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  • I got Lost in the Woods...

    As you may already know from my post the other day, we hosted our first, open to the public, at night, type of party. It was in celebration of the 2013 releases of La Folie and Transatlantique Kriek. This was Lost in the Woods, we were all lost in the woods, and boy-howdy it was fun. To see how fun, from someone else's perspective, take a look at Fermentedly Challenged here, or the Denver Post here. Or, maybe, watch this film from Adam Valuckas:


    The party was super fun and full of great sour beer. Probably 600 people in the brewery, all enjoying good times, food pairings, sour beer education and music. Really, it was a hoot. 

    But. what does this post mean to all of you that were not able to make to the party? It means that the official release of 2013 La Folie and Transatlantique Kriek has happened and these beers should be trickling into bars and bottle shops as we speak (er, write). Check the Beer Finder for details on finding these beers in your area and get ready to pucker those lips because these sour beers are awesome and sour and wonderful. 

    Until next time my friends,


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  • Lost in the Woods

    Hey everybody. Today I was going to do a last minute plug and push for ticket sales to the upcoming Lost in the Woods party here at New Belgium. We have never done anything like this before, a private party, a ticketed affair... What is this going to be like? Who's going to come? Will Patrick Dempsey be available for autographs? Well, after all this fuss, it sold out. And way faster than we thought. So today I am going to go over some of the details of the party in hopes to illuminate those coming, as well as stir the interest-pot for next year.

    The party is February 1, 2013 at 7pm. This party will celebrate our love of wood-aged sour beer as well as the history of New Belgium in the sour beer game. The night is going to be full of sour beer and high-pitched cheer. There will be 2013 La Folie on tap, as well as the new blend of Transatlantique Kriek. There is going to be talks and symposiums about blending sour beers from Peter Bouckaert and Lauren Salazar as well as food pairings and fun and a whole (hot) mess of people. We even revamped the hallway: 

    Along with all of this joy and education each party-goer gets to take home a bomber of La Folie or Transatlantique. A steal at twice the price.

    So, in closing, I hope you got a ticket and if you didn't I hope you'll get one next year.


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  • GABF

    It's that time of year again, The Great American Beer Festival, and I am very ready. I have been doing regular interval training and mapping out my week and generally gathering information to make the next 6 days pleasurable. I have also been collecting facts and figures to make your week a gem as well.

    First the fest: Starts Thursday night, goes through Saturday. I hope you have tickets, they sold out quick. Assuming you got one, New Belgium is end-capping pod L. It's right at the top of the big middle row. We are bringing lots of great beers: Ranger, Belgo, a brand new Fresh Hop IPA, Tart Lychee, Shift, Peach Porch Lounger, Red Hoptober, La Folie, Abbey, and there's even rumor of some unblended, wood aged Felix, known to most as Love (that will be a real treat)... So get to the booth early and try some of these tasty treats.

    And... If you find yourself in Fort Collins this week, come to the brewery. We are doing all sorts of special stuff all week. Some kegs are coming out of the cellar, meaning that some Lips of Faith of yore will be pouring on a rotating tap all week. If it was a Lips beer in the last two years chances are it will be pouring and ready for the sipping (did someone say Le Terroir?). We are also breaking out some cases for sale. Bombers of some really famous NBB beers will be for sale (again, did someone say Le Terroir?). Tours are pretty well booked for the week, but the stand-by list will be in full swing, so come by, I bet you'll have a good time. Starting Tuesday (tomorrow) all the bottles will be out and the GABF tap will be rotating. This is going to be crazy.

    So there it is, it's all I got. Hopefully you enjoy your GABF...


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  • Tart Lychee is Sour (and Wonderful).

    We love making sour beer. Over the years we have tried to make more and more sour beers. But it takes a really long time to age the beer in wood, to let the little buggies do their work and take the beer into the sour-a-sphere (I just made that word up).

    The newest Lips of Faith offering happens to be a wonderful and sour beer, it's called Tart Lychee. The name says it all. But to say some more I will break the beer down for you, a full review.

    Overview: A new sour blended Lips of Faith with lychee fruit and cinnamon. Tart Lychee is 56% wood aged sour ale, and 44% ale brewed with lychee fruit and cinnamon. Lychee fruit is incredibly sweet and it plays nicely off its wood aged, sour companion. This beer is sour and sweet and amazing. 7.5% ABV 

    Appearance: A cloudy golden with a furious white head. The bubbles come quick, and then recede almost as fast.

    Aroma: Total sweet lychee fruit domination (a very good thing), citrusy with a tangy bite. The cinnamon is mostly hidden by the lychee fruit, but the aroma is definitely inviting.

    Taste: The tart punch comes first, but it's backed with sweet strength. The lychee fruit casts a huge shadow here, but the malt is present and standing the beer upright. The cinnamon comes as just a hint, but the hint rounds out the sweetness just right. This gentle spicing brings the beer more depth. The beer has only Target hops for bittering, but the nature of the citrus sweet (lychee)/sour (wood aged beer) brings a big nod to Cascade hops. Grapefruit is a flavor that comes to mind with this beer. Cascade hops are not in there, but you could have fooled me. The sour is explosive, but not overbearing. At first, the sip seems to be the most sour beer I have ever had, but that fades, and I change my mind mid-drink. While Tart Lychee is very sour, it's not a complete tongue ripper, it's balanced and wonderful.

