Pouring Out New Belgium’s La Folie: I Couldn’t Make the Lip of Faith

Don recently carpet-bombed New Belgium on our podcast, where he said that he disliked everything they brewed. Having been down that road myself in the past (I dissed Flying Dog in its entirety), I knew that the “common” beers a brewery makes don’t always tell the whole story.

Many breweries brew on two levels, making a selection of everyday beers for average beer drinkers and a more sophisticated selection for beer nerds.  In the case of Flying Dog, it was their very serviceable Raging Bitch wild IPA that turned me around. In the case of New Belgium, their redemption lies in their Lips of Faith line, an assortment of sours brewed for the beer connoisseur. More specifically, I picked up a La Folie, as it was the recommendation of the guy in the beer store.  Very scientific, I know.Let’s get this over with quick – I found this beer to be awful.  So much for a leap of faith.

The pour was brown with a small head that quickly disappeared, just like my enthusiasm for this beer.

The nose was classic sour, with cherry undertones blended into a scent I found reminiscent of laundry left in the washer for a few days.  Of course that’s just me – many of you know I’m not much of a sour guy.  If sours are your thing then you might find this scent alluring.  You might also be strangely attracted to people who have trouble managing their laundry.

In the first sip, this sour poured on the pucker, with a hint of cherry sweetness and loads and loads of tartness.  Unlike the sours I like, this one provides no sweet resolution, no fruity reward for hanging in there.  Instead the sour just hangs there and then fades into a clean and unremarkable finish, sorta like when you throw up in your mouth a little.

For me, beers like this are all punishment and no payoff, like a nasty argument that leads to no mutual understanding, just hard feelings.

This hurt, but there was no way I was going to finish this.

My wife tried La Folie, winced and handed the glass back to me.  She had recently enjoyed New Glarus’ excellent Enigma, a cherry sour aged in oak, but she quickly called “pour out” on this one.  I fought it for as long as I could, waiting for the beer to sweeten as it warmed or for my palate to adjust to the tartness, but after an hour and a half I relented.

In the sink it went, swirling down the drain along with any hope of the Beer & Whiskey Brothers ever coming to appreciate what New Belgium does.

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Categories: Beer, review


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28 Comments on “Pouring Out New Belgium’s La Folie: I Couldn’t Make the Lip of Faith”

  1. Peter at simply beer
    August 11, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    NOOOOO!!!!! Love this beer. To bad you’re not a sour guy. IMO probably the best beer they make.

    • August 11, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

      Yeah, I’m definitely a sweet-sour guy, but not a sour-sour guy.

      Glad I had their best – I’d hate to dis them for anything less.

    • Don
      August 11, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

      Once I beer goes from slight pucker to fermented Gym Sock, Jim hits his limit of sour love.

  2. bierfesten
    August 11, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

    Out of about 15 people I have tasted this beer with on different occasions, only about 2-3 actually liked the sourness on this beer. It is quite a shock to the system, but in a way its a seg-way for non-beer drinkers to move across from wine. I find this beer is very much a food beer than drinking a pint of by itself. But the great thing with craft beer is nobody is wrong in their opinion as well all taste things differently.

    • August 11, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

      I think the Cantillion Rose de Gambrinus is a good bridge from wine, as there’s at least an undertone of fruit in that beer. I served that to some wine folks the other day with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and it went over well.

      This one was like sipping stomach acid to me and I think it’d be a hard sell to most people I know.

  3. Andrew
    August 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    I personally have never had a single one of their beers. But I am at a loss to understand why anyone would want to purchase a knock off Belgian style made in Colorado, when they could simply just drink actual ‘Belgian’ beers. Is there some sort of shortage of types of beers from Belgium or something? I don’t get it. Also, wasn’t Colorado a destination for German Immigrants? Wouldn’t it make more commercial sense to brew a Lager with a German yeast strain in a state know for snow and skiing and stuff?

    • August 11, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

      I have no answers for you Andrew, I only know that Colorado produces some really good beers and has a robust population of beer nerds. It makes some sense that they’d try to brew the styles that interest them and want to play with the classic Belgian forms (just like American brewers do with all the other classic European styles).

      I just don’t know why I’d ever try one of their sours again. Yuck!

    • Rob Crozier
      August 12, 2010 at 7:56 am #

      I hear ya but Ommegang in New York brews some mighty fine Belgians. I realize that they are owned by Duvel so there’s some authenticity there. For me, its a way to taste an “American-ized” version and a different take on the styles that we all know and love. Speaking of sour beers, Ommegang makes a very good one called Zuur.

      • Don
        August 12, 2010 at 10:29 am #

        Zuur! That is almost like Zuul the big scary ghost from GhostBusters! 😉

    • Mike
      August 13, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

      @Andrew. I agree with you on New Belgium. I live in Colorado and they are one of my least favorite brewers. I don’t know why people go ga-ga for New Belgium, because we have a lot of great breweries here, and even some hidden little gems, like Palisade Brewing Company. If you’re going the Great American Beer Fest next month, check them out.

      • August 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

        I’ve had some great stuff from Colorado, but like most states, their most popular breweries aren’t their best. You can say the same for Oregon, California, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont and others. Popular doesn’t equate to great, that’s for sure.

  4. Evan
    August 12, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    No dice on this one eh? I really quite like this beer. But I also like a lot of the sours without that sweet undertone you’re after. I love me a good, dry, puckeringly sour concoction.

    I think you might like the Eric’s Ale better. Give that one a shot if your local shop has ’em.

    • Don
      August 12, 2010 at 10:52 am #

      I’ve heard good things about the Eric Evan. Jim and I will try to get to the Stouts you sent me this weekend as he will be in town.

      • Evan
        August 12, 2010 at 11:26 am #

        What else did I send you? Only other one I remember is the Belgian homebrew

        • Don
          August 12, 2010 at 11:53 am #

          There was some bomber of stout that I was hanging onto until fall, but Jim loves stouts so I thought we would dive into it.

        • August 12, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

          Good plan! I know what I’m drinking tonight!

      • Evan
        August 12, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

        coulda swore that was a belgian. either way, you two enjoy it!

  5. August 12, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    I haven’t had this brew…but sounds like i’d like it. sour sour really does it for me. I thought Raging Bitch was downright terrible…ugh. Tasted like burnt rubber to me, and way unbalanced. In fact, I bought a sixer a ways back…like four months ago, and still have a few bottles. I’m hoping after a year or two all that citra hop flavor (good in moderation) deteriorates.

    • August 13, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

      Raging Bitch wasn’t awesome, but it showed Flying Dog can brew at another level. La Folie definitely isn’t my kind of beer, that’s for sure. I like the Fisher Price sours!

  6. August 16, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    You should be arrested for such actions! I’m starting to fall in love with sours. Too bad everyone else is too. Nothing like seeing sours go for 300 dollars on ebay and I know I can’t have them

    • Don
      August 16, 2010 at 11:49 am #

      Dave, I think it is safe to say you will have no competition from Jim and I. We are not big on Sours. We shared a bottle of Curvee Rene yesterday and we were both kinda meh…

  7. Marvin
    August 16, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    I love sour beers. That way on poker night, I don’t have to share any beer.

    • Don
      August 16, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

      Yeah Marvin, you let me sample the Geuse you were having last night. If it is that one you might need to share. If it is one of the funky gym sock beers you can keep it for yourself!


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