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  • Well dang, it's the new year...


    2013 is going to be a big one for beers and stuff. Some very major New Belgium things are in the pipeline. Let's take a minute and call out a few facts and a few rumors...

    Facts (these are things I know to be true)-

    1. A collaboration beer with Dieu du Ciel! of Montreal is headed our way soon. This is a wonderful thing. It's a heavenly tripel with feijoa and hibiscus. Feijoa is a (probably) tropical fruit that's very strange (and worldly). Peter (our brewmaster) has wanted to make a beer with it for some years. And Dieu du Ciel! is famous for brewing with hibiscus. BOOM! 

    2. Transatlantique Kriek is making a comeback. Brouwerji Boon has sent us a whole mess of his Kriekenlambiek, and we have brewed the accompanying beer, and the two are blended (or, almost blended). These bottles should hit shelves in a month to six weeks. Get very excited because this beer is the tops, like all the way at the top of the tops! 

    3. Springboard is coming back! Springboard was the spring seasonal a few years back (07-08), brewed with schisandra and goji berries. It was a major crowd pleaser, and I am very excited about it's return... Springboard is coming back in the Folly Pack only. No sixers, etc... You are going to have to buy the mix pack to score yourself some, and you should try to score yourself some.

    Rumors (these are things that I have heard to be true)-

    1. The 2013 vintage of La Folie is really good.

    2. More throwback beers may/may not be hitting Folly Packs through the year.

    3. We're switching to Google+ as a platform for our Beer Streams.

    4. An Imperial IPA is in the works...

    5. I am constructing a giant carpet slide to serve as my main commuting option (it will be open to the public, if you want to come over to my house).

    6. We are adding two more U.S. states to our distribution footprint (one is very cold, one is very warm (maybe)).

    So there it is, some tale of coming news. Welcome to the future friends...


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  • Today is Stout Day, and I am celebrating already!

    Stout Day is a great way to celebrate such a celebrated style. And that day of celebration is today, today is Stout Day!

    Grab a bottle and some friends (who also grabbed bottles) and crack some great Stouts. Here's a few to recommend:.

    Great Divide's Yeti

    Obsidian Stout from Deschutes

    Schlafly's Oatmeal Stout

    Or maybe, just maybe.... the newest Lips of Faith beer- Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout from New Belgium!

    Ok, I know that's a plug, but this is the New Belgium Blog, so I am going with it. This beer is strong, and rich and dark as (a really dark) night. The coffee and chocolate come punching right off the bell and a complex bitterness follows in at the back. It really is good. Here's a link to the Beer Finder so you can go get yourself some....

    And remember to celebrate Stout Day with your social media friends with #StoutDay, no reason not to spread such beer-cheer on the internet...



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  • Beers Made by Walking indeed...

    The folks down at Focus on the Beer have started a very cool and interesting program for making beer, Beers Made By Walking. The general idea is as follows: take a walk in your natural surrounding, find an ingredient to use in the beer making process, pick or order the ingredient in question (depending on the circumstances), make a beer using the ingredient, and lastly, enjoy the beer made by walking. Lots of people and breweries have gotten in on this action over the last several months, and now, I am happy to report, New Belgium has joined the fun... 

    About six weeks ago we took our walk. We have a very good, natural (and edible) landscape on the NBB property, so we decided to walk the grounds. We stumbled upon gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, hops, sage, and other useable plants. All of them seemed great, but when we came upon the lavender and the plums we knew we had a match made in experimental-beer-heaven. I picked and dried the lavender, and we ordered the plum juice as it was late in the season and the birds (plus co-workers) had picked the plum tree pretty clean. I took counsel with plant engineer and brewer, Chris McCombs (AKA Puffy) to help with the recipe (and all the other stuff, like brewing and fermenting, etc...). He thought the plum and lavender flavors would display nicely in a something a bit sweeter, with a very low hop profile. He suggested we brew a bock, so that's what we're doing.

