Crazy, yes, but get inside Stan's genuine Old Folky head, and it sounds like this: is Blue Moon about the beer, or about the money and fame and riding a wave? Is it "authentic", which Stan says was the big question about PP&M back in his high school days (Trini Lopez was not, and even I knew it, at the age of 10). Stan says history proved them to be so. They were on the right side of causes for 40 years (Stan's right side, which I don't endorse blindly, but Stan's a good guy), but also:
"They wrote excellent songs of their own, but just as importantly generously helped promote many other songwriters. They sounded prettier than Dylan singing Blowin’ in the Wind, but that allowed them to broadcast a political messages [sic] to far larger audiences than the Weavers every [sic] reached.And that last is the crux. Molson Coors is one of the biggest pains in my professional ass. I have not been able to build a relationship with them, and I find it hard to warm up to a company that sometimes insists on having a lawyer on the line when they allow an interview. But Blue Moon is doing solid work on wedging open the craft beer niche for literally millions of mainstream beer drinkers, and I just can't see how that's a bad thing.
If you want to talk history, it gets even more solid. When the big craft boom was going on in the 1990s, all three big brewers jumped in: Anheuser-Busch with their Elk Mountain and American Originals lines and some innovative Michelob specialties; Miller had Miller Reserve, and Coors launched Blue Moon.
When the Great Craft Flatline hit in 1997-98, we saw who was authentic. A-B pulled out. Miller pulled out. Coors kept Blue Moon alive, when it couldn't possibly have made sense for them to do so. Maybe it was inertia, or maybe it was keeping faith with the irrepressible Keith Villa.
But I tasted their Chardonnay grape wheat beer at the GABF judging last year, and pushed it hard for a medal, with no idea it was a Blue Moon/Coors product (who the hell would have thought?), because it was one of the very best fruit beers I'd ever tasted, and the panel agreed. So I think they've still got it in them to make authentic beers. Why not? Keith Villa is 100% authentic, and always has been. And he still works for Coors.
We're not going to settle this question now or any time soon. But with Blue Moon growing at a phenomenal pace -- 79% in 2005, over 100% in 2006, and closing in on SN PA in sales, according to Villa -- history may well overtake us. How will we know? When all those Blue Moon drinkers start branching out and trying something new.
Meanwhile... if those craft beer figures released by the BA included Blue Moon, and Redhook, and Widmer, and Goose Island, and A-B's organic beers and specialty seasonals, and all the non-mainstream beers that aren't BA-approved, or hell, even the non-mainstream imports...What kind of growth would there have been? What kind of volume would there be? What kind of percentage would these non-mainstream beers have of the total beer market? I'm just sayin'...