I used to be a cheap beer dude. I frequently consumed Coors Light, and 40 oz. of King Cobra even.
And maybe I need to run out and buy some cheep beer immediately after this review. Either now I’m a beer snob, or Blue Moon is just not that good.
Head to your local supermarket and you’ll notice winter variety packs being offered by Blue Moon and Samuel Adams. Blue Moon is distributing the “Brewmaster’s Seasonal Sampler.” Samuel Adams offering is known simply as “Winter Favorites.”
As with the Fall Seasonal Face Off, I provide a summary rating for each beer as well as my thoughts on each 12 pack as a whole.
BLUE MOON BREWMASTER’S SEASONAL SAMPLER
Before I get to the taste, first let me tell you the numbers. As with the Blue Moon Fall Seasonal Selection this variety pack features five varieties versus the six in Sam Adams. More importantly, if you’ve tasted the Blue Moon Seasonal Selection then for the most part you already know what you’re getting here because there are only two new beers in this Winter Blue Moon Seasonal Sampler.
Shame on you Blue Moon. Do you think that your fans are too dumb to realize they already tasted most of these beers last month? When we buy a variety pack, we want variety.
Now for the beers, beginning with the two you haven’t seen before.
Gingerbread Spiced Ale: Gingerbread? Are we doing Christmas in Europe? Overall not bad. It’s pretty sweet, and based on the color of the bottle I think you’re supposed to drink these after dinner . But like many of these seasonal Blue Moons it has a funky, mass produced finish. You’d probably be better off drinking a regular ale with some cinnamon sprinkled on top: 3.2
Mountain Abbey Ale: The title of this beer is evocative of something cozier than the taste. Underwhelming body with a mildly sweet finish, like a generic brand candy cane. Not enough flavor to make me a real fan: 3.1.
Belgian White: Other reviewers love to get snobby with this ordinary Blue Moon, but I enjoy the clean mild taste. The more microbrews I drink the less I enjoy this one though: 3.4.
Short Straw Farmhouse Red Ale: Sweet body gets a little sour after the first few sips. Like cheap wine, it tastes OK as long as you’re buzzed before you drink it: 2.9.
Rounder Belgian-Style Pale: Mellow hops and sweetness, with a tangy finish. My favorite of the box: 3.5.
SAMUEL ADAMS WINTER FAVORITES
With five new beers to taste (in relation to the Harvest Collection), I found myself positively giddy when I unboxed the Samuel Adams Winter Favorites 12 pack.
Winter Lager: Great mouthfeel, medium body with a savory finish. If you ever thought you wanted a less hoppy Boston Lager then this is the beer for you: 3.6.
Juniper IPA: The Juniper berries round off the sharpness of the body. This is an IPA with character: 3.5.
Cherry Chocolate Bock: All of these seasonal favorites should be poured into a glass to enjoy, but especially this Cherry Chocolate Bock. It’s like a Cherry Coke for adults. Definite cherry in the nose and body, with some earthy chocolate in the finish: 3.8.
Old Feziwig Ale: Tart body. Dry finish. Not complicated, just good: 3.7.
White Christmas: This one has a body that screams, “Drink me!” Or sings it. “Fa la la, drink me!” Hints of nutmeg in the finish. My favorite of the box. If you host a Christmas party, I say stock up on this and the Cherry Chocolate Winter Bock. Or a Hanukkah party for that matter: 3.9.
Boston Lager: Rich, complex and balanced like it says on the bottle. This was the first beer I drank regularly after I turned 21. Hoppy, more like an IPA than your typical American lager. What it does, it does well. And much easier to take this beer seriously than anything with Blue Moon written on it: 3.6.
The average score for the Blue Moon this time is 3.2. Samuel Adams comes out ahead with a score of 3.7.
The most important message of the review is that while the Fall Seasonal Face Off was evenly matched, here the Samuel Adams 12 pack is in a different category. You would therefore be fine skipping the Blue Moon and just picking up the Samuel Adams Winter Favorites this winter.
Of course, you are more than welcome to validate my review and compare your scores to mine. I would love to see what you think, particularly if you are a person who likes Blue Moon.