    We got the yeast all propped up, ordered the malt bill and called the Focus on the Beer folks to come up and help. They got here last Friday around 11am. We had lots to do. Our plan was to start the brew (mash in), then mince the dried Lavender and brew a tea to add after the boil. Then add the plums, mid-fermentation, to ferment some of the plum sugars, but still leave some fruity sweetness (and highlight the possible tartness). The mash in, boil, and hop addition takes about three hours, and on the new pilot system it's pretty straightforward. In fact, it's kind of anti-climatic. The new system is pretty automated, so no real heavy lifting is required (until the cleaning part). After we got the mash happening we got to the lavender chopping. We were looking at a big paper shopping bag stuffed with lavender sprigs, so it took a while. We got it done though (like a boss). To make the tea we had to weigh out the chopped lavender, separate it into game bags, and put them into hot water, it went well. It was about 12 gallons of tea, tasty, but not too strong. After we were done with the lavender prep, and the mash had moved into the boil, we got down to business on removing the spent grain. This is hard work (the heavy lifting part of the cleaning process), lots of shoveling and garbage can moving around. But it's an important step towards a clean pilot brewery. Then we went in for the tea addition. As the boil finishes, the wort (the malty liquid that will later ferment into beer) is whirl-pooled, to knock out any large particulates, and then sent through a chiller to cool it down from boiling temperatures (before the yeast addition). We added the lavender tea to the wort as this was happening. It went great... 

    After the chilling and lavender addition, the wort met the yeast in a fermentation vessel, where it will sit for a couple weeks as this (hopefully) delightful lager turns into a (hopefully) delightful lager. But before it finishes we will add the plum juice, about 10 gallons to the 8 barrel batch (a barrel equals 31 gallons (it's a old-tyme beer making measurement)). This addition will happen before the week is out. We want the fermentation to take hold, and remove some of the malt sugars before the plum sugars invade. Then, after the plum sugars invade, and mix up with all the malt sugars, the fermentation will continue, and a (hopefully) an awesome lavender plum bock will be ready to get kegged up. 

    And speaking of getting all kegged up... This beer is very limited, but it will be made available to the drinking public. A bunch of it will end up at the Focus on the Beer anniversary party happening in early December in Colorado Springs (you should go to that). And the rest will be poured in the tasting room here at New Belgium (a few errant kegs may make their way out, but let's not count on that). So if you are in Colorado you have a pretty good chance of getting some sips, but if not, maybe you should come to Colorado in December for your share of the sips (December is a a beautiful time to visit). 

    I want to thank everyone from Fous on the Beer for coming up with such a cool program, and also for the awesome execution of said program here at New Belgium. It was a real treat to work with you guys. Speaking of, here they are, in all there bearded glory:

    That's it and that's all, I am looking forward to this beer, and thanks for reading (and please go check out Focus on the Beer, and Beers Made By Walking, they are both linked above). 



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  • We made a beer with G. Love. Should we have a sip?

    It's called Peach Porch Lounger, it's part of our Lips of Faith Series, and I am happy to say- it's available now. This beer has all the G. Love marks, Southern ingredients, a bluesy charm, and a label to beat the band (very punny, I know)... G. Love came to the brewery a while back and designed the beer of his dreams. He wanted a beer for Front Porch Lounging, and man, did he succeed. Peach Porch Lounger has peaches (duh...), hominy grits, molasses, a French saison yeast for primary fermentation and it's finished with brettanomyces. It carries a nice funk and a peachy sweetness. This beer is delicate enough to grow a daffodil, and yet, it's 9.4% ABV (very punchy). Let's take this next couple minutes to taste and review... 

    Visual: A deep straw color with a rich haze. The head is bright white, and lingers.

    Aroma: Very spicy, saison-y, with herbal and peach overtones. As the brettanomyces ages the over-ripened pineapple aromas will come through a bit more, but for now the it is taking a backseat, and that's perfectly fine.

    Taste: Fruity, sweet and a bit funky. The alcohol fights through in the middle, bringing heat and some pepper flavors. The molasses added sugars to the fermentables, adding some complexity to the alcohols. Very interesting, very good, very strong. 

    Mouthfeel/body: The delicate nature of this beer is most prevalent in the mouthfeel. Peach Porch Lounger starts huge, sweet, chewy and hot. But that fades, and quickly. The finish is dry, like super dry, it leaves you thirsty. Which is good, because there is a whole bottle (or glass) to finish. And, as the brett continues in the bottle, the complexity will only grow and grow. I am looking forward to reviewing this beer again in a couple months when the conditioning yeast has really taken hold. But for now the the beer is awesome and the mouthfeel and body are real highlights.

