Up next for Blue Moon: Pacific Apricot Wheat

Following its national debut in Blue Moon’s 12-bottle share packs this fall, Blue Moon Pacific Apricot Wheat is ready for an encore.

The hazy, bright golden wheat beer brewed with Washington apricots and a touch of cardamom is slated to hit tap handles and retail shelves in standalone six-packs and 12-packs within the next two weeks.

The brainchild of Blue Moon founder and head brewmaster Keith Villa, the beer was developed in the Blue Moon brewery in the RiNo district in Denver, where it rose to the third-fastest-selling beer in the brewpub, just behind Mango Wheat and Belgian White.

With a recipe modeled after the flagship Blue Moon Belgian White — the No.1 craft beer in America — Pacific Apricot Wheat is slightly sweet, but not overpoweringly so, with lively carbonation and a lingering ripe apricot finish.

The limited-release beer will replace Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin, which is slated to return as a seasonal next year. It is scheduled to be available at retail through the end of February.

Pacific Apricot Wheat comes to market amid bullish sales trends in fruit-forward beers and the growing popularity of apricot across categories. Craft fruit beers, for instance, were up 56 percent over the 13 weeks ending Sept. 23, per Nielsen data. Apricot, meanwhile, can now be found in products ranging from vodka to yogurt to sparkling water.

It also dovetails with the brand’s strategy to double-down on wheat to appeal to its core drinkers. That strategy, which debuted with the all-wheat share packs released recently, is beginning to pay dividends, says Chris Steele, Blue Moon’s senior brand manager.

“The early read on our new seasonal beers and variety pack strategy is very good,” he says. “Our improvement is being driven by a continued focus on the wheat style, which we lead, and the decision to re-focus on our core consumer and their social, evening occasions.”

Blue Moon has been a bright spot for MillerCoors, outpacing other big craft brands, according to Nielsen cross-channel data. Blue Moon Belgian White sales dollars are up 10.3 percent year-to-date on an 8.4 percent rise in case volume through Oct. 7, the data show.