In 2017, sales of Blue Moon Belgian White, the country’s largest craft brand, were up 9% according to I.R.I. Now, as the brand’s newest release Blue Moon Mango Wheat begins its ascent, some say it has the star power to “eclipse” the original.
Choosing which beers will delight your customers and drive sales can be a difficult and confusing task nowadays. Beer styles and releases have never been more varied or outrageous. Beer drinkers are more adventurous and more finicky than ever before. And there is an endless stream of new beers and breweries popping up every day. With our business changing at breakneck speed, it’s hard to remember how this all got started – not to mention the trailblazing beers that were there at the beginning and continue to drive volume today.
Once in a Blue Moon
One such beer appeared in 1995.After receiving his PhD in brewing at a prestigious Belgian school, master brewer Keith Villa returned to Denver’s Sandlot Brewery located in Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, and dreamed up the Belgian-style wheat ale that would end up taking America by storm: Blue Moon. “At that time, drinkers weren’t necessarily used to seeing a hazy beer, much less one garnished with an orange,” explains Cris Rivera, Blue Moon’s National Craft Director. “But, once they tried it and realized it was not only refreshing, but sessionable and delicious, people became more open-minded to trying other unique styles of beer.”
By today’s standards, Villa’s Blue Moon Belgian White is thought of as a “gateway beer” – one that helps drinkers transition from approachable domestics like Coors Light to the world of craft, where IBUs and exotic hops reign supreme. But at the time, this craft brewer’s recipe was truly revolutionary. “Blue Moon opened American drinkers’ minds to what was possible when it came to great tasting beer, allowing them to accept twists to what was, up to that point, considered ‘normal’,” says Rivera.
More than 20 years later, the creative brewers at Blue Moon continue to deliver on their mission to brew interesting, sessionable, American wheat beers, like Mango Wheat
and Cinnamon Horchata
Blue Moon Mango Wheat Lands a GABF Silver Medal
After experimenting with limited releases and seasonal offerings for several years (Cappuccino Stout, Belgian Table Pils, White IPA) the folks at Blue Moon decided to focus on what they do best… making flat-out stellar wheat beers. And wouldn’t you know it? They hit a homerun. “Our Mango Wheat earned a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival and was a huge hit at the brewery,” says Rivera. “So we knew our fans across the country would love it too.”
Following the success of Mango Wheat, now available year-round, the team at Blue Moon conjured up another outstanding beer: their new winter seasonal, Blue Moon Pacific Apricot Wheat
As with his original recipe, Villa got the inspiration for this new beer while traveling abroad. Rivera explains, “He got the idea for this refreshing, aromatic beer, while vacationing in Scandinavia. One day as he passed by an artisanal bakery, the smell of freshly baked bread with cardamom filled the air. That scent inspired Keith to brew a beer with fresh apricots and a touch of cardamom.” This winter seasonal has already proved to be a perfect alternative to heavy stouts and porters.
New Year, New Look
A good brewery doesn’t just innovate by brewing new beers, a good brewery looks at every aspect of their business with an eye for reinvention – and that’s exactly what Blue Moon did for its packaging in 2018.“Packaging evolutions allow Blue Moon to play in more occasions and offer additional value to our drinkers,” says Rivera. Cans have become the format of choice for younger drinkers. So this year, Blue Moon will replace the 12-pack can package with a 15-pack. “We’ll be launching the 15-pack cans just in time for summertime get-togethers.”
Reaching a Diverse Audience
Blue Moon is also well positioned to combat a growing concern in the beer industry – younger drinkers veering away from beer as their number one beverage of choice. Villa and his team will leverage their light, refreshing wheat beer portfolio to bring those drinkers back to beer. “We’re excited to reach spirits drinkers with a new and inventive mixology program,” says Rivera. “Nationally, we’ll be introducing four Blue Moon cocktail recipes to get people thinking a little differently about our beer and cocktails.”
And as luck would have it, 2018 will also provide a once-in-a-blue-moon marketing opportunity. “Believe it or not, in 2018 there will be not one, but two blue moons in one calendar year, which is extremely rare,” says Rivera. With the first happening January 31st and the second in late March, Blue Moon will celebrate these lunar events with a program called “Double Blue Moon” featuring themed Snapchat filters and other interactive elements still in development.
Remaining True To Their Craft Roots
While there is no doubt Blue Moon is a global player in the beer game, they still find ways to keep that crafty mindset that led to their groundbreaking Belgian-style wheat ale back in 1995. Just last year, they opened a brand new brewery and restaurant in Denver’s River North Art District (also known as RiNo).“We like to say that our RiNo brewery is our dedicated canvas for creating, testing and enjoying new Blue Moon beers,” adds Rivera.
The new brewpub harkens back to the scrappy, innovative attitude that put Blue Moon on the map. This 20-barrel brewhouse is where Blue Moon develops their experimental, super-limited batches you won’t find anywhere else – well, unless it happens to be a huge hit with the locals. “Mango Wheat got its start at RiNo,” Rivera says. “People loved it, so we released it nationally. Our new brewery is a great place for us to allow fans to sample new beers and determine what specialties we might offer nationally.”
With more than 24 one-of-a-kind beers rotating on and off their RiNo taps at any given time, and with runaway hits like Mango Wheat and Pacific Apricot Wheat, you can bet that Blue Moon will have more surprises in store for their fans down the line. “Over the years, we’ve delivered on our mission to innovate and brew the absolute best wheat beers for our fans, and there’s still so much more we’re excited to explore.”
Blue Moon: Selling the Portfolio
Like any dynamic brewery, Blue Moon’s portfolio is always in flux – new beers, new packages and new additions to their core lineup. Check out what’s on the docket for 2018.
- Belgian White 24 oz. Cans
- Belgian White 15-pack Cans
Brewer’s Select Seasonals
Blue Moon Mango Wheat on Draught
Blue Moon Mango Wheat will debut on draught on March 31st to coincide with an actual Blue Moon.
...Did You Know?
First brewed at the Sandlot Brewery in Coors Field Baseball Stadium, Blue Moon Belgian White’s original name was Belly Slide Belgian White.