It's easy to be cynical about a beer that is supposed to be served with a chunk of fruit in it. When I asked about the fruit at the Leeds launch of Blue Moon (or rather, the "pre-launch" - so much more hip than the actual launch), I was told that it wasn't a marketing gimmick, but it was something that had come straight from the brewery. Being a fairly bright button, I realise that these things aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, and on paper, a Belgian wheat beer brewed by the Blue Moon Brewery (essentially Molson Coors) and marketed as American Craft Beer is such a confused, irritating and almost straight-up deceitful concept that one might justifiably ask "why bother?"
But bother I did, getting off the sofa as Brown exited Downing Street and Cameron visited the palace - what other response would be more fitting than going to the pub, I wonder? Blue Moon in keg form is an unfiltered, unpasteurised Belgian wheat beer. Well, it's more of a weissebier to my palate, having a fairly big body and a touch of digestive biscuit maltiness, and none of a classic witbier's tart spritziness. There's the biscuity malt, a pronounced orange and coriander note, fairly big and chewy on the palate, with some hop character showing up late in the day to keep everything in shape and lend a little more complexity. If you elect to have it without orange, it's a little flabby - the slice of orange peel in the glass adds a little zing of acidity and quite a lot in the way of aromatics. It has a certain freshness and vitality that isn't down to the peel alone. The beers are alarmingly perishable, with just 90 days to expiry put on them at the brewery, and a keg needing to be used up within 5 days of being tapped.
So what are we to make of a beer that actually needs to be served with a slice of orange to show at its best? Is it really all about The Serve? Certainly, the fruit isn't solely there to add flavour (like lime in the neck of a bottle of Mexican lager), although to my palate it improves the beer a bit, giving a faintly gin-like botanical edge to it. Is the slice of orange in Blue Moon Coors' equivalent to the sparkler - how do you like yours served? To be totally honest, unironic and straightforward, I quite liked it. It was a decent enough beer, and with a slice of orange had quite a nice bite to it.
Am I their target consumer? No. Is it worth trying if you come across it? Certainly, in my opinion, and in unfiltered, unpasteurised keg form it's a much more interesting proposition than the thin, watery flash-pasteurised bottles. Is Blue Moon here to stay, and will it become more than the flavour of the month? That is for the drinkers to decide. For my money, Grolsch Weizen (another beer in Coors' Different World Drinks portfolio) is a more interesting beer, but then that has no USP beyond just being a really great beer.