Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Native Grisette at Bare Bones

Here's the first beer made by a commercial brewery that's fermented entirely with native Oshkosh yeast.

That's the Grisette that will begin pouring when Bare Bones opens its taproom Friday, February 19.

What's a Grisette? It's an almost lost style of Belgian table beer closely related to Saison. Historically, it was brewed to be lower in alcohol than Saison and with a cleaner, more refreshing character. The Grisette at Bare Bones hits the style perfectly. But that's not the surprising part.

What's surprising is that the bright, refreshing character of this beer was produced from a yeast found floating through the air near the south side of Oshkosh. The journey from airborne microbe to beer in a glass took two years.

It began when Jody Cleveland, head brewer at Bare Bones, started harvesting yeast that was lingering about the flora in his yard; which is downwind of the old Glatz Brewery. After capturing what looked like a suitable candidate, he isolated a single cell and then began the process of culturing it. Technically, this is a wild yeast, but don't get the wrong idea. The beer it produced has none of the sourness often associated with American ales made from wild fungi.

The beer itself has all the traits of a fresh, farmhouse ale. There's a distinct pepper note in the nose backed with a hint of clove. It's light-bodied with a crisp, dry finish that's accentuated by an earthy note of Saaz hops. If I had tasted this blind and been told it was made by a Belgian brewery I wouldn't have doubted it for a moment. This is an exceptional ale.

There's one problem here. Because of its genesis, this was brewed as a small batch. There were only two quarter-barrels produced. It will be available only on draft at the Bare Bones Brewery taproom in Oshkosh. No growlers, no crowlers, no cans. Fresh from the tap is the only way to get it. Which, when you think of it, is exactly how a beer like this should be enjoyed.

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