Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale Is Full-Bodied Yet Fruity.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on Grapevine Brewery‘s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale.

 

Fast Facts on Prickly Pear Wheat Ale.
Style: Fruit Beer.
ABV: 6.1 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 17.
Color: Reddish Magenta.
Availability: Limited release.

Overview.
Grapevine Brewery hired Jonny Daylett in late 2015 to take the helm as head brewer. And it feels like this fruit beer release is right on time, what, with summer in full swing. The idea for this beer came about several years ago through Daylett’s homebrewing with his wife Amorae. Who gets credit for that original recipe? Dunno, but now that Grapevine has released Prickly Pear Wheat Ale, it’s sort of a moot point… right? We’ll let the two of them figure that out. In September, Grapevine released Daylett’s Prickly Pear Wheat in its taproom series, according to Daylett Brew Co., the couple’s side project’s Facebook page.

 

Background on Fruit Beer.
Fruit beer is a specialty category that fits all sorts of base malt styles. The malt is certainly not the star of the fruit beer show, however. Fruit is. And it’s supposed to be a balance between beer and fruit, but still recognizable as a beer after all. The fruit additions in this style should not be overly sweet. In fact, the fruit addition to beers in this style normally adds some fermentability to the wort and, thus, a thinner, drier finish. It’s totally normal for some fruit to change the color of the finished beer, as we see here with Prickly Pear Wheat Ale.

Appearance.
PPWA pours an almost candy type of reddish magenta into the glass, with a fluffy amount of white, almost faint pink head. The head hangs around for me to take pictures, but then it thins all the way down to almost nothing. Unlike your average beer, PPWA has a distinct color. If you put this beer in a lineup against most other DFW beers, it would be markedly different. And I don’t mean like crazy different or bad, because it’s a very nice-looking beer.

Aroma.
This beer’s aroma isn’t quite as interesting as appearance, but it smells inviting. There’s a firm amount of sweetness from the prickly pear, along with just a teeny tiny bit of tart hint. There is little hop aroma on the nose, and that’s OK because it would probably get in the way of what Grapevine is going for with the prickly pear. Overall, the aroma is clean and fruit-forward.

 

Flavor.
The flavor is interesting in this beer. I dig it. At first, there’s a tiny bit of tartness that tingles my cheeks. Then it quickly dissipates and the sweetness kicks in. But fear not: it’s not a cloying or sugary sweetness. It’s a super smooth, round, manageable amount of sweetness. It’s as if the yeast went to work on the sugars of the prickly pear addition and what we’re left with is the ghost of its sugar profile. It should be stated that prickly pear is one of those borderline super fruits, so it’s not arriving to this beer party bloated on sugary sweetness in the first place.

Mouthfeel.
The mouthfeel on PPWA is nice and bright throughout my entire pour. The appearance of PPWA throws a sort of change-up pitch; my brain thinks that this beer will end up being a fuller bodied beer. While there is a mild amount of residual sweetness in PPWA, it’s most-welcomed.

 

Overall Impression.
This is my first review of a Grapevine Brewery beer. And I’m slowly turning the corner here. The previous writers on this column weren’t over the moon with Grapevine’s beers early on; I assume that these recipes have been dialed in since we reviewed them. And if you don’t like Sir Williams Brown Ale, you’re crazy.

But back to PPWA! I was a little surprised to see the ABV on this beer in the 6 range, but it’s certainly not a deal-breaker. For the record, most American Wheat style beers range from 4 to 5.5 percent ABV. So it’s not way out of range of that, nor is it calling itself an American Wheat. Well, wait a second. Grapevine calls this beer a wheat ale on its cans. I am using BJCP style names and labeling this a fruit beer. In the end, it really doesn’t matter, though. This is a great addition for summer drinking, especially for people who want something a little bit more fruit-forward. The dearth of hop character can also appeal to drinkers with an aversion to hops. And lastly, this beer will be a great gateway beer for a friend who says that they just don’t like beer that much.

Score.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give Grapevine Brewery Prickly Pear Wheat Ale a 7.5.

 

What’s happening in the area brew scene?
• Saturday, July 9. Taproom and Beer Garden Birthday Bash at Grapevine Craft Brewery.
• Sunday, July 16. One-Year Anniversary at Oak Highlands Brewery.
• Monday, July 18. Hotdog and Beer Dinner at Urban Crust.
• Saturday, July 30. Fourth Anniversary Getdown at Lakewood Brewing.
• Saturday, August 6. Local Brews, Local Grooves at House of Blues.
• Saturday, September 10. Brewfest at Dallas Farmers Market.
• Saturday, October 1. Texas Beer Camp at Long Road Farm.
• Saturday, November 12. Untapped: Dallas at Fair Park.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
Community’s Legion: 10.
Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver’s Bock: 8.
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
Rahr’s Visionary: 7.
Shannon Brewing’s Irish Cream Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Guava Good: 7.
TUPPS Brewery’ Northbound 75: 7.
Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
Martin House’s River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Martin House’s The Juice: 6.5.
Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Nine Bands’ Cactus Cat: 6.
Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Martin House’s Mind On My Money: 5.
903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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