One of my all time favorite beers is Dry Dock’s Apricot Blonde. I had the chance to try it out back when Dry Dock was 800 square feet tacked on to a homebrew shop. It was an early beer that convinced me that additions to beer could be done well- balanced, tasty, and not too sweet.
Since it still was a LHBS with a brewery, they were more than happy to share the recipe (which is still available on the (Extract | All Grain). It’s super simple- base grain and a little bit of Crystal, and it’s light on the hops.
The base beer
The base beer is solid super drinkable, which is one of the keys to a good beer with additions. The crystal helps add a touch of body to the beer, but in this case, the base beer’s job is step back and let the apricot shine.
I was surprised to see that the combination of Apricot and Blonde Ale, while still positive, wasn’t rated very high- only 59%. This may boil down to a matter of personal preference, but I much prefer apricot with a blonde ale base over higher rated combinations like American Wheat with Apricot (65%). I’ve had Pyramid’s version of this, and was much less impressed than with Dry Dock’s cleaner version that let the apricot shine.
The key to the great apricot flavor here is adding it 2 ways. Apricot is a fairly mild flavor, so it can be difficult to get the flavor to come through. Often homebrewers choose between adding puree or extract, but Dry Dock adds both. A full 3 pound can of puree helps give the body and some of the flavor, while the extract tends to add more aroma with a bit of flavor.
Some people don’t like adding extract- it can taste soapy or artificial. I think in this case, the puree hides the negative notes of the extract, and makes adding extract worth it.
This was an extremely drinkable beer, that paired great with grilling, kickball games and summer in general. It was also quite easy to brew, which was great at that point in my brewing experience.
While this was a great beer to drink, I’m always thinking of other things I could do with it. A definite direction to take this would be sour- Dry Dock has long been experimenting with a sour version of this, and recently released Sour Apricot in cans. I had an early version that was awesome. Apricot tends to go fairly well with sour beers, and I can see either doing a simple kettle sour of the base recipe, or even going to a Berliner Weisse, which is one of the highest rated apricot combos.
I could also see potential in matching the apricot up with a complementary flavor. Some fruits that would work well are blueberry and maybe grapefruit. You could also go the spice route- some of the most likely according to What To Brew are coriander, elderflower and ginger.