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Beer as Art. Or Is It the Other Way Around?

At Blue Moon Brewing Company®, we believe brewing is an art. And it’s been that way since our head brewmaster and founder, Keith Villa, first created Blue Moon® Belgian White Belgian-Style Wheat Ale back in 1995 in downtown Denver, Colorado.

It all started with Keith’s idea to craft a beer inspired by the flavorful Belgian Wits that he enjoyed while studying brewing in Belgium. He brewed his interpretation using the highest quality ingredients like Valencia orange peel, versus the traditional tart Curaçao orange peel, for a subtle sweetness. Then he added oats and wheat to create a smooth, creamy finish that is inviting to the palate. As a final touch, he garnished the beer with an orange slice to heighten the citrus aroma and taste.

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Our Opening Day Just Happened to Be Opening Day.

We started brewing at the corner of 22nd & Blake in downtown Denver, Colorado, at the beginning of the '95 baseball season. We only call out baseball because our brewery is located in a baseball stadium. We were called The SandLot Brewery®, and we focused on brewing craft beer for the fans at games. By the middle of the season, our roster of beers was ready to start pouring. It included Slugger Stout, Rightfield Red, and a fan favorite called Bellyslide Wit.

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Bellyslide to Blue Moon.

As the season went on we kept hearing the same thing from fans: “Give me a Bellyslide.” With an overwhelming fan-favorite we knew we had a special beer on our hands, but we needed a name that could live outside of the baseball stadium. So one day, when a bunch of us were tasting beers, our admin called out, “You know, a beer that tastes this good comes around only once in a blue moon.” And with that phrase ringing in our ears, the Blue Moon Brewing Company® was born, and Bellyslide became Blue Moon® Belgian White*. Oranges, get ready.

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Is That an Orange in Your Blue Moon?

Why, yes it is.

When we first started distributing Blue Moon® Belgian White* across the country, we noticed something: lemons. Lots of them. All curiously hanging off the sides of Blue Moon Belgian White*, which is common practice for traditional Belgian Wits that are tart. But Blue Moon® Belgian White* is not tart; it’s slightly sweet. So after a little thinking, Keith suggested garnishing our Belgian White* with an orange slice to heighten the citrus aroma and taste from the Valencia orange peel used to brew the beer. Needless to say, it caught on and Belgian White* was the first American beer that called for an orange.

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Hitting the Road.

Based on the response we got from fans and locals, we knew Belgian White* was a beer that should be shared. Not just in Colorado, but across the entire country. Well, it turns out, that’s easier said than done.

From 1995 to 2005, Keith and crew hit the road. They went bar to bar, store to store, telling the story of Blue Moon Brewing Company® and our Belgian White*.

Starting in 1997, they would even go as far as dropping off bags of oranges to garnish the beers at bars. Then a funny thing happened. Keith started getting calls from the bar owners who ran out of oranges. They told him how people loved the beer garnished with an orange slice. The only catch was, bars didn’t stock oranges as a drink garnish, so they wanted Keith to deliver more bags of oranges. Guess you could say it was a good problem to have.

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A Festival Favorite

In addition to Belgian White*, one of the first beers our brewmasters created was a Raspberry Cream Ale. It’s a classic cream ale brewed with black and red raspberries for a fresh raspberry aroma with a hint of tart sweetness. One day at the brewery, Keith got the idea that he wanted to do a black-and-tan, but not a traditional one. He wanted to do one the Blue Moon way, using the Raspberry Cream Ale.

Maybe it’s having a brewery located in a baseball stadium, but something inspired him to use peanuts for the “tan” part. Never having brewed with peanut butter before, the brewmasters were up for the challenge.

After a couple test batches and some pretty good kettle-made peanut brittle, they perfected their recipe using real peanut butter to capture that roasted peanut taste in a beer. They blended the Peanut Butter Ale with the Raspberry Cream Ale, and with that, a festival favorite was born. To this day, you can still get one at select beer festivals.

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A Beer for All Seasons.

Our first seasonal beer, Pumpkin Ale, was first brewed in the fall of 1995. This fan favorite is crafted with harvest spices and pumpkin to capture the taste of the season. Still brewed today (currently known as Harvest Pumpkin Ale), it was the first pumpkin beer to be nationally distributed.

Next came our Mountain brew, Blue Moon® Mountain Abbey Ale (originally brewed as a year-round beer). We wanted a beer for those cold Colorado nights. Inspired by Belgian Abbey Ales, our Mountain Abbey Ale is crafted with dark Belgian candi sugar and roasted malts for a rich, caramel-toffee taste.

