When I ask someone what their favorite beer is, by far the most common response I get is, "I like Blue Moon." The Belgian-style wheat ale, made by the Miller-Coors company, is a go-to beer for many.
My go-to Belgian-style wheat ale is Allagash White, and it has very little to do with the fact that Allagash is actually craft beer and Blue Moon is not. I like Blue Moon. It's a tasty beer. It's a beer that has done a lot to change the palates of people who've never had craft beer and may never try it (if you've only had Blue Moon, you still haven't had craft beer). But if I'm going to have a Belgian White, it's going to be Allagash.
I've had both beers many times, but to prove what a serious beer reviewer I am, I did an official taste-test comparison of both. The results confirmed my initial hypothesis: Allagash is the superior beer.
A Belgian-style white ale, or witbier, is a beer that is cloudy in appearance due to a high amount of wheat. The beers are generally flavored with citrus and with spices like coriander, sometimes with herbs. They are refreshing and crisp, making great summer beers, though they can be enjoyed year-round.
The Blue Moon pours orange, with very little head. The beer is filtered, without any of the traditional cloudiness of wheat beers. Take a whiff and you get orange peel.
Blue Moon goes down easy. You get more oranges, and then, nothing. Just a nice, pleasant taste. It's an enjoyable beer, though there's nothing complex in the flavor.
Allagash White, which is brewed in Portland, Maine, pours cloudy, hazy, with a big, off-white head. It smells of lemony citrus and spice. Upon first sip, you can taste the wheat. A wheat beer that tastes like wheat? Who would have thought? You taste the spices, too. It's peppery, but not too much so. There's orange in there, too, but it doesn't steal the show. The beer finishes clean, while the Blue Moon leaves you with a lingering sweetness.
The stats: Blue Moon is 5.4 percent ABV, while Allagash is 5.2 percent. I bought a six-pack of Blue Moon for $9.99, the same price I paid for a 4-pack of Allagash White. Because it's made by Coors (don't get me started on Blue Moon's misleading marketing), Blue Moon is more widely distributed and is generally more affordable.
You aren't wrong to like Blue Moon. I like it. When I became the Globe's beer writer, I told myself I would try to appeal to beer snobs and beer novices alike. Many of my initial posts have been geared toward people who already know about beer. The goal of this post is to get relative beer novices to try something new. I'm curious at what the results will be. If you're a newbie and you try Allagash White, tell me what you think. If you've had both, why do you like one more than the other? As always, it's just beer.