If someone gives me a free bottle of beer, odds are I'm going to review it here, and I'm required to tell you that I got it for free. It's what I do. Unusually, however, the source of this particular bottle requested anonymity. It appears it was a gift to him, from someone who didn't know he really doesn't care for that brewery/company. And, remarkably, I hadn't seen this on retailers' shelves yet!
Blue Moon, run/brewed by Coors (now SAB/Miller/Coors), makes what can generally be considered a faux Belgian-style wit, which is either a summertime respite for a craft beer drinker who can't get anything else or at least acts as a "gateway" beer to better and bigger things (ditto Sam Adams). Apparently this winter they released this "Grand Cru" version of their regular Blue Moon, and the crown-capped 750ml bottle is date-stamped "APR1210" and says "Ale brewed with Spices (Coriander and Orange Peel)" and indicates 8.2%. It was supposedly marketed to coincide with the "blue moon" of Dec. 31st, a second full moon in one month (that's become the popular interpretation of the term "blue moon," one of several).
In spite of an effort to chill the bottle and drop the sediment, this is loaded with lees--possibly the cloudiest beer I've encountered. A hazy orange-tan reminiscent of fermenting cider or orange juice, with light head retention typical of a wit. Nose is very citrusy, once again like fermenting OJ or loads of orange peel, maybe pineapple juice. Flavor is that of a concentrated wit, with the coriander and yeast drying the tongue on the finish. Initially doesn't seem that alcoholic--my initial guess was 6%. A bit tart and almost peppery. In a sense, this could substitute for a champagne mimosa, but it's as yeast-laden as a classic hefeweizen, and the wheat character is there too.
Verdict? This beer could benefit from a touch more residual sweetness (honey?), maybe a slightly more complex spice addition, and a bit less residual yeast. It comes off as a bit green, but I doubt aging would benefit this any. But it may work for Sunday brunch, strangely enough.
If I didn't know who made this, I might have called it either a more generic and tame imperial wit (say, something produced by Stella Artois?) or an American attempt at same by a brewpub chain from the South that had reason to be "inoffensive" with their approach, or a more pedestrian wit by a bulk Belgian producer like Hoegaarden that didn't ship to the States. It deserves more complexity. Worth the price? I don't know the price..... let's see........
Hmmmm. Hmmmmmm..... Hmmmmmmmmm..........
Damn, I'm glad I live in an area where I can get real Belgians on draft for less than this.
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