What the Heck is a Grisette?!

That’s a thought that has manifested in every beer drinker’s mind upon their first encounter with this historic style – and for many of you, that first encounter could be this Friday when we tap Braxton Labs Dry-Hopped Rye Grisette. 

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Grisette is a fast-growing sub-style that is seemingly falling in line as the next historical style making a come back in the modern craft beer scene. But unlike the IPA (of 19th century Britain), the Czech Pilsner (a hoppy counterpart to the classic German Pilsner) or the gose (the tart German wheat beer you’ll find at just about every American brewery these days), the grisette is shrouded in mystery due to the lack of documentation over the last few centuries. But one thing we do know is that its timeline follows closely with that of the saison.

Originating in 18th century Belgium, the Saison (at the time) was a light, refreshing, low alcohol pale beer brewed in winter for summer consumption by the many farmers and field workers. This often tart, dry effervescent ale was the primary beverage for workers in a time when potable water wasn’t easily accessible.

As Europe boomed with an industrial revolution in the mid-1800s, South Belgium was at the forefront. The Hainut province of Belgium introduced the early mining and steel industries in Europe. And a new industry called for a new beer – the grisette. A low ABV saison brewed for all the seasons, this beer focused a bit more on hop character than the tartness found in many saisons of the era.

Without much more knowledge available, craft brewers are doing their best to honor the history and traditions of the grisette, while also giving their own unique interpretations. Here at Braxton Labs that meant a heavy dose of rye malt (20% of the grist!) and  a light handed dry hopping with the wonderfully citrusy Amarillo varietal. Clocking in at a sessionable 4.2%, we have a delightfully dry and earthy ale with spice and citrus notes. So come out to Labs on Friday August 25th to try this fun and inventive grisette!

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