Here I am staring down another “crafty” beer. I told myself after all of my Shock Top soapboxing, that these abominations by AB InBev and MillerCoors were not worth further blog space. Unfortunately, when I go to a place like The Tinhorn to pound fried pickles, I see that their Blonde Ale (a Karl Strauss contract brew) is sandwiched between both Shock Top and Blue Moon. I stare at the tap handles, wondering how many pints they have poured and my stomach turns. I just want to grab some barfly and shake him like Nic Cage having a fit. I want to tell him life is too short. I want to tell him to have some fucking respect for himself, then jump up on the bar, kicking the taps until they snap off and fly across the room injuring one of those god damned pool players blocking the front door thinking about the bullshit shot they are about to miss. But I digress, even though the sight of their flagship crafty swill makes me want to vomit, I wasn’t truly compelled to make a return visit to crafty town until the recent wave of absurd marketing. In the end, it was the graffiti-covered, Tongue Thai-ed edition of Blue Moon that made this article mandatory.
I’ll admit I was tempted to go on another full speed tangent over the rapid-fire release of ridiculous Shock Top varieties and their matching cartoonish adjustments to their awful, moon-shaped citrus logo…
(Hey Shock Top, McDonald’s called…they want their crappy (and frightening) mascot back!)
I let it pass, telling myself people who fall for that deserve what they get. However, a recent trip to Pavilions found me standing in the beer aisle, staring like a catatonic stroke victim at Blue Moon’s latest variations, Pine in the Neck and Tongue Thai-ed.
How to decide which of those beers was going to be more painful? Tasked with writing this buyer beware column it is my unfortunate lot in life to find the worst beer I can. Some might say, “But Dave, that’s not fair. You are buying a beer before you’ve even had it with the intention of raining hate down on it. How do you even know it is going to suck?” The simplest answer is that it’s Blue Moon. I would shit a solid gold brick if they made something that made me do a 180 in the middle of my review. I had originally set out to write an article about Bootlegger’s Mint Chocolate Porter, but upon a second sample discovered that I likely had received an infected bottle first time around. I’m not saying it’s good, but it isn’t a total abomination. I put the brakes on the hate and changed my mind about that beer. Unfortunately, all of these crafty beers are infected at the time of conception. They are infected with bullshit.
I definitely wasn’t going to try both styles, so I took an educated guess that this was the worse of the two, based on the fact that there remained only two bottles of Pine in the Neck, while the supply of Tongue-Thai-ed was deep and wide. So I loaded one into my basket and headed for the register, all the while day dreaming of some back yard party somewhere in Burbank where some douche has just arrived with a bottle of Piney “craft” beer. “It’s made with Juniper berries guys! It’s gonna be TOTALLY awesome.” They all cock their heads back laughing like they are at the country club as they pour and sample a filthy train-wreck, pretending through fake smiles that they enjoy it because they don’t know what the hell they are doing.
I pop off the cap, completely forgetting after all this time that twist-offs even exist, and pour the brew into a tulip glass ( it does say Belgian on the label folks) producing a solid copper/amber head of thin white bubbles reducing quickly to a ring around the surface. A cautious whiff reveals a nose that does boast lemongrass and basil, with light malt. There is something unsettling about the presentation of the aroma. It smells like the original Blue Moon had a blind date with some sketchy girl from Craigslist and doused itself in lemon-basil Axe body spray because the shower in its shitty East LA apartment has such hard water the soap wouldn’t lather long enough to scrub away that crafty wheat smell.
Their copy claims the mouthfeel is “warm and full-bodied.” Not really. It is however over-carbonated. There is a certain warming to the back of the throat and the “lasting lemon” described in the finish is a dry overdose of the whitest part of the unpleasant bitterest slice of the rind flavor. Much like tapping the Rockies in the cold brew can, drinkability falls apart if not very cold. They call it a “Belgian style special ale ” and there is a certain malty quality and maybe some yeast at play that hints in that direction, The malt is there but I don’t get the chance to experience it, because it skips to the overdose of lemongrass and basil and jumps straight to the unpleasant finish. Key ingredients be damned, just because the sushi at Ralph’s is made from the same kind of fish doesn’t mean it will hold a candle to the hand crafted sushi made by a true master in Little Tokyo. This is a cheap approximation of a Belgian Ale, shoddily hidden behind a mask of Thai inspiration. The very end of the finish (and I’ll be honest, the unavoidable belch that comes with an over-carbonated beer like this) is a metallic call back to Coors Light. I’m not going to lie, I’ve tapped the Rockies a time or two in my day, whether canoe fishing or squirreling one in my jacket on the chair lift, it had it’s place (that is until the miraculous move toward canned beer by some of my favorite brewers)… but $7.00 for 22oz in the craft section is just a joke. And yes, as with ALL crafty beers, here comes that god damned headache.
In closing, I just don’t get the graffiti thing. Are these beers hard, like from the streets? Is this supposed to be artistic? The bright cartoonish street art style almost makes me think they are marketing to kids, which didn’t work out too well for Camel Joe. However, it’s more likely that they just think it looks cool. I don’t think it’s something that’s approached with much thought. Regardless, labels and gimmicks don’t matter. It is the beer inside that makes a beer purchase-worthy. I advise staying clear of this one.
I HATE THIS BEER!