Friday, September 19, 2014

An Evening With Blue Moon Founder Keith Villa in St. Louis

Posted By on Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Yes, the orange is actually there for a reason. | Nancy Stiles
  • Yes, the orange is actually there for a reason. | Nancy Stiles

The big corporate breweries have been trying to cash in on the craft beer boom for years, but perhaps none have been quite as successful as MillerCoors. Blue Moon was created in its labs in 1995, instead of bought, and became the little brand that could at the direction of brewmaster Keith Villa. Villa stopped in St. Louis last night at the Malt House Cellar (2017 Chouteau Avenue; 314-241-4949) to introduce some new beers and discuss the history of the refreshing brew.

See also: Bottled Wisdom: An Oral History of St. Louis' Craft-Beer Movement

Keith Villa at the Malt House Cellar. | Nancy Stiles
  • Keith Villa at the Malt House Cellar. | Nancy Stiles

Villa admits that MillerCoors hated Blue Moon at first -- for years -- and tried to kill it several times. Luckily, that didn't happen, and Villa, who is technically a doctor of beer thanks to his Ph.D. from the University of Brussels, had a hit with the original Belgian white. At the Malt House Cellar, the team at Moulin created a menu that would pair perfectly with each beer.

Villa also gave us a taste of the new First Peach Ale that will be out next spring. We're not usually big on peach beers, but this one had the strong, sweet smell of a beer with all the light drinkability of a regular Blue Moon.

Cold Vietnamese shrimp spring rolls on a bed of greens with soy ginger sauce. | Nancy Stiles
  • Cold Vietnamese shrimp spring rolls on a bed of greens with soy ginger sauce. | Nancy Stiles

The classic Belgian White Ale was paired with cold Vietnamese shrimp spring rolls on a bed of greens with soy ginger sauce. The not-overpowering Harvest Pumpkin ale went with a cauliflower soup topped with curried apples and pumpernickel croutons. Next, the First Peach Ale was paired with grilled halibut with local brown basmati rice and saffron beurre blanc.

Cauliflower soup topped with curried apples and pumpernickel croutons. | Nancy Stiles
  • Cauliflower soup topped with curried apples and pumpernickel croutons. | Nancy Stiles

The main course was Moroccan-spiced rack of lamb with warm couscous pilaf and lemon black pepper jus paired with the Farmhouse Red Ale. Villa harkened back to his Mexican heritage with the Cinnamon Horchata Ale, inspired by a drink he had often as a kid; it went well with the warm chocolate ganache cake.

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale. | Nancy Stiles
  • Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale. | Nancy Stiles

You can find out more about Blue Moon's seasonal offerings here, including where to find brews like Farmhouse Red and Cinnamon Horchata.

Grilled halibut with local brown basmati rice and saffron beurre blanc. | Nancy Stiles
  • Grilled halibut with local brown basmati rice and saffron beurre blanc. | Nancy Stiles
Moroccan-spiced rack of lamb with warm couscous pilaf and lemon black pepper jus. |Nancy Stiles
  • Moroccan-spiced rack of lamb with warm couscous pilaf and lemon black pepper jus. |Nancy Stiles
Warm chocolate ganache cake. | Nancy Stiles
  • Warm chocolate ganache cake. | Nancy Stiles
Blue Moon(s). | Nancy Stiles
  • Blue Moon(s). | Nancy Stiles

Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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