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Beer On My Shirt: Sly Fox Brewing's Grisette

J. R. Shirt, November 06, 2014 -   

The beer in front of me at this moment finds itself in such an unheralded position for essentially one reason. Ultimately, that reason is because I placed it there. However, prior to that, there was an entire chain of events and deliberate thought that led us here, to this moment, with this unopened beer in front of me.

So far I have said essentially nothing, but hopefully, from the title, you were able to determine that the beer currently occupying my immediate area is Sly Fox Brewing Company's Grisette. If you were unable to make that determination then perhaps an MRI and a long talk with a medical professional is in your future.

Obviously at some point, in order for this beer to be in front of me, in its can, I must have purchased the beer. Specifically, I must have purchased the beer willingly. The other options would be that I was somehow strong armed or coerced, or hypnotized, or a beer burglar.

So why did I buy this beer? One reason, really. Actually, maybe three. But one main reason: Grisette won a Gold Medal at this year's Great American Beer Festival in the Belgian & French Style Ale category (It had earned the Silver last year). The secondary reasons are that I found it on the shelf of my local grocery store and that the beer's full name is Grisette Working Class Ale.

From the Sly Fox website:

Grisette is a Belgian style ale which was originally brewed in the Hainaut province to be the beer of the miners in the area, just as Saison was the beer of the farmers. It was lighter than Saison and frequently contained wheat as well as barley malt (as does the Sly Fox version). The name is derived from the French word for "gray," referring to both the drab factory frocks worn by the young women (the grisettes) who doled out pints as the men exited from the mines, and also the color of the cobblestone rock being mined.

The copy on the actual can of Grisette uses the word “coquettes” and implies that the beer also celebrates the extensive favors that they may have also offered. I'm not sure how I feel about drinking a beer that celebrates sexual favors. There is no punchline here. I am literally not sure how I feel about it. I'm leaning toward the idea that it is an unnecessary innuendo that I could do without on my can of beer. The history of the style is interesting enough without that embellishment.

They had me at cobblestone.

Grisette Working Class Ale; Sly Fox Brewing Company

Appearance = 4.75/5

Pale yellow, a bit cloudy, and pours with about 2 fingers of billowy white head. The head settles to a nice layer that sticks around for the rest of the glass

Smell = 4/5

Mostly a light spice aroma, some banana, some lemon and grass, and a funky hint of a pilsner-esque malt smell.

Taste = 4/5

The taste offers a wonderfully balanced version of the nose, even though some of the flavors, like the Belgian spiciness and banana, are not typically ones that I enjoy. It offers more of farmhouse funk than what appeared in the aroma and has a nice little bite at the end that fades pleasantly and leads you back for another sip.

Feel = 4.25/5

Leans to the medium side of light and drinks slick and easy. Lighter carb than expected considering the great head but still crisp up front.

Overall = 4/5

I get it, definitely Gold Medal worthy. I'm pleased that I bought a 6-pack, which is not something I would typically say about the previous Sly Fox beers (not that I've had bad beer from them, more of a 'meh'), but these will be gone in no time.

It may be worthwhile to note that the Grisette is ranked as Sly Fox's 19th best beer sorted by BAR, currently a -0.37, and their 15th best beer by Style+, currently a 109. As someone relatively close, geographically speaking, to Sly Fox, I have not typically been impressed. I have not been particularly disappointed either. Rather I have just never purchased a Sly Fox beer more than once.

Their beers, in my opinion, tend have more pronounced German influences or flavors, but in a slightly exaggerated way in the way that exaggeration of a particular characteristic tends to be a staple of many American craft beers. What I find slightly off putting regarding these exaggerated German characteristics is that generally it is the subtle nature of German beers that I find enjoyable, so to exaggerate them seems, to me, maybe counterproductive and just a bit silly.

I could, more likely than not, be way off base with this assessment. The Grisette is quite good and according to our Brewery Leaderboards, Sly Fox has SOLID % of 93, which essentially means that if you order something by Sly Fox, the chances that it is good (a Style+ over 100) are 93%. That puts at the same party as Cigar City, Gigantic, and Brooklyn Brewery to name a few.

Perhaps it is time I give some of those Sly Fox beers I typically pass over another chance.  

Follow J.R. Shirt on Twitter and Untappd @beeronmyshirt. Also, listen to the Drinking With Shirt Podcast here at BeerGraphs or on iTunes.  

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