The Dude Ranch Comes to Me

by Jim Lundstrom

I just cracked open my first bottle of Apricot Dude Ranch, a Belgian-style pale ale with apricots from Door County Brewing Co., and I just want to say Yippee ki yay! As a kid, it seemed the only way I’d ever get a chance to ride a horse was by going to a dude ranch, so I always figured one might be in my future. Those dude ranch fantasies quickly disappeared after I rode my first horse while staying at a resort during a family vacation in Hibbing, Minn. Let’s just say it wasn’t as fun as it looked in the movies, and I’m not even the one who was bucked off and turned black and blue from head to toe. So, yes, I’ll take my dude ranch in a glass, thank you. First of all, Belgian pales are beautiful beers to look at, or, at least, I am seduced by their muted and hazy straw-colored tones, with dense and tightly bubbled white crowns. BPAs look as light and refreshing as they are. And the taste? Think of it as a European take on the classic British pale ale. The Belgians didn’t want to copy the style. They wanted to make it their own. They accomplished that by using wheat and paler malt than the British pale ales, which accounts for the light color. The taste is complex with fruit, herbal and/or floral notes, spiciness, dryness and tartness – all in one taste! That’s why I love BPAs so much. Apricot Dude Ranch is brewmaster Danny McMahon’s BPA aged on nearly six pounds of apricots per barrel. Apricots are a great addition to beer. I haven’t seen it around here for years, but I used to enjoy Pyramid Brewing’s multi-award winning Apricot Ale. So I was looking forward to a big apricot flavor. Before the first sip, I swirl the beer around in the glass and take a big sniff. Wow, I feel like I’m down on the farm when the hay is being harvested. It’s a funky, earthy aroma that promises good things. Fruitiness, definitely, but I would hesitate to put my finger on any one fruit, especially apricot. The tart brightness made me think of wild strawberries. There’s a citrus note in there as well. And then the apricot makes itself known on the front of the palate, followed by an exciting and distinct black pepper finish. Yippe ki yay, Dude!