    Body/Mouthfeel: Dry, tart, perfect.

    Overall: This is an awesome take on sour beer, I love it. I admit my bias (everyone should), but this beer is the best. Definitely my favorite sour since Le Terroir. Maybe I like it better than Le Terroir (or maybe I am just saying that because I drank my last Le Terroir?)? Either way, this beer is perfect, and if you like sour beers this should top your list (if you don't like sour beers you should try it too, it may change your opinion). I give Tart Lychee a 10 (out of 10). 

    This beer just released yesterday, so it should be trickling into most of our distribution areas this week. Tart Lychee is a Lips of Faith beer, which means the batch was pretty small and distribution will be limited, but make sure to use the Beer Finder and locate yourself a bottle, or a tap line, to give it a go.

    One last thing on sour beers before I take my leave. As you know the wood cellar is expanding, which means more sour beers. To make our sour beer, we age a non-sour beer in big oak casks (called foeders) until it sours. It takes upward of two years to fully develop. So we are building more now to have more later. Over the past month or so a few coopers (barrel makers) have been here building us some new foeders. I took the opportunity to time lapse the construction on a couple of these big oak barrels. Take a look: 

    Pretty sweet huh? And on that note, I'm out.


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  • Who wants more sour beer?

    Sour beers are the new black in craft beer right now. Which is great, because sour beer is awesome and I love it. 

    We make some sours around NBB, which is also convenient for my love of the style. La Folie is our best known. Then there's Eric's Ale, Clutch, Le Terroir, Tart Lychee, Transatlantique Kriek and others. A host of sours from the lightly tart, to full blown tongue punchers, we try to keep up a variety. The problem is that every

    year we can't make enough because these beers require long aging, it's what gives them their sour.

    For those new to sour beer, or unfamiliar with the process, here is a very quick sour breakdown: We take finished (fully fermented) beer and put it into retired wine casks. We use retired (used) wine casks because they are a lot cheaper than new barrels, and we don't need, nor want, the oaky flavor that the new casks impart to the liquid. The beer and the French white oak of the barrels create a perfect environment for souring beers. The environment is dark, cool, rich in oxygen (the oxygen seeps in through the porous wood) and rich in alcohol (the beer is already fermented, remember). There is not a lot of things that can live in such an environment, but the stuff that can is awesome. A few kinds of wild yeasts and bacteria thrive here, they feast on the oxygen coming in, and as a by-product release sour acids to flavor the beer. Cool huh?  

    The only catch is that it takes a really long time for this natural process to happen. In the case of La Folie, it ages, on average, 3 years before we can package a ready product. So there is only so much per year. About 10 years ago in the mist of 75+ single barrels on racks we bought our first foudre ("foudre" is a Flemish word, it means huge oak barrel, I think). The picture on the right is a foudre. The foudre in the photo is an example of the largest size we currently have, holding 130 HL's of beer (a hectoliter is roughly 0.8 barrels, or 26.5 gallons (for perspective)). Up to 2011 year we had accumulated 16 foudres, ranging in size from the 130 HL, down to 60 HL, equaling a wood aging, sour beer program of 1800 total Hectoliters. That is a lot of sour beer. But remember, only some of this beer is ready on any given year, about a third, or 600 HL. This puts us in a bind for distribution because there is only so much, and the gaining popularity of sour beers has increased the demand beyond our supply. So we have decided to buy more foudres, expand the program, and make more sour beer for you (and me). 

    The wood cellar expansion project has been going since March of last year. Over that time we have been buying a couple foudres here and there, trying to get the needle moving. But in the words of a New Belgium co-worker close to the project "the used barrel market is dynamic." Which translates to "finding good, used barrels is a major pain in the ass." But recently we have hit pay-dirt, and some great, new (to us) barrels are on their way from France. And the new total foudre count has prompted some new construction. The needle is moving. We have transfered the can line, knocked out a wall and started re-doing the floor. Seven new foudres are on a boat (piles of staves and rings) and when they get here, and are assembled, our total foudre count will jump to 28. The range of sizes will also jump, from a little mini at 25 HL, all the way to 219 HL (that's one big barrel). Our total sour beer program will jump from 1800 HL to 3600 HL. But there is a catch here too. Remember how long the souring process takes? With the new foudres that timing doesn't change. Counting from when the expansion project is complete this June it will be at least two years before our sour beer numbers take a big leap. Which means the 2014 vintage La Folie (maybe). But the good news is that this project is happening, and underway, and that's very exciting. Get ready for more sour beers!

    And if you get a chance to come by the brewery for a tour later this summer (like July or August) you should. The foudre area is going to be very cool and it will play an even bigger role in the tour route than it already does. You are going to want to see that. See you this summer!

    And on that note, I'm out.



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