Category Archives: Belgian Beers

Cantillon’s 2014/2015 Zwanze Could be Spontaneously-Fermented Stout

Cantillon Zwanze Stout wort

Brasserie Cantillon, one of the world’s finest traditional brewers of Belgian lambic beer and one of my favorite breweries, recently posted some images and information on its Facebook page that suggest its annual Zwanze beer for 2014 or 2015 could be a spontaneously fermented stout.

From Cantillon’s page:

“Dark for a Lambic wort isn’it?? This is the probably future Zwanze 2014 or 2015, a Cantillon interpretation for a spontaneous fermentation stout…Fermentation starts! Foam is darker than the one from a Lambic, we are on the right way…”

Last year’s Zwanze Day was one of my favorite beer “holidays” of 2012. (Find out why here.) And the 2012 Zwanze brew, a lambic flavored with rhubard, was one of the most interesting beers I’ve ever tasted. I haven’t been able to find any official details on the 2013 Zwanze Day, but I can tell you I will be in attendance, assuming there is a celebration this year.

Cantillon Zwanze Stout Fermentation

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had a spontaneously fermented stout, but I’ll give anything Cantillon brews a try. The closest beer I can think of is Drie Fonteinen’s Zwet.be, a porter brewed with wild yeast, which I had recently and enjoyed.

Anyway, the countdown to 2013—and 2014 and 2015—Zwanze Day is on.

UBN

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hoppiness is…

image

Happiness may be a warm gun, but hoppiness is a warm brew kettle anxiously awaiting a healthy dose of dank hops. I spent yesterday afternoon at a local craft brew shop called Barleycorn’s brewing up my own special batch of Belgian-style double IPA. My favorite part of the process was smelling and liberally applying a variety of hops through the boil. Love me some hops.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Spiegelau Beer Connoisseur Glasses for the Discerning Beer Nerd

Spiegelau Beer Connoisseur Glasses

Specialty-glass-maker Spiegelau has been getting a lot of attention this month thanks to the introduction of its new IPA glass, which was designed along with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (That glass looks remarkably like a wine glass from Riedel, a Spiegelau sister company, but that’s another story altogether.)

Spiegelau has been making fancy glasses for beer aficionados for quite some, though. In fact, Spiegelau’s Beer Connoisseur set, which is composed of one wheat beer glass, one lager/blond glass, one tulip and a tall pilsner glass, is probably my favorite set of unbranded glassware. I got my set as a gift from my girlfriend, and I use it constantly. I prefer to use branded glassware whenever I can—I’m just as much of a beer-glass nerd as I am a regular ol’ beer nerd. But, honestly, the quality of these four Spiegelau glasses is higher than 90 percent of the branded glasses in my collection anyway, and I drink so many different kinds of beer that using corresponding branded glassware isn’t always an option.

Spiegelau glass is very thin and delicate. And it’s also quite expensive. This set of four glasses sells for $49.90 plus shipping in the official Spiegelau’s online store, but Amazon.com will sell you the same set for $39.99 plus shipping. (Free shipping is available for Amazon Prime members.) All of the glasses have the Spiegelau logo on their bases.

From Spiegelau:

“Each of these glasses is especially blown thin, and has a thin rim that lifts the perception of mouth feel and taste. The beer specific glass shape supports the beer in releasing its full spectrum of flavors and delivers them to nose and mouth.”

My favorite glass is the tulip, because I drink a lot of Belgian and Belgian-style ales that are best suited to this type of glass. It’s very well designed, and it just feels elegant. I also use the lager glass quite a bit for lagers and hoppy ales—though I’ve mostly been using the Dogfish Spiegelau glass for IPAs.

Spiegelau Beer Connoisseur Glasses Logo

Amazon.com says they are dishwasher safe, but I always hand wash my glasses just in case; they don’t feel dishwasher safe.

Again, these glasses aren’t cheap but if you take care of them they should last a long time. And they genuinely do enhance the beer-drinking experience.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , ,

Five Fantastic Flemish Sour Ales

Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge Flemish sour red ale

A few months ago, I wrote a post spotlighting my favorite sour beers. That post has since become one of the most popular entries on this blog—based on page views—because a whole lot of people apparently search Google for “sour beer” and “the best sour beers.”

