Posted on September 7, 2016 by NYCBG
Zwanze Day is upon us! On Saturday, October 1, join craft beer fans as Cantillon’s Framboise is tapped simultaneously at finer craft beer bars and breweries around the world.
For those who are unfamiliar, Zwanze Day is an annual event organized by Brasserie Cantillon and Shelton Brothers, a U.S. importer and distributor of small batch beers and ciders from all over the world. It all began in 2008, when Cantillon bottled an experimental lambic with rhubarb. Since then, Cantillon has been releasing a unique beer in the Zwanze series every year.
Inevitably, the rare Zwanze bottles became highly sought after in the craft beer community, and aftermarket prices soared. In an effort to combat the commoditization the beer, Cantillon announced that the Zwanze series would no longer be released publicly in bottles, but rather in kegs for on-site consumption at select bars and breweries around the world. In 2011, the first Zwanze Day celebrations took place. Since then, the number of global participants has increased every year.
This year, the Zwanze release is a Framboise. The Zwanze Framboise is a throwback to Cantillon blends of the 80s, which included the use of raspberries, sour cherries, and vanilla. The 2016 Zwanze Framboise utilizes a blend of raspberries, blueberries, and Bourbon barrel vanilla beans (a full description of the beer from brewer Jean Van Roy can be found at the end of this post). The beer will be pouring simultaneously worldwide at 3:00 pm Eastern Time.
With all that build up, you must be a little bit curious as to whether New Yorkers will have a chance to partake in the Zwanze Day festivities. You’re in luck: two NYC beer bars will be participating in Zwanze Day 2016! Learn more about where to celebrate Zwanze Day below.
145 E Houston St., doors open at 7:00 am. Location details »
359 Metropolitan Ave. Location details »
Full explanation of Cantillon’s Zwanze 2016 Framboise:
The Zwanze 2016 :
When I was a kid, I would come to the brewery to lend a hand during my summer vacations. My father needed help refilling barrels of lambic with sour cherries and raspberries that came to the brewery by the ton. I would go home with red hands and a small case of indigestion after having stuffed myself, too!
At the time, sour cherries and raspberries came from the Pajottenland, harvested within about ten kilometers of the brewery: local fruit for a local beer. The summers were subject to the whims of the weather, going from sunny and hot one year to wet and cold the next. Being finicky fruit, raspberries were particularly sensitive to the changing weather, and went from being very flavorful and brilliant red to bland and colorless – something that of course determined the degree of acidity and the color of our Framboise Lambic.
At the beginning of the ’80s, we compensated for the lack of color in our Framboise with the addition of Kriek Lambic. The excessive acidity added by the fruit was tempered by the use of vanilla. This is how, during the decade to follow, Cantillon Framboise evolved into a blend of 75% raspberries, 25% sour cherries, and .05% vanilla.
Throughout the ’90s, with increasing demand for housing, labor costs rising, and artificial flavors and syrups coming into use by many of the Lambic brewers, there was an almost complete disappearance of cherry orchards and raspberry farms in the Pajottenland. We were therefore forced to look for our fruit outside of Belgium. Today, our raspberries come from Serbia. Brighter, more flavorful, and more consistent than their Belgian cousins, these Serbian raspberries mean we no longer need to turn to cherries and vanilla to make our Rosé de Gambrinus, which is now 100% raspberry.
For Zwanze 2016, I wanted to do a bit of a throwback and revisit one of these old blends. Since the intensity of today’s Rosé de Gambrinus approaches that of the Kriek, the additions of cherries to the raspberries no longer seemed necessary.
Instead, we had to turn to a fruit that would bring more intense color and flavor sufficient to stand out. My choice was to bring in the blueberries that we’ve used for the last ten years to create our Blåbær Lambic, a special beer done for the Danish market.
For our third ingredient, we’ve opted to use the finest possible Bourbon vanilla beans. During the ’80s we used vanilla extract for reasons purely financial. Traditional Lambic-based beers were, at the time, under-appreciated and the breweries that produced only spontaneously fermented beers struggled to make ends meet. Cantillon was no exception, and it was impossible for us to use real vanilla in our Framboise. Zwanze 2016 is the new incarnation of what should have been during the dark years of Lambic.
To best appreciate the complexity of this beer, we suggest tasting it at a temperature of 12 to 15° C (55 to 60º F). Don’t hesitate to warm your glass a bit if the beer is served too cold.
We’ve stepped back in time 30 years for Zwanze 2016, which is the result of a blend of 82% raspberries, 18% blueberries, and .05% Bourbon Vanilla beans, on which we’ve aged two-year-old Lambic at a rate of 300g fruit per liter.
À votre santé et vive le Lambic!
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