Cantillon Zwanze release Sept. 17th at The Avenue Pub

This is one of the results of my trip to Belgium. I’ve been dying to announce it for the last month! Cantillon is amazing beer made by a great group of traditional Belgian brewers. Being included in this very exclusive event is a serious honor for us. I know this post is long, but its worth reading if you aren’t familiar with this marvelous brewery and how much they mean to the craft movement in Belgium. It’s one step closer to my goal of being able to offer exceptional traditional beers from breweries like Cantillon every day at the Pub.

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2011

Sept 17 th, 2011 (3pm tapping) – Simultaneous worldwide tapping at bars handpicked by Cantillon.

What we are pouring for the event:

Zwanze 2011 on draft – Zwanze is a fabulous one batch annual beer which changes each year. This beer is better described by the brewer (click here). The 2011 vintage is a Pineau d’Aunis grape Lambic.

Cantillon Classic Gueuze on draft – The beer I drank nearly every day in Bruxelles. We are finally getting it on draft! Refreshingly tart with medium oak notes. Don’t get too excited…its only one keg.

Zwanze 2010 in bottles – (Click for RateBeer Article) The 2010 vintage mixed fermentation Witbier without spices or fruits. We received a limited supply of these and will be bottle pouring them the day of the event. Bottles will not be sold for take away and will not be available after the event on Sept 17th.

The 2011 will not be released outside of the brewery in bottles. The bottles will not even be allowed to leave the brewery unopened! This restriction has everything to do with the black market reselling of Cantillon that has developed over the last few years. Jean has released the kegs and the aged bottles only to a select number of bars he trusts to not overprice it and not let it get into the hands of people who want to make a quick buck reselling it on eBay. We are honored beyond belief to be part of that group!

Why is Cantillon so special?

Taste is always in the palate of the taster but certain aspects of the brewing and blending process make Cantillon stand out.


All Cantillon beers are 100 percent spontaneously fermented Lambics. This means they are made the centuries old way by exposing the wort to the wild bacteria in the environment of the brewery and the old oak wine (most frequently) casks they are aged in. To be called a Lambic, one needs only to have 5 % spontaneously fermented beer used but Cantillon does it the way they have been doing it for over a century….its slow, expensive and the yields are tiny. Modern beers use one yeast strain or a blend of yeast strains. Beer brewed with spontaneous fermentation ends up being exposed to hundreds of yeast and bacteria strains and the result is a much more complex elegant beer. Its the brewing equivalent of making your Roux in your grandmothers cast iron versus a new stainless skillet!


The aged Lambic is then chosen by hand by the blender to be be matched and blended with each other according to his taste. Cantillon’s blending style is batch specific than most of the other Lambic blenders in practice today. In other words…each batch, each bottle, is a creation of its own. The results in the bottle are something that sour lovers universally agree are the best available.

No Artificial Sweeteners

Commercially common “Lambics” are frequently sweetened after the fermentation process sometimes just to take the edge off the natural tartness of the beer and other times to give a distinctly sweet taste reminiscent of the fruit they are using. Lindemans Framboise is a good example of what many people in the US think of when they think “Lambic”. The traditional beers made and blended by Cantillon…and a handful of others…are not sweetened in any way. The natural sugar in the fruit gets used up during the fermentation process so the essence of the fruit is left, but no sweetness. The palate of a traditional and well made Lambic frequently resembles wine more than it does modern beer styles!

There is lots more you can learn about this beer and this process. Check out the links provided and ‘like’ Cantillon on their Facebook page.

Can’t be at the Pub for Zwanze day? Here is a list of the other bars that will be sent kegs. In most markets the beer will be gone the day it is tapped so schedule your travel plans to be there on Sept 17!

  • Monks Cafe in Philly
  • Spuyten Duyvel in New York
  • Lord Hobo in Boston
  • Novare Res in Maine
  • Church Key in Washington DC
  • West Lakeview Liqours in Chicago
  • Holy Grale in KY
  • Russian River in northern CA
  • Stone Brewing in southern CA
  • And of course, The Avenue Pub in New Orleans, LA

Outside the US

  • Moëder Lambic in Brussels
  • Akkurat in Stockholm Sweden
  • 3 bars in Italy
  • One bar and one Vineyard in France
  • Pikkulito in Helsinski, Finland
  • Olbutikken in Copenhagen, Denmark
  • One bar in Japan


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