Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Bud’s Wild Blue With Blueberries!

By William Brand
Friday, September 30th, 2005 at 10:38 am in Uncategorized.

DENVER _ Would you believe it? A blueberry ale from Anheuser Busch? This is no lie _ the makers of Bud Light _ are test-marketing two blueberry ales in the Midwest and yesterday afternoon, I had a chance to sample both.

It sent my mind lurching back to 1989, when I first sampled Grant Johnston’s prize-winning Bluebeery Ale at Marin Brewing in Larkspur, CA. The craft beer movement was still tiny then and not in my wildest imagination would I have believed that a decade and a half later I’d be sitting in a hotel lobby in Denver, sampling Blueberry Ale from Budweiser.
Whew. The mind reels and boggles.

There’s more: a very decent Marzen, a pale ale that has been in the Anheuser Busch lineup from time to time and A-B’s fall seasonal: Jack’s Pumpkin Spiced Ale, under the Michelob label. There’s also a 10 percent alcohol by volume Michelob Reserve out there somewhere. But they didn’t have a sample.

Another sign that the world’s largest beer company is changing course: A-B’s public relations folks also produced the brewer who helped design the beers. He’s Florian Kuplent, a German-born, German-trained brewer who worked in Belgium and for the late New England Brewing Co. in the U.S., before signing on with big Bud.

Before I even tasted the beers, I fired questions at the PR team about marketing strategy, why the maker of the world’s top-selling beer (It’s either Bud or Bud Light) would do something like this. I asked if the fact that sales of craft beer were up 7 percent last year and are growing at a similar rate this year had anything to do with it.

Also, I noted that Miller’s now owned by a beer company again, South African Breweries, and InBev, the former Interbrew is growing rapidly figured in their strategy.
But they demurred, so we focused on the beer.

First, the blueberry ales, starting with the best:

— Wild Blue*** is an 8 percent alcohol by volume ale, made with malted barley and a touch of rice. Hops, I believe, were noble _ Hallertau and Tettnang. “We only use aroma hops,’;’ Byrne said. Whole blueberries are added to the mash.

This one was delicious, fruit aroma, taste is dry with just a bit of sweetness, then a hit from the alcohol. Very drinkable. I wondered aloud how this one would develop, if they put it in wooden barrels for a year or two. No response on that one, but I believe, I’m right. A lactic edge and no rice would make this a spectacular beer.

— Blue Horizon*, a five percent, all-barley malt beer, is a great name. But it was a true alco-pop. Sweet and a bit fizzy. A decent alco-pop at that. This one, no doubt, will survive. Modern tastes run to sweet. Personally, I’m voting for Wild Blue.

— Jack’s Pumpkin Spice ** was an interesting beast. Again, all barley malt, 5.5 percent beer. “Golden Delicious” pumpkins from a farm in Oregon, were added to the mash, along with a spice blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Pumpkin nose, spicy taste. Like a pumpkin pie, If you like pumpkin, this would be worth a try. It will be on sale on tap and in bottles in 12 and 18 bottle Michelob Specialty Sampler Selection boxes until mid-December. The 18-bottle sampler includes two pilsner glasses as well. A-Bs next seasonal rolls out in December Each season will bring a new beer, Byrne said.

— Marzen *** is a very respectable, 5.2 percent version of an Oktoberfest lager. It’s a 100 percent barley malt beer, a blend of two-row and caramel cara-pils malts, Hallertau and Tettnang hops. It’s also dry hopped _ hops added after the wort cools. Most American-style Marzens tend to be quite malty with lots of hops. This one’s more like the fest beers being served this year in Munich: Crisp, malty mouth feel, dry finish. Excellent fest beer.
— Pale Ale** also is a dry-hopped, all barley malt beer. Byrne explained that it’s more like an English version of a pale ale, rather than the American style, with over-the-top Cascade hops. This is a middle-of-the road pale ale. To be British, in my opinion, it needs more malt, less dryness.

Anheuser Busch says all the beers _ with the exception of the blueberry ales _ will be available nationwide this month.

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  • http://pegtech17@aol.com peggy

    where in toms river nj can i buy wild blue??

  • William Brand

    HI Peggy, check with your local Anheuser-Busch distributor. Look /em up in the phone book or online and call them. It’s made at the A-B brewer in upstate NY, so it ought to be around. Don’t know about Anheuser-Busch distributors where you live, but out here on the West Coast, dsitributors just don’t push those beers. I;ve never seen it on sale here either.

  • yvette

    I don’t care for blueberries, but I tried some Wild Blue last night and I loved it!! great stuff just be careful because it don’t taste strong, but it’s 8% ABV. Yummmm…

  • Adele

    Wow best beer around. we went to a beer taste and it is great stuff. So we were told what local stores carry and WE can not find it any where what in the world. We have been selling word of mouth and turned alot of people on to this at the beer tasting fest. HELP

  • William Brand

    I don’t know where you live, but I believe A-B has dropped it. It tanked out here in California. I initially liked it, but the production version was too sweet for me. Made the beer into a high powered (at 8 percent) alco-pop.

