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Beer Man: Graupel Wheat Wine Ale is welcome addition to winter's warmer offerings

7:52 PM, Dec. 26, 2012  |  Comments
Graupel Wheat Wine Ale beer from Magic Hat Brewing Co., in South Burlington, Vt. is 10.8 percent ABV.
Graupel Wheat Wine Ale beer from Magic Hat Brewing Co., in South Burlington, Vt. is 10.8 percent ABV.
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It's days like this that I really appreciate the strong winter ales that come flowing from the nation's breweries.

I'm looking at my Chevy S-10 sitting sideways in our hilly driveway, stuck momentarily despite the driveway having just been plowed after a 14-inch snowfall here in central Wisconsin. The sharp turn into my driveway doesn't allow me to build up enough speed to make it up the incline before the truck fishtails on the slippery slope.

Drinking a beer like Graupel (which means "snow pellets") sure seemed like one way to approach a solution to the problem.

The beer is described on its label as a "wheat wine ale." Like the barleywine style, the term "wine" is used to indicate the beer is of a wine-like alcohol strength - in this case, 10.8 percent ABV.

It would be wrong to assume this beer could be classified as a weissbock, since German weiss beers have a specific style of their own that means more than just having wheat included as an ingredient. Also, wheat wines tend to contain more wheat than weiss beer - 50 percent or more.

Graupel's solid body and rich mouthfeel reminded me more of barleywine than weiss. The amber-colored ale started off with a thick white head that left gobs of lacing on the sides of the glass, and the aroma was of wheat bread and faint floral hops.

The flavor was very different from barleywine, however - more of a vanilla and Cream of Wheat flavor than caramel and toffee. The medium sweetness was an aspect shared with many wheat beers and barleywine.

Although not excessive, each sip resulted in a quick hop bite that was more floral than citrusy or hoppy. The alcohol content was not noticeable in the taste, but its warming effect started within a few sips.

It also warmed up a few brain cells. I realized if I want to get up that driveway, I'll need to spread some salt. And a lot of it. Thanks, Magic Hat.

Magic Hat has wide U.S. distribution and maintains a beer locator link on its website at www.magichat.net/sipcode.

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