Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Wild Blue Lives: A Good Beer from Anheuser-Busch

By William Brand
Friday, March 30th, 2007 at 9:53 pm in Uncategorized.

As I’ve mentioned before, I subscribe to an unusual email newsletter. It’s paid for by Miller Brewing, done by a Milwaukee ad agency. They stalk other big brewers filings and make them public.

Anheuser-Busch Wild Blue. Mostly, I don’t give a damn, you’ve seen one standard lager, well, you know. But last week they came up with some GREAT NEWS. Anheuser-Busch (their obvious nemesis) has “filed a certificate of label approval application with the Treasure Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for WILD BLUE!”

The caps are mine.

Miller Brew Blog, goes on to say it’s an 8 percent lager and AB say it’s made by the “Beechwood Brewing Group.”

What Miller doesn’t know is this is a serious beer, made by A-B’s craft brewing section. I got to try it two years ago at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver and again last year at an A-B-arranged cheese and beer tasting in San Francisco.

I know all the criticism about alco-pops, the sugary, fruit-laden, malternatives. I’m sorry, Wild Blue’s none of that. Here’s an excerpt from my report on that beer and cheese event in September, 2006.

“Blue Dawg Wild Blue***+ and Wensleydale Cranberry****. Cheese comes from an artisian English cheesemaker with origins dating back to Cistercian monks who came to England with William the Conquerer. Blue Dawg is an Anheuser-Busch label; the beer’s made at an A-B brewery in Baldwinsville, NY. It’s being test marketed in Ohio and Michigan.

The beer rating websites hate this beer, but I think part of that’s because it’s A-B and brewed with rice and part because many American beer raters think fruit beers are effeminate. They should try a true, workingman’s Belgian lambic.

Wild Blue’s made with a blend of barley malts and a percentage of rice. Hops are Hallertau and Tettnang. Last year, the company said whole blueberries were added to the mash. Not sure if that’s still true. This is a big beer, 8 percent and it’s true blue. Indeed.

The cheese by itself is fabulous. Crumbly and buttery with a sweetness from the cranberries, offset by an underlying acidity.

The beer is a shock. Yes, there’s sweetness and a definite fruit flavor. But after an initial sweet hit, there’s a surprising dryness that lasts into a long finish. Reisch said they used rice to gain dryness. Without the rice, the beer would be way too sweet, he said.

Together the cheese and beer are spectacular. The taste of the two mingle and explode in the mouth.

Here’s a cheer for Wild Blue. Now, if they’d just skip the rice and use a wild yeast for a secondary foundation to create a bit of sourness to balance the berries…

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  • David E Beaster

    I hate to admit it, but this fruit beer is well worth bringing home and trying. And to find out its a specialty of AB, well, that really frost me. It really does work! At first I hid the 6 packs in my basement refrigerator because I really was afraid my beer snob friends would laugh at me. But I have come to realize that its the craft and contents of the brew that makes a good beer. This beer starts and finishes well without being to sweet. Just be careful of quantity, it is a 8% brew.

  • William Brand

    Greaet comment. I totally agree with you. Blows my mind that it comes from A-B. Nevertheless, a very drinkable beer. William Brand

  • Stu

    I had another beer made by A-B that I quite liked. Bare Knuckle Stout, only available in draft.

  • patrick d richards

    wild blue is a strong wine cooler, very strong, i like it a lot

  • Laura

    Wild blue is awesome! Not too sweet, but has a punch! Love it! Laura

  • Stacy

    Wild blue has become a favorite of mine…it’s taste is awesome. I loved it but now I can’t find it.

  • William Brand

    I can’t find it either Stacy. Best thing to do is ask a retailer with a good stock of beer to ask the Anheuser-Busch distributor or call the distributor yourself. You can find a list on line on the A-B Website. I think the deal is, they’re having success with the beer with lime in it and retailers don’t want to devote space to a beer that moves slow. But who really knows?

  • Jan P. Dennis

    I drink a lot of Belgian brews, and though Wild Blue isn’t in the same class as the best of these, it’s a nice little brew and very drinkable. I think A-B did a great job of balancing the sweetness with a dryish tartness. It reminds me a little of Kasteel Rouge. And its readily available in my area, Colorado Springs.