    Overall: This beer is great (and yes, I'm very biased (but you should expect that by now...)). It's delicate but strong, complex, and fruity, all things I like in beer. The power of the booze in this beer takes it right out of the "sessionable" category, but that does not preclude it from front porch lounging. I like to sit on my steps, sip and watch the world go by. For lawn mowing you should pick a different beer, but for hanging out with friends, listening to tunes and heckling the passers-by, this is the perfect beer.

    We also made a film for the release of this beer, check it out:


    And on that note, I'm out. I have the Fort Collins Tour de Fat to attend tomorrow and my costume is only half done...



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  • Red Hoptober is a new beer for fall, and it is really good...

    Fall is here! At least it is in New Belgium seasonal-beer land... Starting August 1st Red Hoptober is officially on beer-shop shelves and in tap lines all across our distribution area. When you're in line at the bar, trying to decide what you want, look for this handle, and then order it. You will not be disappointed (at least I hope not). 

    Let me give you a quick rundown:

    Red Hoptober is the perfect beer for warm days, or cooling nights. Fall is a strange time of year that can require a backpack full of clothes to make it comfortably through a day. You can spend the afternoons hiking around, soaking your cut-off jean shorts in sweat, and then the evenings chilled in a pullover, standing next to a warming campfire. You don't want summer to disappear quite yet, but when it does you might as well have the right beer for the job. And Red Hoptober will make this transition easier...

    Red Hoptober pours a deep and dark red, almost burnt. The foam comes up a tannish-white and billows high, like decorative pillows on the most comfortable bed in the world. The aroma is bold and hoppy. Red Hoptober is dry hopped with Centennial and Eldorado hops, and those are the first things off the nose, lush floral and citrus tones float right up your smell-holes. A malty sweetness is present as well. Some caramel and coffee aromas are unmistakable, but they are hiding behind the hops for sure. When you get into the flavor the hops back off a touch to make room for some fig and toffee and roasted nuts, but the hop bite shows up in the end (for sure). It brings bitterness to refresh and clean your palate. There is a balance in Red Hoptober, but it's teetering towards the hoppy side. It finishes soundly bitter and clean and leaves you wanting more. This beer scores high in my (very biased) book.

    To finish, here is a very big and dramatic shot of a poured up glass of Red Hoptober.

    Now it's time to start your hunt for Red Hoptober...

    Thanks for reading, 


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  • IPA Day is August 2nd...

    Did you know there is an IPA Day? Well there is. And it's all thanks to Ashley Rouston (The Beer Wench) and Ryan Ross (of the San Diego based, heavy hitting, Karl Strauss). These two beer drinkers felt the IPA needed its very own day, so last year they decided to give it one. And I, for one, couldn't be happier. Coming Thursday, the 2nd of August, 2012 is the 2nd annual International IPA Day! There are lots of things happening for this special day, for the most up to the minute details you should follow #IPADay on Twitter.

    And, if you want to celebrate this most-wonderful of days with New Belgium there are three glorious ways:

    Firstly, come to the brewery! We are going gaga over IPA Day and things are going to get awesome. There are 4.5 IPAs on tap for the day and we want you to sip them all. We got Ranger, Belgo, Matt's Cascadian Dubbel (a dark, hoppy, Belgian yeast-y bit of wonder), The Alpine Beer Co. Collaboration: Super IPA, and we are tapping some Red Hoptober (the .5 of the count, a hoppy seasonal for fall (though, not quite an IPA)). We will have hops spread about the room and when you find a variety that you like (smells nice) we will serve you up the beer that contains the hop of your choosing. Then pair it with chocolate! And then, your first sample pairing is free! The match the hops to the beer game will  continue through the day and things should be really fun.

    And then we're doing a Beer Stream! A Beer Stream is a live streaming event hosted on our Facebook page where anyone (with a FB account) can come join some easy New Belgium personalities talking about our beers. This will be our 4th (or maybe 5th) stream to date and we have covered everything from Shift to Tart Lychee, and (frankly) it's about time we hit the IPA's. On IPA Day the Beer Stream we will be covering Ranger, Belgo and Super IPA. Those easy personalities I was talking about are myself (the Juicebox) and Matty Smooth. Matty is a brewer/know it all around these parts and he is chocked full of beer making knowledge. So, the important details- click on the Beer Stream link on our Facebook wall on Thursday, August 2nd (IPA Day) at 5:00pm MST... 

