Two short weeks ago we heard the news that there would be a new beer to carry the likeness of future Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas. Regular news outlets were content to just print the press release claiming this Big Hurt Beer would be "light and crisp" and would yet pack 7% alcohol by volume. But here in the beer blogosphere (and watch for high levels of blogozone in the blogosphere!), I, and I hope others, asked the question, Who's making this stuff?
It was easy to track the Big Hurt Beer website to MBF Co., a California marketer that stages beer festivals and packages beer brands. MBF never returned our request for comment, but Google Analytics showed that their subsidiary URL, Night That Never Ends, had checked out the article. So we kept checking into the online database for the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau, which must approve all labels for beer sold in the U.S.
The dependable BeerNews site finally broke the story yesterday that TTB approval had been granted for a keg collar, the label that identifies the beer being dispensed from, well, kegs. Since approval for kegs has been given before any cans, it would seem they are pushing to get into cups at U.S. Cellular Field this month after all. The form accompanying the label reveals that it's being made at Minhas Craft Brewery of Monroe, Wisconsin.
Sigh. Well, I had written of my hope that it could be made by one of our local brewers. For which I heard from many local beer fans, in no uncertain terms, that no brewer around here has extra capacity to do this contract brew, and that I must have been drinking something. But at least it's being made within the vicinity.
If you've never heard of Minhas, then know this: it was once the Joseph Huber Brewing Co., founded in 1847, and the second oldest operating brewery in the U.S. It brewed the Huber and Rhinelander brands, as well as Berghoff beer. In 2006, the brewery was bought by siblings Manjit and Ravinder Minhas of Calgary, Canada, who had made their fortunes in their 20s by formulating and selling cheap beer. Since then, consensus among beer fans has been that the established brands have gone downhill, and they have launched dozens of brands under their name and as house brands for Trader Joe's and Costco, plus the usual convenience store malt liquor. Although, they have also contract brewed Dixie Blackened Voodoo and the other Dixie brands since that New Orleans brewery was wiped out by Katrina.
So please let me explain my position. The three biggest moment of my 20 years of attending White Sox games has been:
- A. J. Pierzinski stealing first base to set up the Sox victory in Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS (and I saw the pitch: it did indeed bounce off the dirt into Josh Paul's glove).
- Every. Single. Time. Big Hurt came to bat.
- Bo Jackson, new hip and all, hitting what appeared to be a routine pop fly that instead kept going up… and up… till it came down in the center field concourse on the day the Sox clinched the American League West in 1993.
So when a guy you admire puts his name on a product you respect, you gotta hope he speaks truth when he claims he's "picky about beer." And just hope we don't don't have another LandShark Lager.