This Saturday, September 20th, is Cantillon's Zwanze Day. You may be wondering, what is Zwanze Day?
Basically, every year on Zwanze Day, which isn't necessarily the same day each year, Cantillon releases an extremely rare and experimental beer for beer lovers, specifically sour lovers, to enjoy, available at only a handful of locations around the world.
This year's beer is called Cuvee Florian, named after Cantillon's Jean Van Roy's son and to celebrate his 18th birthday. You can check out the full description of Cuvee Florian and the locations it is available at Cantillon's website, but from what I can gather this year's Zwanze beer will be a blended Kriek.
Full disclosure, I have not attended a Zwanze Day. This year will be my first and so while I am looking forward to it, the tiny mouse of “not knowing what to expect” is nibbling away at the cheese of my brain. And while after reading the description from Cantillon I am left with very little, if any, real idea of what this year's Zwanze will taste like, my concern has more to do with the event itself and the logistics involved.
For example, I am currently weighing two different locations – Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia and Alewife Queens in New York City.
Monk's offers familiarity, including my experience there for Pliny The Younger on Russian River Mad Monday. I imagine if I arrive to Zwanze Day around the same time I arrived for the Russian River event, about two hours prior to opening, I should be in excellent shape in terms of having the opportunity to try this year's Zwanze, assuming this event is equally popular.
The Alewife in New York City, while I have never been there before and therefore have next to no idea what to expect, does have a few qualities that do make it rather enticing. First, their website makes it very clear on how the Zwanze beer will be handled – the first 80 people will receive a ticket for a Zwanze beer. Simple and direct. Also, based on the draft list that Alewife has listed for the day, even if your are person #81, there will definitely still be plenty of things to hold your interest, including several other Cantillons and mentions of Hill Farmstead, Almanac, and Maine.
Monk's will also have several Cantillons on draft that day, but New York might make more sense from a travel perspective if the friend I've invited to come along can make the trip. And if that's the case, what time should I get to Alewife to insure I am one of the first 80? At Monk's I think I have a better chance of getting to try the Zwanze since I have a better idea of the timing involved with a Monk's event. However, it seems that Monk's will be providing smaller servings to allow for more people to enjoy it.
Do I go for certainty over quantity? Familiarity or mystery? Play it safe or take chances?
Are you headed to Zwanze Day this year? Where? Have you been before? And what sort of coping mechanisms (other than alcohol) do you employ in order to leave the house and go to strange new places?
I saw a guy today walking around the supermarket with an open bag of chips and an open container of dip in his shopping cart – just walking around, shopping, dipping his chips, and throwing caution to the wind. Can I be that guy? Can I take those kinds of chances?
He had Crocs on – do I need a pair of Crocs?
There is also a second location in New York, Spuyten Duyvil in Brooklyn, but from what I can tell, they currently have zero information on their website on how they plan on handling the day. I feel like the guy from the supermarket would take his chips and dip and head straight to that place without a care in the world. It looks like a cool place. Should I just go there?
This crazy man from the supermarket – yes, his frivolous public snacking has led me to question his sanity – even went so far as to casually compliment the contents of other customers' carts. He told me that my rotisserie chicken looked delicious. Mind your business about my rotisserie chicken, I thought, as backtracked through the store to put that tainted chicken back under the heat lamps. I grabbed fried chicken instead because it looked disgusting and I thought he would be hard pressed to find something nice to say about it should our paths cross again.
And of course, our paths crossed again. You've been here for a while, he said.
“Leave me be you demon of the market” is what I should of said. But instead, I raised my eyebrows and silently shook my head, as if to say “You know it, brother” and imply that I had in fact been there so long that I had forgotten how to speak.
I am Nell. Nell of the supermarket. And you sir, are an imaginary demon.
Regardless of where I decide to go for Zwanze Day, and I am open to any and all input anyone might have about any of those three locations or the event in general, I have now convinced myself that there is a greater than 75% chance that this man from the supermarket will be there, most likely right behind me in line as I wait outside – “Oh, you've been here for awhile.”
And if he is there, which he will be, the conditional probability that he will also be holding my rotisserie chicken is...
J. R. Shirt is headed to Zwanze Day 2014. He will be wearing a prototype of a potential BeerGraphs t-shirt. Approach with caution. He also hosts the Drinking With Shirt podcast available on BeerGraphs and iTunes. Listen with caution. Follow on J. R. on Twitter and Untappd @beeronmyshirt.