    And then there is a third way to celebrate IPA Day with NBB, and this one is for those folks that can't make it to Fort Collins, nor do they have a Facebook account. The third way is to go out and buy an IPA (maybe a Ranger?) and drink it on Thursday in celebration.

    Happy IPA Day

    Alright! Break...


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  • Want to try Cocoa Molé?

    I do too, so let's do it.

    I just went downstairs to the Liquid Center and poured myself a glass of the newest Lips of Faith offering, took a couple pictures and now I am ready to talk you through a tasting of this wonderful and strange beer. Cocoa Molé was a culmination of great brewing, gastronomic history and inspired art work. The recipe concept came from Grady, our assistant brewmaster. He grew up in Colorado and grew up eating molé sauces. It was a favorite of his and as soon as he started drinking beer he figured the flavors of molé would translate into beer very well. Then we flash forward to a couple months ago and Grady acted on his molé beer idea. He brewed the beer with chocolate malt, dark chocolate malt and chocolate rye, spiced it with cocoa powder and cinnamon and then added the chipotle, gaujillo and ancho chili peppers for a nice glowing heat. He hit his mark well. The bottle art is the other fascination for me. Jodi Taylor is the head woman in charge when it comes to the Lips of Faith bottle art, having designed most (if not all) of the silk screened bottles (among a lot of other things), and she slapped Cocoa Molé's art out of the park. Sparked by the sugar skulls and flags found around the Day of the Dead in Mexico this bottle has taken on a life of its own. The color choice is pitch perfect and the design just nailed it. Bottle art is generally used to draw in the drinker, pique interest at the point of purchase, this art does just that, in droves.

    Together, the bottle and the liquid create a happy place for me, and hopefully you. I tasted it and I want to review it for you. This review is probably biased (more like definitely biased), but what review isn't (am I right?). Let's get to it.



    Very dark, almost black, with just the slightest red hue. A tan head comes alive on top, but fades pretty quickly and leaves a really nice, intricate lacing.


    Cinnamon is first, big time. The cinnamon just leaps out, but in the background is the cocoa/chocolate. It smells like Mexican chocolate, sweet and fragrant. The peppers are present as well, maybe in the far-background, like hiding in the cinnamon bushes (does cinnamon grow in bushes?).


    This is my favorite part. The cocoa is more present on the tongue than the nose. The cocoa/cinnamon combo from the aroma is flip-flopped, more chocolate here, with the cinnamon taking the background role. There are some earthy tones in there too. The beer was bittered with target hops, which is a great hop for just that, bittering. Cocoa Molé has no hop profile or real bitterness to speak of, the hops are there to balance the sweetness of the malts. Buit, I think the Targets (in light of what I just said about no hop profile) bring an earthy, almost grassy, undertone. Then the peppers hit, almost as a palate cleanser. These peppers are of the red pigmentation, so not super hot. In Cocoa Molé the chocolate and cinnamon cover up the flavor of the peppers at first, but then the heat of the peppers kicks in and washes the chocolate and cinnamon right off your tongue. And then the gentle glow and spice of the peppers comes to the forefront. On a heat index scale of 1 to 10, I would call this beer a 3.5, just hot enough to remind you that you're alive. And then the sip is over and you immediately want another one.


    Medium to full bodied with the spicy tingle hanging on in the aftertaste.


    This beer is a strange and wonderful concoction. Is it a chocolate beer? Sort of. Is it a Mexican chocolate beer? Yeah, closer. Is it a chili beer? Kind of. All of these things present a balance though, they play off each other in compliment. Cocoa Molé is wonderful and I will be drinking it often.

    Important Stats:

    9% ABV

    This beer is largely available through our distribution areas, but it's going fast. Draft and 22oz bottles are the packages and I highly encourage you to look for it, here is a link to the Libation Locator to help you out.

    Hope you can find the beer and I hope you enjoy it. And on that note, I'm out.




