It's not just its mountainous heritage that makes Blue Moon a watershed beer: it marks the separation point between people who like to drink beer and people who live to drink beer. In my experience, the norms universally love it while there are few beers that inspire such invective from the geeks. I'd never had it before so bought a bottle to give it an honest assessment. And I found that really difficult. On the plus side it's gently spicy, lightly carbonated and very easy drinking for a 5.4% ABV wheat beer. On the negatives, it's very watery and has an off-putting syrupy-sweet orange concentrate tang to it. I'd be tempted to let it past as a no-nonsense barbecue quaffer but I don't think I can forgive the combination of thinness and busy flavours.
What really honks the geeks off, however, is the presentation. Blue Moon was one of, if not the, first industrial macrobrews to try and leech some credibility from the craft beer movement by passing itself off as part of it. And it's still leeching. "North American Craft Beer" it says on the front (where it used to say "Belgian White" until the breweries of actual Belgium took them to court), but it's not craft at all: it's factory-brewed by Coors and is another part of their muscle-flexing in Ireland. The worst bit for me is the claim, straight from a cynical marketeer's focus group playbook, that it's "just a bunch of friends having fun making great beer". Grim.
Anyway, that's Blue Moon: take it or leave it. How about something else light and summery from Stateside with a bit more cred?
Brooklyn Summer Ale is a bright and clear amber ale, lighter than Blue Moon at 5% ABV but much fuller of body. There's a soft-water mineral quality to it, almost bordering on soapy, and there's a subtle mandarin-sherbet fruitiness at the back. It's tasty, sinkable and satisfying without being bland or any way cerebral. It's great to see an American summer ale that isn't a knock-off of kölsch or wheat beer.
Worth keeping in stock for any glimpses of the sun.
Orval - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2011 | ABV: 6.2% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* I used to have a job that paid in Orval. I accumulated a couple of cases and I h...
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