Many different styles of sour beer exist today, but my single favorite style is the Flemish or Flanders sour red/brown ale.

If you’re unfamiliar with the style it consists of Belgian red or brown ales aged in oak for long periods of time, sometimes multiple years, and then typically blended with “younger” beer of the same style to balance the acidic, sour flavor.

From the Oxford Companion to Beer:

“Oak aging allows lactic fermentation to occur and some additional conditioning by slowly working yeasts, turning the beer slightly sour like neatly aged wine, though many varieties [of Flemish/Flanders aged ales] are later softened by the addition of younger beer.”

Flemish sour ales are often favored by red-wine drinkers because of the crossover in taste. They’re also extremely refreshing. These beers are often expensive, at least compared to other brews, but a lot of work goes into them and they’re usually well worth the price, in my opinion. Here’s a quick list of the best Flemish/Flanders red/brown sour ales I’ve tasted:

1) Brouwerij Bockor Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge

My single favorite Flemish sour ale is Bockor Brewery’s Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge. It’s very sour and acidic yet impressively balanced.  Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge is made from spontaneously fermented beer that’s been aged in oak for at least 18 months.

2) Anything Rodenbach

The most common, easiest to find and least challenging Rodenbach beer is the brewery’s flagship Rodenbach Red. It’s the least sour of its brews, and it’s a great starting point for drinkers looking to experiment with the Flemish sour style and sour beer in general. Folks with an established taste for sour beer will also appreciate Rodenbach’s Grand Cru, which is more sour than Rodenbach Red because it’s composed of more older-aged beer and less young beer, and Rodenbach’s Reserve series.

3) Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Bacchus

Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck’s Bacchus Flemish brown ale is another must-try Flemish sour beer. It’s similar to the other beer noted here, but it has a very fruity aroma.

4) Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne

Duchesse de Bourgogne, or just “Duchesse” as it’s often called in beer bars, is a reddish-brown Flemish sour ale that’s notable due to its strong vinegar taste, which blends nicely with its sour body. The beer is top fermented and is a blend of eight-month and 18-month-old oak-aged beers.

5) Brouwerij Verhaeghe Vichtenaar

Vichtenaar is another top-notch Flemish sour ale from Brouwerij Verhaeghe, and it’s aged in oak casks for at least eight months, but unlike most of the other beers featured in this post, it’s not blended with any other younger or older beer.

Those are my five favorite Flemish sour ales. Drop a comment below if you know of any other worthy Flemish sour brews that should be on my list.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Will Work for Cantillon

image

Seriously. What’s a blogger gotta do for a regular supply of Cantillon lambic?

UBN

Tagged , , , , ,

Relive Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 with T-Shirts and Tulip Glasses

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 Tulip Glasses

Saturday, December 1 was this year’s Cantillon Zwanze Day, and I was fortunate enough to attend a Zwanze celebration in Cambridge, MA. (For information on Zwanze Day and a recap of the Zwanze Day event , read this post.)

Like many beer nerds, I collect beer glassware. And some of the more difficult glasses to obtain are Cantillon glasses. Sure, you can order some of them online from Belgium, but the shipping costs more than triple the price of an already expensive glass. So I’m always on the lookout for different ways to obtain Cantillon glassware.

Prior to the 2012 Zwanze Day celebrations, I’d read a number of recaps about Zwanze events in past years at which attendees could purchase Cantillon Zwanze glasses. So I was really looking forward to grabbing a few at Lord Hobo in Cambridge. But unfortunately, Lord Hobo didn’t have Zwanze glasses or any other Cantillon crap for sale. (I later read that the bar was supposed to get t-shirts and glasses, but they never showed up on time, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not.)

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 T-Shirt

So I had to take things into my own hands. After some online research, I found a liquor store in Chicago that’s selling both Cantillon Zwanze 2012 tees and tulip glasses. The glasses have the West Lakeview Liquors name on them, but that’s a small price to pay for a unique Cantillon glass. (West Lakeview hosted its own Zwanze celebration on December 1.) Now if you didn’t attend any of the events, or you’re just not particularly interested in Cantillon glassware, you might be wondering why you should care. But if you’re thinking that than fuck you, man, I didn’t tell you to read this post.

