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Just another small point, "what" is simply "o que" most places but when it occurs at the end of a sentence it becomes "o quê" just as you see here. The same happens with "why" which is "por que" normally but becomes "por quê" at the end of a sentence. The accent changes the sound of "que" from KEY to KAY (approximately - I am not a native speaker).
what will never be a quê/ a que. I think the reason is that we have a noun quê, and it's masculine. It means a quality that cannot be described or named easily.
Ela tem um quê de mistério = She has something of a mystery / a certain je ne sais quois
Nevertheless, a que actually exists, but it has another syntactic structure:
Qual bala você quer? Eu quero a que for mais barata! = Which candy do you want? I want the one that is the cheapest!
- Contrast with:
barata = cheap / cockroach
mais barata = cheaper / more cockroach
a mais barata = the cheapest one
Maybe she just drank a cockroach.
I am really confused with the use of these words to form questions. Perhaps I am being too literally-minded. I would have thought that "Qual ela bebe?" would translate as "What does she drink?" Is this phrase an idiom to indicate surprise as others have mentioned below? Because in English "She drinks what?" would indicate either surprise at what she drinks or a question to clarify because it was unclear as to the thing she drinks.
No, it's not bad grammar. It's a spoken construction. You need to say it with the proper intonation on the word "what" which can signal that it is either a question (rising intonation) or an expression of disbelief (very strong rising intonation). The important thing is that it is not a real wh- question asking for information. The context is often: I didn't hear what she drinks and I'm asking for repetition or I did hear it but I can't believe she drinks THAT.
Others have already explained it in this thread. Read Davu's and pfeil's comments.
This page (in Portuguese) gives some hints:
and explains that the accent is added when the word means "something", is used as an interjection, when it occurs at the end of a sentence and in the expression sem quê nem para quê (which I think must be a close relation of the English expression without rhyme or reason).