New Belgium La Folie: Yes, it is sour.

Next up, New Belgium’s La Folie Sour Brown Ale:

Some sour beer fanatics can come off as a little smug…staring down their refined noses at hopheads as the noobs of beer geekdom. It’s like talking to an elite, hardcore, indie music fanatic, and they’re all, “Oh, you still read Pitchfork? I guess you’ve never heard of I Was Totally Destroying It or Sorry About Dresden. Have fun listening to your Bon Iver.”

Well F them. They think they’re so Raven.

I’ve had a couple tart/sour beers. I like Bell’s Oarsman, which has a refreshing light tartness. I think Duchesse de Bourgogne is pretty good. And I really liked Blushing Monk, a raspberry Belgian ale, which I thought was pretty dang sour. I was a bad ass and could hack anything sours could throw at me. Until I brought this evil, uncaring bastard home.

La Folie is from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Series. It rests in French Oak barrels between one and three years and is “infected” with some acetic acid- and lactic acid-producing wild yeast and bacteria. Then, as I understand it, the various ages are blended to New Belgium’s liking. I don’t know if this is a Flemish Red, a Flanders Brown, or what…but they just call it a Sour Brown Ale.

It pours a dark brown-burgundy, with a quickly receding tan head. It smells like Cheerwine and vinegar. It tastes like taking a shot of vinegar and immediately french-kissing a vomitously sour and angry mob of hobos who are all housed on Pinot Noir & RC cola spritzers. OK, so I’ve never had a Pinot Noir & RC Cola spritzer. But it does taste like f-ing vinegar.

Obligatory sour face photo.

After I recover, I sniff around a bit more, and beyond the aforementioned cherry cola and vinegar, it smells like a musty, red wine cork. And then it’s all like 50 Shades of Green naturalist porn with a deep, wet, earthy funk and some emerging wood. And in the taste, as the vinegar fades a bit, you can pick up some tart-ass granny smith apples, cherries, and maybe some caramel (without the appurtenant sweetness). Finally, it is moderately carbonated, pretty thin, and finishes dry.

It fascinated me, and despite my initial revulsion, I killed the whole deuce-deuce. I think I am going to try more of the various types of sour beers and return to this at some point. I’m still a hophead, though.

The Haybag: Ack. It tastes like sour champagne. I can’t drink this. Nasty.


29 thoughts on “New Belgium La Folie: Yes, it is sour.

  1. Damn those pesky vinegar soaked hobos ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Sour beers are definitely an acquired taste, I like some, others I want to put on fish and chips…

  2. Great review! Since we still can’t get New Belgium in Philly/South Jersey (or maybe I;m looking in the wrong spots), I have yet to try the Lips of Faith series. Sours are definitely an acquired taste, and although I don’t drink them often (a newish beer style to me), I have enjoyed the few that I’ve had. The most sour of all so far was the Cuvee de Jacobin (sp?). Talk about mouth puckering! I’ll keep an eye for this stuff.


    • I thought you Philly people got everything! In fact, it sounded like you almost ended up with New Belgium’s East Coast facility. Although, maybe now that New Belgium is making its way to Asheville you will be seeing it.

      I think I can hack the fruit sours pretty easily, but these types of mothers are definitely going to take a little getting used to. At any rate, I tried to be a trooper and give it a fair review.

      • I’m certain we’ll be seeing some more NB stuff once Asheville comes on line, but for now, if we want NB stuff, we can go to Maryland (which isn’t that far, depending on where you live, etc… but then, they only started distributing there in the past year or two).

  3. Thanks for the review! Sours tend to grow on you, and I am glad you gave the La Folie a fair shake. We also have Tart Lychee out right now, more mellow in sour and spiced with lychee fruit and cinnamon. Give it a whirl…

    • At the store, it was a toss-up between the two. I figured, based on my past sour encounters, that I would like the Tart Lychee. So, I decided challenge myself and just jump in the deep end. I think I might now go spend a little time in the shallow end. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. This is one of my favorite beers from New Belgium and on my top list of all beers. Of course, I’m a sour lover and and one of them “not-hop-heads.” I actually just posted about a New Belgium event about sour s that I recently attended. New Belgium’s Sour Symposium

    It’s funny the way you describe it. Lauren, the blender at the brewery, said that this is her blend and you’ll drink it and like it! I love that sort of bravado.

  5. Good review! I have been trying a couple of sours, as of late. There are some I like, and some I don’t. I just don’t know enough about the style yet to be able to pick more of the ones I like; therefore I tend to shy away from them when I’m at the store. I guess it’s time to do some research!

    • Thanks! Figuring out what sour is what isn’t helped by the fact that most of them come in bottles without any English. Although, there are defintely an increasing number of American ones.

      I would like to see from you a ranty, Mike-taunting, unedited review of a brutal sour.

  6. I think I’ve finally come to appreciate sour beers, but I’m still pretty picky when it comes to them. I tend to like ones that are not insanely sour. Russian River Sanctification, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Duchess, and maybe a Berliner Weiss or two that I’ve had are all pretty good, but only lightly sour. I like em, but I don’t get all loopy about them the way I do for, say, a bourbon barrel aged beer. Different strokes for different folks. I’m happy to play around with sours every now and again, but I suspect I won’t ever go too overboard with the stuff.

    • Ha. Dammit. I knew this would happen… I should have just made up a band name; but I felt like I needed to actually find an obscure band that I was hoping nobody had ever heard of.

  7. Love all the Lips of Faith options, but if you’re going to go sour, definitely try Rodenbach Grand Cru. I’m probably making this up, but it’s one of the “must haves” when it comes to that style.

  8. Wow, I’ve totally had some of those experiences you mention! Consorting with hobos was probably the last straw for my girlfriend. This stuff sounds horrible. It sounds like you could dissolve a body in it (I mean, if you needed to). I will totally seek it out or at least something like it.

    • Yeah, haybags are real sticks in the mud about consorting with hobos. That and hookers and blow. They don’t typically seem to be too down with those either.

      • I know! When my dad accidentally picked up a hooker in Vegas and then had to explain it was all a misunderstanding–and then he told my mum the story–she said, “Why did you even tell me that?”

  9. Sours are something I’ve been working on for awhile. Some are instantly delicious. I tried La Folie recently I a trip to Bend and it was so damn sour! But as I kept sipping the flavor on my palate kept building until their was something really going on there. I’m not always in the mood for a flavor treasure hunt, but when I am, this beer is a good one for it.

    • Time will tell how I ultimately feel about sours this powerful. Although, I generally feel that appreciating a beer shouldn’t be as hard as reading Ulysses.

      • I don’t know if you have much opprotunity to get Russian River in your neck of the woods, but their Sanctification is pretty darn good and drinkable too. It doesn’t make your cheeks hurt just thinking about it.

  10. Pingback: New Belgium Tart Lychee | beerbecue

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