Brew Review: Blue Moon and Why a Lot of People Have it Wrong.

The Dogs of Beer wish to dedicate this post about the moon to Neil Armstrong, whose heroism and spirit inspired generations. If anything comes from his passing, we hope that it is the realization of the world that there should never be a time in our history when there isn’t someone alive who has walked on the moon.

Our moon has been engrained in just about every aspect of our culture.  And as the most prominent aspect of our night sky, that is certainly no surprise.

Many cultures and religions believe the moon and its phases have significant influence on us, especially those suffering from lycanthropy.  Traditions surrounding the moon have also arisen over the centuries.  For example, the term “honeymoon” derives from the practice of newly weds drinking mead, or honey wine, for one cycle of the moon for luck and fertility.  The moon has been the muse of so many songs that I doubt I have to give any examples here. And of course, phrases have cropped up into our lexicon like, “asking for the moon”, “be over the moon” and or course, “once in a blue moon”.

That last phrase is accurately used by many to depict something that only occurs on a rare occasion.  Because, as many know, a blue moon is the description of a second blue moon which happens within a calendar month, an event that doesn’t happen on a regular basis.  But what many don’t know, is that definition is wrong.

Well, wrong is probably to strong of a word to use anymore.  That definition has pretty much been accepted by modern astronomers and the world in general.  More accurate to say that the definition wasn’t the one that was originally used to designate a “blue moon”.

The original definition for a blue moon was the third full moon of season that has four.  Seasons normally have three full moons, but on occasion when the calendar and the moon’s less than 30 day orbit sync up just right, there can be four.  This happens very rarely, in fact it happens far less than the modern definition of two full moons in a calendar month.

Today at 9:58am EDT, the moon hits the astronomical point in it’s orbit around the earth when it is full.  It did so 29.5 days ago, on August 1st.  The next blue moon of this type will occur in July of 2015.  The previous came in 2010 when it occurred twice, January and March.

The old definition last occurred in November of 2010 and doesn’t happen again until August 2013, and later again in May 2016.

So what happened?  Well the original definition of “blue moon” was solidly described in almanacs of the time until 1946 when the March edition of Sky and Telescope had an article that misinterpreted the definition and described it as two full moons in a single calendar month.  Later, the radio program Stardate  took this definition and ran with it.  And it stuck.

In honor of this event, I thought I’d take a look at a popular brand that can be found on most liquor store shelves, Blue Moon.  But instead of looking at the flagship, Belgian-style white, I thought I’d take a look at another beer in their line – their Belgian-Style Pale Ale. Let’s taste.

Blue Moon’s Belgian-Style Pale Ale

THEM: The beer is supposed to be an interprutation of the Belgian styles that brewer Keith Villa found around Brussels.  Hibiscus and orange peel are added, and cascade hops are added to for aroma without giving the beer an overly bitter finish.  As with most Blue Moon products, wheat is added to the grain bill and the ABV clocks in at 5.4%.

DELAWARE AVAILABILITY:  On shelves at local liquor stores.

ME: Belgian Pale Ale pours a copper color with the head and carbonation level you’d expect from a mass produced product.  The nose is clean with hints of malt, but I don’t get any of “subtle hop aroma” the label says I should be getting from the cascade addition.  Really this beer promises a lot, a delivers nothing.  The flavor is more of the same, nothing amazing that you can pull out and say “hey, look at this!”  Just tame and mediocre.  Someone with a better palette might be able to pull out the hibiscus, and indeed I get a little something interesting in there, but not to the level that really takes the beer to another level.

As far as Belgian is concerned – nada.  Nothing you’d associate with a Belgian style, especially those interesting yeast characteristics that they tend to have.  To think that style wise (as far as the label is concerned) this should be in the same class as Ommegang BPA is hysterical.

The subject of this post couldn’t be any more appropriate after tasting this beer.  When would I drink it?  Once in a blue moon.

Time for another beer.

Author: Ed (The Dogs of Beer)

Beer Blog focused on Delaware & surrounding area. Drinker of beer. Writer of stuff. Over user of commas. Dangler of prepositions.

2 thoughts on “Brew Review: Blue Moon and Why a Lot of People Have it Wrong.”

  1. I got this one in a sampler, and thought it was much more inline with a British/Irish Pale Ale than anything even kind of Belgian.

    They had (have?) another alternative called “Pale Moon” which is a much better offering. Their best (but discontinued) was “Rising Moon”, which was a lime and lemon variant on their orange-infused Belgian White flagship.

    Nice post! I’ll definitely be having some BM tonight. Y’know, in honor of Neil.

  2. Thanks for the info. I’m backpacking up to a mountain lake in the Cascades tonight and will make sure to school everyone on blue moons.

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