  • Carmen

    I LOVE THIS BEER!!! It is my most favorite beer that I’ve ever had, and I this includes the lambic ales I love so much. I am sad, though… they’ve replaced my Blue Dawg with a nasty see-through “blueberry” beer at my local grocery store, and I’m pretty upset about it. I hope they bring it back!

  • William Brand

    Yeah, I think they’ve abandoned Wild Blue. If you liked it, you should look into some of theBelgian Lambic beers imported into the U.S. Lindemans is on the order of Wild Blue, though not quite as strong,. The Kriek (cherry) Framboise (raspberry) and Cassis (Blackberry) are pretty good. Too sweet for some, but they work for me occassionally. They also make a Pomme (apple) which I find way too sweet.

  • Jennifer

    I have to totally disagree with the rest of the comments about this beer. I thought it was the most disgusting, sugary, wine cooler of a beer I’ve ever tried. It shouldn’t even be called beer or sold anywhere near real beer on the shelf. I am usually a fan of any blueberry type beer, but this one is undrinkable at best and was a total was of money.

  • Pat Burke-Dugener

    I just had the Wild Blue at a tasting and while it is not a beer that I would enjoy, it is not bad. I’m thinking of getting it for a non-beer drinking friend. And they have not abandoned it, I believe it is just coming out and was told I could get it at Knight’s Liquors locally and possibly Publix Grocery. It was not available at Whole Foods but Shock Top and Stone Mill Pale Ale of the AB craft beers were available there. According to our tasting guide the Bare Knuckle Stout is only available in tap because Guiness has the patent on their widget that puts Nitrogen into the bottle of Guiness.

  • don

    Is this website populated by A-B employees? Here’s my background, and opinion.

    Beer experience: extensive. Not from tasting parties or beer festivals, but from picking up different brews from random specialty beer shops throughout my travels. Also, I have eight years of home brewing experience.

    And to those who think my opinion is solely to bash fruit-infused beer, I really enjoy many brews that involve fruit in the fermentation process.

    My opinion: This is the worse beer ever, and every positive comment on this board is from the A-B board of directors. Seriously, any serious beer drinker that can appreciate a fruit beer does so because it tastes like fruit BEER. This stuff obviously had the fruit syrup concentrate introduced into the process too late in the game. The overly refined sugar and sweet-tart fruit taste hits you in the face like a bag full of hammers. I’ve had beer that I disagreed with before that stays in the fridge because I’m sure someone would like it…. this puppy went straight to the trash…. 5 1/2 bottles out of the six pack. It was so bad that I stopped cooking dinner to fire up the computer and look for or whoever was responsible for this mess and tell them they’d be doing a great service to society if they focused on making anything but beers. If you threw away a few quarts of good berries into your garbage, as well as several full baby diapers, then let it sit in the hot garage for three weeks, then collected the liquid at the bottom of the can, then you would have an improvement over Wild Blue.

    Seriously, the only way anyone could like this is by being on the A-B payroll, veterans of taste-bud-removal surgery, or people that enjoy the taste of robutussin mixed with chum.

  • William Brand

    My gawd, this damn post has a life of its own. Hard to believe anyone is still following the comments. I thought Wild Blue was dead as a doornail. It can’t be found in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Here’s my history with the beer. I tried samples at the Great American Beer Festival in 2006. At that point, it was a blend of barley and rice. Real blueberries were added during fermentations. I rather liked it. The rice made it drier; the blueberries weren’t overpowering. I went into test marketing in Ohio, which was slowly expanded.

    I tasted it again this summer and found it much sweeter; really, far too sweet. I talked to the brewmaster in charge of the product.She insisted the changes were minor, although a blueberry slurry is now used. We parted, disagreeing. Basically, they made it an alcopop. The marketing people won out. And it flopped.

  • chet Pletzke

    Just got a 6 pack in Brevard North Carolina at the SavMor store
    because I like Bluberry Beer. I opened it and tasted and have to agree it is the best bluberry beer next to Blue Berry Panacake Ale from Michigan that I tatsed at a brew festival several years ago. I will get more if I can. It is great. Too bad the other brews such as Sea Dog, etc. can’t get their to taste like this.

