Tag Archive: 3 Fonteinen


3 Fonteinen: Hommage (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Dark cherry red. Hazy. Thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Light horse blankets. Oats. Light acidic apple. White wine. Black cherry and red cherry mix. Mashed raspberries. Sherry. Cake sponge.

Body: Tart. Tomatoes. Oats. Lightly bready. Raspberries. Cakes sponge. Tart cider. Sour white grapes. Sour cherry. Sour pear. Greenery.

Finish: Tomatoes. Yellow raspberries. Cucumber. Tart air. Bitter dustiness. Raspberry. Cherry. Twigs. Oats. Sour cherry sweets. Dried raisins. Smoke. White wine.

Conclusion: Ok, something causes me to taste a tomato like character in specific lambics – I say that as it happened to me again with this one. I am starting to develop a hypothesis that it is the interaction of the sour cherry with the lambic base that causes it – as it seems to come only with beers that specifically use sour cherries. I could be wrong though, will keep an eye on it.

So, yeah this has that tomato set of notes that I don’t really find pleasant. Thankfully they are far less evident here than in previous beers I have encountered them in, so it doesn’t impact the beer too much, but it is still there.

Aside for that the base of this beer is lightly acidic, not too heavily so, instead leaning more towards a kind of cloying sourness that meshes with the tomato notes – A thick, oat, muesli and raisins kind of character, heading out into a dusty, slightly smokey bitterness in the finish

The beer is surprisingly savoury – coming into the tart raspberry and grape notes much later on that you would expect – then ending up in a light, dry white wine character that comes out. So you have a lot of savoury, backed with light tartness with a thick savoury-sour and thick, slightly musty feel to the character.

As time goes on the tomato notes recede allowing a more tart, sour cherry flavour coming out in a kind of sour sweets kind of way – it is much better here, and more full bodied, still over that more savoury than usual base though.

It is interesting, and the range of characteristics as it goes from cool to warm is very large, but I can’t overly say I like it. It feels cloying and considering the cost this goes for I really can’t recommend it for just finding it interesting. An unusual lambic, but unfortunately kind of sub average for enjoyment.

Conclusion: OK, this was bloody expensive, so I had to think hard and do a bit of research into it before finally grabbing it from Independent Spirit – it is a lambic made in memory of Gaston Debelder , the foudner of 3 Fonteinen and is made with 30% raspberries and 5% sour cherries. Sounded interesting, and had bloody good rep online, so I decided to shell out the cash for it. Continuing my attempts to put on awesome music for beer, I put on the indie pop joy that is Grimes – Visions – an utter burst of bright joy in music.

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3 Fonteinen: Zwet.be (Belgium: Porter: 7% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin to middling creamy brown head that leaves suds but has a quite short lifespan.

Nose: Sour red wine. Black cherry. Coca dust. Rum soaked raisins. Chocolate liqueurs.

Body: Tart black cherry. Charring. Black cherry sour sweets. Salt water. Cold stones. Touch of Pocari Sweat drink. Bready. Soft pineapple. Dry raisins. Lightly tart.

Finish: Charring and bitter character. Oats. Bitter cocoa dust. Brown bread. Salt water. Cloying coffee notes. Soft pineapple. Dry Madeira. Tart apple.

Conclusion: The sour stout, or in this case sour porter, is one of the odder styles to have come out of recent years. In fact if anything this is somehow both more odd and more restrained that previous examples I’ve tried. Maybe it is more odd because it is more restrained. Which may need some breaking down to make sense.

The nose provides full on mix of sour wine, fruity experience with chocolate hints – it is something really fresh and bursting with flavour. Unfortunately the rest of the beer is not that.

The body is drier, with charred notes and even a slightly salty character – it is full of the heavier, rougher notes that can come with a porter. The tarter notes are there, but as gentle additions not super sour intrusions – it gives dark fruit early on, but somehow late on lambic like green fruit and pineapple hints give very subtle fresher notes.

Warmth gives it more of what you would expect – tart black cherry and spirit soaked raisins – chilling really hurt this, making it far too pedestrian. Warmth makes this reasonable – still quite dry, but with fruit range of both dark and light fruit. The biggest disappointment is the porter backing to that. The porter character is often relegated to a dank (in the cold wet cave style of the meaning, not the resinous hop style of the meaning) background that seems to bring down the sour notes rather than enhance them.

Overall an ok beer, but one of the weaker sour stouts/porters I have encountered.

