I have professed in the past that I am a beer geek, not a beer snob. I will try and review anything, and I will be open to trying whatever comes cross my way. That being said, I do have strong opinions about non-craft beer, but I try when ever possible not to let them cloud my judgment of a beer. For example, when Budeweiser came out with their American Ale, I gave it an honest and fair shot. Many people wrote it off immediately as “trying to be craft beer” or just something that couldn’t possibly taste good. But, if you read my review of the American Ale, you’ll find that I actually liked it. It would be something that is a great introduction to the more full-bodied tastes of ales, and it would make a great “gateway” beer for the craft-curious. If I were in a bar, and the choices involved Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light and Bud American Ale, I’d very happily choose the American Ale.
Why do I bring this up, you ask?
The last time I went to my favorite beverage center (Smiley’s Beverage, Dover NH) I was waiting in line and I turned to look at the rack of beer to my left. This usually prompts me to buy something else interesting in addition to the beer I had already found, so I gave the shelves the once-over However, I was shocked to see something so familiar yet… so new. There before me stood a 750ml bottle with an all-too-familiar logo – Blue Moon. But it wasn’t just Blue Moon in a large bottle. It was labeled “Blue Moon Grand Cru” and it stopped me in my tracks.
Blue Moon itself is a wheaty, orange-infused beer that is made by Coors brewing. It has a nice citrus taste and is again one of those brews that is made by the “big guys” that I could actually see myself drinking a few of. But the notion that Blue Moon would come out with something other than their typical seasonals and try a style like Grand Cru seemed absurd. On the label is says that it is brewed for the special fact that there will be a blue moon on new year’s eve.
In the spirit of fairness, and out of a sense of morbid fascination and curiosity, I brought a bottle home, and I also picked up two small bottles of regular Blue Moon.
I poured it out and I was not too surprised by its appearance. The Grand Cru was cloudy with lots of “stuff” floating around in it. It was a yellowy color with a decent head, but its appearance was all-too familiar. The smell struck a familiar chord as well – very orange-peely. I tasted a sip, wondering what Coors’s interpretation of a Grand Cru would be like. I sipped once. I sipped again. And I double checked which bottle I had opened. Because it tasted exactly like Blue Moon – lots of orange, a little wheat, bright and light but pleasant. I got no sourness, no spiciness, no alcohol taste, no, well, nothing other than what I would expect out of a Blue Moon. I actually had to open one of the regular Blue Moons to compare it to.
The regular Blue Moon is also almost the same color (perhaps a little darker, in fact) than the Grand Cru, but the smell was indistinguishable between the two brews. The taste, too is barely different. As it warms, the Grand Cru lets a little more of the alcohol out, but not much. Just enough for you to get a hint of it behind the yeast. The other problem is that the Grand Cru style is a winter-season beer, and this reminds me of nothing but summer. I can’t really think of many reasons I would choose to drink this beer. If you enjoy the idea of pairing beer with odd events or silly names (i.e. bringing a bottle of Rogue Dead Guy Ale to a zombie parade, for instance), bringing this to this year’s New Year’s party is probably a good idea. But you could also bring regular Blue Moon, and have some to share with friends.
There’s a saying that I really dislike that says “Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” That saying assumes that if you fail at something, because you tried to reach something very high, you’ll automatically come out with a better-than-average result. Not so here. Overall, this is really just an example of a beer trying to be something it isn’t. If you really want to get to know a Grand Cru, check out Allagash, New Belgium or Rodenbach – not Blue Moon.
While I respect Coors for expanding their Blue Moon line (and I’m all for experimentation), I really don’t think this is something I’d highly recommend to people. Unless, of course, you’re a blue moon drinker who’d like to get drunk with fewer trips to the restroom. Cheers.