Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Beer: New Belgium Brewing Company: Special Release: La Folie

When we moved from Berkeley to Oakland, we had the good fortune to move in next door to an area sales manager for New Belgium Brewing Company. Hitting it off with a "beer guy" has some of the advantages you'd expect and, as it turns out, some that you couldn't possibly expect. Such was the case with this bottle of La Folie.

My beer tastes strike me as pretty pedestrian. I adore IPA, am a fan of Pilseners, and am always happy to have a pint of Guinness. I've never gotten the hang of Chimay however, and various bocks (double, triple...) leave me cold.

And after my first taste of La Folie I thought I was a lost cause. Here a friend had brought me one of only three thousand bottles of a a cork-stopped and barrel-aged beer that was by all accounts --or at least the account of Michael Jackson-- one of the finest beers in the world:
“The idea was to create an intentionally sour effect, though not as intense as that in the famous Belgian beer, Rodenbach. The finished beer, called La Folie, has a dark pinkish-amber color; a sustained bead; a toffee-like start; then apple and passion fruit notes. The label suggests that the beer be left to breathe for ten minutes. During that period, firmness and acidity seem to come to the fore. Quite sour in finish but a beautifully balanced beer.” — Michael Jackson, Beer Writer
It grows on you though. The sour aspect is gradually overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of the flavors and aromatics. I had this bottle with two friends, and a hanger steak. As they had their first tastes, I recognized skepticism and a willingness to give the beer the benefit of the doubt. We each had two more pours and were sad to see it go.

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