For Saison Day 2017 (on April 8th) Allagash is teaming up with Oxbow Brewing Company to collaborate on an entirely new brew—or two.
On March 1st, a group from Oxbow came down to Portland to brew a historic grisette.
“We’ve been champions of the grisette style,” said Tim Adams, founder of Oxbow. “And it’s a huge honor for us to help brew the first grisette in Allagash’s history.” It’s true, though close in style to a saison—a style with which Allagash has experience—grisettes are a different beer altogether.
The Oxbow and Allagash collaboration grisette, called Rivulet, will be poured during our Saison Day celebration (on April 8th at Oxbow Blending & Bottling in Portland). The beer was brewed with a pilsner base and ~40 percent local adjunct: a blend of wheat and oats. We bittered with Aramis, which is a French Hop and then added the remaining hops to the whirlpool: Mistral (a new French hop), Grundgeist (a new German hop), and Czech Saaz. The beer then underwent open fermentation—using Allagash’s saison strain—for a couple days before being transferred to a closed stainless fermentation vessel.
Checking on the brew.
Thanks to some leftover beer from the grisette brew, Jason Perkins, our brewmaster, and the Oxbow crew decided to pour the extra wort into some recently-emptied Curieux barrels. In addition to the yeast they’d already pitched, they poured the remnants of a couple beers—the same ones they happened to be enjoying at the time—into the barrels to help with fermentation. It was a spontaneous and fun moment that Jason described as “what brewing collaborations with friends are all about.” Even more exciting, our collaboration goes even beyond grisettes and barrels.
On March 27th, brewers from Allagash will head up to Oxbow’s farmhouse brewery in Newcastle for another brew. This beer will sit overnight in Oxbow’s coolship, gathering microflora from the crisp Maine air. That wort will then be shipped down to Allagash in Portland where, after blending it back with the first batch of grisette that we brewed on March 1st, it’ll sit for a couple months, or more, in one of Allagash’s foudres. And, as the saying (maybe) goes, with age will come beautiful beer.
Tim adds some leftover beer to a barrel of grisette.
To briefly back up, it might help to explain the grisette style. Grisettes come from roughly the same global neighborhood as saisons, though don’t enjoy anywhere near the same name recognition. Grisettes originated in the Hainaut region of Belgium, bordering northern France. Where saisons were quaffed by farmhands, toiling in the fields, grisettes were, from what little record exists, the choice of coal and ore miners. Grisette literally translates to “little grey,” a reference to the traditional grey aprons worn by the women who served beer to thirsty miners, or possibly it’s linked to the grey stone through which the miners dug, or maybe it was a nod to the color of the beer due to its healthy grain bill, or or or… Theories abound.
What we do know for certain are the few defining factors of today’s grisette: the beer is low in alcohol (under 5%); it’s brewed with malted wheat; and it’s noticeably hopped.
The yeast in these barrels is already working hard.
We also know that it’ll be several months, at least, until the foudre-aged collaboration beer is done—and that we’re excited as heck for it. The best way to stay abreast of its progress—and any other exciting beer happenings—is to check our social media channels @allagashbrewing and @oxbowbeer on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter. (Oxbow also has great beer/event updates on their site at http://oxbowbeer.com)
And of course, if you’re near Portland, we’d love to see you for the Saison Day celebration at Oxbow. Even if you’re not in the area, check out our events page to see if there’s a Saison Day event happening near you!
Our collaboration grisette, fermenting away.