Cisco Brewers is run by a group of entrepreneurs who manage not only the brewery, but also a vineyard and a distillery in beautiful Nantucket, MA. The vineyard opened in 1981 and the brewery was added in 1992. Cisco Brewers makes a series of year round beers including their very popular Whale’s Tale Pale Ale. They also brew seasonal and reserve beers. One of Cisco Brewers flagship beers is Grey Lady Ale, a Belgian Style witbier. Grey Lady is a nickname for Nantucket, so the beer acts as a tribute to the island it’s brewed on. Witbiers are one of the most popular styles of Belgian ales. They are typically brewed with wheat malts, spicy/fruity Belgian yeast strains, and spices like cardamom and orange peel. Witbiers are typically low in alcohol, but the combination of flavors from the malts, yeast and spices can lead to a complex brew. Witbiers can be a great introduction to craft beer for macro-beer drinkers as their flavors are typically very accessible. This accessibility has led big breweries to add mass produced witbiers to their lineups, which has helped make Blue Moon one of the most consumed beers in the US. While I wouldn’t recommend picking up a Blue Moon, there are many craft breweries that make complex and delicious versions of this Belgian staple.
Cisco Grey Lady pours a golden yellow, solidly carbonated with a mild white head. The smell is mostly the spices and yeast, notes of cardamom and clove along with some citrus fruit. The beer is very light bodied and easy to drink. The spices are up front, orange, clove and pepper. Next is the Belgian yeast flavors, contributing mild touches of bubblegum and green apple. The wheat flavors are there but somewhat muted. The beer is crisp and clean, and at 4.0% ABV very much a session beer. The finish is dry with a mild spicy aftertaste. If you know someone who wants to try craft beer, but doesn’t want anything too intense this is a good starting point. Describe it as a much better version of Blue Moon. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.