Aficionados of sour brews are sure to recognize the name of Brussels, Belgium brewer Cantillion. The brewer is renowned for creating some of the world’s best lambic brews and its brewery is always on the itinerary when visiting Belgium. Back in 2008, Cantillion brewed and bottled the first of a special series of beers dubbed Zwanze, a word that refers to a sarcastic sense of humor in the Brussels dialect.
That first beer – a special lambic with rhubarb added – led to more in the series created with untraditional ingrediants, thus Zwanze. As the beers became more and more sought-after, Cantillon brewer Jean Van Roy used his Zwanze series to bring lambic enthusiasts together around the world for Zwanze Day.
At first the celebrations were sporadic and unscheduled. They depended on who could get the brews and when they could be procured. But, in 2011, the Zwanze series was released to select bars and taverns simultaneously world-wide. Zwanze Day had been born and has grown every year since.
This year the celebration will take place on Saturday, October 1 and include more than 60 establishments, 27 in the United States. The closest venue to Jacksonville this year is Playalinda Brewing Company in Titusville, Fla. The event will be hosted at the brewery’s new Brix Project building.
With this release, Cantillon is looking to their past for the recipe of the Zwanze Day brew. Thirty years ago Cantillon created a framboise, a lambic aged on raspberries. Back in the ’80s they used fresh fruit that lost its color quickly and often made filtration difficult, so cherries were also used to help maintain some rosiness and act as a secondary filter bed beneath the raspberries. Vanilla was also added to round out the brew. But when more modern techniques were perfected to maintain color Cantillon began producing Rosé de Gambrinus with 100% raspberries. With Zwanze 2016, the brewery decided to give a nod to the raspberry/cherry blend, but used blueberries instead of cherries.
Additionally, several other Cantillon lambics will be available at the event including:
- Gueuze: a blend of one, two and three year old lambics.
- Kriek: two year old blended lambic with sour cherries.
- Mamouche: lambic blended with elderflowers.
- Iris Grand Cru: an unblended three-year-old version of the brewery’s Iris lambic. Only pale malt is used in the mash along with plentiful hops.