By Dane Feldman
Photo by Dane Feldman.
I first discovered Cisco Brewers when I was in college in Massachusetts. Pinpointing the day is surprisingly easy. It was mid-October and I had been wandering around in the local liquor store, Spirit Haus, looking for something seasonal to contribute to a potluck. This was no simple task in western Massachusetts where ciders and pumpkin beers are available in so many different forms it’s nearly impossible to choose.
Eventually, I settled on Harpoon’s Pumpkin Cider and Cisco Brewers’ Pumple Drumkin. Aside from drinking Pumple Drumkin every autumn, I had all but forgotten about Cisco Brewers until a recent trip to Pisticci brought me face to face with Grey Lady Ale. Like so many other times in my experiences with food and drink, I found myself saying, “How did I not know about this?”
I have no answer to that question other than the fact that I must have been living under some sort of proverbial rock shielded from great beer.
While Grey Lady is a great beer, it is also rather hard to compare it other ales that I have tasted. It has a low ABV–just 4.5 percent–and a rather cloudy or “foggy” look to it, which is certainly intentional as Grey Lady is Nantucket’s nickname and Cisco brews the beer on the quaint New England island.
When it comes to ales, I have long been fond of Belgians over pale ales and Grey Lady is a wheat beer “fermented with Belgian yeast.” The brewery describes the “dry and spicy” beer as a “unique” one “that emits a complex, earthy nose” as well as “a soft, mid-palate maltiness” accompanied by “hints of tropical fruit.”
Long time followers of Dish + Drink likely know that beer isn’t really my forte, so it probably doesn’t come as much of a shock that the description listed on Cisco’s site suggests a far more advanced palate than my own.
I will say, though, that the beer is certainly spicy much in the way that a nice herbal tea can be. The spices are subtle enough that this drink transcends seasons. The wheat beer’s fruity and floral notes make it ideal for summer sipping, but the spices offer a nice option for early to mid fall tippling. Quite frankly, Grey Lady could even be used as the perfect base for a boilermaker year round.
The bottom line is that Grey Lady is in contention for the holy grail of Witbiers, or wheat beers, in my book, but many beer drinkers seem to prefer hoppier brews like IPAs and standard pale ales. If you fall into this category, understand that Grey Lady Ale is an entirely different animal. The IBU rating, which measures bitterness, is a mere 10, while the popular Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA holds an IBU rating of 60.
If beers like Dogfish Head’s are more up your alley, then this Cisco brew may not pack enough of a punch for you, but it is certainly worth tasting for yourself.