Guest Post by @ipas_suck
I hate waiting in line. I hate waiting in line for beer. I hate waiting in line for beer, listening to beer nerds talking about their stupid fucking beers, theories about why “treehouse fell off,” wearing their stupid fucking “rare” beer merch, trying to prove who among this sea of shit is top turd. That is to say, and of couuurse, most of these conversations focused around IPAs. With that bright-eyed spirit, I rolled out of bed at 8 AM on Saturday and decided to head over to the always wonderful Spuyten Duyvil.
A bit of abbreviated and probably incorrect background: Zwanze Day is the day on which Cantillon (by way of global coordination) releases a unique, small batch of an experimental beer. The 2018 variant, Mannekin Pise, is a blend of lambics, aged two years in Amarone, Chianti, and Sangiovese wine barrels. The release was coordinated across some 70 bars and breweries, each with limited supply.
I got in line at 8:45 AM to secure my Zwanze pour ticket (released at 10 AM, bar opened at 11) and commemorative glass ($15), only counting about 50 people before me. For the next 2 hours and 15 minutes I listened to a dead ringer for Rod Farva spout off about Kansas City beer to his friends who were basically every guy at a beer event ever, while they returned fire with random factoids about other random beers Farva hadn’t ever heard of, but pretended to. It was truly the battle of basement dwellers. Nevertheless, I persisted.
Spuyten Duyvil opened their doors promptly at 11 AM and I was not let down by my decision. They had a full list of “siqqq shit” on tap and in bottles, including Cantillon Classic Gueze, Rosè de Gambrinus, Grand Cru de Bruocsella, an array of aged 3 Fonteinen bottles. I and my drinking companion grabbed a draft of the Cantillon Rosè de Gambrinus and Tilquin Oude Mûre à l’Ancienne and made our way to the backyard where we secured a table.
Beyond the Zwanze, there were some surprises. Tucked to the back of the yard was a tap station that had Cantillon St. Lamvinus (obviously spelling is not this man’s strong suit), a merlot lambic, and Cantillon Vigneronne, another grape lambic though this one is made from organic Italian wine grapes. Surprisingly, despite its deep color and fruity aroma, I found the St. Lamvinus to be a little flat and more subtle than sour, though the Vigneronne was pleasantly dry and tart and I really enjoyed trying it. And for my next trick, I made a bottle of 2014 3 Fonteinen Oude Kreik disappear. No, I didn’t sit on it. Man, do I love this beer. It’s a deeper, not as tart, cherry flavor but goddamn does it do the trick. It’s a close favorite behind Boon Kriek for me. Then, I basically just lost control and wanted to taste the rainbow™ and drink MOAR B33RZ: so I ripped through another Rosè de Gambrinus and Vigneronne, a Cantillon Kriek (2017), Loverbeer For Fan (which was apricot flavored), and a Hanssen Experimental Cassis which, was FUCKING perfectly tart, full of flavor, carbed right, and just a solid fucking beer. I think that was the 2nd biggest surprise of the day (besides the Zwanze beer not being worth it, but we’ll get to that).
And then it was 3 PM and the star of the show took center stage. The line gathered round, we all got our collectible glassware (#fucktekus) and anticipation built. Awww look, baby’s first Zwanze. Except…it wasn’t good. It was fine. It was allllright, I guess. It’s a rarity…cool? I don’t know it didn’t hit any chords with me. It was a mediocre beer that had a lot of thought and anticipation behind it. It just, yeah…whatever.
Beyond the nerdery of the line and the fact that what we were there to celebrate wasn’t worth celebrating, it was the beer scene at its best. It’s basically a giant bottle share where everyone’s really willing to send some your way. It’s such an awesome time if you’re into the style of beer and even if the Zwanze kind of tastes like a $7 bottle of wine that you let sit out on a table over night. But don’t wake up early to get in line, listen to dickheads pontificate on beer, or to get a commemorative glass, etc. There was plenty of the Zwanze left over for the same $15 I spent. And if it’s good, it’s good. But I 100% recommend going for the curated list Spuyten Duyvil prepares and the hard to finds. Bring a friend, bring some food, bring some beer, and have fun. Whatever you do, just don’t get a Cantillon tattoo on your calf.