Once a year, every year, in 56 locations across 16 countries, a beer called Zwanze is tapped simultaneously. There are so few locations able to get the beer that all hold events with tappings of other Cantillon beers and possibly bottles for sale. Some places even get local breweries involved by tapping their brews. Fortunately, West Lakeview Liquors was once again chosen to host Zwanze Day.
Arriving at around 10:30, I was greeted by the customary line down the block to get in. Having been to the 2 previous Zwanze Days at West Lakeview, this was not a surprise; what was, however, was finding out that the bar across the street was not going to be used this year. Instead, the yard behind West Lakeview would be where the entire event would take place. I was a bit skeptical.
The line started to slowly move along at around 11. Staff walked the line with bottles of water for the people in line since it was a tad hot out, which was very nice of West Lakeview. As I found out upon reaching the front, the registers where you paid to enter were “running slow,” and they would only let 5 to 10 people in at a time to pay and get their glasses. A better system (possibly implementing an iPad with credit card scanner walking down the line) would have great sped this up, but by 1 PM I heard there was no line to speak of, so it wasn’t Dark Horse 4Elf 2012 levels of slow.
Once purchasing my glass ($50 for the glass, one pour of Zwanze and unlimited pours of anything else) and walking to the yard, my fears vanished. A tent was set up on the left which had all the draft pours and, once you figured out you could get any draft from any spot along the length of the tables, lines became a non-issue. Bottle sharing was mainly taking place behind the fence, with tables and chairs set up and a variety of quality bottles being shared (De Garde seemed to be a favorite to bring). While mingling and sharing beers, I found out that Cory King had brought about half a dozen bottles of Side Project Abricot du Fermier, which was obviously gone by the time I got in.
After hitting up the tents and chatting with some buddies both old and new, the thing we fearing happened. – it began to rain. Umbrellas and ponchos were out in force and paper plates turned into make shift covers for open bottles. Amidst all the rain, 2PM arrived and with it, the tapping of Zwanze.
Zwanze (which translates to joke) changes every year; this year’s is a blend of Iris Grand Cru and Kriek (more details here). With an enthused cheer, Zwanze began flowing into all the glasses. Light red in color, Cuvee Florian (aka Zwanze 2014) began slightly acidic, had a hint of tart cherries, then finished dry (Note: This is what I remembered it tasting like; I had a lot of beer that day). This was my personal favorite Zwanze of the past three years (with last year’s being my least favorite).
The rain let up, so umbrellas were all sheathed and the beer was still flowing. I chatted with some friends, tried the Sour Note’s Gose (solid, but not worth $15 a bomber), popped a Red Wine Obelus from Transient Artisan Ales, and got a few more draft pours , including one of the day’s highlights, Society and Solitude #7 from Hill Farmstead. With that, I had to be off to go continue drinking, but this time with live music and 10%+ ABV stouts.
Overall, this was definite improvement over previous Zwanze Days. It was great having everything in one spot and not have to walk across the street and then back depending on what was tapping. The bottle share area was a bit cramped and difficult to navigate through, but everything else was spread out nicely and there was never really any major congestion. They did have bottles for sale, but I avoided a potential mess, stayed outside, enjoyed the taps, and picked up a Rose de Gambrinus on my way out. Definitely looking forward to next year’s!
Zwanze 2014 Cuvée de Florian • Brasserie Cantillon, Belgium
Gueuze • Brasserie Cantillon, Belgium
Cuvée Saint-Gilloise • Brasserie Cantillon, Belgium
Mamouche • Brasserie Cantillon, Belgium
Kriek • Brouwerij Kerkom, Belgium
Weltmerz • De Struise Brouwers, Belgium
Ypres • De Struise Brouwers, Belgium
Shawnigan Handshake • Le Trou Du Diable, Canada
Arctic Sunstone (Collab with Three Floyds Brewing, Indiana) • Amager Bryghus, Denmark
Blå Spøgelse (Collab with Three Floyds Brewing, Indiana) • Mikkeller, Denmark
Beer Geek Brunch Weasel • Mikkeller, Denmark
Spontanredcurrant • Mikkeller, Denmark
Calypso • Siren, England
Roter Baron • Mahrs Bräu, Germany
Bonator (Gravity Keg) • Klosterbrauerei Weiβenohe, Germany
Mönchsambacher Unfiltered Lagerbier (Gravity Keg) • Brauerei Zehendner, Germany
It’s Still Weisse (Collab with Stillwater Artisanal Ales, Maryland) • The Monarchy, Germany
Salty Angel • Birrificio Toccalmatto, Italy
Madamin 2013 • LoverBeer, Italy
Cease & Desist • Brouwerij de Molen, Netherlands
Fresh Hop Wired IPA • 8 Wired Brewing, New Zealand
BCS Coffee 2012 • Goose Island Brewing Co, Chicago
Matilda Lambicus • Goose Island Brewing Co, Chicago
Vallejo • Half Acre Brewing Co, Chicago
Yuzu Berliner Weisse • Off Color Brewing, Chicago
Mosaic • Pipeworks Brewing Co, Chicago
Tart Lychee 2012 • New Belgium, Colorado
La Folie 2013 • New Belgium, Colorado
Crépuscule • St Somewhere Brewing Co, Florida
Gose • The Sour Note, Indiana
Cimmerian Sabertooth Berzerker • Three Floyds Brewing Co, Indiana
Man-O-Awe • Three Floyds Brewing Co, Indiana
Yum Yum • Three Floyds Brewing Co, Indiana
Kentucky Breakfast Stout 2013 • Founders Brewing Co, Michigan
Funky Wit • Perennial Artisan Ales, Missouri
Society & Solitude #7 • Hill Farmstead Brewery, Vermont
Abricot du Fermier • Side Project Brewing, Missouri