I may be showing my inner gringo here, but I don’t really “get” horchata.
I mean, I love Mexican food, and while I do find horchata to be pretty yummy, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be. Is it a dessert drink? Like do you order it as a treat after you finish your tacos? Or are you supposed to drink it along with your main meal, as you would with water or soda? Or is it something you just drink whenever, regardless of context or time of day? I don’t know.
Anyways, I first came across Blue Moon Cinnamon Horchata Ale during my annual fantasy football draft. A friend of mine, who happens to be our league’s commissioner and a beer rep by trade, brought me a Blue Moon variety pack as a pre-draft gift (or perhaps as a weak attempt to grease some palms — I wouldn’t put it past him). The pack contained regular Blue Moon (an old fave, but kinda bland to me now), Blue Moon White IPA (gross, not sure if I’ll review it), and the aforementioned Cinnamon Horchata Ale. I figured this variant could either be delicious or downright disgusting. Time to find out.
The receptacle of choice for this brew was my prized Stella Artois chalice, which I got about a year ago from the Best of San Diego Festival. Was it an appropriate choice of glass for this beer? Probably not, but we’re gonna run with it anyway.
Can Art: Okay, story time real quick. A couple summers ago, I worked a stint in an accounting office as an Administrative Assistant, a title which meant I was essentially a low-level shmuck with a grab bag of random office skills (none of which happened to be accounting). Besides figuring out Pivot Tables and picking up greasy lunch orders that would forever stain the seat of my truck, one of my main tasks was setting up office parties.
See, this was a cool company. Not cool in the “I’m a cool mom!” sorta way, but cool in that they legitimately cared about those poor people who chose to be accountants. During the summer months — the time that I worked there — they held themed lunch parties every Friday. In order to prepare for those parties, I first had to commit blatant copyright infringement by printing out theme-related “decorations” I had found via Google Images. I’d then adorn the walls of the lunchroom with pixelated rock stars, or famous athletes, or photos of Hawaii. When that was done, I’d go back to my desk and twiddle my thumbs for a few hours until noon rolled by, at which point I’d take that slick corporate Amex and go pick up the catered food.
Now once those parties were in full swing, the office was still the office. No amount of decorations could change that. It was still drab and gray. The cubicles still formed a hellish maze. Monitors were still everywhere. The lone standing desk still basked in its superiority.
But the office was also different.
The gray was punctuated by bits of color. The office air was a little more lively; it had a bit more flavor than usual. An attempt was made to break from the terrible banality of office life, and it wasn’t a wholly futile attempt. The dull corporate setting became festive — but not overly festive; you can’t have the employees too relaxed, now. There’s still work to do.
The can art for this beer is kinda similar to those office parties: the same old thing but with a few decorations.
Despite a slight color change and the addition of some Aztec tile designs, the Cinnamon Horchata Ale can is still quite clearly a Blue Moon can; it’s just spiced up a bit… but not too much. It’s just festive enough that people will pay attention. It’s a refreshing take on the old can, but the design is just conservative enough that it won’t scare off Blue Moon loyalists. After all, they still need people to drink it.
Beer appearance: As I suspected, it looked like beer. Not quite gold in color, more like a rich man’s yellow. It was indistinguishable from any other light lager or ale. Decently carbonated. There was constant bubbling to let me know the beer was alive and well.
The head was off-white and somewhere between sudsy and creamy. It hugged the rim of the glass and sat over the middle of the beer like a yummy swamp foam.
Smell: Right away, all I could smell was cinnamon, no detectable notes of beer. Cold cinnamon, like if you sprinkled some on a napkin and left it to sit in the back of a freezer for a few days. The smell was strong, an inherent feature of the spice, but it was also kinda… dulled. I thought for sure this beer would be the usual “smelled like blah blah poured in beer,” but no. It really just smelled like frozen cinnamon and nothing else.
Taste and Overall Impressions
The initial taste was cold and not entirely unlike regular Blue Moon. It was a little hoppy; I got that bite right off the bat. But then my palate was ransacked by a cinnamon taste.
Let’s do a science experiment. Take a regular Blue Moon Wheat Ale, sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon in it, then wait like five minutes. Just long enough for some of the cinnamon to seep down, and just short enough that some will still linger on the surface for aroma’s sake. Take a swig and tell me, what’s it like?
It probably tastes like business as usual — ya know, like beer. And then BANG. Cinnamon and weirdness, not overpowering, but somehow unexpected even though you were fully aware of its presence. There’s some sweetness, a good bit of spiciness, too, actually, but there’s no creaminess.
And that’s an issue for a beer based around horchata. I just kept getting pure cinnamon. No soothing milkiness, no refreshing, creamy texture — nothing like that. That being said, I think the biggest overall flaw of this beer is that it’s forgettable. How does that happen with a brew that’s based around one of the strangest beverages in Northern America? I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that I won’t remember this beer a year from now.
This beer is weird.
It’s not bad. It’s not great. It’s unremarkable. It’s canned “meh.” Do I recommend it? Not really. Should you actively avoid it? Maybe if there are better options, but if your curiosity is killing you, I suppose there are worse beers you could drink.
Suggested for: Mexican food lovers, people with cinnamon fetishes, weirdos who like spicy beers, beer newbies who wanna try something safe, but interesting.
ABV: 5.5% IBUs: 10