As Fall looms ever nearer, and the shimmering haze of Summer descends farther and farther beyond the horizon, I find myself increasingly drawn to the stacks and displays of Autumn samplers. Luckily, there seem to be three new additions every time I go into the store. My first foray into this year’s Fall offerings are by one of those somewhat crafty, somewhat large scale breweries. You know, the kind that you’ve probably seen on TV a couple times, but are always placed on the craft wall, opposite from the Budweisers and the Millers. Today, I’m talking about Blue Moon’s Autumn Sampler. Many may know Blue Moon as the tall, gold and cloudy beer with an orange slice chilling out on the rim like a citrus mohawk. Yep, that beer. And I’ll review that one in a bit, but there are four others in this sampler pack, and I can already hear some of them calling my name. I really shouldn’t keep them waiting…
Alright, today we’ve got the Blue Moon Caramel Apple Spiced Ale. From the name alone, I’m excited. I love fall beers, I’m a big fan of Blue Moon, and I’ll turn a caramel apple into a simple core on a stick in a matter of minutes. This seems like it was made especially for me. (Hint: you may want to note this as foreshadowing). Today, I’ll be tasting from the bottle first, and a tulip glass second, to see how the flavors and aromas change. If you’re following along at home (if you are, that’d be quite a coincidence) twist off those caps and let’s get to it.
The first aromas I get after opening are sweet spices, mingling with the traditional malt and hop scent of beer. Underneath that first layer, I believe I’m smelling brown sugar and some fruity apple notes. It’s a little hard to tell, because most of these notes are fleeting. Really, each one seems to make a brief appearence, while the malt and brown sugar takes their time and lingers under everything.
The first taste brings most of the aroma along, with a little boost to the wheaty notes of the malt. There’s a slight hoppyness, but just enough to provide a slight bitter tang, that becomes muddled up within the other tastes. Immediately after that, a slightly nutty taste shows up, holding hands with apple and some spices. Now, at this point, this all may seem pleasant and complex. And it is definitely complex. I had to throw this beer onto every inch of my tongue, while breathing in and out at the same time to oxygenate the flavors, and I still needed extra tastes to even begin to nail down what was going on in that bottle. And, even after all of that, the overall flavor of the beer…well, it’s not doing so hot.
With that in mind, I realize that these flavors aren’t totalling up to Spiced Caramel Apple. Like I said, I know caramel apple, and this isn’t it. But, it does have a flavor very similar to the smell of dried leaves. Like, when you were a kid, and you jumped in the pile of leaves that your dad just spent an hour and a half raking, and now the pile is thrown all over the yard again. That smell. It’s a very fall-ish smell, and for this beer, a very fall-ish taste but, I didn’t want to taste leaves. I don’t know if I ever want to taste leaves. This leaf flavor is not bad, no. But, it’s not caramel apple. It’s not even caramel or apple individually. I don’t know. Maybe I’m expecting too much. Perhaps I should step back, and just drink it like I was watching a football game…
Ok, I still taste leaves, but now that I gave my tongue a rest, I can taste the faintest hints of apple buried somewhere in there. All of these flavors are fairly monotone. What I mean is, nothing really jumps out. Everything is combining and grouping up to form one mega-flavor (leaves). Maybe pouring it into a glass will open those flavors up…
No. That did nothing. In fact, the flavors kind of dissipate. All but the leafy taste. That seems to be the only taste that sticks around. After a few seconds, the bready undertones saunter back in, just kinda standing around under the leaves, like they don’t want to be there, but their mom is making them stay. And who could blame the poor bready-ness. His pals, the caramel, the apple, and all the spices have just left him there with that weirdo, “Leaves”. Some friends, huh? Anyway, the beer is basically just Autumn Leaf Ale at this point. It even starts to smell that way. Kind of a weak, floral scent that has none of the tantalizing qualities of its bottle scent. Only its aftertaste offers any legacy of the artist formerly known as Caramel Apple Spiced Ale, with a fleeting amalgamation of nutty, cinnamony sweetness on the back of the tongue. It’s like they’re just standing their, mocking the bready notes for listening to his mom. Poor bread.
Are there any positives to this beer? Well, it looks nice. It’s a rich caramel color, despite its lack of caramel taste. It has a moderate, cream colored head, so it looks like a promising beer when poured. And, it definitely has a fall taste. Just, not what the bottle told me it was supposed to taste like.
Overall, it could have been much better. The initial aromas seemed to vanish in between smell and taste, condemning this beer to live its life as an earthy ale of leaves. Its taste is not bad, and I imagine that many may possibily find the flavor to be refreshing and tasty. It did certainly taste like fall. But, it wasn’t caramel apple fall. And that’s a shame. Blue Moon’s Caramel Apple Spiced Ale receives a C-, and hopefully the bready tones make it back home ok. Its mother is going to be worried sick.
Lasting Strength: 3/5
Overall: 3.6/5 C-