New Belgium (CO)
Style: Sour Beer
La Folie, the flagship beer of New Belgium's specialty "Lips of Faith" lineup, is probably the sourest beer I've ever had. Just going to throwing that out there right now — I knew it had a reputation for being intense, and it is. Of course, that doesn't make it the best sour beer I've had.
More specifically, La Folie is maybe the most acidic beer I've had; it totally dominates the palate. As some of my friends pointed out, this beer can be best described not with an adjective but with that puckering mouth motion people do when tasting something extremely sour. It's so intense as to be almost one-dimensional, but there's such a huge rush of flavor that it doesn't strike me as a shortcoming.
New Belgium describes this as a "sour brown ale," which makes it essentially a Flanders Oud Bruin. It has a lot in common with traditional Flanders Reds: the malty smoothness, which makes for a nice slick mouthfeel, even if there's not much left of the malty flavor. Like I said, La Folie is anything but balanced, but it's unbalanced in the right direction.
La Folie is consistent most of the way through, though it loses some points for me in the aftertaste, when it fades to a sort of harsh, drying metallic note. Maybe, after all the semi-sweet salivating sourness, it's just an inevitable result of that intense acidity. I hesitate to call it a flaw, but La Folie isn't far away from being over-the-top. As a sour lover, that means I love this beer, though it's not quite complex enough to be one of the best. If you're on the fence about sours, though, you should probably work your way up to this one.
Availability: Probably not too hard to find in most of the country. New Belgium has a wide distribution range, however, it doesn't yet include most of the East Coast. So you won't find this in New York; my friends were kind enough to pick this up for me (thanks Kelsey and Rachel!) in Chicago.