If you do care, you too can get yourself Cantillon Zwanze 2012 glasses and t-shirts from West Lakeview Liquors. The glasses cost $9.99 each, and I paid $21.99 for my shirt–$19.99 plust $2 for the XXL size. The glasses have the liquor store’s name on them, but I don’t mind. And the t-shirt is the definition of beer-nerd chic, with a small Cantillon logo on the front left breast and a list of all the 2012 Zwanze Day locations on the back. West Lakeview even still has a few Zwanze Day 2011 t-shirts, if you’d rather than vintage.

Visit the store’s website for more details on the glasses and tees. But you should act fast if you’re interested; the glasses in particular will be gone before long.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stone’s Last ‘Vertical Epic’ Brew, 12.12.12, Hits Stores Today

Stone Brewing Co. Vertical Epic 12.12.12

Stone Brewing Co. announced via Twitter today that its latest—and last—Vertical Epic series brew, called Vertical Epic 12.12.12, is hitting store shelves today.

Stone started the Vertical Epic series of ales in 2002, and they “are specifically designed to be aged until sometime after December 12th, 2012.” The idea is for Stone fans to try multiple Vertical Epic brews in “vertical tastings” in 2013 of later.

Here are some details on the 2012 release, from Stone:

“Crafted in the style of a traditional Belgian Noël beer, it’s dark, big and hearty; the type of brew one might have actually expected to come first in the Vertical Epic series…Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale should stand up to aging, but is already a beautiful brew fresh off the bottling line.

“Brewed with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, orange peel and rosehips (which turned out to be so sturdy we had to roll over them with a forklift to pulverize them for the brew), it’s a complex beer with many layers. The spices come on strong along with a nice bready malt character. That said, Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale is rather dry on the finish, making it a beer that should do a great job as the last beer in the rotation at fans’ Vertical Epic tastings.”

I’ve only tried to two or three Vertical Epic brews, and honestly, I wasn’t blown away by any of them. But maybe that’s because I have no patience, and I didn’t wait until after December 12 of this year.

Learn more about Stone’s 12.12.12 Vertical Epic beer on the company’s website. (And read my review of its much-lauded Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA here.)

UBN

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Barfly’s View: Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, MA

Zwanze Day 2012 at Lord Hobo

Yesterday, Saturday, December 1, 2012, was Cantillon Zwanze Day, and beer nerds across the world simultaneously celebrated by toasting this year’s Zwanze lambic at 3 PM ET. (Zwanze 2012 continued to be poured until it ran out, but the official toast was at 3PM.)

I attended the Zwanze Day festivities at Lord Hobo, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a medium-size, dimly lit bar just outside the city’s Kendall Square neighborhood, home of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—and the Cambridge Brewing Co., my favorite Boston-area brewpub.

Lord Hobo in Cambridge, MA

The 2012 Zwanze lambic, a recreation of the original 2008 Zwanze lambic made with rhubarb, was poured at 3PM, but wise beer nerds arrived at Lord Hobo hours before the pour. I walked through the doors of Lord Hobo and pushed back the thick curtain that covers the bar just after noon, and it was already packed; my girlfriend and I were able to nab two seats at a communal table, but the bar and most of the other tables were full three hours before Zwanze was poured. The staff stopped letting people in around 1:30, and by 3 o’clock a line of 20 or so drinkers were lined up outside—in the snow—along the front of the bar.

Barfly's View Lord Hobo Zwanze Day

Lord Hobo is known for its extensive bottle and draft list, and the staff took it a step further for Zwanze Day, with 9 different Cantillon lambics available in bottles and an extremely-rare, unblended two-year old Cantillon lambic on tap, in addition to countless other rare beers, including the 2003 Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale, a 2005 Dogfish Head Pangea and multiple Hill Farmstead brews in bottle and on draft. I can honestly say that Lord Hobo’s Zwanze Day 2012 beer list was the most impressive list I’ve ever seen.

