Is That You, Old Man Winter? A Couple of Beers for Those Florida Cold Snaps
Don LaVange via Flickr / CC We'll never see this in South Florida... but we think it feels cold enough to snow.
Some recent weather made me realize it is actually winter. Like, right now in Florida. Yes, we've gone through the Thanksgiving-Hannukah-Christmas-New Year's gauntlet, but the weather outside was mild, not frightful. And that sudden dip into the 40s? Time to break out the parkas and fur-lined caps!
The temperatures will be dipping into the 40s again Wednesday night, so we might as well make the most of it. For these random odd days of coolness, it's pleasing to have a beer that warms the stomach -- even though the mountain of scientific evidence points to alcohol being terrible at actually warming you up. Luckily, we're not freezing to death, so drink away.
So what to crack open on a chilly night?
Why not something in the super-sweet, high-alcohol-percentage category?
One of the beers that fits the bill is a huge entry in the line of limited releases from Magic Hat Brewing Co. in Vermont, Graupel. It's a wheat wine, which is a style of beer marked as having a high abv, large percentage of wheat (sometimes more than 50 percent of the total fermentables), and a full body and high residual malty sweetness. They are generally considered an offshoot of the American Barleywine style, but most recipes I have seen use an English ale yeast.
Magic Hat Brewing
Graupel was initially released in 2012 and makes itself present again for the 2013/14 season. It is brewed with wheat (about 60 percent, according to head brewer Justin McCarthy) and pale malts, with a hopping of Apollo and Simcoe and further dry-hopped with Simcoe for some time after. An English ale yeast does its work here and leaves the brew with a decidedly light yeast flavor and 10.8 percent alcohol by volume.
It has an orange-red to rose color, perceived syrupy thickness, and a light white head. Cherries, honey, and various fruit candy aromas come out. Graupel has a thick mouthfeel that is very warming; the alcohol presence is huge. Some cinnamon and nutmeg flavors abound at the end, with some earthy hops trying to break free from the syrupy coating of the booze. The carbonation is very light and barely perceivable through the syrupy nature.
I love the mouthfeel of this beer; it's like a liquor. A glass of this fine beer around a fire pit would do wonders. Or, if you're like me, taking it inside while you write. Hemingway knew what was up.