Articles Comments

The Beer Circle » Beer, Flanders Red, New Belgium Brewing Co. » Event: Churchkey DC’s New Belgium La Folie Deconstruction

Event: Churchkey DC’s New Belgium La Folie Deconstruction

Yesterday Churchkey in Washington, DC offered up New Belgium’s flagship sour, La Folie, and the three beers blended to create this treat: Oscar Young, Mid, and Oude. New Belgium Brewing Company opened in 1991 after founder Jeff Lebesch decided to expand his passion for homebrewing. Located in Fort Collins, Colorado, the brewery has become a national staple–staking its claim as as the third-largest craft brewery and seventh-largest overall brewery in the US as of 2010. I trekked into the District with my buddy Chase for a highly anticipated evening.

Happy to be here!

Having never had La Folie, I was a). excited to try it and b). excited to learn about how it’s made. I ordered up all four offerings at once and started with the beer of the night.

Young, Mid, Oude, La Folie

La Folie
Appearancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Deep amber color, red hinting towards brown, with some off-white head. The head doesn't really lace to the glass, it just follows the beer down as you drink it.
Aromawww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Tart sour cherries and funk really take this beer over. Some maltiness and sweetness, I'm just having trouble picking anything but the sour up. Not that that's a bad thing.
Tastewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Tart dark fruits and cherries, funk, vinegar, malt, caramel. A really nice baseline Flanders Red. Don't mistake baseline for average, however, because this is anything but. It's truly a great representation of the style.
Mouthfeel/Drinkabilitywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Carbonated very well with a light to medium body. It's so drinkable I had trouble slowing down to write this review.
Valuewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
One dollar per ounce for the taster was a bit expensive, but for a full pour the price was much better, right around $0.50 per ounce. I was able to get a few minutes with New Belgium's master blender Lauren Salazar, who informed the table I was at to drink as much La Folie at that price as humanly possible. She explained how New Belgium has three levels of pricing for bottles, with La Folie being included in the most expensive, but only two for kegs. Because of this, La Folie on draft is much less expensive comparatively to bottles. Considering that and the added benefits of this event, I'd say a 5 is a good rating here.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
I was really impressed with this. It was exactly how tart I wanted, but with enough underneath to hold it together. After trying all of its parts I went back to la Folie and was blown away. It's just so good. I think trying its parts allowed me to appreciate what this beer is and I love it. It's so sour, balanced, and drinkable. I want another glass.

Beer Stats
Style: Flanders Red Ale
Serving: Draft
Size: 4oz
ABV: 6.00%
BA Score: 94
RB Score: 100

Now on to the components, known as Love (Oscar – Young, Mid, and Oude). A blend of the Young (one year old), Mid (two year old), and Oude (three year old) beers create La Folie. After describing the beers, I’ll talk about what I learned from Lauren regarding how these are used to create La Folie, and other general beer musings.

Love (Oscar – Young)
Appearancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The pour is much more hazy and dark than La Folie, without head save for a few bubbles resting on top.
Aromawww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The aroma is slightly sour, slightly sweet and malty. Much more focused on the malt. It smells pretty light.
Tastewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Caramel dominates the taste surprisingly. Sadly, this surprise is bad. The sour and funk are really hidden, making the beer really just taste like a sour that needs to...sour.
Mouthfeel/Drinkabilitywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Heavier body than La Folie, medium overall, with a low carbonation. I don't think this is terribly drinkable. It probably goes back to the fact that I want it to be La Folie and it just isn't.
Valuewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
This was $4.5 for the 4oz, which is only worth it to try the deconstruction.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
I see what this is going to become and I see what it is, I just don't think I'd get it again. While I wasn't a fan of this beer, I would still recommend you get it to learn how La Folie is developed. In terms of the Young, I'm getting the baseline maltiness that provides the very base for the beer, and hints of the sour it is to become.

Beer Stats
Style: Flanders Red Ale
Serving: Draft
Size: 4oz
ABV: 6.80%
BA Score: N/A
RB Score: N/A
Love (Oscar – Mid)
Appearancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The body is beginning to clear out a bit, and the head is a bit more pronounced. Still a general lack of lacing overall.
Aromawww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The sour is coming out now as well, but still sweet overall with that caramel coming up. I don't think it's just me, but I swear some spices are coming to my nose.
Tastewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
I'm getting the spices again here. It's a weird combination of a sour and a winter warmer. I do like how the funkiness has become more prominent and the nice, but subdued balance.
Mouthfeel/Drinkabilitywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The body is thinning a bit and the carbonation is coming back up, both of which I'm a fan of. The added funk and bolder malts make this one very drinkable.
Valuewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Again this was $4.5 for 4oz. Which I actually thought was worth it.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
I'm liking where this is heading. This seems like La Folie but with all its parts toned down. I'm still in the very infantile stages of learning how sours develop in the barrel, but from this I can garner more wine-like characteristics (the tartness, and dry finish) and bolder flavors. For somebody who loves seeing barrel treatments improve a beer, this was a great learning experience.

