In our experience, sour beers are somewhat hit-or-miss. Sometimes they’re amazing, and other times they taste like rancid prison wine that’s been aging in a dirty sock for three weeks. It’s just a tricky style to brew in, and not everyone gets it right.
In traditional brewing, great precaution is taken to prevent the introduction of unwanted yeast and rogue bacteria that could potentially ruin the flavor of the brew, but sour beers have the complete opposite approach. Brewers will intentionally add wild yeast and bacteria strains to the wort in order to achieve a good sour flavor.
Methods differ from brewery to brewery and batch to batch, but generally speaking, most sours get their funky flavor from aging in special oak barrels – barrels that have been treated with a particularly aggressive strain of yeast known as Brettanomyces. These bacteria thrive inside the warm, dark belly of the barrels and aggressively devour sugars. While they feast, they produce strong sour notes, and add distinct aromas and flavor combinations to the brew — complex sweetness, tart acidity, earthyness, and hints of musty barnhouse funk.
Due to this wild and oftentimes unpredictable fermentation process, sour beers are notoriously difficult to pull off. We can count on one hand the number of breweries who make a sour that’s worth drinking, and one of those breweries happens to be New Belgium.
NB’s La Folie (French for ‘the folly’) sour brown ale is hands down one of the best sour beers we’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. It’s sharp, sour, and full of mouth-puckering fruit notes like green apple, plum, and wild cherry — all beautifully balanced and . It pours in a thick, dark mahogany, but finishes smooth and crisp — perfect for a hot summer day.
Hit this link to find out the nearest spot you can snag yourself a bottle. You won’t be disappointed.
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