The day before leaving for tour, Rory Carey was busy packing the essentials.
Clothes. Gear. A road case containing about a dozen sour and barrel-aged beers.
"I just packed my box for the road about an hour ago," said the keyboardist for the reggae-rock band Rebelution, calling from his home in San Diego. "We have some buddies on the road that have bottles; they'll bring them backstage and we'll get a bottle share going. That's definitely a big part of the Rebelution culture now."
Even more so now that the guys have their own beer: Rebelution IPA, created by Tampa's Rock Brothers Brewing and Cigar City Brewing. After a one-night launch at Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in March, Rebelution is coming back for a full-scale launch party with a daylong festival at St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park this Saturday. Afterward, you'll be able to find it on select taps around Tampa Bay, and eventually in cans.
Rebelution IPA is the latest creation of Rock Brothers, whose lineup of music-themed beers includes brews with Hootie and the Blowfish (Hootie's Homegrown Ale), 311 (311 Amber Ale), Umphrey's McGee (Nothing Too Fancy Pale Ale) and JJ Grey and Mofro (Nare Sugar Brown Ale).
Rebelution was a natural choice for Rock Brothers' latest partnership. They're hugely popular in American reggae circles, particularly here in Tampa Bay, a market they've played some 20 times over the years. More importantly, they're legitimate beer geeks — particularly Carey and drummer Wesley Finley, who worked with brewers at Cigar City to define and tweak the IPA's taste.
"It's definitely a West Coast IPA," Carey said. "We went with the mosaic hops, which is a little less bitter than a traditional IPA out here. The idea was to make it a little more comfortable for people who haven't really tried craft beer or are into IPAs. This one's definitely got a little more fruity, tropical, mellower punch to it. More for the masses, but we love it just as much."
Rebelution clocks in at about 7.5 percent alcohol by volume, a little heavy for a day of outdoor drinking, but Carey's not too worried about it. "Drink some water in between, and you'll be good," he said.
Carey's craft brew bona fides go back to his college days, back before Rebelution, when he and some buddies used to homebrew in their apartment.
"We did some stouts, some porters, some brown ales in there, but mostly stocked it with hoppy pale ales and IPAs," he said. "Most of the batches were drinkable. The first couple maybe didn't work out so well, but we were so passionate about it we'd still drink it."
Now that he's out on the road, his homebrewing days are behind him. But he has kept up his passion for and knowledge of craft beer. He and Finley visit as many breweries as they can on the road, and the band always requests local craft beer on its tour rider.
"I'm lucky, because I get to travel to all these different places and breweries and find these beers you can only get in a small town," Carey said. "That's some of the best parts, is to see the roots of this beer, where the brewers work, getting to talk to and meet them."
He enjoys Cycle Brewing in St. Petersburg and is a longtime fan of Cigar City.
"The Jai Alai IPA, we've requested in our rider for years now, so that's my favorite Florida beer," he said. The first time he tried Cigar City's rare, vaunted Hunahpu's Imperial Stout, "I was blown away," he said. "Never had anything like it. Now it's pretty tight that we have some bottles kicked down to us when we make it to the brewery. Can't complain there."
But he likes spreading the love, which is why he's packing those dozen or so bombers to share and trade. Carey, Finley and other members of the crew always coordinate their hoards before leaving so they don't double up. The more beers backstage, the merrier.
"There's going to be a little beer geek scene somewhere at these shows — friends or brewers or people we just met along the way," he said. "It's definitely part of the Rebelution culture these days."
Contact Jay Cridlin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.