If you are a beer lover visiting Brussels, the a visit to the Cantillon is likely at the top of your to-do list. As the last operating lambic brewery in Brussels, this is not just a visit to a brewery, but a piece of history as well.
I visited the Cantillon brewery in Brussels a number of times throughout 2013, including a visit in September for their Zwanze Day event both at the brewery and at the Moeder Lambic pub in Brussels. One of the best benefits of visiting the brewery in person is that you can often sample beers that are not available for retail sale and take-home consumption, but only for sampling on site. You also have the opportunity to tour the working brewing facilities during your visit, which is quite a treat as this is a true visage of old-time brewing traditional methods.
Cantillon has seen a large amount of growth recently, including the use of Brussels’ old abandoned bomb shelter for cellaring their beers for up to thirty years and an expansion near their current brewing facility that will double their brewing capacity. They also recently purchased a large new addition of barrels in which to age their lambics. This should lead to increased production of their current line of offerings, and hopefully new offerings in the future?
Zwanze day is an annual event that Cantillon holds, in which they brew a small batch of an experimental beer and offer it for sale in a select group of pubs around the world. This beer is usually a different style each year, and is something other than a traditional Cantillon lambic. This allows the brewers to experiment and take part in the fun, semi-sarcastic humor of Brussels, the true meaning of the word zwanze. For 2014, the Zwanze beer is called “Cuvée Florian“, and is a blend of Cantillon Oude Kriek, with 40% less fruit, and Iris Grand Cru, aged for three years in a 400-liter cask, with no secondary fermentation. This beer was initially made as a one-off for Jean van Roy’s son’s 18th birthday, and has now been elevated to Zwanze 2014.
Zwanze 2015 will be a spontaneously fermented stout called Wild Brussels Stout. The beer was initially brewed in March, 2013 and was a candidate for Zwanze 2014, but was held back in favor of the Cuvee Florian.
Zwanze 2016 is expected to be a fruity lambic blend of raspberry and blueberry, with the tartness offset by some natural vanilla.
Here is the list of bars around the world participating in Zwanze Day 2016. All of the bars listed below are supposed to be tapping the beer at 9:00PM Brussels Time, with the ceremony led and broadcast over the internet by Jean van Roy, Master Brewer at Cantillon, typically from the Moeder Lambic – Fontainas pub in Brussels.
Here is the video of Jean van Roy introducing Zwanze 2013:
Most of these bars will be selling tickets for the event, which often sell out quickly. Contact the pub you wish to attend at to see when tickets will be available and book yours as soon as you can.
– The Scratch Bar — Brisbane
– Tribaun — Innsbruck
– Moeder Lambic Fontainas — Brussels
– Moeder Lambic Saint-Gilles — Brussels
– Mi-Orge Mi-Houblon – Arlon
– Rose Red — Brugge
– Dieu du Ciel — Montréal, Québec
– Birreria Volo — Toronto, Ontario
– The Drake – Victoria, British Columbia
– Himmeriget — Copenhagen
– La Fine Mousse — Paris
– La Capsule — Lille
– Stadin Panimo Baari — Helsinki
– Café Herman — Berlin
– Kernel Brewery – Bermondsey
– North Bar — Leeds
– Six° North — Aberdeen
– Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà — Rome
– The Dome — Nembro
– LambicZoon– Milano
– The Drunken Duck — Quinto Vicentino
– Ristopub Margherita — Quartu Sant’Elena
– Ottavonano — Atripalda
– To be confirmed
– To be confirmed
– De Bierkoning — Amsterdam
– Garage Project – Wellington
– Nogne O — Grimstad
– Masia Agullons — Sant Joan de Mediona
– Akkurat — Stockholm
– Erzbierschof — Zurich
– Anchorage Brewing Co. — Anchorage, Alaska
– Armsby Abbey — Worcester, Massachusetts
– Avenue Pub — New Orleans, Louisiana
– Bagby Beer — Oceanside, California
– Beachwood BBQ — Seal Beach, California
– Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar — Denver, Colorado
– De GardeBrewing — Tillamook, Oregon
– Fool’s Gold — Manhattan, New York
– Green Bench Brewing Co. — St-Petersburg, Florida
– Hill Farmstead Brewery — Greensboro, Vermont
– Holy Grale — Louisville, Kentucky
– Jester King Brewery — Austin, Texas
– Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales — Dexter, Michigan
– Mikkeller Bar — San Fransisco, California
– Monk’s Café — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
– Novare Res Bier Café — Portland, Maine
– Playalinda Brewing Co. — Titusville, Florida
– REAL a Gastropub — Honolulu, Hawaii
– Russian River Brewing — Santa Rosa, California
– Schera’s — Elkader, Iowa
– Side Project Cellar — Maplewood, Missouri
– Slow Boat Tavern — Seattle, Washington
– Spuyten Duyvil — Brooklyn, New York
– The Sovereign — Washington D.C.
– Thin Man Brewery – Buffalo, New-York
– Trillium Brewing Co. — Canton, Massachusetts
– West Lakeview Liquors — Chicago, Illinois
– 1 more place to be confirmed