Let me start by jumping to the conclusion. New Belgium’s La Folie is an absolutely stunning beer. Like the Tolkien’s magical little ring, the more you have, the more your desire for the La Folie increases. If you don’t agree with me, you can go to Mordor.
Now that I’ve gotten the geeky little Lord of the Rings allusion out of the way, why should anyone care what I think about this beer? Well, unless you don’t realize that I am the up and coming beer authority, I suppose you have no reason to. But considering that this beer has evidenced polarization in the beer community, perhaps everyone’s input is a bit more interesting, regardless of beer blogging clout.
I would have never sought this beer out. Despite the fact that I am a big fan of New Belgium’s way of doing business, I am not a big fan of New Belgium’s beer. From their 1554 to their Ranger IPA, it all tastes a bit weird to me. In fact, I am perpetually perplexed at the number of who, folks jumping into the realm of homebrewing, decide their first brew should be a Fat Tire clone. Sheesh. But at times, a beers “grocery store line-up” falls far from the glory of their specialty beers. When I read a “pour it down the sink” review over at Beer and Whiskey Bros, followed by an emphatic defense from Simply Beer, I had to try it. I haven’t bought any “specialty” brews in a long time, due the-no-longer-existent *insert fierce sarcasm* recession, but after a couple of week of hard work, I felt I deserved it. So I went for the La Folie.
Like I said in the spoiler of a first paragraph, I would just as emphatically defend this beer against Jim’s review. This is a sour beer in the most sour of senses. The acidic tartness literally burns the back of your throat. But it tastes so good! The Flanders’ style brown, which emulates spontaneous fermentation, is not unbalanced though. Their is a formidable malt backing that adds necessary sweetness and compliments the sour apple and cherry notes. There is a slight chocolate note to it. Sours like this are to describe: you just have to try it.
The moral of the story? Just because you don’t like a brewery’s standard work doesn’t mean they suck. Always approach a respectable brewery in hopes of being impressed. What “lame” (in your opinion) breweries have pleasantly surprised you in the past?
I have lived less than a mile from New Belgium Brewery for the last two years and have been very privileged to be able to sample several different years of La Folie. The batches come out tasting slightly different each time and I just cant get enough of them. My mouth waters at first smell and I love every sip. Lots of people here in Fort Collins can’t stand the beer because of the very strong sour flavor, but that’s just their loss.
New Belgium… I really dig the Ranger IPA.
I absolutely love this beer. A matter of fact only the Imperial Berliner Weisee has disappointed me from the Lips of Faith beers I have tried. The Kriek and Eric’s Ale are also superb sours along with this one.
As Nate said, i love this beer. So much so it continues to give me hope that the brewery will continue to evolve. The ranger IPA was ok, and Eric’s ale was pretty good, but past that it boggles my mind that this beer is so great and the rest of their line up hug the mediocre tree. I love this beer so much, I have a six year vertical of this beer, once I find ’04-’02 I’m going to have an epic tasting…
September 23rd, 2010 at 6:46 am
When you do this epic tasting, I hope to read a post about it!
Greetings from Mordor!
Yes, I poured this beer out after struggling with the fact that it was awful (to me) for over an hour. I tried and tried, but I just could not trick my palate into thinking it was anything but a punishing, sour mess. But the bottle art is cool, so it has that going for it.
Of course my opinion doesn’t really matter, as I have struggled to find a sour that I actually enjoy. There are a few I can tolerate, but La Folie isn’t one of them.
Guess I’m just a knuckle-draggin’ caveman.
September 23rd, 2010 at 7:07 am
Hey, it’s all good…I hear Mordor’s nice this time of year…no one opinion really matters…that’s kind of the vibe I was going for in this post.
I’ve always liked “sour” things…as a kid my pockets were packed full of Atomic Warhead candies. So perhaps this is more of a nature and not nurture part of the subjectivity of beer?
September 23rd, 2010 at 7:13 am
I love sour stuff, too. I used to eat the sour sugar out of the bottom of the Sour Patch Kids bag. But sour beers are too much like raw rhubarb and not enough like those Sour Patch Kids. I need a little sweet with mu sour, or at least more than La Folie serves up.
I had an Avery sour (called something like their “quintriple”?) at the Rare Beer Tasting during GABF and thought it was amazing. By far the best sour I ever had, and one I’d get again. Of course it had to be at the “rare” beer tasting, so my chances of getting more don’t look good.
I’ve only had Fat Tire from them, and I also don’t understand the love for that beer! Still, I wouldn’t discount them entirely based on the one beer I’ve had, but I might hesitate a bit in trying another from them.
Hard to think of an answer to your question though! What is considered a lame brewery? OK, Magic Hat. Not lame, but I get what you’re asking. Most of their beers are drinkable, but not something I’d rave about or seek out to buy again after one try. Still, their seasonal variety packs have these ‘Odd Notion’ beers that are like experimental batches which can often be very interesting.
I recently was able to purchase a bottle of LF near me, after a long search. I was able to taste this beer at this years NHC pro night, and thought it was amazing. I’m saving this bottle for a special event. Lots of people love/hate Fat Tire. I fell in love with it on a trip to the Rockies in Co. Maybe it was my Rocky Mountain High, but I’ve never been able to find a glass of FT that tasted as good as it did then. I’ve been unsuccesfull to brew a clone of what I remember, and probably never will.