Four times a year, Blue Moon Brewing (aka MillerCoors) releases a Brewmaster Sampler Pack, three bottles each of four beers. In advance of the next “blue moon” on August 31, the autumn twelve includes three Belgian Whites (the regular stuff), three Belgian Pale Ales, three Harvest Pumpkin Ales, and three Caramel Apple Spiced Ales.
Throw “Caramel Apple Spiced Ale” on a bottle and folks are going to try it just for giggles, but the good news is that this Blue Moon seasonal is surprisingly restrained. I’m not one for blueberry or cherry or (ugh) banana bread beer, so it’s good news that “caramel” refers to malt, not chewy chunks of Brach’s.
Pouring a clear reddish-brown, there’s a sweetness to the beer, but it's not cloying. Adding cinnamon and nutmeg give that mulling spice essence you expect from all the pumpkin ales out there, but without detouring into mouthwash territory. Actual apple juice brings a brightness to the finish.
Blue Moon Caramel Apple Spiced Ale is going to pleasantly subtle for some and annoyingly confused for others. Either way, it’ll only be around for three months ... or maybe a little more. The seasonal summer Brewmaster Sample Pack is still on the shelves at my local Total Wine.
Since I bought the whole autumn sampler, let me say a little about the Belgian Pale Ale. Don’t expect a hoppy IPA. It’s pleasantly wheaty, maybe even what some call a “session beer” (relatively low alcohol, not heavy, easy to drink multiples). That said, I couldn’t taste the orange peel or hibiscus mentioned on the label. So, don't read the label and you're OK?