Beer Review: NEW BELGIUM LA FOLIE 2018

Beer Review: NEW BELGIUM LA FOLIE 2018

In the visual department, New Belgium’s La Folie 2018 makes a marked departure from its predecessors. The transition from silk-screen bombers to punted, heavy gauge glass bottles with a corked and caged presentation is a noticeable upgrade. The minimalist design, featuring smaller, formal font and textured paper labels, is reminiscent of Belgian lambic aesthetics—a deliberate move, it seems. While this redesign exudes class, the pivotal question remains: does the transformation extend to the beer within?

Upon uncorking, there’s a satisfying pop, and fortunately, no foamy eruption follows. The pour into wine stemware reveals a clear, dark brown liquid, crowned by an impressively resilient foam that stands guard for over ten minutes. The absence of yeast sediment, though unexpected, adds to the intrigue.


Diverging from its predecessors, the 2018 version of La Folie accentuates the brown ale base in its aroma. Pumpernickel bread and whole wheat cracker mingle with saltwater and tamarind pulp, creating an unusual symphony of scents. As the beer warms, dark cherries, raisin bread, and black olives emerge, crafting a nose that might bewilder the uninitiated.


Expecting the trademark tartness, the flavor profile of La Folie 2018 unveils a cleaner acid blend compared to earlier vintages. Citric and malic acids take the lead, reminiscent of lemon juice and sweet tarts, while the anticipated balsamic vinegar notes are pleasantly restrained. With a sourness rating of 7/10 and negligible sweetness, this “dark beer” surprisingly falls into the light-bodied category. The absence of the sweet and sour interplay found in previous iterations is a welcome departure, presenting a more straightforward mix of flavors. Toasted dark bread, bran muffin, and whole wheat cracker from the base brown ale meld seamlessly with red wine undertones, creating a refreshingly simple yet balanced experience.


The aftertaste of La Folie 2018 elevates its status from very good to world-class. A harmonious dance of lactic, malic, and citric acids lingers on the palate, complemented by the enduring structure provided by the barrel tannins. Lemon juice contributes without overpowering, delivering a nuanced and satisfying conclusion. This beer’s mouthfeel suggests a maturity that hints at careful aging, with tannic oak prevailing over citric acidity—a noteworthy departure from expectations.


This year’s rendition of La Folie appears to be a significant improvement. The speculated blending with non-sour or less sour beer imparts a balance that enhances the robust brown ale flavors, often overshadowed by intense balsamic notes. The beer achieves a level of refinement that positions it as the Bordeaux wine of the beer world. New Belgium’s decision to allow this version ample time for maturation has paid off, resulting in a well-rounded and softened mouthfeel that distinguishes it from its predecessors. La Folie 2018 emerges as a commendable addition to the lineage, marking a noteworthy stride in New Belgium’s brewing prowess.