I was all set to at least add my two cents on the weekend's breaking story about Goose Island/Bud moving production of 312 Urban Wheat out of state, but as always, job hunting must prevail.
But now another story has come up, one that offers a bit of intrigue. Monday's Tribune carries the story of White Sox future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas lending his name to a new beer, to be called, what else, "Big Hurt Beer." The story by Cynthia Dizikes says the beer, a 7% abv lager described by Thomas as "light and crisp," will be seen on stores shelves and tap handles sometime in August. Perhaps tying in to the dedication of Thomas' statue Sunday at Sox Park.
But neither the Tribune, nor other articles I've searched online, have anything to say about who's making this beer. Now, it may be hoping against hope that a beer named for an iconic Chicago personality might be made in Chicago, too. We have lots of capacity these days, especially Argus, which contract brews 5 Rabbit and various bar brands. And generally brewers contract out beers under a non-disclosure agreement: when Goose Island had the capacity to make private label brands for Trader Joe's, you'd never have known it from their web site. Look closer at the can, which you can do at BigHurtBeer.com, and you'll see it's a 24 oz. Tall Boy, larger than the 16 oz. cans filled at Half Acre.
But the Beeronaut took off his helmet so he could get his ear to ground, and found some interesting things: no chatter from his local listservs about the brand, even after the paper came out. The reliable beernews.org does not have any coverage, and they are big on covering label approvals for any and all craft brands. In fact, only local sports-based sites had picked up the story and no beer geekage sites.
A little quick sleuthing finds: there is no label approval for "Big Hurt," nor for anything with Frank Thomas' name, on the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau's online database. But they might simply have updated the latest approvals. A Whois search on the beer's domain name shows it's owned by a "Taryn Anderson" and was just renewed on July 25. No other information on Taryn, but it turns out BigHurtBeer.net, which resolved to the .com domain, is registered to a Jeff Moses of MBF Company in Monterey, California. MBF is the parent of Night That Never Ends, and it's on that website that we can find:
Jeff Moses is the owner of Night That Never Ends productions, a Festival Promotions company, and its parent company, MBF Company, a distributor & importer/exporter & creator of Beer, Soda and Wine throughout the World…
As a Brand Creator and Production Company, MBF Co. has created the following Beer, Wine & Craft Soda Brands;
IRONDALE Brewery, Boxer Brews CruiserWeight Ale, Menage a Singe Beer, 101 Sodas,
Hermitage Brewery, 'TOPIA Beers (Hoptopia, Maltopia, Wheatopia), STOMPER graffiti Wines, UBIQUITOUS Wines, Farmhouse Brewery & Coastal Fog Beer.…
Jeff is also a Managing Partner in the Hermitage Brewing Company of San Jose, California.
So we have a name and a brewer attached to Big Hurt Beer, at least. But I'm not about to draw the line with an arrow pointing to Hermitage as the out-of-town brewer. And what about the beer itself? Is it just another Landshark Lager? I have a couple of late-night e-mails out for confirmation, and surely some other beer bloggers are tracking the story. More to come…
Tuesday update: No confirmation from MBF yet. And the company may simply be the brand manager, brewing it somewhere nearby if shipping costs are a factor these days. Binny's Beverage Deport has Twittered that they are expecting the cans on their shelves, but don't have a date set yet.