Here we go again with another fruit beer crisis. I can’t tell you why, but for some reason, there seems to be a decided bias in the halls of beer geekdom against fruit beers. Fruit, it seems, corrupts the essence of beer, at least according to some. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Fruit has been a seasoning for beer far longer than hops have been. Indeed, the very first beers were likely seasoned with dates and figs, and it wasn’t for another 5,000 years or so that hops would gain popularity in beer.
In that spirit I present to you Shipyard Applehead Ale. Consider that it was rated average on Beeradvocate (73 overall) and 44/47 on Ratbeer.com. Friends, I’m here to tell you that I enjoyed this beer much more than that. Let me tell you why, but first a little background on the beer. Like many fruit beers, Shipyard Applehead is a wheat beer seasoned with apple juice. It made its debut in November of 2011, and is a seasonal beer from December to March. That seems curious to me as I think I would enjoy it more in warmer weather.
The brewery lists the following ingredients:
Malt: 2-Row British Pale Ale, Light Munich, Malted Wheat
Hops: Willamette, Hallertau
Yeast: Top-Fermenting English, 0.
Here’s what I think.
Shipyard Applehead pours to an orange amber color with a thick and spritzy but short lived head formation and a fruity sour apple nose. Taking a sip, the beer tastes more of hard cider than of beer to me. Apple lovers can rejoice in that fresh McIntosh fruit flavor bursts from the palate from the first sip. Do I detect a hint of spicy cinnamon? I do indeed and Shipyard confirms it as an ingredient on the label.
The finish is balanced, not sweet and cloying at all but not exactly hoppy. The spice helps dry the beer and adds an interesting dimension. Cinnamon can impart a drying quality of its own and it certainly does here.
Overall, this is a decent, drinkable fruit beer if not an exceptional one. It’s a lot like a slice of apple pie in a glass, and a welcome counterpart to Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale. On its own merits I would grant this beer 3.5 stars, including extra credit for the cinnamon. Half a star off for the high price of $9.99 a six-pack, though.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.