  • Randy

    Wow, this is hands down the worst beer I’ve ever tasted in my life…it’s really terrible, I don’t know how any beer fan could drink this atrocity.

  • John

    I very much enjoyed this beer. It’s is different than the usual brew I normally drink (I prefer stouts), but I like a large variety of different tastes. Amazingly enough, not everyone is going to like this (just like I absolutely hate Sam Adam’s Cherry wheat…and almost any ale).

    Anyway, it is worth a try for something different.

  • William Brand

    To each his own, John. As I’ve said, they’ve made it too sweet.

  • anon

    umm, stouts are ales

  • Amy

    I bought a sixer of this while at a college homecoming a couple of weeks ago. I’m usually not a huge fan of fruit beers, except to occasionally have one here or there. I tend to lean more towards nut brown ales or stouts. But this sounded kind of fun for our 12 year sorority reunion. Having never tried a Belgian lambic, I figured this would be like most fruit ales or lagers I’d tried: okay, with a little hint of said fruit, so I figured what the heck. The dog on the label was cute. I was immediately taken off guard by the HELLO BLUEBERRY aroma that hit me as soon as I opened it. Then I tasted it, immediately thinking, “I am so not going to like this. It’s way too sweet.” But a couple of sips and it really grew on me. It had a nice crisp dryness about it despite the initial sweetness–I would have loved to have some sort of good aged cheese with it. Quite enjoyable actually, and everyone who tried it that night agreed (let me just make sure you know that this is and was never a sorority of wine cooler girls–we all headed for the microbrew section of the store for our selections.)

  • Bob

    WOW I Love It!! What a great tasting beer. I do believe it is now my favorite beer. No after taste at all and great flavor.

  • William Brand

    Gee Amy..What wouild you think abou the beer if it wasn’t so sweet?

  • William Brand

    Gee “Bob” it has “drinkability too. Catch the sarcasm there.

  • Lorraine

    You’re right W.B., this blog seems to go on & on (innocent entertainment). I agree that Wild Blue is too sweet, at least for me, but all of my kids, adults in their 30’s who came to visit last summer, loved it. They have all been looking for it in their respective states – with no luck! Does anybody know for a fact that it is IN/OUT? Maybe I’d better hoard what I can find at Winco!

  • Nick S.

    I really like this beer, and I don’t work for A-B. It is sweet, but it’s good. I’m glad I took a chance and got this… my new favorite beer.

  • William Brand

    You go Nick. Drink one for me, in the unlikely event you can find another.

  • Rodney S.

    I like this beer and I don’t like much of anything made by A-B. I don’t like sweet tasting beer or alcohols either. This isn’t all that sweet.

  • mike

    damn that’s some good beer i visited A-B this summer and i am down to my last two i was wondering where i could buy some more around Lima,Ohio?

  • William Brand

    I think they’ve abandoned the beer. Will ask A-B

  • jim

    had this wild blue ale on sat the 27th in germantown maryland it was off the hook with flavor

  • William Brand

    That;s what I thought the first time and the second time, but then they dumbed it down to bland. Maybe they’ve ramped it up again. Hope so.

  • Donovan

    Great Beer, hooked first time I drank it, they now serve it at the The Slide Bar in Fullerton,Ca.

  • Ken

    I live in Orlando,Fl. and love wild blue and it is readily available.

  • Justin

    The perfect beer for those who thought Zima and Smirnoff Ice were too dry. It hits the palate like a tall-boy of Sparks without the caffeinated enjoyment. The only benefit is it’s strength, yet another resemblance to Sparks. Tastes like the beer and concentrated juice concoctions that we used to mix up to avoid buying wine coolers for the ladies at keystone light keggers. I thought I’d grown up. This proves that I’m the same sucker as the rest of these fan-boy saps.

  • 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.

  • Rob

    Totally agree with your article.Wow A-B, I didn’t realize it was distributed by them. I think it’s funny how specialty beer is alway associated with masculinity and some snobbery. I didn’t really even consider it a girly drink, I bought it because the label was cool, and novelty of being brewed with blueberries. The dog is tough looking, even kind of cute flicking something. I’m guessing dog dodo.