Usually I pick out my own beers, but I am admittedly a little narrow in my recent choices. If a beer advertises that it has flavors of chocolate, coffee/espresso, malt, I'm usually interested. And there are plenty to choose from, which means I have probably been missing a lot of good stuff.
On Christmas I received a bottle of Blue Moon Brewing's Grand Cru as a host gift from Mom. I had seen Blue Moon at the store but never tried anything from them, and had never heard of this Grand Cru. It's billed as a Belgian style wheat ale brewed with coriander and a couple different flavors of oranges (Valenia and navel). They created this beer specifically in honor of the blue moon on New Year's Eve 2009 and sold the bottle as something to use to help celebrate the evening.
So, what the heck, that's what I did.
Blue Moon also recommended to drink the beer with a slice of orange as a garnish. It just so happened we had ordered a box of oranges from Harvey's Grove in Florida as a bit of a Christmas present to ourselves (and they are excellent!), so I sliced one of those up to use.
First I tried the beer without the orange. First glance shows a very golden beer, towards the lighter side of gold, and a little cloudy - a far cry from the porters and stouts I've had lately to be sure. Blue Moon didn't go light on the orange either; you could smell it when taking a close whiff. First taste didn't actually have much of an orange flavor, though it was in there somewhere. However, the entire sip and swallow had a bright crispiness to it, a very fresh in your face flavor reminiscent of, well, eating an orange.
I like oranges, so that's a good thing. I also enjoyed the crispness of the flavor, rather than waiting for the flavors to develop as one usually does with a darker brew (or maybe it's just me - I have no idea).
After about a quarter of the glass I dropped some skinned tidbits of orange in the glass as well as squeezed out some juice. What happened?
Well, the beer immediately became extremely orangey - which, again, is fine with me but may not be for everyone. I didn't put in nearly enough orange juice to force such a drastic change, so all I can think of is the orange flavor already in the beer only needed the slightest provocation to really stand out.
Stand out it did, very well. The sips with a tidbit of orange in them were even better - almost like an orange-flavored soda without all the high fructose corn syrup, which is a good thing.
Overall this was a good beer - relatively light - for a quiet evening of watching movies and waiting for New Year's. The only thing I didn't do - and probably should have - was go outside to actually see the blue moon (and yes, I know it's not actually blue - or as rare as the saying seems to indicate). Oh well, it was cold outside.
If you like oranges and beer and wondered what they might be like together, definitely check it out. It may not be easy to find anymore though, since it is now 2010. Oh, and be careful - it's 8.5% alcohol.
Would I get it again? Yes, I probably would, if I was in the mood for oranginess in my beer. Admittedly that's not to often, so I think for me it was just a nice fit for that particular point in time.