors that I liked in an IPA.
I started in Texas, and I ended up in LA, where I've been living for the last 11 years. Also, I only live about eight miles from the brewery.
What do you have to say about Bill Goldberg's recent claim that you never actually drank any of the beer while you were wrestling? He's full of shit. Goldberg is not a drinker, so when I was tossing those beers during our matches, he had to drink a little bit of it in order to not kill his gimmick off. If Stone Cold Steve Austin offers you a beer, you gotta drink it. Many times when I left that ring, I always had a pretty good buzz because I would go through so many beers: 50 percent went in, 50 percent went on for the crowd.
I'm in show business—I'm putting on a show. If I just drink one beer in the center of 20,000 people, that's not a very good visual. But when I pour that son of a bitch all over my face, double-fisting, now that's something that you go home and remember.
There is an art to beer-drinking and there is an art to putting on a show. Goldberg got caught up in the middle of it. He's full of shit. But when I say that, he's a very good friend. The media totally spinned it out.
What's your relationship with Jerry Only of the Misfits? Our paths have crossed so many times. My wife is a big punk music fan, and she's a big Misfits fan; I'm a big fan of music in general. Also, I'm a fan of fellow people who are in the entertainment industry. Those guys have been out there slugging out in the road just like me. Last time I saw them live was in 1999, in New York City. When you cross paths with another road warrior, it's always cool.
Thanks for speaking with me.