Are you ready for some ... beeeeer (and dogs)? The Washington State Cougars are back, and with that brings peak beer-drinking season. Baxter is here to guide you with delicious beers and adorable photos.
It was a busy off-season. My job has taken me all around the U.S. and in June to Europe, and on every trip Baxter sends a list of beers for me to acquire. On that June trip, I went to Belgium. I don’t know if you’ve heard this or not, but in Belgium, they make a lot a beer.
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My most favorite styles of beers are lambics — and when I say lambic, I’m not talking about those sweet fruit beers you get from Lindeman’s in the grocery store, I’m referring to what are called “old lambics.”
What’s the difference? The base beers are actually the same — spontaneously fermented wort from the Lambic region in the Senne River Valley of Belgium. Spontaneously fermentation comes from leaving the beer exposed to open air, typically in a vessel called a “koelschip” or coolship that exposes as much surface of the beer as possible.
There’s something about the yeast in the air of the Lambic region that produces excellent flavors. With old lambics, those flavors are achieved through aging and blending. The base style is a gueuze, which features a blend of one, two and three-year old lambics. For those sweet lambics I referred to earlier, the aging process is much shorter and sweetener is added.
Sour beers are increasingly popular in the United States, and old lambics would definitely fall into that category for most beer drinkers. Gueuzes typically have a funky, barnyard aroma and taste with subtle tartness. It’s common to add fruit, and sometimes more sour flavors are imparted from that, especially when adding cherries.
That creates the Kriek style, which is a blend of one, two- and three-year-old lambics aged on cherries. Baxter’s beer of the game this week is Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek (oude means old).
Drie Fonteinen (“Three Fountains” in Dutch) produces many of the best and most sought-after lambics in the world. It’s based about a 20-minute train ride outside of Brussels, where it has a brand-new facility. I was fortunate to visit that facility and try an extremely rare Drie Fonteinen beer while purchasing and shipping back many bottles of Kriek and Gueuze.
You can find Drie Fonteinen in the United States, but it comes and goes very quickly. I snagged a couple while I was in San Diego and few weeks ago, but they were gone within a day. I have also found lambic luck with random wine stores in Canada. It’s actually much cheaper per bottle, about half, to buy the beer at the brewery and pay the shipping fee versus buying it off the shelf in North America.
So, Baxter was pretty excited when a box arrived from Belgium jammed full of 18 bottles of Drie Fonteinen magic sauce. A tip: If you want to find similar lambic styles in the U.S. that are easier to find go for Girardin, Hanssens, Boon and the Lindemans “Cuvee Renee” series.
Craig’s Review: Heavy cherry on the nose, with some barnyard funk. When fresh, tastes like some tart cherry pie goodness. Lots of depth in flavors, slight tartness, infinitely crushable (if only it was easier to acquire).
Baxter’s Review: Yummy cherries. Yummy beer.
That’s what Bax and I will be having. What are you drinking on Cougar Football Saturday?