This week’s Beer Pick celebrates New Belgium’s 20th year of making wood-aged sour beers, in an award-winning program that debuted in 1997 with La Folie, the brewery’s Flanders-style sour brown ale.
Two decades on, the 2017 version continues the tradition started by brewmaster Peter Bouckaert, and now carried on by Eric Salazar, New Belgium’s wood cellar manager, and Lauren Salazar, New Belgium’s sour beer blender. Each year, they combine multiple barrels based on continual tasting to create a new but still familiar La Folie blend.
New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
Available in 24-ounce bottles at metro beverage stores and on draft at metro beer bars.
Nowadays, sour beers are everywhere. But La Folie (French for “the folly”) stands apart as an estimable U.S. example of a Flanders-style sour brown ale. It’s aged in traditional French oak barrels, known as foeders, and blended with a rare depth of knowledge and care.
The New Belgium team’s tasting notes remark that the 2017 La Folie is “a sharp, tart sour ale full of green apple, deep cherry, dark chocolate, and tannin-like plum skin notes.” During a recent tasting — on draft at the Liquid Center at New Belgium in Asheville — I got all that, except maybe the chocolate, plus some nice oaky aromatics.
Molly Gunn and Nick Rutherford of The Porter Beer Bar in Atlanta recommend pairing La Folie with Epoisse, a soft cheese with a rind washed in brandy. “The flavor is a earthy and strong, which you need to stand up to the sour La Folie,” they say. “Traditionally this cheese is eaten with a glass of red Burgundy wine, but the oaky flavors along with dark fruits of the La Folie mimic the wet leaves flavor of french burgundy and make it the perfect pick in the beer world.”