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 Tap List at Lord Hobo

To kill time until the Zwanze 2012 pour, my girl and I sidled up to a few Cantillon bottles (Cantillon’s 2012 Fou’ Foune and 2012 Kriek 100% Lambic), a couple of glasses of the two-year-old unblended lambic and some grub; I got fried chicken and waffles and the chef made a special vegan-friendly dish for the lady. Lord Hobo’s menu is not at all vegan or even vegetarian friendly, but we were pleased to see that both our waiter and the chef were more than willing to whip up a vegan offering. They came up with a fruit/granola dish along with hash and a fried-rice patty thing that was much more than either of us expected. And the service at Lord Hobo, even during the crazy period just before and just after the Zwanze toast, was impeccable.

Cantillon Two-Year-Old Unblended Lambic

Glasses of Two-Year-Old Cantillon Unblended Lambic

Just before 3PM, the owner of the bar stood up on a chair to address all of the anxious beer nerds awaiting the Zwanze. He spoke about how important the Cantillon brewery and its head brewer Jean Van Roy are to him personally and why it was an honor to host Zwanze Day at Lord Hobo. You could feel real passion in the man’s words, and everyone else in the bar fed off of his energy; the noise level in Lord Hobo immediately increased. When the Zwanze was poured and distributed—six ounces each for about 100 people in the bar—and three o’clock came around, everyone raised their glasses in a salute to Lord Hobo and the Van Roy family and yelled out in unison, “Cheers!” It was a special moment, and I am glad to have been a part of it.

Two Glasses of 2012 Cantillon Zwanze lambic

Glasses of Cantillon’s 2102 Zwanze

I visit Lord Hobo relatively frequently, but I’d never been to a Zwanze Day celebration there. The next time I stop by for a brew, which will likely be sooner than later, I’ll picture the barroom filled with excited Cantillon drinkers, all of the tables covered with spent bottles, and I’ll remember that Lord Hobo is not just another beer bar. Lord Hobo is run by people who love beer and brewing as much as I do, and the bar and its staff deserve to be recognized for that.

If you’re ever in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I strongly suggest you make some time for a beer or six at Lord Hobo.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reminder: Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 is Saturday, December 1

Just a quick reminder that the 2012 Cantillon Zwanze Day is this Saturday, December 1. Lambic, sour and Belian-beer lovers won’t want to miss it. The 2012 Zwanze lambic is a reproduction of the 2008 Zwanze brew, and it will be made with rhubard. More details on Zwanze Day and all the 31 official locations across the globe can be found here. I’ll be attending the event at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, MA. If you’re there, just scream, “Yo, Urban Beer Nerd, where you at?” and I’ll come say hello. Cheers, salute, slainte, prost and all that good shit.

UBN

Image via 100Beers30Days.com

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Uber-Rare Westvleteren XII Belgian Quad Coming to US for 1st Time in December

Westvleteren XII abbey of Saint Sixtus

I love me a rare beer, and Westvleteren XII from the Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in Flanders, Belgium, is nothing if not rare. In fact, it’s never officially been distributed in the United States before—the only way to get it was to travel to the abbey or to track a bottle down online and then pay an arm and a leg for it, and even then you had to make reservations.

But Westvleteren XII, a Trappist-made Belgian quad ale, is reportedly coming to the United States for the first time in December as part of a six-bottle, two-glass gift pack that should cost somewhere between $50 and $100. (It was also briefly available in North America earlier this year as part of a special fund-raising event.) The price of the gift pack is sure to skyrocket on the secondary market, too, after the beer sells out in liquor stores.

I’ve never had Westvleteren XII, but it has an amazing reputation, due in part to its difficulty to obtain. It also has the second highest user-rating on BeerAdvocate.com and the highest rating on RateBeer.com.

Westvleteren XII, which has a ABV of 10.2%, will be distributed by the Belchertown, Mass.-based Shelton Brothers, one of the leading importers of Belgian beer in the United States, which means it should be at least somewhat readily available in and around my home city of Boston. Needless to say, I’ll be keeping an eye out for this beer, and I’ll review it on this blog if I’m lucky enough to find a bottle or six.

UBN

Via NorwichBulletin.com

Tagged , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements