Twenty-five years ago this June, a trio of sunburnt Bob Marley fans with a decent following among Southern California stoners put out their debut album on their own tiny record label. Sublime’s ska-punk-flavored 40oz. to Freedom wasn’t one of the biggest albums on 1992, but it’s one of the most enduring.
It would take another four years, two more albums and the death of lead singer Bradley Nowell, for Sublime to get noticed by mainstream audiences. But once they caught fire, they absolutely blew up, with regular alt-rock radio airplay and heavy MTV exposure. The monstrous success of Sublime’s 1996 self-titled album, powered by hit singles “What I Got,” “Santeria”, And “Wrong Way”, eventually had fans dipping into the beloved band’s back catalog.
Eventually, 40oz. to Freedom would sell more than two million copies—a stunning sum for a independently released record—and its cover art would inspire an untold number of tattoos on their legions of fans.
This summer, 40oz. to Freedom, the album featuring “Badfish” and “Date Rape,” is getting a fitting tribute for its 25th anniversary. San Diego-based AleSmith Brewing Company is releasing a beer called “40oz. to Freedom.”
Described by Rolling Stone as a “Mexican-style lager,” the brew will be sold in limited quantities in 40-ounce bottles and nationwide in six-ounce cans.
“It doesn’t taste like anything else,” drummer Bud Gaugh said in a statement. “The flavor is great and it has a craft beer flair with a true Mexican lager taste. This is the one!”
Along with the beer, the band will re-release its 1995 Badfish EP on vinyl for April’s Record Store Day. Gaugh, Nowell’s estate, and bassist Eric Wilson are also working on an authorized documentary to tell the band’s “real” story.
Clearly, there’s a lot on the horizon for the many fans of Sublime, who haven’t really been wanting for music over the years, despite the band dying with Nowell. The two surviving members went on to start Long Beach Dub All-Stars in the aftermath of his death.
And Wilson has been playing Sublime songs with singer Rome Ramirez since 2009. Hell, even Badfish, a long-running and hugely popular Sublime tribute band, has sold out venues playing to crowds of laid back-dudes in board shorts, proving that even a quarter century later, the thirst for Sublime is unquenchable.