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Get ready for Zwanze Day

CATEGORIES: Beer Editor  

Zwanze Day is almost upon us. What’s Zwanze Day, you ask? Good question. For the last five years, Belgian brewery Cantillon, famous for its lambics, has released a special limited-edition sour. Each year, the recipe’s different, and it’s not uncommon for the beer to reach the high 90s and even 100 on Ratebeer. If you’re a fan of sours—really, really good sours—than this is an event you should, you know, maybe look into. Like last year, this release is draft-only (thanks to pesky people who attempted to sell previous bottled releases online with inflated prices) but there are around 16 locations in the States that are pouring the beer this Saturday, Dec. 1. The attraction for me isn’t necessarily the event, but a particular ingredient added to the beer: rhubarb.

Long story short, the planned Zwanze 2012 beer wasn’t ready in time, so the brewery recreated the inaugural 2008 release, which was essentially a lambic aged with rhubarb. One of my fascinations right now is fruit-and-veggie-spiked Belgian-style beer—both 4 Hands Prunus Saison and Cigar City Cucumber Saison made our list of this year’s Top 25 beers. I can’t get enough. The fruit and spice flavors in the farmhouse style lend themselves to inventive ingredients, while sours work extremely well with bold fruit, like cherries. Last night I had the pleasure of sipping Crabtree Peachtree Cezanne Saison, a saison aged with peaches in pinot noir barrels. It was delicious: Subtle peach and vinous notes woven into a spicy, rustic saison base. So, as you can see, I desperately want to try this rhubarb lambic concoction.

Luckily for me, brewing Belgian-style beers with unusual ingredients is a trend that’s on the rise. But after sipping cucumbers, peaches, cherries and, hopefully, rhubarb in beer, I wonder what else is out there?

What’s the most unusual ingredient you’ve seen work in a Belgian-style beer?

[Images courtesy of Cantillon]


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.


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