Sly Fox Fox Brewing Company has been winning medals for Grisette for nearly a decade, and they’ve been brewing it for even longer.
Brewing Award Winning Grisette in Pennsylvania
Tim Ohst the director of brewery operations for Sly Fox Brewing Company in Pottstown, Pennsylvania was designing a recipe for Sly Fox Grisette in 2006, at least a decade before most US based brewers had ever heard of the style.
He was so early to the style that I was curious how he came to brew it in the first place. Turns out Phil Markowski, author of the seminal book on farmhouse ales (and now brewmaster at Two Roads Brewing company), had a hand in its conception.
Tim was discussing with Phil how to keep yeast active and viable between brews of two different saisons. “Phil immediately said, ‘You should brew a grisette,’ to which I replied, ‘What’s a grisette?’” says Tim.
Using the research from a single page of Phil’s book Farmhouse Ales, Tim built the recipe for the first Sly Fox Grisette.
“That first release went over well at our brewpub, so we continued to brew a batch each year as one of our summer releases,” says Tim.
Success in the brewpub led to Grisette being packaged and distributed, popularity of the packaged beer led it to become one of Sly Fox’s core seasonal beers. As a core beer from the portfolio the Sly Fox team decided to enter Grisette in the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), “where it took a silver medal the first year we entered it.”
That was in 2013. After a first win like that, of course the team continued to enter their Grisette in GABF each year. “It took home a gold or silver medal 4 times in a 5 year span. After the fourth medal I got a text from Markowski that simply said, ‘Wow, you really got a lot of mileage from that one grisette brew.’” says Tim.
What Does Sly Fox Grisette Taste Like?
That towering stack of medals and delighted reviews from customers have been awarded to a simple Belgian wheat beer with 5.6% abv.
I think this sprightly farmhouse ale drinks even lighter than it’s abv, energized by refreshing lemon citrus yeast character and zips of spicy peppery phenols. There’s a touch of bitterness from hops and Cheerio cereal quality from the malt, but like so many farmhouse beers this one is about the yeast.
Tim says it gives the Grisette, “Light fruity notes, lemongrass, clove spice, hints of black pepper.”
He describes the overall flavor profile of the beer as, “lighter bodied…that’s flavorful, dry and refreshing. A smooth malt flavor with little residual sweetness, accented by spicy notes and a hint of lemon.”
This beer is available from Sly Fox just as spring starts to bloom, from March to mid-June, right as we’re all crawling out of winter hibernation looking for something fresh and invigorating, which is exactly what this Grisette delivers.
It’s also the perfect time of year for Tim’s ideal setting for farmhouse ales, “In terms of setting, the style reminds me of an amazing trip to Belgium, and most specifically an adventurous trip through Wallonia with great friends to enjoy some farmhouse ales at Fantome.”
How Does Sly Fox Grisette Compare to an IPA?
For IPA drinkers that love a citrus punch and fruity aromas this beer definitely delivers some of those flavors. It’s an approachable and light way to try out the flavors of farmhouse yeast without too much funk.
Tim says IPA drinkers can expect, “A beer that is more delicate and nuanced with a wide range of flavors and aroma that mesh together to create a complex profile.”
Here, he says, flavors are focused on the yeast character with some influence from the malt, “as opposed to being primarily driven by the prominence and bitterness of the hops.