We’ve gone on to add a wide variety of seasonals and limited seasonal releases. Sometimes, we wish there were more seasons in the year.

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Nearly Two Decades and Counting.

Hard to believe that it's been 17 years since that first spring day back in 1995. We've brewed a lot of beer since then (3,269 batches, according to the logbook), and our brewmasters are always excited to experiment with new beers for our fans.

You just never know what will come next from the Blue Moon Brewing Company®.

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  • Meet The Brewmasters
  • Our Approach To Brewing
  • Our Awards
A Note From Keith (click to read)
Keith Villa
Head Brewmaster and Founder of the Blue Moon Brewing Company®

After earning his Ph.D. in brewing from the University of Brussels in Belgium, an honor only a handful of brewers have achieved, Keith came back stateside with the idea of crafting beers inspired by Belgian styles, but with a twist. His first interpretation turned out to be our most popular beer, Blue Moon® Belgian White* and the start of the Blue Moon Brewing Company®. Since then, Keith has gone on to brew several award-winning beers. Today, Keith continues to have fun experimenting and creating new beers for the brewery he founded in 1995. When he’s not standing over a kettle, you can find him restoring classic American cars and bikes in his garage.

John Legnard

John’s story starts about an hour north of Denver in another Craft-beer-centric town—Fort Collins, Colorado. After winning awards for his homebrews, he knew he wanted to brew for a living. He worked his way up at small breweries, honing his brewing skills, until one day he got the call to join Blue Moon Brewing Company® in 1995. Here from the start, John has helped the brewery bring home several medals from beer festivals as well as create many of our Blue Moon® seasonals and specialty beers. In his spare time, John takes advantage of the Colorado landscape. An avid outdoorsman, you might just run into him hiking the backcountry.

We Believe Brewing Is an Art

At Blue Moon Brewing Company®, everything we do flows from our artistic approach to brewing. It’s been that way ever since we first started brewing back in 1995. We carefully select quality ingredients to go into each of our beers. Then we spend time making test batches until we arrive at a balanced, flavorful beer that we all enjoy drinking.

And that is why we say our beers, and everything we do, are Artfully Crafted®.

If We Had a Mantel, These Would Be On It.
Great American Beer Festival
Great American Beer Festival®
  • 2010 Large Brewer/Brewmaster of the Year, Great American Beer Festival
  • 2010 Blue Moon® Chardonnay Blonde*, Fruit Beer
  • 2010 Blue Moon® Summer Honey Wheat, Specialty Honey Beer
  • 2007 Blue Moon® Honey Moon Summer Ale, Specialty Honey Lager or Ale
  • 2006 Blue Moon® Honeymoon, Specialty Honey Lager or Ale
  • 2006 Blue Moon® Chardonnay Blonde Ale*, Fruit Beer
  • 1996 Blue Moon® Honey Blonde, Belgian-Style Ale
  • 2008 Blue Moon® Honey Moon Summer Ale, Specialty Honey Beer
World Beer Cup
World Beer Cup®
  • 2008 Large Brewer/Brewmaster of the Year
  • 2008 Blue Moon® Honey Moon Summer Ale, Specialty Honey Lager or Ale
  • 1998 Blue Moon® Abbey Ale**, Belgian-Style Pale Ale
  • 2008 Blue Moon® Chardonnay Blonde*, Fruit and Vegetable Beer
International  Beer Competition
International Beer Competition®
  • 2012 Blue Moon® Vintage Blond Ale*, Fruit Wheat Beer.
  • 2012 Blue Moon® Caramel Apple Spiced Ale, Herb and Spice Beer
  • 2012 Blue Moon® Farmhouse Red Ale, French and Belgian-Style Saison

*Currently known as Golden Knot **Currently Known as Mountain Abbey Ale

A Note From Our Brewmaster

At Blue Moon Brewing Company, we started crafting our first beers back in 1995 in downtown Denver, Colorado. The goal then was to brew flavorful beers with quality ingredients that people would enjoy and share with their friends.

Over the years, we’ve stayed true to our original vision. We still draw inspiration from our surroundings—the changing seasons or a new and different ingredient—to Artfully Craft our beers.

We hope you enjoy everything that Blue Moon Brewing Company has to offer as much as we enjoy brewing it. After all, having fun while crafting great beer is what we’re all about.

Keith Villa
Head Brewmaster and Founder

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