Background: So, something more than just a bit unusual here – a beer from 3 Fonteinen, celebrated sour beer makers, but according to a quick google brewed at De Proefbrouweij – a famed contract brewer. I’m guessing they did that to prevent yeast infection issues from the wild yeast. Anyway, this one is a porter brewed with lambic yeast. So, yeah, odd as heck. Drank while listening to some Siouxsie and the Banshees for appropriate backing to that oddness. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Horal's Oude Geuze Mega Blend 2013

Horal’s Oude Geuze Mega Blend 2013 (Belgium: Lambic – Geuze: 7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy banana yellow. Large tight bubbled white head. Lots of carbonation in the body.

Nose: Lightly like fresh crusty bread. Light apples. Dried apricot. Fresh. Light grapes. Oatmeal.

Body: Sherbety. Sour white grapes. Tannins. Champagne. Lychee. Apples. bready and yeastie. yellow raspberries. Mango. Dried banana. Light custard sweetness under the acidity.

Finish: Dry oak. Oatmeal. Fresh cut apples. Vanilla. Funky yeast – puff crisps. White wine. Mango. Lychee.

Conclusion: Well, I say “god damn”!. I guess having all those different lambic breweries to go to for samples to blend really gives Horal a hell of a lot to work with. Should have been self evident really, but it is always surprising to see it work in practise. This is lovely, just acidic enough to give a slight dryness, but then packing a huge fruit explosion for flavour.

I think the trick is, while it has that mouthfeel of being like a dry white wine, the fruitiness is sweet and embedded deep within the beer. You can almost imagine fruit syrup oozing up out of the middle of it to your tastebuds. Because of that you get the freshness and mouth tingle, that oatmeal dry aroma, and the dry feel in the mouth- all of which says lambic so well and leaves your mouth feeling scrubbed clean, but you also get mouth watering tropical fruit.

Alone that fruit would feel just like alcohol fruit juice, a style that is fun but wears out its welcome quickly. Backed by the wine like character as it does here, it just boasts a tremendous complexity that transcends the wine comparison used so often for lambics. This could only be done as a beer, and more than that only as a lambic. There is a weight to it that belies the dry wine character and gives it depth.

Utterly refreshing, utterly complex. One of the finest geuzes I’ve had the fortune to be able to try.

Background: Broke this open as a reward for myself after doing a massive clean up job on the apartment, chucking out or recycling everything I didn’t need. Took best part of a day. Picked up from Independent Spirit, this is a blend of lambic from (deep breath) 3 Fonteinen, Boon, Timmermans, Oud Beersel, Lindemans, De Troch, De Cam, Hanssens and Tilquin. I may have spelled some of those wrong knowing me. Whew. Of those Tilquin is the only one I have not tried before. Incidentally, the cork on this popped out nice and easy. Wish more did that.

tuverbol

Loterbol: 3 Fonteinen: Tuverbol 2012 (Belgium: Sour Ale: 10.6% ABV)

Visual:Hazy lemon juice, fizzes up a large white head of short lifespan. When refilled later the sediment turned it a cloudy apricot colour.

Nose: Peanuts. Dry. Brown bread. Fruit juice of an unspecified nature.

Body: Sweet peach. Tart lemon. Cream. Peanuts. Dried apricot. Syrupy feel. Brown bread. Fruit syrup. Slightly soured cashew nut bitterness. White wine.

Finish:Yeastie character. Candy floss. Tart apple and apple pie. Sugar dusting. Custard. Peanuts. Sharp lime. Charred oak. Whole meal bread. Dry cider. Lemon sherbet.

Conclusion: Hmm. Hmmm. Hmmmmmmmm. Ok, half sweet tripel, half dry lambic. I can wrap my head around that. It makes sense, why wouldn’t you ditch another beer into a lambic? Of course.

Now, the aroma promises quite a standard lambic. It is dry, nutty and bready. There is a touch of slightly tart fruit juice, but nothing outside the expected range. At this point I was expecting maybe a decent lambic, but disappointment on the cool innovation front.

The body is where I realised I had come to my conclusion too soon. First sip gives you some slight cider tartness, but predominantly you notice a slightly syrupy texture, candy floss and light esters. Sweet but with lemon sharpness. It seems the tripel has the upper hand, forcing the lambic to back its plays.

Slowly however the balance of power changes. Dry peanuts and cloyed bitter cashew nuts come out. The dry white wine like acidity rises, making the body seem less thick and more sharp. The sweetness is still there, but the Tripel proves to be a switch, going from dom to sub with ease.

If you top up the beer, pouring in the sediment with it, as I did, then the balance shifts again. I’m not sure if it is the sediment, or just the pouring disturbing the body once more, but peach and dried apricot return with a light hop like character. You get the a mix of ripe fruit to cider tartness as the balance restores.

