So after last week’s “unpleasantness” with the wolves and the hot dog highway and other such insanity-fueled ramblings, I asked my most normal co-workers how I could open an article in a normal way.  After a few ideas being shot down for being too -shall we say, “hard to grasp”- I decided on having a normal conversation about fruit.  After all, the beer I’m reviewing is (spoiler alert) a fruit beer.

Let’s start with some facts.  Did you know peaches, apricots, and plums are all related? It’s entirely true.  Chiquita Banana used to be an actual anthropomorphic banana with a fruit hat before being replaced by a lady with a fruit (and not animal/people) hat.  And to settle the old debate, YES: limes, lemons, oranges, and grapefruits are all picked from the same tree at different times in the season as they ripen.  Look it up, smart guy, I didn’t.
I’m being told that one of those things is not actually true.  Maybe this article is spinning towards the Twilight Zone, so let’s get back on topic.  Magic Hat brewing is based in Vermont, but has been picking up momentum everywhere west of the Mississippi as well.  This may or may not have something to do with being bought by NAB, owners of Labatt, Segram’s Coolers, and Pyramid.  Personally, I’m glad for it.  I know Magic Hat isn’t on the snob short-list, but I think it’s a good head and shoulders above the “grocery store tier” beers.  I mean, you line it up with any Shock Top, Pyramid, Sam Adams, or anything else you see at your local Buffalo Wild Wings, I’ll take a Magic Hat #9 all day long.
#9 Not-Quite-Pale-Ale is Magic Hat’s flagship year-round beer.  You’ll find it more in bottles, but I’ve seen it on tap at some frequency.  The one I had was on tap, a pint, and I’ve heard that it is notably better on tap.  If you see it, go for it and compare the two.  It pours a beautiful clear pale orange/amber color.  There’s a bit of a white, wet head that retains pretty well for such a light beer.  The nose is all apricot, maybe a bit of grain.  I can’t find an explicit source, but I think it’s a badly kept secret that the fruit component is either partially or entirely apricot.  Trust me, you can guess it, perhaps not from the nose but definitely from the taste.
Oddly enough, the first thing I noticed from this was the mouthfeel.  It is pretty thin, thinner than I was expecting from anything that wasn’t macro-brew clear and yellow.  Frankly, I found that pretty nice and refreshing.  I just can’t get that “whet your whistle” feel with anything too thick.  The taste itself was similarly refreshing.  Once again, plenty of apricot, but then some citrus tang from the hops.  The little hoppyness was a great compliment to the sweet fruit flavor, keeping it entirely in check from being too cloying.  There was also a good balance with pale malts, just enough to form a good backing and tone down any sharp edges.  It would be a good “not quite pale ale” even without the apricot, but adding it creates one unique and refreshing brew.  An odd thought I had while drinking this was that it would be quite interesting to have it soured, or blended with a tart lambic.  An interesting prospect, something I may have to think about trying.
Hey, I think I got through that with minimal insanity.  Boy, Huey Lewis was right.  It IS hip to be square!