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  • Pow Wow Week

    So here we are, Thursday, mid-morning, and I feel sort of terrible. This week is our bi-annual Pow-Wow, when all of the New Belgium Beer Rangers come home to the Mothership for meetings, presentations and lots of shenanigans (let me again stress the shenanigans). In my current position I am required to be present at a lot of these meetings (sales and branding do go hand in hand you know) and I have learned a lot about the upcoming year and all the big plans being hatched around NBB HQ. We talked a lot yesterday about the forth coming 16oz cans of Shift as well as the new spring seasonal, Dig. Both available soon, and in some markets you can even score Dig now (Lawrence, Kansas, I'm looking at you).  I am also required at a lot of the fun stuff too (I know, it's tough). Some of the other things that generally happen around here for winter Pow Wow are the annual holiday party, the Ultimate Beer Ranger Competition and one of the greatest nights of the year, the Employee Ownership Induction Ceremony.

    For those that don't know, New Belgium is 100% privately held and 100% employee owned. One year from your original hire date you become an owner, it takes a while to show your commitment to the company and to really learn the rights and responsibilities of employee ownership. Our ownership structure is due in large part to our wonderful founders who believed that the brewery would succeed and flourish if everyone had a stake in that success. Through the years the induction ceremony has gotten bigger, but the heart is still there. The new owners are expected to stand up in front of all the other owners and talk about why employee ownership is important to them (or some topic similar). Everyone takes a different approach to this, but there are always tears and hugs and emotions flowing freely. New Belgium is a tight knit community and ownership is one really big reason for the closeness, we are all swimming in this beer together.

    And like I said, some people go with the tears and raw emotions for their own induction speech, and that is how they deal with talking in front of so many people about such close-to-the-heart-kinds-of-things. Now others, they go the other way, they go to jean shorts. If you folks are regular readers of this blog you know my affinity for jean shorts. My love of the jort runs deep, all the way back to my sweaty childhood wearing cut-offs and cowboy boots through those sweltering Missouri summers. So, when this (anonymous) new owner stepped on stage and ripped his pants off, exposing the small swath of blue denim covering his kibbles and bits I had a hard time keeping it together for his speech. He talked of ups and downs and the long road he took to get to where he is, and it was all very emotional. But everyone knows how hard it is to cry when wearing jean shorts and this proved true for the viewer in the audience as well.

    It was an unorthodox approach but it worked, his wardrobe choices kept everyone laughing and drinking (a few folks needed one more beer after his speech, to cool the image that was firmly burned into their mind's eye). After the big night of ownership induction we wandered into the dark night to find watering holes for more whistle wetting and to celebrate and welcome all the new owners to the fold.

    It was a big night on Tuesday and I am riding a wave of recharge and fun that ownership always brings (and my head still hurts a little too). Thanks for reading.

    Until next time- XOXO,


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  • And then it was 2012...

    If the world does end this year I will be so angry. There are many wonderful things on the horizon that I want to be a part of and the world ending would absolutely limit the fun. I want nothing to get in the way, shorten, or even remotely hinder my future-possible enjoyment of these glorious things. Most notably, gigantic (relatively speaking) cans of beer. You may have already read about it here, or maybe here, but right now, from the horses mouth... New Belgium is putting beer into tall boys! And inside some of these tall boys will be a brand new (and tall boy only) beer called SHIFT! (the capitalization and exclamation point are just for effect and not in the actual name of the beer). Shift is a pale lager that even the most enthusiastic of canned beer enthusiasts will find to be delicious, bold and hugely quaffable. I don't want to get into too many details here but the test batches I have tasted are simply delightful and I am looking forward to drinking on them during the out-of-doors-type parts of the year (and the other times too).

    Also in that wonderful and em-biggened-sized can will be Fat Tire and Ranger IPA.

    This is a revelation for me and all other New Belgium canned beer fans. There are many things in this world that I enjoy doing with a beer in my hand and a lot of places that I enjoy doing these things don't like glass bottles, they are either frowned upon or flat out illegal. Now, I am not one to break the law (that often) so I always pack the canned beer. With these out-of-doors-type activities I have always wished that I didn't have to go back to the cooler as often as I have to, interrupting the thing that I am doing, and now with a larger can I don't have to, and neither do you.  With four more ounces per can (from 12 to 16) we can gain an efficiency advantage of 33% over 64 total ounces of beer. Think of what we can accomplish with that kind of efficiency rating. I am going to dedicate all of my extra time to becoming better at tether-ball. I have always been an OK tether-ball player, but now, without having to pause the game to go to the cooler and grab another beer I can stay on the tether-ball court and keep hammering away at my skills. My tether-ball competition is not going to know what hit them, and it's all thanks to larger cans of beer.

