Lambic Alert! Drie Fonteinen
Seeing that Shelton Brothers van pull into the lot always makes us happy, especially when it’s delivering Drie Fonteinen beers.
Drie Fonteinen hails from just south of Brussels. The name is flemish for “three fountains,” so they are often referred to in short as “3F.”
Drie Fonteinen is one of the top quality and renowed brewers and blenders of authentic Lambic. Lambic is a specific style of beer brewed only in the Senne Valley of Belgium. They aren’t fermented with traditional pitched brewer’s yeast. Rather, the hot wort is pumped into a large shallow, open-topped container called a coolship and as it cools, wild yeasts and bacteria fall into the liquid. The following morning, the wort is transferred to barrels for fermentation. The naturally occuring yeast in the air do all the work. Over a period of months to years, the beer ferments. Lambic is one of the only styles of beer where a true sense of terroir is evident. It’s no surprise they often get compared to wine.
A major sub-set of lambic is Gueuze. Gueuze is a blend of 3 different ages of beer: 1 year old, 2 year old, and 3 year old. The older portions provide funk while the younger portions provide unfermented sugars that allow re-fermentation in the bottle. This gives gueuze its champagne-like qualities. Light in mouthfeel, spritzy, but full of sourness, minerality, funk, and fruity-esters, gueuze is a complex type of lambic that will hold up to extended time in a cellar.
We’ve received a limited quantity of Cuvee Armand & Gaston at all 3 locations. Also referred to simply as “A&G,” this is one of their best gueuze blends that sees stateside-distribution. Over the past couple of years, 3F has changed their packaging to include more detailed information on batches. Since this beer is blended from barrels, each batch number can produce a different tasting beer. All are still gueuze, but different beer from different brew-days will give differing qualities, if anything due to differences in the yeast/bacteria that was present in the air on a particular day. Lambic is not a style of beer that easily lends itself to a homogeneous product…
This particular bottling (2017/18 season, batch 12) features lambic culled from 9 different barrels originating from 11 separate brews. Other batches contain differing combinations of barrels, and sometimes even feature light additions of ingredients such as honey or lavender. This beer is given a 20 year best-by-date, however if cellared under ideal conditions, this beer would develop in the bottle for decades.
Drie Fonteinen has massively grown their operation the past couple of years, in large part due to the explosive demand for lambic, but also in commitment to being at the forefront of producing and protecting a very traditional product. We hope to see more and more of their beers as time goes on and output increases, but this is very much a “get it while you can” situation. It could be months before we see their beers delivered again. These are available at all 3 stores while inventory lasts, $31.99 per 750ml bottle.
Jeremy Morton | Beer Manager
Mike’s Wine & Spirits KC