3/22/20: Tales from the Cellar #1--Warped Wing Brewing Company's Grape Creek Must (2018)

1:42 PM

Well, friends. We've been COVID-19'd here in Ohio. Just over an hour ago (at the time of this writing), our governor issued a Stay at Home order. This means that, while you can still actually leave the house to get food, shop, and exercise, heavy restrictions are in place. Effectively, businesses across the state will be closed as of midnight tomorrow.

Fortunately for you, I have a cellar stocked with beer. For all my corona-time posts, I'll be breaking into that cellar and presenting my thoughts on those beers to you. Well, okay, I won't be breaking into the cellar--Michelle'll be doing that. For each of these posts, she'll grab a random beer from my collection for me. Today's beer is from my favorite Dayton, OH brewery: Warped Wing's Grape Creek Must.

After reading through that intro, you won't be shocked to learn that Warped Wing hails from (get this!) Dayton. Influenced by the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that bolsters the city's history, they focus on crafting tight and creative brews. Their name comes from a Wright brothers invention that made early flight capable. Check out their "About Warped Wing" page for the whole story on who and why they are.

Grape Creek Must is an 11.5% ABV barleywine that dropped in 2018, honoring WW brewmaster John Haggerty's twenty-fifth anniversary in the beer business. It's name come from Vermilion County, IL's Grape Creek, where John's great-great-grandmother opened the town's first roadhouse. With a name containing both "Grape" and "Must," it's only sensible that the barleywine was aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels. The Facebook event for the release is still up, and flush with all the information I've been able to find on the beer.

Since this is a wax-sealed bottle, I've poured it into a Belgian beer glass.

The nose is phenomenal in its simplicity. Oak (with the vanilla that accompanies it), red wine, strong boozey notes, and a malty warmth permeates Grape Creek Must's bouquet. Digging deeper, there's molasses and dark fruit, licorice and mint, too. But really, this is a masterclass in not doing too much to a beer, especially when it's something for a special occasion. I adore the aromatics presented here and Purrl's in heavy agreement; she gave my open bottle twenty-four whiffs.

The barleywine's flavor profile isn't as simple as it's bouquet. I'll do my best to unpack it as the flavors hit in order: Tannin-laden grapeskin, malty sweetness, red wine, boozy warmth, oaky vanilla, fig, plum, and, in the dry finish, grapskin still kicking around in my cheeks and there's alcohol in my throat. Then, after the finish has just about run its course, a simple grape flavor rears its head. This is a phenomenal tasting beer. The combination its various parts is mastery.

The mouthfeel is robust, thick, almost syrupy--exactly what a barleywine should be.

My in-laws got me this bottle for Christmas 2018. For my wedding that same year, I got my groomsmen a bottle each as part of their gifts. I handed their bottles out to them the night before the wedding. We were all outside at Michelle's folks' place (we got married on their homestead) and Michelle was inside finishing up her last pre-wedding things.

My in-laws have a wonderful brick patio (which I helped to refurbish in preparation for the wedding). That warm night in June, a fire had been built and we were laughing, drinking, and hanging out. Apart from my guys, a few other close friends of mine there. We haven't all been together since then. Thanks to this beer, though, I'm remember just how great of a time that night was.

I'm happy Michelle pulled Warped Wing's Grape Creek Must from my cellar. It's a beer that I've been saving, and it's aged beautifully. If you have a bottle of the stuff stored away, now's the time to break into it. I'm giving it a 9.5/10. Drink 'em if you got 'em!

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