I know this question may seem crazy, but it circles around a question that has been punching its way into every level of the beer world lately. The Brewers Association is pissed about Blue Moon, so much so that they are trying to exclude them. Brewdog is scared of Blue Moon, so much so that they refer to them as “Blue Fucking Moon” and want a clear UK and European definition that excludes Blue Moon, and great beer writers across the globe are scratching their heads at all the hullaballoo and labeling the fallacies and inaccuracies of making such a definition.
So what would happen if Blue Moon made the next “Heady Topper?” Would the craft beer world accept it? What if the beer was delicious beyond compare and had all the qualities we beer geeks desire? Would we shun it just because it was Blue Moon, or would it become a fridge regular because it would probably be relatively cheap and come in a six-pack? I suppose what I’m really asking is, does Blue Moon and its “ilk” really make inferior beer, or is it simply because they are a megacorporation?
Goose Island is an interesting way to look at a part of this question. Goose Island makes good beer. There is no way around that fact. Their regular six-pack beer has never interested me, and I know for a fact that they are not always brewed by Goose Island (I’m looking at you, Red Hook/Widmer/Kona/Craft Brewers Alliance) but the beers that they are really known for have remained delicious as ever. Few beer geeks would turn down a bottle of Bourbon County Stout, and few can deny that Sofie, Matilda, and Juliet are tasty and interesting, and yet Goose Island was bought out by AB-InBev, a megacorporation. Has Goose Island’s beer suddenly stopped being desirable because of its corporate identity? No. BCBS is still a delicious stout that is hunted for and hoarded, and Goose Island is still creating new and interesting beers (Sofie Paradisi); they just have more money and room for error now. The take-over of Goose Island did lose the company some very talented brewers, but that just allowed for new breweries (or cider houses) with awesome brewers/cider-makers to be made.
That all being said, Goose Island was an “upstanding member of the Craft Beer World” before the takeover, and developed its reputation and loyal fans with recipes that they developed while they were an independent company. Only time will fully tell if their innovation will carry over into their new, corporate identity. Blue Moon, however, was formed by MillerCoors, specifically to enter the craft beer market and thus has no “rags to riches” storyline to speak of.
I don’t profess to have any answers to these questions, but that is part of my point I guess. Craft beer is a made-up definition, but good beer is a fact on the palate and the individuals drinking the beer. Macro-Breweries are trying to move in on the “tasty beer” market, but that just means more tasty beer. If you don’t like Blue Moon then don’t buy it, but who cares if someone else does? Good beer should sell itself, and doesn’t need a definition or a category. And to be honest, if Blue Moon started making a beer that I really dug and could get regularly, then I believe I would embrace it. So far, Blue Moon has been a little bit watery to me, but I see it mostly as an “intro-to-craft-beer beer” so that’s okay.
I also must admit that I have written things about Blue Moon in the past and have been a part of the Blue Moon hating on this blog. It is almost like hating Blue Moon is part of one’s growth in the craft beer world. You start trying everything, then you expand and start having a pretentious taste, and then all the sudden you start parroting the rallying call of the Brewers Association and their bigger ‘craft breweries,’ and then, eventually you realize it really doesn’t matter. Everyone drinks something different. You can encourage your friends to drink interesting things, and you can personally choose not to buy Blue Moon products, but if your friends like it then let them drink it. I suppose you could get even more pretentious with your taste, and claim that the bigger ‘craft breweries’ are just as bad as Blue Moon and are taking business away from the smaller, local breweries across the nation, but what would be the point? Good beer can be made on every level. It is scientifically possible. Just drink the beer that you like.
To close, I must note that a part of me feels like this post is just another step in my progression through the craft beer world. Perhaps my feelings will undergo another evolution as I continue drinking tasty beers. For now, however, that is all.
(Also, all the photos are entirely random and are just there for you all to look at)
Drink what you like, folks.
Cheers and beers.