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Hart Brewing, Seattle/Kalama, WA

by Markian Gooley

Pyramid Apricot Ale, Hart Brewing, Seattle/Kalama Washington

The phrase "An apricot flavored ale" is at the bottom of the main label, and the beer's Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival dominates the neck label -- but with the year (1994) and category (Fruit/Vegetable). No "Best Beer in America" hype in the Sam Adams mode: refreshing, as is this Apricot Ale.

It's been a while since I've had any of the Pyramid beers. I recall the Hefe-Weizen as satisfactory but somehow lacking, and the others as in the same league -- and slightly overpriced wherever I've seen them in Colorado or Montana. They never seemed to be worth the extra dollar or so more per sixpack than competitors' beers, and I've never made a habit of buying them.

Pyramid Apricot Ale is apricot-colored, more or less, and slightly cloudy: chill haze typical of some wheat beers, and perhaps yeast. It has a solid wheat flavor, light hopping that seems to be mostly bittering hops, and a quirk peculiar to fruit beers that get some or all of their flavor from fruit extracts rather than fruit: a strange bitter taste that doesn't seem to be from hops and is mildly unpleasant. Here that bitterness is mild; in raspberry-flavored ales it can be intense.

At refrigerator temperature the apricot flavor isn't really there. As the beer warms, it becomes prominent and eventually overwhelming. I find it cloying, eventually, but then I'm not over-fond of apricots: to someone who really likes them, the intensity might not be a problem.

Side notes: recently I went to Las Vegas for a wedding. At my stopover in Salt Lake City I had one of the Wasatch ales -- not bad, but served too cold and at too high a price. If by some Utah law it was low in alcohol I couldn't detect that. In Vegas itself, the only local brew I had a chance to try was at the Monte Carlo's brewpub, a raspberry wheat beer with a touch of the odd bitterness I mentioned above. $3.50 for 25 ounces is not a bad price (unless one expects free drinks in Las Vegas), but the poker machines at the bar are voracious. The place has an impressive-looking array of brewing equipment, but for all I know the beer might be contract-brewed on the West Coast and all the equipment might be window-dressing.

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