10 answers to prep you for the return of Eric's Ale

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10 answers to prep you for the return of Eric's Ale


The last time New Belgium’s Eric’s Ale was bottled, the recession hadn’t quite hit its stride, “Lost” was still on the air, and the iPhone was a cool new device that everyone wanted. That was way back in 2008, but 2015 marks the triumphant return of Eric Salazar’s peach-spiked sour ale masterpiece, and we couldn’t be more excited. Slated to hit shelves in July, this Lips of Faith installment is sure to be epic: At its core, it’s a blend of multiple Felix threads and a golden strong ale, and aged with peaches (yum!). Salazar took a few moments from his cellar manager duties to spill the details about this summer’s anticipated release. Swing by the beer detail page to learn more, and don't forget to set up Eric's Ale beer alerts.

What’s the origin story of Eric’s Ale?

I won the Loose Lips competition in 2005 [winner gets to brew a beer; full explanation here]. But prior to that, Lauren [Salazar] and I had decided to stash what was not-yet-called Felix into Foeder 3. By the time I had won my Loose Lips competition, the foeder had fully matured into a really nice sour beer with some good stone fruit notes. So when I won the competition, I decided I really wanted to use that one barrel.

How did your role at New Belgium at the time influence the beer you planned to make?

I was highly involved with the sour program, so I wanted to do a sour beer. Because we had what was not-yet-known as Felix, I was super excited. 

What was it about Felix that caught your imagination?

What was really great about it was that it wasn’t as much of a kick-you-in-the-teeth sour as La Folie. What I wanted to do was a middle ground—a step-up from not sour beer into sour beer—for folks not ready to try La Folie. That’s what I liked about the beer in particular.

Dialing back to before this beer was released, were there any sours on the market that helped you come up with the Eric’s Ale concept?

At the time, my favorite beer was Fantôme black label saison, which had some nice tart notes (though every year is different with that one). Also, Frank Boon’s Mariage Parfait, and gueuzes in general were my favorite types of beer. Still is to this day.

How did peaches factor into Eric’s Ale?

Lauren and I were on an airplane coming back from Miami, and I was batting around the idea of fruit because I felt the not-yet-known Felix really lent itself to stone fruit. Lauren suggested peaches, and I thought that was a great idea. We came back, did a little experimentation with the foeder, and that’s what really made it shine.

So let’s move forward to this year’s release. How has the new foeder expansion played into this year’s blend?

It will be interesting. We won’t really know until it’s all said and done, until we get the peaches and strong golden ale in there. There’s going to be some more woody notes, but I really hate to say it until we get the whole thing blended. But, it’s really exciting to know that we’re on the right track with the new foeders. It’s something we’ve really worked hard on the last two years [click here to see images of the expansion].

Walk us through the beer’s construction.

We almost have to imagine what the end product is like. We know the peaches will be great, because we choose the best peaches we can.  The strong golden is essentially a known. What’s unknown is what all these barrels will be like in their final form. That’s a lot of our job when it comes to tasting—it’s imagining what the beer will taste like. We have all this warm, un-carbonated beer and we’re trying to taste toward the final product. We don’t have a targeted number of Felix blends, but right now we’re looking at, at least, nine different foeders going into the sour side.

How do you decide the final sour blend?

We’ll do some initial tastings, maybe two or three months ahead of time. Within a month, we’ll do a final tasting and a final blend. Hopefully that doesn’t change too much from the initial blend.

What’s the final profile you’re shooting for?

I like to have a nice balance of tartness and malty sweetness, and then a solid peach aroma without the peach sweetness. I like the sweetness to come from the malty side, the sour to come from Felix, and the aroma from the peaches. It’s a balance on all three sides.

Got any awesome food pairing ideas for Eric’s Ale?

I’m always big on soft cheese, so any kind of Brie or Camembert. I’m really partial to Ashley from MouCo [a local Fort Collins cheese company]. It’s got an ash coating on the outside. Those can always be topped with some type of fruit preserve of your choice.


