Today is my birthday, so I decided to celebrate with a bottle that I’ve been waiting to drink for quite some time. I bought this caged & corked New Belgium La Folie for about $13 or $14 at Gomer’s in Midtown at least 5-6 months ago, if memory serves me. It has been in the fridge since. My bottle was “born” 7/2008.
It poured a dark reddish-brown. The light that does get through it is a ruby red color. The head was thin was disappeared almost immediately. I left this beer out of the fridge for about an hour, so it was probably in the low 60°’s when I drank it. A little cooler than room temperature at the time. Aroma was definitely acidic with some dark fruit on the nose and something that kept reminding me of a smell that would be similar to smelling a jar of olives. I don’t know. For once my nose was actually working OK, then I smell olives in La Folie! lol
Wow! First sip was like drinking vinegar, which I expected. Blammo! I have had a fair number of sour beers by now, but this is the king, for sure. As the sourness dissipated on my palate I was left with a flavor of tart cherries.
The vinegar on the aroma just never quits, either. Each sip has a long, lingering sour/vinegar flavor that mellows into a bit of malt and cherries. No hops on this bad boy! To give you an idea, the sourness just goes straight to your cheeks and lays waste to your palate. After 1/2 a glass or so the sourness was mellowing a tiny bit, but nothing like Rodenbach, for example, which to my palate stops tasting sour within a few sips.
After about 1/2 the glass I started tasting more of the wood aging barrels (oak, I think) than cherries on the aftertaste. In fact, after one swallow the aftertaste was about the same as I would’ve expected from sucking on a piece of the barrel for a minute. Incredible!
I think that “olives” tone I was picking up is an earthiness that is a combination of the acid and wood flavors and aromas. The wood really comes forward as my palate starts to get used to the acidity. As I think about that earthy “olive” flavor I want to amend it to more of something similar to capers.
This is a very complex and rewarding sour beer. Definitely not an entry-level sour for those who are new to the style, in my opinion. I would start people with dry, just slightly funky beers like saisons, then move to something like Rodenbach, then Grand Cru, and if they were still on the sour train, hit them with La Folie! It takes a good glass to get attenuated to the sour, but as your palate gets used to it, more and more of that oak comes through. My only disappointment was that the fruit flavors of tart cherries I was picking up early on disappeared once the oak kicked in.
What a great beer. Not something I would want regularly, but I could enjoy this a few times a year when the mood strikes. I wonder if it ages well?