A fixture of the craft-brewing scene since launching in 1991, New Belgium Brewing Company has built a mini-empire on the success of the amber ale Fat Tire. Five years after opening in Fort Collins, Colorado, former Rodenbach brewer Peter Bouckaert was brought on to launch New Belgium’s sour program. Since then, New Belgium has continued to expand their sour beer production, including the well-loved experimental Lips of Faith series.
We sampled four bottles from this special line: Yuzu, an Imperial Berliner Weisse Style Ale; Pluot, a Fruit Ale; Wild2, a Belgian Style Dubbel; and La Folie 2013, a Sour Brown Ale.
Read on for our tasting notes and if you've tried others from the series, add your own in the comments!
We kicked off our tasting with Yuzu, an Imperial Berliner Weisse Style Ale brewed with yuzu juice. Clocking in at 8%, Yuzu has a much higher ABV than most Berliner Weisses, which are typically around 3.5%. The ale was a hazy lemon color that resembled yellow gummy bears, and had a fine white head. We detected a strong, tangy pineapple aroma, with hints of wet limestone, earthy lemongrass and lemon oil. Like many beers of this style, Yuzu is acidified with Lactobacillus, a lactic acid bacteria. We found Yuzu to be lighter and less acidic than most Berliner Weisses, with prevalent apple flavors and a little lemon zest on the finish.
This fruit beer is prepared with the juice of fresh pluots, a hybrid stonefruit comprised of plum and apricot. The color of orange rind, Pluot also had hues of Meyer lemon and had very fine bead carbonation. Pluot is brewed with a lesser-used yeast called Brett Claussenii and hopped with Target hops, which added slight bitterness to the nose. We also sensed aromas of white grape and baked apples, and tasted flavors of apple cheddar and some hoppiness in the heavy body of the ale.
The Wild2 Belgian Style Dubbel is brewed with the Schisandra berry, a fruit that is said to possess all five flavors: salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter. Clear and filtered, the dubbel's color was compared to root beer, as well as Dr. Pepper because of its garnet hues. The aromas ranged from Dubble Bubble bubblegum, to sarsaparilla root, to baking spice and pepper. Flavors brought to mind pipe tobacco, burnt pizza crust and even band aids, with a bit of chocolate rock candy on the finish.
Our favorite of the Lips of Faith tasting, La Folie 2013 is a sour beer lover’s dream come true. To create each annual release of La Folie, New Belgium ages a fermented base beer in large Oak Foeders for 1-3 years and then blends the different vintages together. A clear and finely carbonated beer, La Folie 2013’s rich ruby color resembled a demi-glace or dark prune juice. Sour cherries dominated the nose, with aromatic hints of prune, exposed wood and pie crust. A very acidic flavor gave way to dark chocolate-covered cherries, Madeira vinegar and caramel.
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