Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen | Intens Rood
A decade ago, in the early days of the ISO:FT message boards, 3 Fonteinen beers were the kids wearing pink on Wednesdays and making “fetch” happen. High bounties were paid for a Hommage, Framboos, or a rare Zenne y Frontera, with airline luggage fees serving as the general mode of transportation for this precious cargo.
Thanks to a huge increase in production and distribution, 3F beers are no longer the Charizard foil cards they once were. While this provides that constant IV drip of Oude Guezes, it also means that we get a few other Lambic oddities, such as the Intens Rood.
Each recent release of Intens Rood has it’s own unique origin story, berthed from a specialized blend of Lambics, with cherry maceration lasting between 6-10 months, resulting in a final fruit intensity nearly 30% higher than the standard Oude Kriek. Intense is the key word all around here, as even the color is reminiscent of that belligerent pitcher of red sugar-juice known for crashing through walls while yelling out affirmations. The ABV is buffed up to 6.5%, and much of the softness and balance that you find with the Kriek is gone, recast as a ’90s Nickelodeon X-treme version of the 3F you once knew.
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This ‘roided up approach isn’t a bad thing, and leaves the beer with a profile more like its American Wild cousins from across the Atlantic. While very tart, once you adjust there is a deep, deep, buying the expensive cherries at Whole Foods flavor that serves as the backbone for a complex beer. Healthy amounts of funk and carbonation moderate the sourness, and you get a nice grassy element on the finish. This helps avoid the cough syrup sweetness you often get with cherry beers, and instead encourages further exploration of your glass.
The 375ml bottle sampled here was just the right amount to let the tastes evolve; if you are not a greedy gremlin and plan on sharing with friends, try and find the bigger bottle. A single sip here is like watching the pilot of a television series and making your judgement on the whole 8-season run. Giving you a sly nudge with the recommended 20 years from bottling best-by date on the label, this cherry pie may actually be better if you can refrain from eating it off of the windowsill. Where this aging of a rare substance would have been a ludicrous thought 5-10 years ago, the prevalence of these bottles in the shops now makes it easier to buy one for immediate enjoyment, and then another to be devoured by your closet. The real question will be whether Intens Rood stays in that closet, or bursts out of it with a resounding “Oh yeah!” at the most inopportune moment.