Meet Grisette, The Almost Forgotten Beer Style That’s Mesmerizing Modern Brewers

It’s a word that evokes Victor Hugo’s Paris, and could pass as the name of a pre-Prohibition cocktail. To brewers, however, a grisette is more than a word. It’s a relatively old beer style with roots in the Belgian province of Hainaut, along the French border. Its defining characteristics are, like the beer itself, somewhat hazy, due to the fact that little information about grisettes survived into the present day. And while these “little gray” beers are grouped with saisons in the farmhouse ale family, they are thought to have been brewed for workers who labored in mines, not fields. In spite of a dearth of details, quite a few brewers have nonetheless taken to this obscure style, and have arrived at three general points of agreement: Grisettes should be lower alcohol ales made with malted wheat that lean into their hop character.

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