Drie Fonteinen Doesjel: Intensely Sour

For those unfamiliar, gueuze is a blend of young and old spontaneously fermented lambic beer which is then bottle fermented. Gueuze tends to be given to a sour or tart flavor profile, and seems a bit more like a wine than a beer.  Lambics and gueuzes are admittedly styles that are an acquired taste. And I am still very much in the acquiring stages so my evaluations of such beers may be skewed given my lack of familiarity.

Drie Fonteinen Doesjel (bottle 6% ABV)- Gueuze- Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen, BEL
Grade: C

Woof.

Drie Fonteinen pours a slightly murky amber-tinged gold with very little carbonation. There’s a full, but not overpowering barnyard funk in the nose, which is interesting and not unpleasant: twang of wet hay with some light hints of fruit and something vaguely musky. A coppery metallic edge comes to the scent that is not so nice and hinting at vinegar. A warning of what lies ahead perhaps?

The taste runs along similar lines. At first there’s a quick fruitiness at the tip of the tongue; a hint of green apple. It disappears briefly into a nice tang and all too quickly slides to acidity that is similar to cider vinegar. At points I want to say there’s a smokiness to the flavor, but then often times it seems more acrid, burning rubber than smokey. In a very short time Drie Fonteinen goes from something different and interesting to something I never want to drink again.

On the up side the mouthfeel is good. It’s not thin and not thick covering the tongue quite well. It’s just a shame that the taste it’s conveying the tongue with is less than good. It was a struggle to finish the small bottle, so I have no choice but to view the drinkability as very low. It wasn’t a drain pour so I can’t rate it that low, but still after the first quarter it was a chore to drink.

I’ll be honest I haven’t had tons of experience with lambics and gueuzes, but I’ve had enough that I know that this is some rough stuff even for a gueuze. When the guy at the store referred to Drie Fonteinen as “intense” I didn’t expect that to mean sour to the point of being almost undrinkable. Maybe I just don’t have the palate for it. If you a sour fiend then maybe this would be right up your alley.

Cheers!
-John

(Purchased 10/17: Federal Wine & Spirits $6.99, 37.5cl bottle)

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A Real Cherry Of A Beer

Echte Kriekenbier (6.8% ABV bottle)- Flanders Red- AleBrouwerij Verhaeghe, BEL
Grade: B

I managed to snag a bottle of this as one of the perks of volunteering at BeerAdvocate‘s Return of The Belgian Beer Fest that happened a few weeks ago. (I know, I know I’m behind on giving and update on it. Fingers crossed this weekend I’ll get y’all just a snippet of what I managed to sample.)

Pours out dark ruby red, not unlike cranberry juice with a light pink head that foams up quickly and disappears just as quickly –think champagne with a slightly richer head– though a thin layer of foam does remain throughout.

You can smell the cherries as soon as you pour. There’s a bit of a sour tang underneath. Not unsurprisingly Echte Kriekenbier tastes a lot like it smells. At first there’s a tartness that’s pushed aside by a blast of sweet fruit juiciness followed up by a bolt of sour dryness. The carbonation is lively which helps to give it a bright mouthfeel. This is a nice tasting little beer, but not what you could call complex.

If you are looking for a gateway beer into the world of sour beers –Flanders Reds and the like– this is a good place to start. It gives you an easy going tartness that’s not too sharp or acidic and rewards you with lots of sweet cherry. For the accustomed sour fiend this might be enjoyable if a bit on the pedestrian side. Overall though, it’s pretty darn drinkable if you have even the slightest penchant for something in a sour.

Prosit!