As an avid home brewer and a lover of sour beer I find myself absorbing every book, article and podcast I can get my hands on that discusses the process of brewing sour beer. In my years of researching the American sour brewers there is one thing that I have heard time and time again. The influence beers like New Belgium Brewing Co.’s La Folie had on today’s top American sour beer producers. La Folie was a pioneer in the American sour beer movement and still stands strong today. When you wander the aisles of today’s bottle shops you will find rows and rows of different types of sour beers but back in the 1990s there was no such thing as an American made sour beer.
Around 1996-97 Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium decided he wanted to make a sour seasonal beer and he started playing around with a handful of oak barrels and by October 1997 he had a gold medal from GABF for his new creation.1 This fledgling sour program gave birth to La Folie which has been inspiring American craft brewers for almost 20 years.
Over the years I have emptied countless bottles of La Folie but even to this day I am still excited to have a bottle of it in front me to open. I recall the first time I had La Folie and thinking it was too sour to drink and while I was intrigued it was not something I could finish a bottle of. Fast forward a few years and a few dozen bottles later and it has become a staple in my fridge.
Today, I have a bottle of 2016 La Folie that is chilled and ready to go.
The beer pours a rusty brown with mahogany edges when help to the light. A khaki head forms that dissipates to a steady halo of bubbles that stick around for the duration of the glass. The aroma brings dark cherries and green apples that are balanced out with a rich caramel malt sweetness. It is not an overpowering nose by any means but simple and enjoyable.
My first sip brings that familiar sour punch that I once found overkill and have come to love. The acidity is just slightly on the higher side of the scale, but still quite enjoyable. The sharp sourness is met with some of the fruitiness of the nose with both the cherries and the green apple but I get a bit more sweetness along with a touch of apple cider vinegar. The tartness lingers into the finish with a nice hint of oak as well.