Founded in the the municipality of Beersel, Belgium in the 1880s, Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen1 began its existence as a cafe and geuzestekerij, a place where young and old lambics acquired from other breweries are blended together to produce gauze. This changed in 1953, when the establishment was purchased from the mayor of Beersel by Gaston Debelder. Upon his retirement in 1982, the enterprise was then left to his two sons Guido and Armand, who continue to run it to this day.
Coming in at 5 percent ABV, the brewing process for the Drie Fonteinen Intense Red Oude Kriek is pretty straightforward: it is a blend of young—that is, not aged for any appreciable length of time—lambic with cherries added that has been aged in oak barrels. In fact, while traditional lambic kriek beers incorporate 25-30 percent of cherries by weight, the Intense Red Oude Kriek goes a step further by aging the beer with 40 percent cherries by weight, leading to a more “intense” fruit color and flavor.
The beer label adds a bit of information:
Made with malt, wheat, hops, water, and whole ripe cherries, entirely spontaneously fermented with wild yeasts. A rare, completely natural, traditional lambic beer, with no added sugars, syrups, artificial colors of flavors.
Drie Fonteinen has only released Intense Red Oude Kriek in bottles twice: the first batch was bottled on Nov. 13, 2012 and was released to coincide with the Toer de Geuze that took place in 2013. The second batch was bottled on May 2, 2014 and was released in early 2015. Both releases were packaged in 375ml corked and caged bottles.
While I am not sure I would call it intense, the Intense Red Oude Kriek pours an almost shockingly deep and dark red, with very little head that dissipates very quickly into a thin lacing that is white tinged with maroon. Unlike quite a few of the krieks I have enjoyed, the beer is opaque and the aroma coming from the glass is strong sour cherries, oak, fruit skin, vines and horse blanket with a bit of funk thrown in.
The profile of the Intense Red Oude Kriek starts about how I imagined it would, with sour cherries and creamy oak up front, along with notes of fruit skin, white pepper, yeast and almonds. The sour cherries are definitely dominant on the palate, but the note is most prevalent on the finish, where it is quite easy to pick out. Although there is very little sweetness overall, there is some nice funk on both the palate and finish that lingers after each sip. Carbonation is at a solid medium, while the mouthfeel is a bit thin, it is not thin enough to negatively affect the experience. The sweetness that is present is very authentic, and comes from the incredible amount of cherries that are used to make the beer.