Through this all the finish manages to embody all of the sweetness, dryness and tartness along the full lifespan. The beer is never fully a lambic, nor a tripel. It is always a mix. The closest I can compare it to is the heavily hopped lambic betelgeuze, but that was still recognisably a lambic. This beer is, so far in my drinking experience, unique.

(Now I am sure you are all going to tell me the similar beers you know of. Beer nuts that you are. Please do. I love recommendations)

A lovely beer, not exceptional as a lambic, nor as a tripel, but excellent in how it brings the two together. The only reason it isn’t a favourite is that I feel that once people have more practise with the style they can do more – as sur munk showed with the darker quad to sour beer mix. As is it is still a high quality and distinctive beer.

Background: Now this one I just had to pick. I saw it at Corks Of Cotham, and from the plain bottle had no idea what it was, so asked one of the staff members. She explained it was lambic mixed with Belgian tripel. I think I have once heard of something similar (mentioned in 100 Belgian beers to try before you die), but never tried one. So of course I bought it. This is the 2012 edition, drunk 2014.

Drie Fonteinen: Beersel Lager (Belgium: Bohemian Pilsner: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Very pale. Lightly coloured and hazy, only a slight yellowing to the body. Manages a large frothy ice cream head however.

Nose: Smooth yet zest. Ground lemon peel. Malt. Ice cream Sunday, or maybe cream soda.  Husked corn. Coriander. Strawberry cream centres.

Body: Wheat and cream soda. Lemon meringue. Strawberry cream. Light bitter back and grapefruit.

Finish: Condensed cream. Orange juice. Some bitter and hoppy elements that move into slow growing bitterness. Pineapple.

Conclusion: This is a seriously nice lager. All sweet cream soda and fruity sweet freshness for the first part, then rides into just enough bitterness to bite.

I did take a while to decide if the cream soda styling could be interpreted as a good thing, as it is very distinct and unusual. After realising my disappointment when the glass was empty I could but conclude that yes, it is a good thing indeed.   Better still, this unusual element is but one element of the beer and it has plenty more to keep your interest.

I’ve noticed a lot of craft brewers try to do a take on the various lager styles and try to make it a bit more interesting, most end up losing that which makes lager work in the first place without adding enough to compensate. This on the other hand plays to the style and adds flavour as well as any I have run across.

Easy to drink, fruity sweet, definitely different and with a nice touch of hops.  If only it was easier to get over here I could happily drink it through all the years’ summer days.

Background: Brewed at the De Proef Brouwerij as Drie Fonteinen is set up more for the lambics.  This beer is one I’ve been keeping an eye out for, but only found finally on a visit to Gent. Bohemian Pilsner is a beer style I only found out existed whilst researching the background of this beer, I hope all beers of this style are this nice.

Drie (3) Fonteinen: Oude Kriek: Schaerbeekse Krieken (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: A dark just slightly hazy black cherry red with deep burgundy touches, with medium bubbles and no head on first pour, later pours are cloudier and hold a purple red bubbled head.

Nose: Wood, twigs and black cherries. Sharp, musty and filled with nettles. Gooseberries and mint. The aroma just rolls out of the glass.

Body: A sour sharp mix of gooseberries and black raspberries. Twigs, slight cheese and slight fruit sweetness  Red wine touches. Some odd treacle and a touch of strawberries. Very tart. Black cherry, a curd sourness and slight yoghurt.

Finish:  Greenery, sour and blackberries and Tayberry. Twigs. Dry with slight lemon and hard pastry touches.

Conclusion: Either I’m finally getting used to lambic sharpness or this is one of the best examples of the style I’ve run into, or possibly both.

Admittedly the tale about the rarity of the berry crop that makes it adds a bit of zest to the proceedings, but its full bore and unusual fruit flavours and great balance of sharpness is what keeps your attention.

Another beer that gets richer and stronger as you descend through the bottle, it has all the great fruit lambic elements with sharpness, a dry cheese element, and fruit taste and aroma with great gusto. It manages this without the sharpness becoming overpowering or that teeth drying acidic feel.

A very deep and almost red wine like character, really rich and fruity. A fine beer of character and balance, this is the beer that finally convinces me that lambics can be truly great beers.

Background: A nice background to this one, Initially heard about from the “100 Belgium beers to try before you die” book. Schaerbeekse is apparently a rare berry crop that has fallen out of favour, with easier and more profitable crops being produced by most.   Thus this beer is made irregularly to allow for enough berries to be harvested.   I have not tried Schaerbeekse itself, so had in this tasting  I had to compare instead to other berries I have tried.  After much searching, the beer was finally found in Bruges and was saved for a special tasting where I shared it with friends.

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