The Apricot Abbey Ale and Belgian Blond were a split batch which I fermented together in primary with one half having apricot preserves added for secondary. Not surprisingly the two beers are VERY similar but I will write a separate review of each.
|The two beers side by side, on the left is the slightly more cloudy and with a bit more head retention apricot version and the on the right is the unfruited version.|
A- A solid copper color with a bit of peach and rose the head on this pours fairly small and fades to a thin film though there is a lot of carbonation bubbles coming up throughout. Pretty clear and looks nice.
S- Lots of yeast character giving both spice and fruit reminiscent of nutmeg, clove, oak, apricot, cherry and pear and a little bit of sweetness from the fermentables (I think the candi sugar came through nicely). A vague touch of woody/earthy character might be yeast derived or from the hops.
T/M- Up front is a dry sweet and spicy sensation that follows with a fruity medium bodied middle and ends with a light puckering and lasting spiciness (clove and cinnamon).
O/D- This is a nice beer that I am really happy with. The Belgian yeast (Wyeast Abbey Ale II) gives lots of different characteristics from a fairly simple bill. The fruitiness is such that if I told someone this was the apricot version they might just believe me. The candi sugar also seems to have gone well. Overall not the best beer in the world but certainly a nice Belgian influenced homebrew.
Abbey Apricot Ale:
A- This version is very similar in color to the unfruited version (peachy copper) with a little bit bigger head that retains better, slightly less carbonation bubbles (though still quite a few) and a little worse clarity.
S- This half smells almost identical to the other half with spice being the strongest character and the fruit actually seeming to come through a little less surprisingly.
T/M- Drinks very similar to the other half of the batch but there's something about both the taste and mouthfeel that seems fuller and more rounded. The apricot doesn't show as overly evident but it makes the middle and finish a little fruitier and there is a residual sweet and tangy flavor on the tongue that I don't get from the other.
O/D- I'm very happy with this one as it comes out nearly the same as the other, but probably a tad better and more rounded. While the apricot is far from pronounced in tasting each separately it is definitely a nice addition.
I doubt I would make this exact beer again but will almost certainly make more Belgians and splitting half onto fruit seems to work very well. Next time I hope to give a much more pronounced fruit flavor to the one half. There's nothing bad I could say about either of these and most people have seemed to enjoy them and especially liked the subtle addition the apricot gives.