Some beer projects take time, and that’s the case with our second collaboration release with Threes Brewing, Of The Essence. Back in January 2020 we released our first Threes collaboration Of The Essence, a refreshing and flavorful Belgian Grisette. Essentially a low-alcohol saison with wheat, we knew that this would transform beautifully after months at Barrelworks, our wild ale cathedral in Buellton. A second batch of grisette was brewed, and the result is a stunner.
We sat down with Sam Tierney, Firestone Propagator Head Brewer, and Jim Crooks, Barrelworks Master Blender, to talk about our latest release, Of The Essence.
Threes Brewing is a Brooklyn-based brewery known for crafting approachable beers that balance simplicity and complexity. Firestone brewer Brent Soutar mentioned Matt Levy, Head Brewer of Threes, was interested in coming out to Los Angeles to visit friends and brew some beer. A flight was booked and Brent, Matt, and Sam came together to make Of The Essence. Matt shared with us:
At Threes we strive to brew simple, nuanced beers the majority of which are low ABV. Table Saison and lager are at the core of what we do, and the beers we obsess over every day. I was deeply humbled when Firestone wanted to brew a beer with us, let alone a simple little Grisette inspired by Passing Time (a table beer saison with a blend of wild yeasts and souring bacteria). In all honesty, Firestone Walker is one of the reasons I became a brewer and it was (and still is) a surreal experience collaborating on this historical style with them.
In the wake of such a little-known beer style, Propagator Head Brewer Sam Tierney shared some of the history of a Grisette for context:
Grisette is a historical beer style from the late 1800’s and originated in the French-speaking region of Belgium. It was named after the young working-class women who drank it, who were called “grisettes” in local slang, which referred to the grey dresses they predominantly wore in that era (“grisette” means “small grey” in French). There are few records of what the beers were like other than they were low-alcohol, refreshing, and pale. Today, it’s considered a relative to the saison beer style.
Down to the Essence
In building out the recipe, Sam shared, “We sourced malt from Mecca Grade Estate Malt up in Oregon, I’d wanted to try their grain for a while. Their extra pale pilsner malt mimics a historic malt from the 19th century when malts were air-dried, before drying used a kiln. They’ve essentially created the palest malt on the market, all grown from their farm in Oregon. Along with a mix of raw and malted wheat from Mecca, this was a perfect base for a light, grisette style beer.”
On collaboration day, the first batch was brewed, fermented with a Belgian saison yeast strain for expressive fruit and spice character, and dry hopped with German Saphir hops after fermentation to add more layers of herbal and lemon zest aromas. This was released as Of The Essence (Part I).
The second batch had a different future; post-brewing it was cooled and immediately transferred to a tote destined for Barrelworks. Once in Buellton, the grisette was fermented with a clean Belgian-Blaugies yeast strain. From there, it was transferred into an oval foeder for its next chapter under Master Blender Jim Crooks’ care.
Brooklyn Goes Wild on the West Coast
Threes shared their Brooklyn-based wild yeast culture and it was combined that with just a touch of Barrelworks yeast culture into a 19-barrel oval foeder. The beer sat in oak for almost eight months total.
“I was tasting this beer every week, ensuring the total character of the beer stayed a grisette, as we could have overdone it very easily,” Jim shares. “I absolutely didn’t want too much acidity at the end – the base beer is so amazing and delicate, I really wanted to respect that. I knew immediately when the beer was finished.”
Of The Essence
Jim was blown away by the final beer. “Right off the bat I thought, ‘Whoa, that is different.’ Just the way it drinks. It’s so dry and light with the ABV being around 4-4.5% percent. It’s probably one of the palest beers I’ve ever come across, and then to have so much flavor! It’s pretty exciting.”
The final beer has a fascinating house character built on a light, grainy base. A light tartness, a touch of oak, and a spicy, almost white pepper character. Matched by a soft, dry finish, its total characteristic is distinctly a Grisette.
We’re thrilled to share this collaboration, available at all Firestone taprooms starting Thursday, April 15. Of The Essence will also make an appearance on draft at Threes taproom in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
Limited draft-only availability – grab a pint while it lasts.