Monthly Archives: June 2013

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2013 is Saturday, September 14

Bottles of Cantillon Zwanze 2013 in Brussels Belgium

It feels like just yesterday that it was Zwanze Day 2012, but this year’s version is right around the corner.

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2013 will be held on Saturday, September 14, according to a post on the Belgian brewery’s Facebook page, though no additional details on the actual Zwanze brew or the locations have been released yet.

Zwanze Day is held once a year, and it’s when Cantillon releases a small amount of an experimental beer, usually an interesting take on a lambic, at select beer bars across the word. (Learn more about Zwanze Day and check out my Zwanze adventures last year at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Mass.)

I recent shared a look at the 2013 Zwanze in bottles at the Cantillon brewery in Belgium, and I shared some information on a unique beer that may become the 2014 Zwanze brew. But this is the first official information I’ve heard about Zwanze 2013. Mark the day on your calendar right this instant, and stay tuned to this blog for updates on locations, which I will post just as soon I find them.

UBN

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Buying Belgian Beer Online and Shipping It to the US

Belgian beer bottles Cantillon Fantome 3F Rodenbach

A few of the beers I purchased from BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet

Being the Urban Beer Nerd that I am, I’m always on the lookout for rare, hard-to-find, unique and limited-release brews. Many of my favorite breweries are located in Belgium and elsewhere overseas. Often these breweries’ most unique beers are released in very limited quantities, and the brews that do make it to America are often difficult to locate and/or very expensive.

So a few months ago, I started researching ways to buy my own Belgian beer online and then ship it to Boston, where I can sit in the comfort of my own home with the rare beer of my choice. I was sick of only being able to drink Cantillon beers a few times a year and paying an arm and a liver for bottles when I could find them.

I came up with the following two websites, which I’ve since ordered from at least three times each and had no problems: BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet (BieresGourmet.be).

Before I go on, a warning seems appropriate: When you order beer online, you do so at your own risk. Depending on where you live, it may not “legal” in the strictest sense of the word to buy beer online from an international retailer to ship to your locale. And in many cases, shipping companies will not accept and deliver packages with beer in them.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll say that personally, I have not had any issues ordering beer from BelgiumInABox.com or EtreGourmet. And when the sites declared the contents of my boxes of beer, as is required by Customs, they usually wrote something like “lambic glassware” or “collectible bottles,” which was technically true because I usually bought glassware in addition to beer.

Anyway, both of these sites offer reasonable prices on beer from my favorite Belgian breweries, including Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Fantome, Rodenbach, Tilquin and Blaugies. Shipping is expensive, but it’s not too much more than the markup you’d pay for a rare bottle at a beer bar or through a retailer. For example, the last time I ordered from BelgiumInABox.com, I purchased a 750ml bottle of Cantillon’s 2013 Kriek Lambic Bio (about $13), a 750ml bottle of 2012 Fantome Saison (about $9) and a 3 Fonteinen gueuze glass (about $16) for a total of roughly $38, and the shipping cost around $43.

My previous EtreGourmet order looked like this: a 750ml bottle of Rodenbach Caractère Rouge (about $20) and two 375ml bottles of Oude Quetsche Tilquin 2012-2013 (about $25 for both). The shipping was about $53.

The shipping is expensive, but I’ve been willing to pay it for beers I would not otherwise be able to find in the United States. I feel confident my payment card information is secure, because BelgiumInaBox uses Ogone for payment processing, a well-known and trusted Europe payment processing service, and EtreGourment accepts PayPal. And both sites have HTTP Secure Web pages for payments.

My packages of beer arrived in great shape, and overall, I’m very pleased with the experience with both BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet. Another site that’s been recommended to me is BeerPlanet.eu, but I’ve heard rumors about some of the site’s shipments being held up in customs, so I never ordered from them.

I probably shouldn’t even be writing this post, because it may draw unwanted attention to these sites and services, but fuck it. A post like this would have been helpful to me when I was trying to fine reputable sites to order from, so I wanted to share my experiences.

UBN

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Cantillon Blåbær Blueberry Lambic ’13 Bottled Today, Very Limited Distribution

Cantillon Blåbær Blueberry Lambic label

I like Cantillon beers. A lot.

I’m always seeking news ways to obtain the incredibly-rare lambics, and I keep a close eye on the brewery online and in social-media circles.

This morning, Cantillon announced via Facebook that its super-exclusive, you-can’t-fucking-have-any-unless-you-live-in-or-near-Belgium lambic made with blueberries, Cantillon Blåbær, was bottled today. Only a single barrel, or 300 liters, was made. It will be shipped out at the end of June, but Blåbær will only be available at a specialty beer shop in Copenhagen called Ølbutikken. (“Ølbutikken” translates to The Beer Shop.)

Unfortunately, Ølbutikken doesn’t ship beers, but you can contact them and ask them to hold bottles for you if you plan to be in Copenhagen within the next month or so.

I will not be in Copenhagen anytime soon, so I guess Blåbær is going to remain on my Must-Have Beers list for the foreseeable future.

UBN

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Tuesday is Gueuzeday

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Ya heard? Tuesday is gueuzeday, at least in these parts.

I like to celebrate the death of the start of the work week and the coming of humpday with a nice, room-temp tumbler of Belgian gueuze – preferably Cantillon or Tilquin. The gueuze pictured in the image above is Gueuzerie Tilquin’s fantastic Oude Quetsche Tilquin A l’ancienne, a top-notch gueuze made with plums. I’ve never seen this one for sale in the United States; I shipped mine in from Belgium. So you probably won’t be able to find this particular spontaneously-fermented beverage. But I strongly suggest running out to your local purveyor of fine beer right now so you too can partake in the Guezeday festivities.  If nothing else, it’s an excuse to drink on Tuesday.

UBN

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Anchor California Lager Now Available Outside of the Golden State

Anchor California Lager Label

I’ve been drinking Anchor Brewing Co. beers for years. I’m a big fan of Anchor Steam and its Liberty Ale, in particular. So, a few months back, when I heard that Anchor was brewing a new beer – a recreation of an old brew – I was rather excited to try it ASAP. I was equally disappointed to hear that the new brew, Anchor California Lager, would only be available in Anchor’s home state of California.

From Anchor Brewing:

“Anchor Steam’s roots go back to the Gold Rush, long before icehouses and modern refrigeration made traditional lagers a viable California option. In 1876, thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State, a little brewery named Boca created California’s first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager® is our re-creation of this historic beer.”

Last month I was in San Francisco covering Google’s I/O conference, and picked up a couple of six packs of Anchor California Lager. Normally, I’m much more of an ale guy, but I had been drinking IPAs and sour ales beforehand, and I felt like something a little lighter. California Lager fit that bill nicely, and at the time, I kept wishing that I could get the beer back home in Boston.

Yesterday, Anchor announced that I can, or I will be able to soon. California Lager will begin shipping to a number of new markets this month, and it will be available June through September 2013. The markets are as follows: Nevada, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

If you’re located in one of these states, I definitely recommend picking up a sixer of California Lager post haste.

UBN

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