The term "Zwanze" is "the word used to refer to a type of semi-sarcastic humour typical of our lovely city of Brussels that one often encounters at Cantillon Brewery," according to the brewery's website.
Each year on Zwanze Day, the brewery releases a new sour beer to widen its appeal to an already strong and growing devotees.
Photo courtesy Brasserie Cantillon Facebook
This year's release is called "Cureghem," in reference to ruins of the Abbey of Cureghem that was recently discovered below the current Cantillon brewery during a recent renovation. During the archaeological excavation, they found the cell of Father Fero and his books that contained beer recipes that were made at the Abbey hundreds of years ago. Cantillon jumped at the chance to brew one of those beers, which is how they came up with "Cureghem."
Here's their description of the beer:
Brewed in March 2012, our "Cureghem" beer fermented four weeks in stainless steel tanks before being blended with 10% lambic and pumped into 400-litre barrels of various origins. After maturing for six months, the beers were blended and put into casks or bottles to undergo re-fermentation and reach 7.2% ABV (Alcohol by Volume).
Inevitably, a top fermentation beer brewed in a spontaneous fermentation environment will be affected by the wild yeasts in the air, and this is certainly what happened in our case. For our Cureghem, the cultured yeasts were clearly the main factor behind primary fermentation and I think that the wild yeasts in the beer will instead play an increasingly important role as the product ages. However, despite the addition of the lambic to give it a little "extra something" in terms of character and ageing characteristics, this Zwanze cannot in any case be considered a spontaneous fermentation beer.
Those most of us won't get to try the Cureghem beer, we still have the opportunity to raise our own glass of sour beer, lambic, american wild ale, on Saturday and join the toast. Or, if we're lucky, we can attend any one of the organized Zwanze celebrations around the world (the closest and perhaps most notable is at Crooked Stave in Denver, though Seattle's hosting one too). Here's a full list:
Alewife Queens — Long Island City, New York
Armsby Abbey — Worcester, Massachusetts
Avenue Pub — New Orleans, Louisiana
Beachwood BBQ — Seal Beach, California
Birch Bar — Norfolk, Virginia
Brouwer's Café — Seattle, Washington
ChurchKey — Washington, D.C.
Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar — Denver, Colorado
Hill Farmstead Brewery — Greensboro, Vermont
Holy Grale — Louisville, Kentucky
Hop & Vine — Portland, Oregon
Jester King Brewery — Austin, Texas
Lord Hobo — Cambridge, Massachusetts
Mikkeller Bar SF — San Francisco, California
Monk's Caffé — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Novare Res Bier Caffé — Portland, Maine
REAL a Gastropub — Honolulu, Hawai'i
Redlight, Redlight — Orlando, Florida
Russian River Brewing — Santa Rosa, California
Spuyten Duyvil — Brooklyn, New York
Stone Bistro & Gardens — Escondido, California
West Lakeview Liquors — Chicago, Illinois
Dieu du Ciel — Montréal, QuÃ©bec
Alibi Room — Vancouver, British Columbia
barVolo — Toronto, Ontario
TV Asahi Umu — Tokyo
Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà — Rome
The Dome — Nembro
Sherwood Pub — Nicorvo
The Drunken Duck — Quinto Vicentino
Ristopub Margherita — Quartu Santâ€™Elena
Ottavonano — Atripalda
Moeder Lambic Fontainas — Brussels
Moeder Lambic Saint-Gilles — Brussels
Mi-Orge Mi-Houblon — Arlon
Nøgne Ø — Grimstad
Pikkulitu — Helsinki
Olbutikken — Copenhagen
The Netherlands :
De Bierkoning — Amsterdam
Akkurat — Stockholm
Masia Agullons — Sant Joan de Mediona
La Fine Mousse — Paris
La Capsule — Lille
Great Britain :
The Earl of Essex— London
Six° North — Aberdeen
Erzbierschof — Liebefeld
Looking for a sour beer a little more easy to obtain? Try one of these "Made in America" wild ales, courtesy the Weekly Pint.