Keith Villa, creator and head brewmaster at Blue Moon Brewing Company retired from MillerCoors on Jan. 5 after being 22 years with the comapny. Villa developed Blue Moon, a Belgian-style witbier, while working as brewmaster at the Sandlot Brewery in Denver, Colorado. Coors started this brewery in a historic warehouse incorporated into the Coors Field baseball stadium in 1995. Villa, who had earned a PhD in brewing from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels) in the late 1980s, developed the recipe of Blue Moon based on his experience with Witbier in Belgium. Blue Moon is brewed with malted barley, white wheat, orange peel, coriander and oats—and is usually served with a slice of orange, which is said to accentuate the flavor of the brew. This type of beer was absolutely unknown in the US by that time. Villa can therefore clearly be named one of the pioneers in craft brewing in the US.
Keith Villa’s first interpretation turned out to be the brewer’s most popular beer, Blue Moon Belgian White, Belgian Style Wheat Ale. Since then, he has brewed several award-winning beers and continued to play an active role in creating new beers for the brewery.
Today more than 2 million barrels (2.3 million hl) of Blue Moon are served every year and there are more than 20 varieties of beer sold under the Blue Moon label such as Mango Wheat, Cinnamon Orchata Ale, Pacific Apricot Wheat, Honey Wheat, First Peach Ale and Belgian Table Pils, just to name a few.
While MillerCoors does everything to hide the fact that Blue Moon is brewed by one of the largest brewing companies in the world, the Brewers Association clearly points out that Blue Moon cannot be considered a craft beer according to their own standards. In order to conceal the relation between MillerCoors and Blue Moon even more, the company created in 2010 Tenth and Blake Beer Company, in which all “craft beers”of the group including Blue Moon are bundled.
The portfolio of Tenth and Blake includes the AC Golden Brewing Company in Golden, Colo.; Hop Valley Brewing in Eugene, Ore.; Revolver Brewing in Granbury, Texas; Saint Archer Brewing Company in San Diego, Cal.; and the Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, Ga. It also is home to George Killian’s Irish Red, Grolsch and such import beers as Birra Peroni from Rome, Italy and Plzeňský Prazdroj (Pilsner Urquell) from Pilsen, Czech Republic. (inside.beer, 13.7.2017)
“While I am stepping away and retiring from MillerCoors, this company will forever hold a special place in my heart,” Villa said in a statement. “Over the last 20 years, I have witnessed the growth of Blue Moon from a local beer that we developed at the Sandlot to a brand that is sold around the world.”