Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Zwanze Day and other New Orleans Beer Updates!

Regarding my previous post, I want to make it clear that I am incredibly grateful and inspired by the work that the Avenue Pub, NOLA Brewing, and other breweries and bars are doing in New Orleans and Louisiana. They just shouldn't have to carry the whole load! There's room for everyone at the table!

On that note, behold the upcoming craft beer awesomeness here in New Orleans::

First and foremost, ZWANZE DAY is on Saturday, December 1! This is the day that Cantillon Brewery in Belgium reveals their annual Zwanze beer, which is different every year. This year, it's a recreation of their first Zwanze vintage in 2008, a rhubarb lambic.  Since Cantillon is all about "celebrating the style of spontaneous brewing" the road to Zwanze 2012 was a bit rocky, as you can see from this blurb on Cantillon's website:
When in early April we brewed a top-fermentation beer which was to become Zwanze 2012, we hoped that it would be ready 3 or 4 months later so that we could organise another Zwanze Day sometime in September.
However, since we are working in the very specific environment of traditional Lambic brewery where natural yeast flora reign supreme, even a top-fermented beer can take control of its own destiny. As such, on the occasion of a final tasting session at the end of June it became crystal-clear that the Zwanze 2012 would not be ready in time and that it would, we hope, become Zwanze 2013.
Seeing that we had received numerous requests to organise a Zwanze Day this year we decided to recreate the very first Zwanze produced in 2008. As a reminder, that year's vintage had been brought about by soaking rhubarb in Lambic. The ultimate result of that experiment was a very delicate and complex product in which the beer' acidic taste struck a very nice balance with the plant's tartness and then lingered long on the palate.
For this new production batch we decided to work with organically-grown rhubarb, and you can really taste this in the beer, which is more structured and full-bodied than the 2008 vintage. We opted to recreate the rhubarb Lambic because very few consumers had been able to taste this beer 4 years ago, when only 300 litres had been produced. On top of this, unlike fruit crops, rhubarb production was not adversely affected by the very poor weather which hit Europe this spring. And finally, the last, perhaps most important reason of all for bringing back Zwanze 2008: my wife tells me it's one of her favourites.
The Avenue will be supplementing their Zwanze 2012 allotment with kegs and bottles they've cellared all year in preparation for this day, which you can read all about on their web page. Sadly, I don't see Cantillon Iris on their list, which may be my favorite Cantillon beer (after Zwanze 2010) but hope springs eternal.

Also at the Avenue this weekend will be local brewer Parish Brewing's rollout of its first Grand Cru barleywine release. That will be on Friday, and it will be on both keg and cask (which intrigues me! Can't wait to taste them side by side.). The Avenue will also be starting to offer some of their special sours on Friday, so that's another reason to check it out.

I'll be interviewing Andrew Godley, founder of Parish Brewing, about the Grand Cru experience as well as Parish's enormous growth over the past year or so, so keep a look out right here on my blog for that tomorrow or Friday.

Also something to stay tuned in for: NOLA Brewing's Irish Channel Stout release!  It will be next week (Thursday, December 6) at Finn McCool's in Mid City. Hoping to talk to the guys at NOLA Brewing before then about what's going on over there on Tchoup. One exciting thing that IS happening- NOLA Brewing Brewery Tours will be starting back up THIS Friday, November 30! Brewery tours had been suspended as the brewery was repairing the damage done during Isaac as well as finishing their expansion into the building they recently acquired next door to their original building.

This weekend is looking most promising- very excited!

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