Reviewed: Yeast of Eden Family Miner Grisette
Product description: Family Miner is our nod to the late 19th century Grisette: the table beer crafted to quench the thirst of stone and coal miners of Belgium. This contemporary interpretation was brewed with a large portion of raw and malted wheat, European noble hops, and open fermented with our native saison microbe blend. Notes of floral hops, hay, and pastoral funk with a stony minerality create a complex, yet inviting beer. Bright, dry, and revitalizing; from us to you, we present Family Miner. 4.2% ABVYeast of Eden – Yeast of Eden Family Miner Grisette – 750mL served in saison stemware – 4.2% ABV
This is my first beer sampled from Yeast of Eden, which is the wild and sour ale spin-off of Alvarado Street Brewing. Sampled from a green, punted 750mL bottle with an oversized cap, Family Miner looks upscale and similar to Cantillon lambic with a similarly classy textured paper label. It’s only missing a wine cork within the neck. Grisette is usually described as “light saison,” though the style is mostly undefined and open to interpretation. We know grisette was meant to be a refreshing beer for Belgian coal miners. Therefore, my expectations of this beer are mainly for it to be a bright, quenching, and light-bodied Belgian farmhouse ale.
Pry off the cap and this grisette slowly “gushes” out of the bottle with foam rising out of the neck carrying with it large chunks of gray sediment. Quick reflexes get the beer into saison stemware before it ends up on the kitchen counter. In the glass, Family Miner looks perfect for this style. It’s a nicely hazy straw color with voluminous white foam that easily rises out of the glass but doesn’t spill over thanks to its meringue-like consistency. Bringing the glass up to the nose, bright limeade radiates out along with white strawberry, fresh peaches, pear, maybe a touch of blueberry and even saltwater. There’s a nice musty barn character to the aroma presumably from a Brettanomyces-driven wild fermentation. The overall aroma is very similar to top-end Belgian lambic.
In true grisette fashion, this beer demands large gulps like chugging Gatorade after a workout. Family Miner doesn’t disappoint in its quenching ability as this beer tastes almost like pure lemonade for the first few sips. Citric acid along with malic acid (think white grape and nectarine) dominate with overall acidity pushing the limits of what is enjoyable at an 8 out of 10 intensity. Sugar is nowhere to be found for balance at a 1/10. My initial assessment is that Family Miner is much too sour for a grisette. But again, this style is open to interpretation and doing a sour/wild version via open fermentation is unique and also possibly more authentic. In the past, grisettes I’ve encountered have been simply lighter alcohol versions of classic saison recipes with no acid component at all. In that regard, Family Miner is out of the ordinary.
Nit-picking aside, Family Miner does excel in the mouthfeel, which is where great beers separate themselves from good beers. Though there isn’t enough sugar to balance out all that lemon, tannic white grapefruit peel gives the grisette some bitterness and structure with a leathery character seen in lambic. High carbonation keeps the beer bright and refreshing while the finish ends up nicely creamy and milky from the wheat addition.
Overall, Family Miner is super sour and lemon-centric with little in common with what many would consider a grisette or “light saison.” It does, though, shine in the mouthfeel with champagne-like carbonation and leathery grapefruit. The aroma is complex and lambic-like and the beer is certainly thirst-quenching, which is perhaps the only requirement for grisette. I think it would work well billed as a sour blonde and is sure to delight sour beer lovers.
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