I posted last week that Lauren Salazar, head of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith program, would be in Baton Rouge this Wednesday. Well, I got to hang out and drink some great beers with her and the New Belgium and Mockler Beverage team last night. Lauren is very excited about what they have going on at New Belgium, especially the huge expansion of their barrel program that’s coming up. They’ve recently purchased a bunch of new foudres, which is Flemish for “big ass barrel,” roughly translated anyway. New Belgium went from 16 to 31 last year, and by December, they will be at 62. So that’s a ton of potential for sour beers. So her job is getting a lot tougher. She said right now she feels like a kindergarten teacher, with 31 kids that she knows well. Doubling that and learning all the new barrels and their character and how they react will be a huge challenge, especially since the new ones are in fact, brand new, meaning they’ve never held any wine.
The good news is that 2014 will bring a lot more sour beer in the Lips of Faith lineup. More La Folie and a reprise of Le Terroir, a dry hopped sour, are both on deck. I was fortunate enough to get to try both of those on draft, as well as from the bottle last night, and was able to bring a bottle of each home. Plus a bottle of Transatlantique Kriek that was very limited. We also got to taste Cocoa Mole, which was great, and Tart Lychee.
Some exciting news is that New Belgium and Three Floyds will collaborate on a beer next year, according to Lauren. They will be making a Grätzer, which is a traditional Polish style smoked wheat beer, brewed with a good bit of hops. And knowing Three Floyds like I do, I have a feeling there will be a LOT of hops. I also asked her about the artwork for it, and she’s almost as excited about that as she is the beer, because Three Floyds has some great labels. It’s definitely something to look forward to next year.
For those of you who missed Lauren in Baton Rouge last night, you’ll be able to catch up with her at Avenue Pub in New Orleans Friday night. Go check it out, and talk with New Belgium’s master blender of sour ales.