Saturday, February 2, 2013

A night in the woods with New Belgium

New Belgium's Lost in the Woods 2013What do you get when you cross over 500 enthusiastic craft beer fans, a forest of foeders, tasty appetizers and live music? You end up Lost In The Woods with New Belgium Brewery. Fort Collins' largest craft brewery threw a big party last night to help celebrate the 2013 releases of two of their popular sour beers. New Belgium's La Folie Sour Brown Ale 2013 and Transatlantique Kriek took center attention among the shadows of the tall wooden foeders in a first of its kind private ticketed party inside the brewery.

One of the employees stated that over 550 ticketed fans and around 125 special guests were invited to participate in a Sold Out evening of wood-aged beer, hors d'oeuvres and live music from "Mamma Lenny & the Remedy". A long line started queuing outside the New Belgium Brewery just after 6:30pm for the 7:00pm event on February 1st and by the time the doors opened, the line had snaked all the way out to Linden Street. Parking was scarce if you got there late and the neighboring streets were all filled with cars. Luckily, however, many attendees rode their bicycles to the event and got close in "parking" near the door.

Fans poured into the Liquid Center, adjacent conference rooms and into the cavernous foeder room nicknamed the "Cache La Foeder" to sample the latest releases of sour ales and listen to staff members describing how these beers were made. Within the wood cellar room were 35 of these tall French oaken containers that are used to age several varieties of New Belgium's sour beers. The foeder room was dark and lit only by candle light and white holiday lights making the atmosphere seem almost like a dark forest. Images of trees were projected against the walls as well and wonderful live music filled the air. A few dozen whiskey barrels were also in use to age other smaller batch beers.

Entrance to the wood cellar Candlelit taps among the foeders Attendees get lost in the woods
Click any image to enlarge.

In all the years that New Belgium has been open, they had never before attempted an event like this. Packing nearly 700 people into the brewery all at once was not an easy task. Moving around between the tap room, the conference rooms and the cellar rooms was a bit difficult, but manageable. Attendees were given 3 tokens for full size glasses of sour ales on tap, or whatever other beer that was available on tap in the main Liquid Center.

A virtual forest in lights Mamma Lenny & the Remedy Foeders and Fun

Stationed at several of the pouring tables were brewmaster Peter Bouckaert and wood beer specialists Lauren Salazar and Eric Salazar. They described the beers they were pouring as well as the science and craft behind the wooden foeders and sour beers.

Take-home bottles at the door Tap lines were busy Standing room only

At the end of the night, attendees could trade in their ID bracelet for a take-home bomber bottle of either La Folie 2013 or Transatlantique Kriek as a memento of the evening. The party ran between 7:00pm until 10:00pm and was well attended not only by craft beer fans, but the media and other local brewers as well.

Peter Bouckaert pours and talks beer A packed Liquid Center A nitro pour

While sour beers may be an acquired taste for some, this was a golden opportunity for New Belgium to showcase the large foeder cellar they had put together over the course of the last couple of years. It's a one of a kind spectacle in Colorado. No other Colorado brewery is doing this on such a massive scale as New Belgium. It's hard to imagine the volume of beer stored in those containers.

Pouring sour ales Glasses waiting to be filled Beers in the dark

The atmosphere, the food, the music and let's not forget the beer were all spectacular. New Belgium pulled off a great event and has seemingly cleared the way for other such events at the brewery in the future.

So many choices Waiting to get in Cheers to sour beer

Related articles:
- Throwback beers included in New Belgium Folly Packs.
- New Belgium is now completely employee owned.
- 2013 brings new Lips of Faith beers from New Belgium.

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