  • jen

    This Blueberry Lager is incredible!! For all of you out there who don’t necessarily care for the traditional taste of beer, this one is for you! (This might be a female favorite!) I absolutely love it!! I can’t say enough about it. I hope you’ll try it and it stays around for a long time. I went to a beer tasting in Chicago and they paired with a cheese that had berries in it. It made it even better! I wish I could share with you the name of the cheese, but I don’t remember it. Definately try out this blueberry lager from Anheuser-Busch! I wish more bars and stores in Chicago sold it.

  • http://www.beernewsletter.com/blog William Brand

    Hmmm.

  • Gege N.

    Very good.
    Was skeptical at first but pleasantly surprised. Suspected I was going to waste my money as I have before with other novelty beers, but shockingly I ate or rather swallowed my words after the first sip passed my lips. Blissfully brilliant blueberry beer. Who would have thought!
    Delicious! I wanted to hurry back to the store and buy what was left before it was gone. I hope Wild Blue is a keeper. I would love to be able to purchase this beer year round. I’m not a regular beer drinker but would be tempted to stock up more regularly. This is such a treat and would be a refreshing reward at the end of the stressful work day. A tiny treasure/simple pleasure to look forward to and a yummy way to unwind.

    Go Wild Blue!
    I hope you stay the whole year through!

    Sincere fan,
    “G”

  • Angela

    I tasted this last year and I have to say as someome who does not really like beer. I loved it. Wish I could buy it in the UK.

  • William Brand

    I’m afraid that as we speak, Wild Blue is dead in the water. Looks like A-B has killed it.

  • http://www.polymediastudio.com Bethany Culp

    Last night, I couldn’t find my usual high-alcohol content beer, Golden Monkey, so I went for something new: Wild Blue. I was skeptical when I heard “blueberry beer,” because I’m really not into fruity drinks/beers, but at 8% alcohol I thought I’d give it a try. It took me about half an hour of complete taste-confusion to realize it was goddamn awesome. Yeah, it was sweet, and it’s nothing close to what I typically like in a beer (I’m a fan of porters and other beers that are so thick and bitter you could cut them with a knife).

    Keeping an open mind, I ended up deciding Wild Blue is pretty damn acceptable stuff. The sweetness of the blueberry flavor was shocking at first, but it didn’t stick with me forever like the awfulness that is Mike’s Hard anything. I’d taste it, then the lager-y flavor kicked in and the sweet went away. I wasn’t haunted by blueberry all night. It also didn’t have that I’m-totally-gonna-kick-your-ass-and-we-both-know-it taste that a lot of high-alcohol content beers have, so it seems to have a tendency to sneak up on ya — but in a very good way. So yeah, Wild Blue. I totally get why it got terrible reviews, but I think it’s surprisingly decent. You just can’t drink it expecting it to be, well, beer.

    If I ever have a friend over who claims to not like beer, Wild Blue might be a good gateway drink. And damn, you would NEVER know it’s 8% alcohol if it didn’t say so on the bottle, and then proceed to knock you flat on your ass. Never in a million years.

  • S.Lee

    7/2/09 – I just tried a sample of Wild Blue at the A-B factory tour in Fairfield. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. I don’t have a big sweet tooth, and this beer was tasty without being annoying. I can imagine it being a good compliment to cheese or pork.. anything that goes well with fruit.

    The A-B folks said that only one brewery produces Wild Blue so it’s hard to find, but I wouldn’t mind having some in the fridge just to change things up once in a while.
    Also, I recommend the tour, the amount of beer produced blows your mind and the samplings are generous.

  • gordon

    Tried it at Ft. Collins Brewery today and it is great :)

  • Gabriel Arrollo

    It’s true. For those that don’t care for the taste of traditional beer, Wild Blue is a drink for you. It easily compares to an after dinner sweet wine. It was recommended to my wife during an after tour tasting at the A-B Brewery in St. Louis. The tour guide recommended the brew after my wife informed her that she was not too fond of beer. She and I Wild blue and were very pleased with the overall taste. If you can find it, I would highly recommend it and share with your social group.

  • richard bolling

    Sampled the wild blue at FTcollinf plant and loved iy. What a great beer to try with cheesecake

  • James Swotek

    Not sure if we are thinking of the same Wild Blue Lager but I posted this earlier. If you check out the Wild Blue web site you will be able to locate the beer in bottles as well as on tap.

    August 25th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    We first bought Wild Blue Lager in a 6 pk in Maui Hawaii and recently in Newport Oregon. It’s one of my wife’s favorites.

    Wild Blue Blueberry Lager = http://wildbluelager.com Blue Dawg Brewing, Baldwinsville, NY [1-877-478-6637]
    Wild Blue is a blueberry lager that fuses the juice of nature’s perfect fruit – blueberries – with premium American and German hops, two row and six-row barley malt and cereal grains. Wild Blue has a full taste with a pleasant blueberry aroma and flavor, & contains 8 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).