Do you see it? There’s that horrid stepchild in the background that wants to join the family. Sorry kid, you’re not… good… enough. Semantics you argue? Please. There is a monumental difference between beers brewed with fruit, and what I consider fruity beers. As a case study, I wanted to focus in on Dogfish Head’s Aprihop and pin it against Sea Dog’s Apricot. Really there was no comparison.
Let’s look at the labels. I must say visually, Sea Dog wins hands down. A dog with a fisherman’s hat on?! If that happened in real life, Bob Saget would hand that AFV the 5,000 dollar grand prize. Unfortunately, that’s really the only backhanded compliment Sea Dog gets. At merely 4.7% ABV, one could probably drink some Listerine and get the same sensation as this brew, and it would probably taste better… and you you wouldn’t have to endure the ridicule at your next dentist appointment. By contrast, we have Aprihop, coming in at a warming 7% ABV, which had one of my colleagues wondering if that was even legal to sell… seriously. Additionally, if we look close at the language we see, “Brewed with real apricots” adorning the Dogfish label. That means brewed with real apricots. What about Sea Dog? “Beer with natural flavor added.” That means, “Please don’t look at the small print, just adore or cute little fisherman dog! :)” The people at Whole Foods would be enraged. And there my friends, we have the difference between these two brews. No need to taste, just read the labels, but after all this is a brew blog, and as you can see, the caps are off here…
Close your eyes. Think of your favorite childhood memory. Now imagine if that memory was packaged into a bottle, shipped to your doorstep, and could be drank. That is what Aprihop tastes like; well, that or heaven. At first smell, it gives off a nice beer smell (don’t laugh), laced with hits of peach, citrus, and of course apricots. It tastes likes a sour IPA with the fruity notes bursting though as it hits your tongue.
Now onto the Sea Dog… I think we all know how this story is going to end. It smells strongly of apricot, in a very inorganic way. I thought I was going to get cancer from just smelling this. Ignoring all of my bodily instincts, I decided to go ahead and take a swig. It tasted of carbonated apricot extract, and that was really about it. No hops, malt, or barley at all coming through, which is euphemistic for this didn’t taste like beer. One swig was enough, and then it met the drain.
The big difference between these brews is the beer taste. I think that playful collaborations with fruit should be explored by brewers, but the reason why tough guys make fun of people for drinking fruit beers is because of the Sea Dogs of the world. Even brews like Hooker’s Watermelon Ale and Long Trail’s Blackberry Wheat are too fruity for my taste, not to even mention give away’s like Michelob’s fruit series, Bud Light Lime, and Miller Chill. (Ironically enough, Miller made a “man law” that stated no mixing fruit with beer… wish they stuck with that.) Take a flyer on fruit beer, read the label, and buy beer brewed with fruit. You’ll have a nice summer beverage.