Category Archives: Belgian Beers

Scenes from Allagash’s Wild Friendship Celebration with Cantillon, Russian River

AllagashWildFrienshipCelebrationYesterday, Allagash Brewing Co. held its Wild Friendship Celebration, with Brasserie Cantillon and Russian River Brewing Co., at the Allagash brewery in Portland, Maine. Allagash did an absolutely amazing job of arranging and organizing the event, which had a casual, festival-like feel, as beer nerds and brewers drank world-class brews and milled about Allagash’s tasting room, brewery, wild barrel room and a large tent outside.

For background, the Wild Friendship Celebration was a series of events to celebration and share a collaboration lambic, a blend of beers from all three brewing companies.  The three brewers contributed versions of their own spontaneously fermented beers, and two versions were made, one blended in Belgium by Cantillon’s head brewer Jean-Pierre Van Roy, and another blended by Russian River’s Vinnie Cilurzo and Allagash’s Rob Tod in Portland. The first event (called Quintessense) was held in Brussels last May at Cantillon’s location, the second took place last week at Russian River’s Santa Rosa, Calif., brew pub, and finally, Allagash held its event yesterday.

In addition to both versions of the Wild Friendship Blend, the three breweries shared a number of additional beers. (Hit this link for the full beer list.) And the brewers were on hand to chat with beer enthusiasts. I spoke with Russian River’s Vinnie Cilurzo and his wife Natalie, and they both got a kick out of this Boston boy’s knowledge of where to find their beers all around San Francisco, where I frequently work–and drink. I also chatted with Cantillon’s Jean-Pierre Van Roy, who was treated like some sort of Sour Beer God by many of the folks in attendance.

Here’s a first hand, beer nerd’s view of the Allagash/Cantillon/Russian River Wild Friendship Celebration day session. Click one of the photos below to open up a carousel of larger pics. (The image quality isn’t great in all of the photos. Blame my Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, which I used to capture the images.)

UBN

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Release Dates for Russian River Pliny the Younger 2014, Beatification

Russian River Pliny the Younger and Beatification

I just got the latest Russian River newsletter in my inbox, and it brings tidings of good beer. The brewery announced the releases dates for two of its most sought-after brews: this year’s version of Pliny the Younger, its double IPA, and Beatification, a spontaneously-fermented ale that’s produced in small batches and is inspired by one of my favorite Belgium lambic makers, Cantillon.

Pliny the Younger 2014 will be released on Friday, February 14. Here are some more details from Russian River:

“Pliny the Younger’s 10th Annual Return to our pub in Santa Rosa will occur on Friday, February 7th, 2014! It will be available everyday (until we run out each day) for 14 days. Distribution begins the following week for local and no-so-local bar and restaurant accounts.   Younger has not even been brewed yet so allocations will not be set until the final yield is determined in LATE JANUARY. If you are planning a trip to Santa Rosa for the release, I will have a Younger page up on the website SOON with more information regarding hotels, what to expect, etc. So far one local hotel has expressed interest in extending a special rate to our Younger fans! Hopefully more will follow their lead. Horizon Airlines flies directly into Santa Rosa from Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and San Diego if you want to book your air travel now! Stay tuned…”

And here’s some new information on Beatification:

“We are finally releasing the next batch of Beatification on draft and in 375ml bottles on Saturday, December 14th, 2013!  This is a brewpub ONLY release.  Beatification is our spontaneously fermented beer, meaning that we add no yeast and allow the beer to naturally collect any wild yeast and bacteria in the air and barrels.  We call this style of beer “Sonambic”- a nod to the traditionally spontaneous beers brewed in the Lambic region of Belgium.  The pub will open at 9AM on the 14th for bottle sales as well as draft beer at the bar.  Customers wishing to purchase just bottles (and be on their way) will have a separate “queue”, while anyone wanting to enjoy a morning beer will be seated on a first come, first served basis.  The kitchen will open at 11AM as usual.  Bottles are $18/each, limit one case per person (subject to change). “

I’ve never tried either of these beers, and while I’m sure the Pliny the Younger is fantastic, I’d trade 12 growlers o’ Younger for a bottle of that Beatification. So, if anyone reading this is able to grab some bottles and wants to trade, please drop a comment. You know I have something else you’ll be interested in.

UBN

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Beer Nerd PSA: Cantillion Zwanze Day 2013 is This Saturday

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2013

Just an (un)friendly reminder: Cantillon’s 2013 Zwanze Day is this Saturday, September 14. I wrote about the event last year, and believe you me, it was a blast.

Details on this year’s event and a full list of locations can be found on Cantillon’s website. Or read more about it here.

I’ll be at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, MA, on Saturday. If you spot me—I’ll be the guy with the Red Sox hat and the beer—leave me the fuck alone, huh? I’ll be busy drinking Cantillon.

UBN

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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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Scenes from an Allagash Brewery Tour in Portland, Maine

Yesterday I spent the day in Portland, Maine, hitting up various beer nerd spots, including Allagash Brewing Co., where I took part in a tasting and a brewery tour.

If you’re ever in the Portland area, I definitely recommend a stop at Allagash. Even if you’ve never been to Maine and/or don’t plan on visiting any time soon, the following images give you an idea of what you’d see during a tour of one of New England’s, and America’s, best and most creative Belgian-inspired breweries.

The entrance to Allagash' brewery on a rainy day in Portland, ME

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Allagash Coolship Cerise and FV13 sour ale for sale in the retail store. Coolship bottles are only sold at the Allagash Brewery.

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Allagash beer and tshirts for sale in the retail store

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Allagash brewing and fermenting tanks

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Mini kegs of Allagash’s rare Coolship Resurgam in the barrel-aging room

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UBN

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5 O’Clock on Friday is Rodenbach Time

Fuck Guinness Time. It’s five o’clock on Friday, and that’s Rodenbach time as far as I’m concerned. I’m about to crack a frosty Flemish red, and I thought I’d share this funky old vintage Rodenbach sign I recently found on the Belgian brewer’s Facebook page:

Rodenbach Time vintage sign

And here’s my very own Rodenbach Grand Cru:

Rodenbach Grand Cru bottle and glassware

This is the first beer I’ve had this week, so I’m really looking forward to it. Happy Friday, errybuddy. Cheers, sláinte, proost, santé and all that good stuff.

UBN

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Beer Porn: Bottles of Cantillon Zwanze 2013

Bottles of Cantillon Zwanze 2013 in Brussels Belgium

Last week, I posted about Brasserie Cantillon‘s 2014/2015 Zwanze beer, which will very likely be a spontaneously-fermented stout. I’ve been searching for details on the 2013 version of Cantillon’s Zwanze, an annual, limited-release beer that’s different each year, but I haven’t come up with anything. In fact, it seems as though Cantillon and its lead brewer Jean Van Roy are being somewhat secretive about the 2013 Zwanze beer.

The picture above comes from Twitter user Kyle Black (@kylefblack), and it was taken yesterday at the Cantillon brewery in Brussels, Belgium. The image shows bottles of 2013 Zwanze and 2013 gueuze. When Black asked about Zwanze 2013, the Cantillon staff would not share any details. That’s unfortunate, but I’m still glad to see this fine bit of beer porn. It was all but certain that Cantillon has a 2013 Zwanze in the works, and this image seems to confirm it. This Zwanze 2013 appears to have been bottled in October 2012. For more on Zwanze, check out my post from a 2012 Zwanze Day celebration.

Thanks again for sharing, Kyle.

UBN

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