Brewer: New Belgium Brewing
Style: Flanders Brown Ale
The real mastery of great Flemish-style sour ales comes in managing their slow fermentation by a variety of yeast and bacteria and then blending batches of various ages together. At New Belgium that responsibility primarily rests on the shoulders of Cellar Master Lauren Salazar who evaluates the brews aged in massive French oak foudre barrels to determine the blend that they bottle in New Belgium's landmark La Folie sour brown.
It's a testament to Salazar's skill as a blender that each year's release of La Folie is a revelation because there are no automated tests or processes that can substitute for a great palette and sensibility. Under Salazar's guidance La Folie features a mouth-puckering sourness with a residual malty sweetness, dark fruit notes, and just a touch of vinegar. This one goes toe-to-toe with the great Flemish sours and comes out on top.