image of New Belgium's Vrienden courtesy of our Flickr pageCollaboration. What does this mean to you? To some it's working together for the common good. To others it's a decision to do something for evil. In the realm of craft beer, it usually means two brewers or breweries merging for one singular event promoting cooperation. Last year (2010); Fort Collins' New Belgium and Portland's (Maine); Allagash joined forces to create a beer brewed with hibiscus flowers, endive and fermented with wild yeast strains lacto' and brett'.

The result is a Wild Ale that was described by the brewery as a slightly sour beer with a floral nose and tastes with a slightly dry finish. For us this was yet another beer that defied definitions and forced us to think outside the box.

The Brewers Association describes this style both lager and ale as this …

A wood- or barrel-aged sour beer is any lager, ale or hybrid beer, either a traditional style or a unique experimental beer that has been aged for a period of time in a wooden barrel or in contact with wood and has developed a bacterial induced natural acidity. This beer is aged in wood with the intention of introducing the micro flora present in the wood. Sometimes wood aging is intended to impart the particularly unique character of the wood, but wood-aged is not necessarily synonymous with imparting wood-flavors. Wood character can be characterized as a complex blend of vanillin and unique wood character. Wood-derived character can also be characterized by flavors of the product that was in the barrel during prior use. These wood-derived flavors, if present in this style, can be very low in character and barely perceived or evident or assertive as wood-derived flavors. Any degree of wood derived flavors should be in balance with other beer character. Fruit and herb/spiced versions may take on the hue, flavors and aromas of added ingredients.  Usually bacteria and ―wild‖ yeasts fermentation contributes complex esters and results in a dry to very dry beer. Ultimately a balance of flavor, aroma and mouthfeel are sought with the marriage of acidity, complex esters, and new beer with wood and/or barrel flavors.

image of New Belgium's Vrienden courtesy of our Flickr page Vrienden is an American-style Wild Ale that pours burnt orange and clear, with an initial strong, white foamy head. As the beer begins to warm up the froth disappears, only leaving a small wreath of lace inside the glass.

Taking a sniff we detect strong notes of bubblegum, along with a slight element of peaches. As we continue to analyze the aroma we almost forget to take a sip, which is rewarded with hints of candy sugar.

As the beer courses along our tongue we begin to reminisce about dry cider, and sour apples. Overall this beer feels light on the palate but don't fooled, this beer can sneak up on you both in weight and alcohol.

Brewery Description

Get a Belgian Brewmaster and a master of Belgian brewing together and theres sure to be spontaneous imagination that leads to micro-organisms mingling in fermentation.

Allagash and New Belgium are pleased to offer you our collabeeration brewed with the slightly fruity hibiscus flower, the aromatic Brettanomyces, and the flavor-boosting Lactobacillus.

We recommend pairing it with creamy, soft cheeses and charming Vrienden - thats friends in Flemish

image of New Belgium's Vrienden courtesy of our Flickr page Our Thoughts
You Should Try This. Traditionally when one utters the words Wild Ale thoughts immediately gravitate to breweries like Russian River or Lost Abbey. Like the rest of the Lips of Faith series beers, it's rewarding to see a large scale craft brewery willing to take a chance from time to time.

If you are like me and pondering something at the grocery store to go along with this, we suggest cheeses that offer a bit of funk (limburger, gorgonzola) or maybe grab a box of field greens, a bit of tuna and go to town.

Thoughts by your Colleagues


About the photos’ author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.

In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.

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