Listening to the Barrels with Lauren Salazar

Dale with Lauren Salazar


New Belgium Brewing sensory specialist, Lauren Salazar, visited Sioux Falls Monday February 25 and Tuesday February 26.  She attended a beer dinner at Bros Brasserie Monday and presented a Sour Beer Seminar at Monk’s House of Ale Repute Tuesday.  I was able to visit with her Tuesday about her work at New Belgium.

Lauren supervises the barrel program of 35 foeders (large wooden barrels) and numerous smaller barrels.  These vessels hold 4000 hectoliters (1 hectoliter = 100 liters) of fermenting beer.  She “listens to the barrels” using her sensory specialist skills developed over 15 years of experience at New Belgium and specialized training (sensory science) at the University of California at Davis.  She then works with others that “feed the barrels” to come up with the delicious sours and other great beers offered by New Belgium.  Her skills are critical to producing good sours because poor management would end up creating huge vats of vinegar!

The dinner was delicious with great pairings and a full house (see the list below).  The pace of the dinner worked well.  Lauren and Chef Ryan Tracy explained the menu item and New Belgium beer pairing for each course.  There was time to enjoy the meal, beers and company.  Bros Brasserie was recently awarded a restaurant of the year award from the South Dakota Pork Producers in January.  It’s a good place to eat when in Sioux Falls!

Friends Erica, Richard & Luke enjoying a Fat Tire at Bros Brasserie
Friends Erica, Richard & Luke enjoying a Fat Tire at Bros Brasserie

The Sour Beer Seminar was sold out at Monk’s.  Lauren gave a PowerPoint presentation about the sour beer program at New Belgium.  We sampled four great sour beers during the evening (it’s not easy to even locate one of these due to  high demand).  It was a fun evening spent with great beer and area beer geeks.  My favorite beer of the session was the Le Terroir (dry hopped with Amarillo hops).

New Belgium Tart Lychee at Monk's House of Ale Repute
New Belgium Tart Lychee at Monk’s House of Ale Repute

New Belgium will soon be doubling their Ft. Collins barrel program, so hopefully more of their good sours will be headed our way!


Beer Dinner

Cocoa Mole & Lava Cake

Fat Tire

La Folie paired with several cheddar cheeses

Transatlantic Kriek paired with lobster mac & cheese

Heavenly Feijoa Tripel paired with duck ala orange

Cascara Quad paired with cane syrup glazed pork belly

Cocoa Mole paired with chocolate chipotle  lava cake


Sour Seminar

New Belgium tap handles at Monks
New Belgium tap handles at Monks

La Folie

Le Terroir

Tart Lychee

Oscar Sour Apple Whiskey (aged in a Leopold Bros Apple Whiskey barrel)

Thanks to Lauren, Kosta Theodosopoulos (SD New Belgium representative) and  New Belgium Brewing for these events!  Thanks also to Bros Brasserie Americano and Monk’s House of Ale Repute for hosting!