10 Craft Beers That Aren't
10. Blue Moon
Why it's not craft: Owned by SAB Miller/MolsonCoors venture Miller Coors
Let's get one thing absolutely straight here: Witbier like Blue Moon has never been a craft beer by the Brewers Association's standard definition. That doesn't stop plenty of beer snobs and geeks from enjoying them each summer alongside their big-brewery contemporaries.
Pierre Celis single-handedly revived the witbier after centuries of dormancy in 1965, when he began brewing it in his barn in the Belgian town of Hoegaarden. His recipe combining of wheat, bitter Curacao orange peel, coriander, sweet orange peel and only a slight touch of hops became the recipe for Hoegaarden White Ale and sold more than 300,000 barrels at its peak in 1985, when a fire engulfed its brewery and forced a cash-strapped Celis to sell to giant Belgian company Interbrew. That company is now known as Anheuser-Busch InBev and is the reason jelly-glass tumblers of Hoegaarden can be found in outdoor restaurant spaces and beer gardens across America.
Even Hoegaarden wouldn't be the success it is today if Celis hadn't dusted himself off, moved to Texas and opened his own craft brewery just outside Austin in 1992. His Celis White was good enough to get Celis a buyout from Miller and introduce witbier to a new generation of brewers.
Craft brewers latched onto the style and, by 1995, Rob Tod at Allagash Brewery in Portland, Maine, turned it into Allagash White and made it his flagship beer. A year later, Coors brewer Keith Villa formulated Blue Moon while working at the company's on-site brewery at the Denver home of Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies in Coors Field.
The Brewers Association really doesn't like that Blue Moon isn't labeled as a Coors product, produces other esoteric styles like pumpkin ale under its label and uses crafty, indie-pop ads to promote its product. Craft beer drinkers don't feel nearly as strongly about it, with BeerAdvocate giving it fair marks for quality and RateBeer putting it right in the middle of the pack.
For many craft beer drinkers, Blue Moon was their gateway beer when Coors and Anheuser-Busch couldn't offer anything beyond it. It didn't come from one of the craft beer community's small breweries, but it sure led a lot of people to them.