Here we go again.
Canada is about to be the benefactor of a “new” beer thanks to the increasingly greasy quest for big brewers to create/market/re-imagine/co-opt brands that deliver some sniff of “craft” credentials.
That is, Molson-Coors has announced that Blue Moon, a hugely popular beer sold by Miller Coors in the United States is coming to Canada.
Er, coming back to Canada for the first time?
Staying in Canada?
Shit, I don’t even know where to start with this one.
So let’s start from the beginning: Blue Moon is a Belgian-style, cloudy, unfiltered wheat beer that advertises notes of coriander and citrus and is served with an orange wheel garnish. It was developed by Coors. Its labelling says it is a product of Blue Moon Brewing Co. In the United States, it is usually mentioned in at least the top three names of beers that seem developed by big brewers to intentionally mislead people into thinking it is a craft beer. Case in point, this statement from the American Brewers Association, issued in December of 2012:
Many non-standard, non-light “crafty” beers found in the marketplace today are not labeled as products of large breweries. So when someone is drinking a Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Beer, they often believe that it’s from a craft brewer, since there is no clear indication that it’s made by SABMiller. The same goes for Shock Top, a brand that is 100 percent owned by Anheuser-Bush InBev, and several others that are owned by a multinational brewing and beverage company.
Unless you’re new to this blog, I probably don’t need to to tell you how I feel about big brewers co-opting craft credibility with shady marketing (and if you are new here, go read about the time I literally discovered big brewers’ shady marketing documents outlining their plans to co-opt craft credibility), but suffice it say that the growing practice of attempting to trick consumers who are trying to support independent companies who make interesting beer makes me rage-vomit blood at an alarming frequency.
I go through so many towels.
Anyway, this beer is clearly going to open all the old “craft” vs “crafty” arguments we all love to have, but this particular example seems to have a unique twist for Canadian beer drinkers.
When Coors and Molson merged, Blue Moon began to be brewed in Montreal (that’s in Canada).
Blue Moon that is brewed in Montreal, Canada is distributed across the United States and Europe, but isn’t actually available in Canada.
But actually, it kind of is.
You see in Canada, Molson-Coors sells another Belgian-style, cloudy, unfiltered wheat beer that advertises notes of coriander and citrus and is served with an orange wheel garnish. It’s called Rickard’s White, and it’s brewed in Montreal, Canada and if you wanted to wager that it’s pretty dang similar in composition to Blue Moon, I sure as heck wouldn’t bet against you.
And so you might able to see why a press release issued July 29 announcing the arrival of Blue Moon in Canada (renamed “Belgian Moon” just to make the whole thing more complicated) has got me shaking my head a bit.
The press release is rife with fun wordsmithing to make “Belgian Moon” seem more crafty (case in point: “Blue Moon was developed at the famed Sandlot brewery in Denver, Colorado by brewmaster, Keith Villa, one of only a few brewmasters to have achieved a Ph.D. in brewing, from the University of Brussels in Belgium.” Uh yes, that would be the Sandlot Brewery at COORS FIELD owned by MOLSON COORS where that brewer who went to Belgium IS AN EMPLOYEE–but I digress).
But essentially the “news” really amounts to this: A beer that is marketed as a small American craft beer, but is actually made by a huge company in Canada, and is actually already available in Canada under a different name, is now going to be made available in Canada in a format that mimics the marketing that is used in the United States, but will be slightly different than that marketing so that it can be sold in Canada.
OK then. Sounds like craft beer to me.