Originally brewed in the mining regions of France and Belgium, grisette is a beer style similar to saison, but were brewed primarily for miners rather than farmhands. Designed to quench thirst after a long day in the mines, grisettes are typically light, tart, and low in alcohol. Athens, Ohio-based brewer Jackie O’s take on the style, Scrip, is named after “the controversial form of currency used in mining towns, only to be spent at the company store.” The saison- and Brettanomyces-fermented beer spends two months in stainless steel before nine additional months aging in oak wine barrels.
Jackie O’s bottles Scrip in very European-looking 500-milliliter bottles—the perfect size for a table beer or after a long day at work. Scrip pours a vibrant straw yellow. It’s bright and transparent with thousands of pinprick bubbles rising to meet the thin, white head. It looks crisp, refreshing, and eminently drinkable.
The aroma is an intoxicating blend of tart fruit and wood. Scrip smells like an oak-aged chardonnay but sharper, and with a hint of yeasty funk. That tartness is enough to make my jaws tingle in anticipation, with the aroma pulling me in so close I nearly put my nose in the beer by mistake.
The result is a light and punchy beer I have to try hard to slowly savor.”
The taste delivers bright tartness right at the beginning of each sip. Scrip has plenty of wine-like character from the time spent aging in wine barrels—in fact, grape and wood are the carrying traits. The crisp malt and yeast serve to dry out the beer and bring a lightly biting, peppery foil for the sweet fruit—which includes some citrus in addition to the grape. Scrip has almost all the depth and complexity of a full-bodied sour packed into the body of a light, airy Berliner weisse. And although the beer finishes a little flat after all that initial flavor, I can’t complain since it’s so refreshing.
Scrip’s volume and balance of flavors suggests a much boozier beer than 4.5%, but Jackie O’s keeps the alcohol dialed down, and the result is a light and punchy beer I have to try hard to slowly savor. It’s great to have what essentially amounts to a session sour with none of the shortcuts that are typical of low-ABV sours. As a grisette, Scrip is a shining example of an oft-overlooked style—a style that, to me, absolutely deserves more attention in today’s craft landscape.