3 FONTEINEN’S OUDE GEUZE is our fifth BrewView for our LAMBICS, SOURS, AND WILD ALES feature that carried over into March from February 2016.
We’ve read a lot about Armand DeBelder and his world class 3 Fonteinen brewery. In January 2016, Rate Beer.com held it’s “RATE BEER BEST AWARDS” to recognize the best in several industry categories. In the TOP BREWERS IN THE WORLD category, out of the top 100 listed, 3 Fonteinen was voted as #3.
We picked up our bottle (US market /gold label) at THE LOCAL BEER BAR in Eureka, California during our travels to the coast back in September 2015. Our other bottle (Belgian market / green label) was sent to us courtesy of Stu Stuart of BELGIAN BEER ME! BEER TOURS.
ABOUT BROUWERIJ 3 FONTEINEN
3 Fonteinen is the only remaining traditional Geuze blender in Belgium, using only 100 percent spontaneously fermented Lambic beer, aged in oak casks, with no artificial sweeteners or other additives. The blendery is connected to the very popular Drie Fonteinen Restaurant in Beersel, on the outskirts of Brussels. The proprietor, Armand DeBelder, buys pure Lambik from three breweries in Belgium, (Lindeman’s, Boon, and Girardin) ages them in oak, and blends them, employing the skill, knowledge, and supreme passion for real geuze that his father handed down to him. Drie Fontenein’s Geuze and fruit Lambiks (cherry, raspberry) are rare, highly prized, and indisputably among the best of Belgium. (Source: Shelton Brothers)
In 2013, the brewery celebrated “60 years of tradition and craft from father to son”. The brewery held a special party to commemorate this event- there was a very special banner hung on the outside of the brewery that illustrated the timeline and key moments of the brewery, from 1953 to 2013.
You can view more pictures of this event at 3 Fonteinen’s Facebook page.
BEER STYLE AND COMMERICAL DESCRIPTION
Style category: Belgian Oude Geuze / Lambic
A true Geuze- a blend of 1, 2, and 3 year-old Lambic, unfiltered and unpasteurized, and aged in he bottle for at least a year after blending. Refermentation in the bottle gives this Geuze its famous champagne-like spritziness. The Lambic that goes into it is brewed only with 60% barley malt, 40% unmalted wheat, aged hops, and water, spontaneously fermented by wild yeasts and matured in oak casks.
For decades, Armand DeBelder has worked as a Geuze blender- just as his father did- mixing young and old Lambics from other Lambic brewers to create the classic beer of Belgium. Armand has lately begun brewing his own Lambic. The Drie Fonteinen beers are among the very few traditional and authentic Geuzes and Lambics being made in Belgium today.
Bottle date (Belgian market version / green label): October 17, 2013
Bottle date (US market version / gold label): December 7, 2012
OUR BREWVIEW on 3 fonteinen oude geuze
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
6% ABV. (although at 3 Fonteinen’s website, it says it is at 7% ABV and at Shelton Brothers website it says it is at 6.5% ABV- we have included a picture below of both bottle labels showing it is at 6% ABV).
Poured into a beveled tumbler glass (we tried to find a glass similar to the classic beveled tumblers used in Belgium to drink Geuze beer from) and served at 57°F. Pours a pale to deep golden color. SRM value, 5. The dense, white colored head poured an easy 3- finger height, with large and small bubbles (we did ensure that it was a “Beer Clean” glass). The rim variation color is slightly lighter.
There was nice gentle bubbling in the beer as we held it up to the light. The meniscus is medium rising. We did not rouse up the yeast in the initial pour, as to experience the overall complexities with and without it in the glass. It did have a slight cloudy haze to it, and 6-7 minutes after the initial pour, it continued to hold a nice 1/4 inch head- very impressive.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
When we opened up the bottle, we could smell the bouquet from at least a foot away from the glass. You immediately the classic aromas- brett funk, barnyard mustiness, oyster mushrooms, wet hay, meyer lemon pith. We heard another beer reviewer say that he got “burnt tire rubber” aromas from it… interesting.
There is a very old feed and farm supply in Livermore, California (where we are originally from) aptly named LIVERMORE FEED AND FARM SUPPLY. I used to live right across the street from it. It has been there since 1922, and has a very distinct “house aroma” of mustiness, wood, and of course, hay. The aromas of this beer immediately took me back to those memories of walking around the old building…
Well balanced flavors of tart meyer lemon, funk, slight touch of earthiness. The Belgian market version (green label) was actually softer in the intensity of the flavors than the US market version (gold label) which was a bit sharper in the taste.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
The mouthfeel in the Belgian market version was also softer in the mouthfeel than the US market version. The Shelton Brothers version was more puckering, and slightly more acidic in the finish. Both versions hit the tip of the tongue with its effervescence, and permeate the back of the mouth with their sourness / tartness. Fino sherry dryness in the finish.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Same as the other Geuzes / Lambics we have previously BrewViewed- We would suggest pairing with the following cheeses- Blue, Gorgonzola, herbed Goat cheese, Sharp Cheddar, Stilton. Washed rind and Trappist cheeses would be a fantastic experience. Light garden salads with fresh greens would make a nice lunch due to the beer’s low ABV.
ENTRÈES: Same as the other Geuzes / Lambics we have previously BrewViewed- Moule en Frite for sure, wide variety of seafood, pork, foul. Would pair well with pastas with white cream sauces to cut the richness and offer a nice balance in the meal. Sushi, Weisswurst with sauerkraut. Paling in ‘t groen would be fabulous.
DESSERTS: Same as the other Geuzes / Lambics we have previously BrewViewed- The one dessert we could wholeheartedly recommend would be plain cheesecake.
The classic beer style of Belgium is exquisitely represented here. We have always said to those that we have introduced Belgian beers to for the first time, that Belgian beers and their classic styles are the most difficult beers to make. We feel none more so than the masterfully blended Geuzes- Armand DeBelder’s offerings fall in that category.
If you’ve never been to a classic Lambic brewery (or a blendery) you are missing out on some of the most wonderful aromas of earthiness, mustiness, (and of course, wood) from the multitudes of barrels and well ingrained house aromas. We always imagine the sights, sounds, and smells of a blendery as the Geuze is being created, when we drink this style of beer.
Geuze blenders like Armand DeBelder are like parents caring for their children as they merge different Lambics of different ages for the making of this style of beer. They watch, monitor, guide and nurture the precious liquids along their way. The English author Joeseph Hall said, “Perfection is the child of time.” Indeed, time is needed to artfully crafted masterpieces such as 3 Fonteinen’s Oude Geuze. When you realize that this style of beer is not quickly nor easily made, it causes you to appreciate and savor your time with it all the more. This is an essential, must have Geuze, if you are a fan of the style. One can picture Pieter Bruegel’s “The Harvesters” or “The Peasant Wedding” in their mind’s eye while enjoying this world classic.