Baranek: No short hops here: ‘Big Hurt Beer’ a hit
Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-5947 April 18, 2012 9:28PM
Former Chicago White Sox player Frank Thomas signs autographs for fans while promoting Big Hurt Beer at Durbin's in Midlothian, IL Tuesday, April 17, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Palos Hills, 6:30 p.m. Thursday
6:30 p.m. Friday
Burbank, 8 p.m. Friday
Frankfort, 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:33AM
Baseball, beer and Baranek.
Anybody who knows me knows that’s a pretty natural combination during the summer.
The boss who knows me about as well as anybody must have thought it was a perfect combination before sending me to Durbin’s Restaurant and Lounge in Midlothian on Tuesday night to talk with former White Sox slugger Frank Thomas and taste his signature “Big Hurt Beer.”
(Come on. “Big Hurt Beer?” What’s next? Comiskey Whiskey? Hard Appling Cider? Matt Merullot? Terry Beveragington? ... OK, I’ll stop now.)
Yep, he thought I was the perfect choice to bring you readers some words from a future Hall of Famer, and use my knowledge as a beer “connoisseur” to provide a keen, insightful review on Thomas’s relatively new brew that’s sweeping the country ... well, at least Illinois and Las Vegas.
But there was a lot about this combination that wasn’t exactly perfect.
I am not, by any means, a beer “connoisseur.” You’ve heard of Meister Brau? Lowenbrau? I’m low brau.
I consume Busch Light. Love that 30-pack for around 12 bucks. Love the taste, too. Best of all, I don’t have to worry about anybody digging into my cooler to swipe one at parties.
I’ll drink Miller Lite when Busch Light isn’t available, which means I drink more Miller Lite than Busch Light.
The closest I’ve come to drinking a “connoisseur” beer was a Sam Adams Old Fezziwig Ale (yuck!) at Christmas, and one other time about a year ago when I tried some Sam Adams Cherry Wheat and Honey Porter (not bad). That’s it.
And another thing. Thinking I would be excited to interview Frank Thomas? A White Sox hero? Seriously?
Surely he couldn’t have missed the Cubbie blue I’ve bled all over my desk for the past three-plus decades.
But it was just too hard to tell the boss no. Especially since he said the suds could go on the company tab.
I’ve got to admit. I went in skeptical. I came out ... OK.
Thomas, whom Sox fans I know never described him as a warm and cuddly guy when he played for the South Siders, was nothing short of a sweetheart, signing autographs nonstop for more than an hour. It was pretty impressive, considering he already had done the same thing earlier in the evening at Durbin’s in Tinley Park.
He also more than held his own against the Blackhawks playoff game. I’m not sure many in the crowd even noticed Raffi Torres’ hit on Marian Hossa until it was replayed about 30 times.
“This is a big night,” Thomas said. “Sox fans, Hawks fans. Two bars in less than three hours ... this is great. It was just great to come out, watch games and be with the fans.”
There was at least one Cubs fan (not including me). Thomas even had a “Big Hug” for him.
Anyway, let’s move on to Big Hurt Beer. It’s been around since August, although it isn’t quite as “Big” these days. It debuted in a 24-ounce can. Now it’s down to 12 ounces. It’s still 7 percent alcohol, though. My Busch Light is 4.2 percent. Thomas may have been a designated hitter, but you’re going to need a designated driver if you drink this stuff.
Numbers aside, it’s not very intimidating. I’d describe its color as that of a Gold Glove, though Thomas couldn’t possibly have modeled it on that.
Its taste? A bit thicker than Busch Light or Miller Lite, but far from heavy. It had a sweet flavor, but not overpoweringly so. One woman I talked with said the aftertaste seemed something like a banana shake and that it didn’t really appeal to her. I’d comment on its vaguely fruity aftertaste, but I already get enough grief as a Cubs fan living on the South Side.
Bottom line, although it would be fun to say that a White Sox guy’s beer tastes like Ozzie Guillen’s social awareness, I can’t lie. I sort of liked it. I liked it enough, in fact, that I accepted a second glass from the pitcher of a guy I shared my table with. Had “Big Hurt Beer” been a 4.2 I might have even had a third.
To my fellow Cubs fans, I say it’s OK to give Big Hurt Beer a try. If you look at the can, you’ll see there’s no Sox logo to burn your fingers on.
Sox fans, it’s a no-brainer. Dive in. He’s your hero. And what could be more fun than lifting Frank Thomas into the air?
Oh, champagne? Smart alecks.