Kid Rock. He’s an American bad ass in a leather jacket; rock & roll Jesus in a ponytail; Motor City mayhem plugged into a 200 watt amp. Hell , he’s even got his own wing at the Detroit Historical Museum, the Kid Rock Music Lab, starring Kid Rock and other local legends. He wrote “Bawitdaba”, “Cowboy”, “Only God Knows Why”, “Picture”, “All Summer Long” – you name it, man. Not bad for an ex-pimp, eh?
Oh, and he helped design a little brew known as Badass Beer. There’s that, too.
Yes, Badass Beer. The intent, I’m sure, was to make the ultimate pale lager, to perfect the uniquely American brand of addictive piss water we’ve trademarked here in the United States. Think Budweiser, Miller, and Coors, the beers you drink at tailgate parties and outdoor barbecues, but better. The majestic bald eagle on the bottle’s black label – seemingly poised to snatch up and destroy inferior beers – immediately informed consumers Kid Rock wasn’t messing around with Badass Beer. With 4.2% alcohol by volume, Badass Beer was basically a light beer with more flavor, a drink designed to go down incredibly easy.
And boy, did it.
Badass Beer truly was an uncanny beverage without peer in the modern world. Brewed by Michigan Brewing Company in tiny Webberville, Michigan, Badass Beer tasted like someone (ahem, Kid Rock, ahem) filled your bottle three-quarters of the way with Budweiser and then poured some trendy pale ale in and called it a day. It had the same piss color and light head you’d expect from a cheap old school beer, but then there was this perplexing skunky aftertaste, a completely novel concept for a pale lager. It was sophisticated but it wasn’t, like a trailer with a bust of Michelangelo out front. I thought it was good – better, at least, than the aforementioned trio of Budweiser, Miller, and Coors - but my friends couldn’t get past that residual skunk. They didn’t know what to make of it. They just wanted the same ol’ piss water.
Badass Beer was a drink for people that appreciate the finer nuances of cowboy style.
And, of course, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I’ve exclusively been using the past tense to refer to Badass Beer. In this case, it’s past tense as in extinct, finished, through. Badass beer is, I regret to report, no more.
Michigan Brewing Company went under last year, taking the inimitable formula for Badass Beer with it to its untimely grave. The ignorant public gleefully blamed Badass Beer for Michigan Brewing Company’s demise, but on the contrary, Badass Beer was what had kept the otherwise troubled brewery afloat for its last few years. Without Badass Beer, the company had nothin’.
Kid Rock did everything he could to promote the beer, too. When the Detroit Lions won the first five games out of the gate in the 2011 NFL season, he was in the locker room after with an ice cold Badass Beer in his hand.
“You see what’s going on,” Kid Rock told Yahoo! Sports following Lions 24-13 victory over the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, vaulting the team to 5-0. “It’s not just the sports teams, it’s the entire city. People really believe in the city. It’s had a black eye for so long, people want to take that away, ‘Let’s put some ice on that.’”
For a speck in time, Detroit’s fortunes seemingly changed. We actually had a good football team, and Kid Rock’s hometown beer was getting national play. Hard-nosed Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham even admitted a man crush on Kid Rock, confiding that he had listened to “Only God Knows Why” every morning for a year straight after being fired as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. It motivated him to keep at it, against the odds.
But then reality set back in. The Lions lost in the first round of the playoffs, and then lost 8 games by a touchdown or less the next year, finishing with a pitiful 4-12 record. Kid Rock’s Badass Beer was – as you know – discontinued, and Detroit’s government teetered precariously on the edge of bankruptcy for all of 2012.
Business as usual, I guess. Cold, hard destiny correcting course. Don’t you just love it?
Sometimes, really, there’s only one way to express your frustration with it all. You just gotta scream: “Bawitdaba, da bang da dang, diggy diggy diggy set the boogy, set up jump the boogy!“