Do the Zwanze

Video: Jean Van Roy, Cantillon’s owner and brewer, speaks about the reason he started Zwanze day and about the beer released for the 2019 edition.

Jean Van Roy, Cantillon’s owner and brewer, was busy at the upstairs bar at the brewer on Zwanze day, 28 September. There was the usual hubbub of beer nuts in the bar at 13h. Sitting across from him were three of the owners/brewers from Brasserie de l’Ermitage, which is just down the road.

They were having a couple bottles before they open in an hour or so. It is a typical day but not so typical. To celebrate Zwanze Day, Van Roy dusted off a few gems from the cellar, available for drinking at the brewery: 50°N-4°E 2017 and 2018, Menu Pineau, Nuit Bruxelloise, Drogone Lambic, and Zwanze 2017 and 2018 editions.

I drank the 50°N-4°E editions and the Drogone Lambic with Stavros, a local fan of gueuze, who had brought along some lovely Belgian snacks to go with the beer. The delicacies were Kip Kap, diced and pressed meat made from pickled pig cheeks and gelatin, and tête pressée à l’ancienne, head cheese made with beef fat. Others at the table share some other their Menu Pineau and Nuit Bruxelloise with us, including Dave, a Cantillon fan from Manchester, who seems to spend six months in the place: I love beer culture when people share and partake alike in drink and stories.

Zwanze hype

Zwanze Day is celebrated at select bars around the world. Cantillon releases a new brew and the selected bars sell tickets to the event, when the beer is poured at a set time. Here in Brussels, Zwanze was celebrated at Moeder Moeder Lambic Fontainas and Moeder Lambic Original. A ticket cost €7 and gets you a glass.

I went the Moeder Lambic Original event, mainly to avoid the crowds at the Fontainas bar. The beer was poured at 21h. It is usually from the barrel, but this year something was wrong with the keg, so we were presented with pours from a bottle.

It is a tasty Zwanze 2019. Van Roy says he used a small quantity of smoked malt because he wanted to keep the flavor of the beer balanced, without overpowering the traditional characteristics of the lambic.

The beer was blended after two years of barrel aging, on 26 January 2018, then conditioned in the bottle for 20 months.

“This beer has developed the classic flavors and aromas typical of a gueuze, a subtle woodiness, a slight fruitiness and a dry finish with a fine acidity,” he says. “The delicate smokiness principally on the palate, brings a touch more complexity to this beer, without smothering the typical character of our lambic.”

Sailing away

Meanwhile the guys from l’Ermitage are also there for another reason. This was the day they were launching la Vente d’Est from Brasserie des 4 Vents, a side project by Van Roy. Vent d’Est is a blend of the wort of l’Ermitage’s Noire du Midi with Cantillon’s 3-year-old lambic.

At the l’Ermitage launch the brewery also featured their  Chai 1 (Saison + Cantillon Lambic blended and aged in a white wine barrel), and Chai 2 (a blend of Noire du Midi with Cantillon’s Kriek and Rosé de Gambrinus).

Moeder Lambic Fontainas also featured a new beer from Cantillon, a collaboration with Luka Sanzin, an biodynamic aronia grower from Northwestern Italy. Cantillon blended the aronia with 2-year-old lambic.

Photos: Zwanze Day wanderers

Zwanze Day 2019 participants

Australia
• Besk Bar, West Leederville
• Bucket Boys, Marrickville

Austria
• Tribaun, Innsbruck

Belgium
• Moeder Lambic Fontainas, Brussels
• Moeder Lambic Saint-Gilles, Brussels
• Mi-Orge Mi-Houblon, Arlon
• Rose Red, Brugge

Canada
• Dieu du Ciel, Montréal, Québec
• Birreria Volo, Toronto, Ontario
• Bells and Whistles, Vancouver, British Columbia

China
• Beer&Barrel谷木, Shanghai

Denmark
• Himmeriget, Copenhagen

Finland
• Stadin Panimobaari, Helsinki

France
• La Fine Mousse, Paris
• La Capsule, Lille
• Brasserie du Mont-Salève, Neydens
• Au Poêle de la Bête, Toulouse
• Le Sur Mesure, Nantes

Germany
• Café Herman, Berlin
• Mon Petit Café, Stuttgart

Great Britain
• Cork & Cage, Birmingham
• Six° North, Aberdeen
• Moor Beer, Bristol
• Beermerchants Tap, London
• Brownhill & Co, Leeds

Italy
• Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà, Roma
• Abbazia di Sherwood, Caprino Bergamasco
• LambicZoon, Milano
• The Drunken Duck, Quinto Vicentino
• Malto Gradimento, Reggio Calabria
• Ottavonano, Atripalda
• Birre & Mondo Crudele, Crema
• Storie di Pinte, San Lazzaro

Japan
• Wine no Oozisama, Nara
• Kiya, Nagoya
• Popeye, Tokyo

Norway
• Nøgne Ø, Grimstad

Netherlands
• De Bierkoning, Amsterdam

New Zealand
• Garage Project Wild Workshop, Wellington

Russia
• Eric the Red, Moscow

Spain
• Masia Agullons, Sant Joan de Mediona

Sweden
• Zum Franziskaner, Stockholm

Switzerland
• Bière Café Au Trappiste, Bern

United States
• Alewife — Long Island City, New York
• Armsby Abbey — Worcester, Massachusetts
• Avenue Pub — New Orleans, Louisiana
• Bagby Beer — Oceanside, California
• Beachwood BBQ — Seal Beach, California
• Brick Store Pub — Decatur, Georgia
• Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar — Denver, Colorado
• De Garde Brewing — Tillamook, Oregon
• E9 Brewing Co. — Tacoma, Washington
• Fonta Flora Brewery — Morganton, North Carolina
• Green Bench Brewing Co. — St. Petersburg, Florida
• Hill Farmstead Brewery — Greensboro, Vermont
• Holy Grale — Louisville, Kentucky
• Jester King Brewery — Austin, Texas
• Monk’s Café — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
• Novare Res Bier Café — Portland, Maine
• Redlight Redlight — Orlando, Florida
• Row 34 — Boston, Massachusetts
• Russian River Brewing — Santa Rosa, California
• Sante Adairius Portal — Santa Cruz, California
• Schera’s Restaurant and Bar — Elkader, Iowa
• Side Project Brewing Cellar — Maplewood, Missouri
• The Sovereign — Washington D.C.
• Spuyten Duyvil — Brooklyn, New York
• Thin Man Brewery — Buffalo, New-York
• The Veil Brewing Co. — Richmond, Virginia
• Hopleaf Bar — Chicago, Illinois
• Yazoo Brewing Co. — Madison, Tennessee

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