For beer drinkers around the world, Zwanze Day is a much anticipated yearly event. This day celebrates the release of Cantillon's Zwanze, a special release lambic series which began in 2008. Zwanze Day 2018 takes place on September 29th.
Cantillon Brewery is located in Brussels, Belgium and is a world-renowned producer of lambic beer and gueuze beer. We’ve posted on this blog in the past that when they expanded to a bigger location in 2015, Cantillon sprayed their walls with beer to assist in perfecting their “spontaneous fermentation process” and ensuring that the brewing environment remained the same.
So what makes Lambic beer unique?
Lambic and Gueuze are both sour beers brewed using spontaneous open fermentation. This unique process naturally uses the yeast from the brewery and region in which it resides only - no yeast is added by the brewer. Most breweries “pitch”, or add a specific type of yeast to the mash, but not so with lambic style. Lambic alcohol content typically ranges from 5%-7% ABV, and are much appreciated by beer lovers for their distinctive flavor. Authentic gueuze and lambic beers are so rare because they are specific to the Senne River Valley in Belgium. The yeasts specific to this region and their fermentation process give these beers their unmistakable taste.
What do Lambic beers taste like?
Lambic beers are known for their sour, fruity taste. People who taste lambic beers also will notice an earthy, barnyard note that seems to honor the natural fermentation process. These beers are noted for being very crisp and easy drinking despite the amount of flavor packed into them. The reason Zwanze Day is so highly anticipated among beer lovers is that each year, Cantillon's batch is so different from the last, again due to their open fermentation.
This year’s Zwanze produced by Cantillon is a blend of three separate batches aged in different wine barrels: Sangiovese, Amarone, and Chianti. Cantillon brewmaster Jean Van Roy describes the 2018 Zwanze as “a fruity beer with notes of mango and citrus and a fine, lingering mouthfeel. Its wine-like character is not only evident, but accentuated by a slight woodiness. The Zwanze 2018 should be tasted at cellar temperature.” If you get your hands on some for home enjoyment, be sure you use a tasting glass worthy of this beer drinker's dream:
- Anchor Hocking Belgian Beer Glass
- Libbey Belgian Beer Glass
- Rastal Teku Stemmed Beer Glass
- Spiegelau IPA Craft Beer Glasses
Are Lambic beers healthy?
As far as being a "health food" or something like that...well, it's still beer. As far as beers go though, lambics do have many health benefits that other beers do not. Despite its sweetness, there is very little residual sugar in lambic beer. It is more of a probiotic than other beer, which can help with heart health and with one's digestive system. There are less hops in lambics than most beers, and hops tend to be a testosterone inhibitor, so less hops means better for the health of both men and women. Cantillon beers specifically are certified organic in Belgium, so that's another positive as far as being relatively healthy. A common misconception is that all Lambic beers are gluten-free. This is incorrect.
What's the difference between Lambic and Gueuze?
Well, the difference is that gueuze is lambic, but lambic isn't gueuze. Does that explain it? No? Ok. Well, gueuze is a blend of one, two, and three years aged "straight" lambic beers. A straight lambic means that it has not been sweetened by with fruit. The gueuze blends these straight lambics together and ages them in a wine barrel, adding a different layer of flavor to this style of lambic.
More About Zwanze Day
The local event held in Brussels keeps growing every year, and now comes complete with entertainment, great beer (of course), and costumes.
I'm sure some of you are itching to try the 2018 model of this great beer. Unfortunately Zwanze Day tickets are an EXTREMELY hot item, with many of the lucky breweries chosen reporting that they sold out in minutes! Most locations will be selling some of Cantillon's other batches during the event for people who didn't get tickets, such as last year's Zwanze. With all the beer connoisseurs attending their bars, many locations are using this event as an opportunity to push out some of their own new barrels. Check it out, here's a map of the locations where the event will be held in the USA:
And here’s the full list of locations, per the brewery’s Facebook page:
2018 Zwanze Day Locations - 9/29/2018
|Venue||City||State / Province|
|Beachwood BBQ||Seal Beach||California|
|Mikkeller Bar SF||San Francisco||California|
|Russian River Brewing||Santa Rosa||California|
|Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar||Denver||Colorado|
|St. Somewhere Brewing Co.||Tarpon Springs||Florida|
|The Porter Beer Bar||Atlanta||Georgia|
|West Lakeview Liquors||Chicago||Illinois|
|Schera’s Restaurant and Bar||Elkader||Iowa|
|Avenue Pub||New Orleans||Louisiana|
|Novare Res Bier Café||Portland||Maine|
|Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales||Dexter||Michigan|
|Side Project Brewing Cellar||Maplewood||Missouri|
|Alewife Brewing Company||Long Island City||New York|
|Spuyten Duyvil||Brooklyn||New York|
|Thin Man Brewery||Buffalo||New York|
|Fonta Flora Brewery||Morganton||North Carolina|
|De Garde Brewing||Tillamook||Oregon|
|Jester King Brewery||Austin||Texas|
|The Masonry Fremont||Seattle||Washington|
|The Sovereign||Washington D.C.|
|Moeder Lambic Fontainas||Brussels||Belgium|
|Moeder Lambic Saint-Gilles||Brussels||Belgium|
|EAP – Emporio Alto dos Pinheiros||Sao Paulo||Brasil|
|Dieu du Ciel||Montréal||Canada|
|The Drake Eatery||Victoria||Canada|
|Stadin Panimo Baari||Helsinki||Finland|
|La Fine Mousse||Paris||France|
|Brasserie du Mont-Salève||Neydens||France|
|Au Poêle de la Bête||Toulouse||France|
|Le Sur Mesure||Nantes||France|
|Mon Petit Café||Stuttgart||Germany|
|The Clink||Birmingham||Great Britain|
|Six° North||Aberdeen||Great Britain|
|Moor Beer||Bristol||Great Britain|
|Beermerchants Tap||London||Great Britain|
|The Pilcrow||Manchester||Great Britain|
|Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà||Roma||Italy|
|abbazia di Sherwood||Caprino Bergamasco||Italy|
|The Drunken Duck||Quinto Vicentino||Italy|
|Ristopub Margherita||Quartu Sant’Elena||Italy|
|Birre & Mondo Crudele||Crema||Italy|
|Storie di Pinte||San Lazzaro||Italy|
|The Town of Grimstad||Grimstad||Norway|
|Garage Project||Wellington||New Zealand|
|Mikkeller Bar Warsaw||Warsaw||Poland|
|Eric the Red||Moscow||Russia|
|Masia Agullons||Sant Joan de Mediona||Spain|
|Bière Café Au Trappiste||Bern||Switzerland|
Even if you weren't able to score a ticket and just get a chance to check out the 2017 Zwanze, it's worth it to attend and see for yourself what all the fuss is with this style of beer that has become so world famous. Cheers!