The last time New Belgium’s Eric’s Ale was bottled, the recession hadn’t quite hit its stride, “Lost” was still on the air, and the iPhone was a cool new device that everyone wanted. That was way back in 2008, but 2015 marks the triumphant return of Eric Salazar’s peach-spiked sour ale masterpiece, and we couldn’t be more excited. Slated to hit shelves in July, this Lips of Faith installment is sure to be epic: At its core, it’s a blend of multiple Felix threads and a golden strong ale, and aged with peaches (yum!). Salazar took a few moments from his cellar manager duties to spill the details about this summer’s anticipated release. Swing by the beer detail page to learn more, and don't forget to set up Eric's Ale beer alerts.

What’s the origin story of Eric’s Ale?

I won the Loose Lips competition in 2005 [winner gets to brew a beer; full explanation here]. But prior to that, Lauren [Salazar] and I had decided to stash what was not-yet-called Felix into Foeder 3. By the time I had won my Loose Lips competition, the foeder had fully matured into a really nice sour beer with some good stone fruit notes. So when I won the competition, I decided I really wanted to use that one barrel.

How did your role at New Belgium at the time influence the beer you planned to make?

I was highly involved with the sour program, so I wanted to do a sour beer. Because we had what was not-yet-known as Felix, I was super excited. 

What was it about Felix that caught your imagination?

What was really great about it was that it wasn’t as much of a kick-you-in-the-teeth sour as La Folie. What I wanted to do was a middle ground—a step-up from not sour beer into sour beer—for folks not ready to try La Folie. That’s what I liked about the beer in particular.

Dialing back to before this beer was released, were there any sours on the market that helped you come up with the Eric’s Ale concept?

At the time, my favorite beer was Fantôme black label saison, which had some nice tart notes (though every year is different with that one). Also, Frank Boon’s Mariage Parfait, and gueuzes in general were my favorite types of beer. Still is to this day.

How did peaches factor into Eric’s Ale?

Lauren and I were on an airplane coming back from Miami, and I was batting around the idea of fruit because I felt the not-yet-known Felix really lent itself to stone fruit. Lauren suggested peaches, and I thought that was a great idea. We came back, did a little experimentation with the foeder, and that’s what really made it shine.

So let’s move forward to this year’s release. How has the new foeder expansion played into this year’s blend?

It will be interesting. We won’t really know until it’s all said and done, until we get the peaches and strong golden ale in there. There’s going to be some more woody notes, but I really hate to say it until we get the whole thing blended. But, it’s really exciting to know that we’re on the right track with the new foeders. It’s something we’ve really worked hard on the last two years [click here to see images of the expansion].

Walk us through the beer’s construction.

We almost have to imagine what the end product is like. We know the peaches will be great, because we choose the best peaches we can.  The strong golden is essentially a known. What’s unknown is what all these barrels will be like in their final form. That’s a lot of our job when it comes to tasting—it’s imagining what the beer will taste like. We have all this warm, un-carbonated beer and we’re trying to taste toward the final product. We don’t have a targeted number of Felix blends, but right now we’re looking at, at least, nine different foeders going into the sour side.

How do you decide the final sour blend?

We’ll do some initial tastings, maybe two or three months ahead of time. Within a month, we’ll do a final tasting and a final blend. Hopefully that doesn’t change too much from the initial blend.

What’s the final profile you’re shooting for?

I like to have a nice balance of tartness and malty sweetness, and then a solid peach aroma without the peach sweetness. I like the sweetness to come from the malty side, the sour to come from Felix, and the aroma from the peaches. It’s a balance on all three sides.

Got any awesome food pairing ideas for Eric’s Ale?

I’m always big on soft cheese, so any kind of Brie or Camembert. I’m really partial to Ashley from MouCo [a local Fort Collins cheese company]. It’s got an ash coating on the outside. Those can always be topped with some type of fruit preserve of your choice.

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