The drive from Itterbeek to Beersel isn’t a long one. Just long enough for us to develop a plan: grab some food at a vendor around the corner from Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen. Then head in to the brewery and drink some great lambic. There was a tent outside with lambic being poured. Loved it.
While I had been to Toer de Geuze twice before, I had paid a visit to Armand, Lydie, and crew a day or two before the big event in 2009 and 2013. I had heard the brewery was crowded during TDG, and I had heard correctly. Business is very good at the “Three Fountains” brewery, and despite some rain showers, people were lined up to visit 3 Fonteinen in multiple groups of 25 or so. There was also a long line to buy beer and other goodies in the gift shop. (The pate is excellent. You heard it here.)
It’s great to see 3 Fonteinen doing so well these days. Just as good is the taste of their new lambics: they had a year-old version on that was reminiscent of those from Girardin: a bit more “spicy” than those of Boon or Lindemans. The new 3 Fonteinen brewery, which I wrote about in much detail, with photos, here is pretty high-tech, yet still great for brewing lambic beers, Armand mentioned. It was just christened in March, 2013, so look for older lambic and more blends in the future. The brewery still uses wort from other lambic breweries as well, as they have always done, and this will likely continue.
Unluckily for most visitors that day, the 3 Fonteinen Framboos (raspberry lambic) that had been much sought after in February and March had sold out about a month before Toer de Geuze, but there was plenty of Oude Geuze and Oude Kriek on sale. Luckily for me and our group, a friend had saved me a bottle, which I picked up while at the brewery. I decided to make my benevolence known and share the bottle with our group. Excellent beer, very jammy and fruity and with noticeable funk. Some beer lovers think it will be best drunk very fresh, but I would guess it will hold up for several years. I’m sure some people will cellar their bottles for a few years and find out, but I’m sure my remaining three bottles…, uh, I mean, mine are already all gone. Scouts honor.
Once again, we ran out of time and the next stop called, lest we miss a blendery or brewery this trip. Next up was Brouwerij Lindemans of Vlezenbeek, on this party rainy and cloudy afternoon. I had just visited the brewery on the first of September, 2014, and written about their new expansion and new beers in this article in All About Beer Magazine (on-line) in January.
Lindemans is a big site, about the same size as Brouwerij Boon. They still have an old copper brewhouse, while their bottling line and storage warehouses are brand new. I was able to visit their old brewery last September, where their old open mash tun still resides. Lindemans doesn’t have as many foeders as some of the other lambic breweries, but they are adding more. Co-owners Dirk and Geert Lindemans, who are cousins, have seen the demand for traditional, unsweetened lambic beers rise steadily in recent years, and want to help meet that demand by making more lambic, and more of their Cuvée René Oude Gueuze and delicious Oude Kriek. The latter is sadly not available in the U.S. Yet, anyway. I know I’m not the only beer lover stateside who wants to see this happen. The Oude Kriek is a worthy brew, and it would be nice to have it imported stateside.
Lindemans really went all out for Toer de Geuze this year. There was a large play area for kids, and as large a play area for adults (read: a huge area set up in a warehouse for the purpose of drinking, nay, savoring, spontaneously fermented adult beverages.) Hundreds of people were inside and outside the brewery during our visit, and thousands visited over the course of the seven hour day. Lindemans also had some fine meal choices on offer, so I indulged in some sustenance while savoring an Oude Gueuze Cuvée René Special Blend 2010, which had been released to the public the previous week. See my aforementioned All About Beer piece for details. There was also an old lambic on offer that we all all savored.
I set out to find Dirk Lindemans and introduce him to our group, as I wanted them to meet him and see if they might have any questions about his lambic brewery. I was able to locate Dirk within about 15 minutes, and introduced him first to Stu, and then to the rest of our tour group. Dirk was very engaging, and spent a good but of time talking with us, and I could tell people were happy to meet him. They most likely would not have been able to meet Dirk if they had not been part of our tour.
After just over an hour and 15 minutes of well-spent time, we had to head off again. It was getting late in the day, about 3:30 pm. Time for more beer. Lambic beer.
On page 6, we continue on to the village of Dworp, and the Hanssens Artisanal lambic blendery.