Award-winning Apricot Wheat Beer: Tasting Notes

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3rd place award next to my apricot wheat beer

Last spring, I submitted a few entries to the 2013 Texas Bluebonnet Brew-off, the largest “single-site” homebrew competition. I did well for my standards, as a number of my beers were “pushed” to the second round. Excitingly enough, my apricot wheat beer, an American-style wheat beer brewed with loads of tasty apricots, won a 3rd place prize (out of a fairly competitive 41 entries)! I still have a few of these great beers hanging around, and thought I’d share this one with you.

Recipe Design
The key ingredients for this apricot wheat beer are real fruit and fruit extract. This may sound a bit unusual, but it’s a winning strategy used by a few commercial breweries, most notably Dry Dock Brewing Co for their apricot blonde ale (winner of multiple awards at GABF). The core principle behind combining both real fruit and fruit extract is to produce a fuller, rounder fruit flavor and aroma in the final product. Only using real fruit yields a great body and flavor, but usually misses the fragrant, volatile aromatics lost in fermentation, even when a secondary is used. Similarly, fruit extract yields a nice aroma, but usually carries an artificial-like taste in the flavor. For real fruit, I use sterile fruit purée from Vintner’s Harvest, usually the 3 lb can. For fruit extract, I like anything my local homebrew shop sells, Austin Homebrew Supply, usually in the 2 oz range.

Review
Pouring into a pilsner glass, this beer has slightly hazy, bright orange hue with loose white head. The aroma is exploding with juicy apricot fruit aromatics, bordering on musty and phenolic. In tasting, sweet apricot fruits are dominant, along with a complimentary malt backbone. Upfront, the mouthfeel is incredibly smooth and silky (likely after ageing 14 months in bottle), with the fruit-based tartness cutting through in the finish, making you want another sip.

Overall, I am very fond of this beer. For the next iteration, I won’t likely change much. This is a solid recipe everyone seems to enjoy. If you’ve brewed a fruit beer before, let us know how it went in the comment section below. Cheers, and happy brewing!

Recipe: Award-winning Apricot Wheat
3 Gallon Batch, Extract
Stats: OG 1.056 (before fruit) FG 1.006 ABV ~7% IBU: 20

Malt
4.25 lbs Wheat Dry Malt Extract (65% Wheat, 35% Pale Malt)
4 oz Corn Sugar
3 lbs Apricot Purée (added to secondary)
2 oz Apricot Extract (added at bottling)

Hops
Cascade boil addition to get you to 25 IBU

Yeast
1 packet US-05 and fermented at 68 F

Water
Nice clean soft-ish water

10 thoughts on “Award-winning Apricot Wheat Beer: Tasting Notes

    • Thanks for the nice comment! Some types of fruit extract can be really fake (I think some cherry extracts smell of couch medicine), but apricot extract tends to be pretty good. As always quality in, quality out! Happy brewing!

  1. Sounds delicious. Good tip about using real fruit and extract. I do a Pete’s Wicked Winter-esque Ale every year. I alternate between real fruit and extract, year to year. I never thought of using both. Thanks.

    • Thanks for the nice comment! On a side note, real fruit can be a pain in the brewing process (pasteurizing, secondary fermentation, siphoning, etc), but I like the results better than extract alone. Cheers!

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  5. This looks really good, I think I’ll try this soon. Curious that you say it was in the bottle 14 months – I assume you drink it much sooner generally. How long was it bottled pre-competition?

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