Monday, June 1, 2009

Drie Fonteinen Spirit on the Way.

Props to Steven Vermeylen at Hier Stroomt het Bier! for a solid update on the situation at Drie Fonteinen. Yes, it's in Dutch. But since he's done all the work, all we have to do is translate it. International newsgathering at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.

To review and clarify: On May 16 a busted thermostat in one of Armand's storage facilities pushed temperatures up to around 60° C (about 140° F) for as long as 36 hours. This effectively ruined the flavor of about 100,200 bottles—representing about 49,000 liters of beer. Some bottles exploded while the rest were completely oxidized. According to Armand that was a whole winter's worth of bottling, valued at €224,000.

Meanwhile Armand and friends have successfully distilled a test batch of the lambic at the Distillerie de Biercée in Thuin, not far from Chimay. The plan is to go forward with the distillation, which should produce about 8,000 half-liter bottles of a fine, unique, genever-like drink. The spirit would go on sale at the Lambikodroom tasting room at Drie Fonteinen, and possibly elsewhere. Buying some would be an excellent way to help out Armand, Lydie, and the brewery.

On May 30, Vermeylen reports, about 30 gueuze lovers met bright and early in Halle to help Armand destroy some beer and prepare about 10,000 liters for the trip to Halle. Fellow brewers and blenders have also offered their assistance.

"I am broken over what happened, but the solidarity is heartwarming," he said.

Again: Hat-tips and head-nods to Steven. Great report.

A side note: Regarding the Distillerie de Biercée, when I spoke with Armand last week he wondered aloud whether some Flemish friends would raise their eyebrows at working with a facility in Wallonia. He almost seemed to enjoy that possibility—"I'm very Flemish," he told me, "but I'm also very Belgian."

And for those of us who love Belgian beer in general, that sentiment is heartwarming as well.


  1. I just wanted to add an update to this story. The spirit called "Armand'Spirit" is done and the Eau de Vie is excellent.

    I'm not a big fan of strong alcohols like whiskeys and cognacs, but I and my friends really enjoyed this. It has a complex, dry flavor, but strangely it's slightly sweet. I say strangely because there's no sugar. Any sugar would have been eaten by the yeast in the production of the gueze. It's very smooth and tastes nothing like Gueze initally, but it's in the backgorund of the flavors. I wish I could describe this better, but I'm no alcohol critic; just a girl who really enjoyed this.

    It's delicious and it's currently for sale at LambikOdroom.