An Apricot (beer) Altercation
It’s JUNE! It’s THE WEEKEND! I’m sufficiently inspired to review some fruit beers.
In preparation for this post, I was looking around online to find a storied history of brewers using apricots in their ales centuries ago, likely having lost the style along with many others during prohibition and the many decades of blandness that followed… but such a pedigree doesn’t actually exist. The first commercial example of an apricot beer wasn’t brewed until 1994, by Hart Brewing which changed it’s name to the more familiar Pyramid Brewing a few years later. The 1994 brewvention that was their Apricot Ale went on to win a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival that year in the fruit beer category.
Since then, many commercial breweries and homebrewers alike have taken to adding this fibrous fruit to their ales. Though most appear to pair apricots with wheat beers, I recently acquired two examples of apricot-infused brews that were not wheat-based, rather an IPA and a pale ale. I decided to do a vertical tasting in the spirit of examining their similarities and differences, pitting the two fruit beers against each other in a fight to the death. Let the apricot altercation ensue!
Aprihop, Dogfish Head (Milton, DE): Lots of apricot aroma in the nose, not much on the tongue at first. Mid-way through, I do pick up some seriously subtle apricot flavor, but it doesn’t linger in the least bit. This IPA naturally has a bit of a sharp hoppy bite, where the palate is cleansed of all apricot flavor at the finish by acidic hop oils that effectively sweep any remaining fruitiness off the tongue. Only some minor carmel maltiness remains. Makes it very drinkable.
#9, Magic Hat (South Burlington, VT): Very fruity, but not sweet. I pick up apricot aroma right after pouring the glass. This “not quite pale ale” has a clean, assertive maltiness about it. Very smooth, but again, not overtly malty or sweet. Definitely has a fruity aftertaste in the absence of an assertive hop profile like Aprihop’s. The apricot flavor lingers for a bit too long in my opinion and starts to change for the worse on my palate before it disappears.
Overall, #9 is a fine summer beer but the unwelcome linger of the apricots causes me to rank Aprihop, an even more drinkable brew, ahead of #9 in this apricot altercation. Winner: Aprihop! Way to go Dogfish Head.