 

Beer Stats
Style: Flanders Red Ale
Serving: Draft
Size: 4oz
ABV: 6.80%
BA Score: N/A
RB Score: N/A
Love (Oscar – Oude)
Appearancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The color of the beer has turned to a really deep dark red. You can tell it's clear overall, but it's so dark you have trouble seeing through it. Again, head is lacking.
Aromawww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The aroma is really different: Sour and boozy almost. A bit of must and toned down spices and malts.
Tastewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The taste has evolved passed the point of balance to completely sour. It's not offensive, but it isn't entirely pleasant. I don't know what else to say, it starts sour, moves to sour, and has a sour finish.
Mouthfeel/Drinkabilitywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Light to medium body with a nice amount of carbonation. It's just not balanced enough. Leaves that sour aftertaste I can't quite describe. As Chase noted this is very dry, and like a dry wine really makes your mouth water.
Valuewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Same price. I would definitely say its worth it once, but not again as a stand alone beer.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
I did like it. It's been very interesting to see the beer develop from too sweet to too sour. Not surprisingly, I much more enjoyed the too sour end of the spectrum than too sweet. Overall, I extremely enjoyed trying the parts of La Folie, even if they all pale in comparison.

Beer Stats
Style: Flanders Red Ale
Serving: Draft
Size: 4oz
ABV: 6.80%
BA Score: N/A
RB Score: N/A

After I had finished reviewing the beers, I saved parts of all the Oscars and blended them myself…to much worse a result. My version was very disjointed and sweet. I guess I won’t be taking Lauren’s job anytime soon. Oh well, it was for science!

As I mentioned before, once I had made my decisions about the different beers I located Lauren Salazar to learn more about the ber and the process followed to create it. My first question was how exactly did she blend three beers at 6.80% ABV and end up with a 6.00% ABV beer? Her answer was simple: the 6.00% is most likely wrong, it’s probably closer to 7.00% ABV. When pressed on whether or not the bottled version of La Folie is different than the kegged offering, she walked us through how the kegs are simply forced carbed, whereas the bottles have a small amount of ale yeast added to carbonate inside the bottle. She assessed that the age of the beer really overtakes the yeast, so it doesn’t make all that much different. Finally, the question everybody had in mind (especially me after my failed blend), what parts Young, Mid, and Oude go into La Folie? The answer was decisive, and just vague enough to not let on too much information. Lauren basically tries all of the barrels and uses the ones she thinks are best. Typically, the Young is never used, and the final product is very much a blend of Mid and Oude, depending on which qualities she is looking for.

Finally, Churchkey’s manager Dan came over and we mused on the three different strains of Brett (A, B, and C) and what she expects from them as the age and develop. The words sweaty goat and stinky cheese were either used far too much…or not enough, I’m still not sure. She also went into some chemistry to explain how breweries pastuerize beers and keep the haziness so highly regarded in Hefeweizens. Finally, after Churchkey and New Belgium were gracious enough to bring out the famed goblets for the table to take home, Lauren gave us a window into how the brewery viewed the etching at the bottom of the glass. Her job for a while was to pour beer into glasses with different etchings and see which produced and maintained the best head. She found that certain designs weren’t random enough and created only patches of head directly where the bubbles raising from the bottom of the glass hit the surface, whereas something very random (like the famed Fat Tire bicycle currently etched on the bottom of the goblets) retain head very nicely. I was curious if she could create a design that made the bubbles escape in such a way that the head on top of the beer looked like the bicycle below…she wasn’t optimistic that was possible.

SWAG

Overall the event was phenomenal, five stars. I learned more than I had ever thought I would, tried some great beers, and had a wonderful time. Lauren is a quirky, extremely knowledgeable person who is fun to talk to and very approachable. Don’t hesitate to ask her about “Gose Eye,” or how spicy the original batch of Cocoa Mole was and the party’s response to the ABV being higher than expected, she’ll have a funny story to tell.

Last updated by at .

Written by Russ Beck

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

Filed under: Beer, Flanders Red, New Belgium Brewing Co. · Tags: , , , , , , ,