    2012 is going to be the best year yet!

    Good-bye, I love you and I'm out...


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  • Prickly Passion Saison, some history (and some drinking)

    Onward and upward my friends, it's time to talk Saisons.  French for season, Saisons were originally brewed in Wallonia, the southern (and French-speaking) region of Belgium.  These beers were brewed during the autumn/winter in the farmhouses and stored over, aged past the spring, until the migrant pickers showed back up for the next, late summer harvest.  At the end of the previous season's harvest, whatever was grown, be it barley, wheat, etc... that stuff was gleaned from the fields thrown into a mash tun, once boiled off, the yeast of the day would take over. This was way back in the olden days when the water wasn't safe to drink, so the land owners would offer Saisons to the pickers to keep them healthy and invigorated for the harvest.  It is said (on Wikipedia (un-cited, naturally)) that the pickers were entitled to 5 liters of beer per workday to fend off dehydration and fatigue as well as to pack on some much needed calories.  Saisons were originally brewed to be in the low single digits of ABV (like 3%-ish) so no one would be stumbling around the fields looking for their sickle, but strong enough that a hearty smile could be seen on every picker's face.  These beers were different from farm to farm, farmhouse to farmhouse.  Phil Markowski (in Garrett Oliver's The Oxford Companion to Beer) says these beer makers were farmers, not brewers so "the fact that they were not sold commercially is reason to believe that these Saisons were probably made with little mind too repeatability"(711).  The traditional malt bill and hop profile of Ye Ol' Saisons can be seen in this vein too, Phil goes on to state "with the unpredictability of the growing season and the practice of crop rotation it is probable that these brews were made with varying amounts of different grains such as barley, wheat, rye, and spelt.  In years hops were scarce, herbs and spices were likely substituted"(711).  Although the total flavor package of classic Saisons is a little unknown, one thing that is widely assumed is that a delicate, funk (bordering sour) was likely present, and this flavor profile is what has carried Saisons over into the modern brewing age.

    Like sands through the hour glass so is the history of Saisons.  That low digit ABV has climbed steadily, most breweries that offer a Saison these days are living in the 5% to 9% ABV range, as no pickers need to stay sober for the harvest (the Farmhouse Grisette, a sessionable Saison from Breakside Brewery in Portland, OR is a lower ABV and excellent exception (thank you boys, that is a special and delicious beer)).  Complete with Saison dedicated breweries (like Fort Collins own Funkwerks) the current day in American Craft beer is chocked very full of these lovely farmhouse ales.  Here at New Belgium we made our first Saison back in the middle 90's and have made more than one other over the ensuing years, which brings us to the latest edition of the New Belgium Lips of Faith family, Prickly Passion Saison

    As the name suggests this beer is spiced with prickly pear and passion fruit and has been top-fermented with our house Saison yeast.  The fruit is present, some sweet-tanginess is prevalent in the nose while the tongue is rich and earthy.  The malts in the beer stand up to hug the spicing and the overall profile is one to be savored.  Glowing amber in color and not really any hops to speak of, but at 8.5% ABV this Saison is not to be trifled with, the heat from the alcohol warms the belly and the funk warms the soul.  The Saison yeast gives the beer a (not very) subtle punch to the underbelly of sour.  While not a sour, the funk of Prickly Passion Saison is strong enough to be reminiscent of wild beers.  Sip-able and strong, full and rich, Prickly Passion Saison is paired best with a bold cheese or maybe, a fully marbled cut of meat.  22oz bombers only and going fast

    As always the availability of this beer will be short lived (like all Lips of Faith), but the distribution should be wide enough through our markets for you to find some, and it is on the shelves now.  Check the Libation Locator for more details (sorry Texas, the Locator doesn't work in the Lone Star State (we didn't want to mess with Texas)).

    On that note, I'm going home.


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