After an interruption of four years, Brewery 3 Fonteinen has started to brew their own lambic again. Last weekend, the new brewing installation was inaugurated in the presence many dignitaries, including famous Belgian chef and gueuze fan Jeroen Meus. Master brewer Armand Debelder is delighted with his new, 4,000 liter-installation. The eco-friendly, shiny installation looks very modern, but the brewers still have the possibility to control the whole process manually, allowing them to create exactly the lambic that they want. ‘I am very happy that thanks to our hard work, to the commercial genius of my wife Lydie and to the reputation of our regional product ‘Oude Gueuze’, we have managed to turn the tide’, says Armand.
And the tide has turned indeed, because for a long time it looked like the brewing days of 3 Fonteinen were over. It was in 2009 that a broken thermostat turned their warehouse into a sauna, and destroyed some 50,000 liters of gueuze. This was the brewery’s entire annual production. The brewery was on the edge of bankruptcy, and they had no other choice but to sell their brewing installation.
But they fought back. They sold all their old vintage gueuze to fans all over the world to generate some cash. Meanwhile Armand, who had been following a distillery course, had the brilliant idea to turn the ruined gueuze into an eau de vie with an alcohol content of 40% and named it ‘Armand’Spirit’. Both initiatives were a big success and the future started to look much brighter already.
Brewer-blender Armand had also decided to go back to blending lambic that he bought from other lambic brewers in the region like Boon, Girardin and Lindemans. Befriended brewer Frank Boon even agreed to brew lambic for them exactly according 3 Fonteinen’s original recipe. This allowed Armand to continue creating gueuze with a similar flavor as before.
For a long time it looked like the brewer-blender had turned into a blender. He even declared from time to time that he was too old to start brewing again. But last year he decided to start brewing again, and since last weekend he has a brand new brewing installation to do so. The new installation is not big enough to fulfill the large demand that there currently is for 3 Fonteinen Gueuze, but it will cover about half of the production. The rest will still be made as before. People visiting the brewery, will now not only have the chance to taste 3 Fonteinen’s gueuze, kriek and eau de vie, but they will also be able to see the brewing process. A family brewery that has existed since 1953 is now, after a four-year interruption, back in business, and this to the great delight of gueuze fans all over the world.