Tag Archives: Belgian beer

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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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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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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Buy Cantillon T-Shirts, Sweatshirts Online Directly from the Source

Gold Cantillon T-shirt

Yesterday I posted about an interesting new beer Brasserie Cantillon is currently working on: a spontaneously-fermented stout that will likely become either its 2014 or 2015 Zwanze beer. Once a year, Cantillon releases a special limited-release brew, and beer lovers the world over celebrate “Zwanze Day” at bars and other locales lucky enough to get some of it. (Check out my post on Zwanze Day 2012 for more information.)

While doing some research online, trying to dig up some details on this year’s Zwanze beer and the Zwanze Day 2013 date—to no avail—I found Cantillon’s new online store. In the past, if you wanted a Cantillon t-shirt or hoodie you had to visit the brewery in Belgium, attend some special event, like Zwanze Day, at which the shirts were being sold or find some random online retailer. Now you can purchase Cantillon t-shirts and sweatshirts online directly from Cantillon.

Cantillon Sweatshirt

The Cantillon tees and hoodies aren’t cheap though, and shipping to the United States is also pricey. To send a single $52.00 hooded sweatshirt from Cantillon to Boston, where I live, you need to pay roughly $32.50 in shipping fees. That’s a $85 hoodie. But $85 is still cheaper than a trip to Belgium and the Cantillon brewery. And one of these shirts would make a great gift for a Cantillon lover.

Unfortunately, the Cantillon Web shop is only selling t-shirts and sweatshirts at this point. It would be nice to see them offer glassware and other branded goodies in the future.

Visit Cantillon’s online store for more details.

UBN

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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

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Will Work for Cantillon

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

UBN

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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

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