People still drink plenty of beer, of course, but the most talked-about boozy trend in 2019 has been beer alternatives: beverages like hard seltzer and hard coffee. Alcohol-enhanced seltzer has proved so popular that America is facing a nationwide shortage of its top-selling brand, White Claw. Meanwhile, major players in both beer and coffee have jumped into the spiked coffee space including Pabst Blue Ribbon and La Colombe. Now, another big name is going the coffee route. Though Blue Moon isn’t releasing a hard coffee, the MillerCoors-owned brewery is introducing Blue Moon Iced Coffee Blonde beer—making them the biggest brand to bring a pale coffee beer nationwide.
Starting this month, Iced Coffee Blonde will be sold in Blue Moon variety “Share Packs” before arriving in its own six-packs in November. The new offering—billed as “a well-balanced blonde wheat ale with a touch of honey, brewed with fair-trade coffee beans that gives it a great coffee flavor and aroma”—has already been one of the top varieties sold at the brewery’s taproom in Denver for two years, so this national launch was probably inevitable. Blue Moon worked with Denver-based Luna Roasters on the beer, and interestingly, they opted to use decaf beans, meaning unlike other coffee beers (and hard coffees, especially), Iced Coffee Blonde doesn’t provide any caffeine kick.
Though pale coffee beers have grown in popular recently (Arizona’s Huss Koffee Kolsch comes to mind), traditionally, coffee tends to be used in dark beers like stouts and porters, since both beverages have similar notes of chocolate and roasted bitterness. But Blue Moon is known for its wheat brews, so the brand accepted the challenge. “Our Brewmaster John Legnard was inspired by the flavors of iced-coffee, but still wanted to create something uniquely Blue Moon to stand apart from the darker and heavier beers that are traditionally associated with coffee beers,” Bryan Ferschinger, Vice President of Above Premium Brands for MillerCoors, told me. “It was important for us to brew a coffee beer with a twist like our other Blue Moon brews. Our Blue Moon Iced Coffee Blonde is made with Mandaria Barvaria hops and has a golden straw appearance with bright coffee flavor and aroma, for a balanced taste and clean finish. It is bright with a twist of flavor that anyone can enjoy.”
Additionally, Ferschinger explained that now seemed like the right time to strike. “Ready-to-drink coffee has seen double-digit growth over the last five years and coffee flavor is inspiring products across many different categories from ice cream to granola,” he said via email. Granted, Blue Moon Iced Coffee Blonde doesn’t serve the same purpose as the caffeinated La Colombe Hard Cold Brew Coffee—which is also a MillerCoors product, by the way—but if all you’re looking for is coffee’s flavor, something like Blue Moon Iced Coffee Blonde may be more up your alley anyway.
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