Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Beer Spotlight – Blue Moon Caramel Apple Spiced Ale

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?


  1. A second opinion from my friend, Charlie Hall -- I joined John in sampling Blue Moon Caramel Apple Spiced Ale. It was damn nice of him to buy it for me this time. As usual I prepped the pallet with a quick brushing with some Arm and Hammer baking soda tooth paste. Glad I did because this beer hit me in waves of flavors that were absolutely fabulous. It immediately had me rushing back to memories of the Wicked Witch in Snow White. I could taste every texture of a baked apple as well as the really good caramel toe finish. Yes I forced that pun, I know. Although it is still only late August, this Blue Moon offering had me jonesing for some candy corn and jack-o-lantern carvings. At 5.8% alcohol by volume, you can bob for a few of these Caramel Apples and not get too wobbly. This one was so good I had my wife run over and have a sip. Definitely two thumbs up. Funny how the good stuff is always a limited offering.

  2. John brings up a valid point about the Blue Moon Belgian-Style (read more on that later) Pale Ale. I really like a nice pale ale, mainly because of the hops that complement the "heat" of chicken wings or jalapeno-laden nachos. Pale Ales are always a nice accompaniment to a spicy dish. In a beer like Blue Moon B(Style)PA, the orange peel and hibiscus are usually heralded as exotic ingredients but they are not as noticeable as I would like. I don't think the "Belgian-style" lives up to a true Belgian ale, but that's not to say it's not a good mug. I would call it a "safe" choice -- not too hearty, but with enough herbal hints to differentiate it from others. And, crisp enough to provide a nice taste; I would suggest a frozen mug to add that extra bump to the first taste to get you off on the right foot (or hop).
    Gary B.