Question: Why Not Zwanze Day?
Answer: Maybe Yes! (see below for more, including 3 original knock knock jokes)
Zwanze is Brasserie Cantillon. Zwanze is a word from a unique dialect that exists more or less only in Brussels, Belgium. I was told that it means something like a person who would never answer a straight-forward question: Well, yes maybe. Somebody sarcastic, I guess. The first Zwanze beer (it was not originally thought of as an ongoing series) was a lambic made with Rhubarb (a tart/sour vegetable). The laugh here is classically Brussels: Why would you need to add a sour vegetable to a sour beer?! Ha! (insert roaring laughter track)
For the uninitiated, it needs to be said that Brasserie Cantillon is very perhaps the place that led to a world-wide reverence (and resurgence) for sour beer. They brew lambic, generally consisting of raw (unmalted) wheat and malted barley produced via a turbid mash (to amplify the starches). Those liquid grain sugars and starches are cooled overnight in a shallow vat up in the attic…then they are moved to oak barrels. No slurries of lab cultured yeast or bacteria are pitched. Everything that impacts the beer lives within the air, the walls, the pipes, and the barrels…of that place in Brussels. Once in the barrels, the beer ferments and evolves from 1 to 3 years before being blended with other batches and maybe seeing some fruits (or vegetables!) added towards the end. The result is dry, acidic, woody, wacky, lactic, and frequently intense but still nuanced. In the 1990s, these beers influenced the people who would become the icons of the American craft brewery scene…and they still influence and inspire. Even if you won’t find vanilla or milk sugar in any of them…
2 years ago, I ordered a single keg of Kerkom Kriek from Shelton Brothers (the importer of Cantillon). When the shipment arrived, the Kerkom Kriek wasn’t there…but there was a keg of Cantillon Kriek. Whoops! I tucked it away. Eventually, I got tired of moving it around my warehouse as we grew…so I asked Dave at Casual Pint if we could tap it on what has become International Zwanze Day…and call it “Not Zwanze Day.” We couldn’t get a keg of Zwanze here (they are too limited) so this isn’t Zwanze Day. Dave was worried we would make somebody upset by using the name Zwanze at all, so I called my friends at Shelton Brothers and they said “That’s cool, we can probably send another Cantillon keg if you want it.” Answer: maybe Yes! But time got delayed (time is NEVER on time, is it? Certainly not when you want it to be), and we couldn’t get the second Cantillon keg here in time to tap them both ON “Zwanze Day.” So we decided it was cool to delay the Kriek tapping because in the end, this is NOT ZWANZE DAY. No Zwanze is being offered. Yes No Maybe Thank you. Right?
So, for your beer drinking needs, we have that accidentally shipped Cantillon Kriek keg, Cantillon Classic Gueuze…and some beers from folks that are very much friends of Brasserie Cantillon: Brouwerij De Ranke, Brasserie De La Senne, and from the USA Hill Farmstead.
You will never find all 6 of these beers on tap at one location in Nebraska again. Some may never appear again even on their own. But RaritY isn’t the point. The soul is what we are concerned with here. Coming together. Friends & Community. What makes us in common and what makes us other? The people that make these 6 beers are some of the most dedicated artisans I have ever encountered. They are all also very unique, interesting, and empathetic souls.
The ghostly souls of those far away folks will wander into the Casual Pint community and fall out of the faucets for a day. I am so giddy.
Q: Who is there? A: Not Zwanze.
Q: Not Zwanze Who? A: Maybe No?
Q: Who is there? A: Rhubaarb Fool
Q: Rhubaarb Fool Who? A: Who did put Rhubaard in my lambic?