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Zwanze Day 2015 - September 19

Belgium: the land of surrealism...

This artistic movement, which began at the end of the 19th century, continues to define in part the Belgian spirit and for quite a few people here has even become a sort of life philosophy. Bury, Ensor and, of course, Magritte were key figures of the movement in Belgium. René Magritte, who became well-known for the contrast of light and dark in his works, is the author of the famous painting This is not a pipe.

With its Zwanze 2015, in its own way Cantillon wanted to perpetuate this typically Belgian surrealist mindset. In doing so, a few changes were made to the recipe for a traditional stout. Specifically, I fermented some raw wheat to improve mellowness and enhance storage characteristics and did not use roasted barley to avoid further accentuating the dry aspect, which was already present as a result of spontaneous fermentation.

The recipe is that of a stout, the colour is that of a stout, and spontaneous fermentation followed by 28 months of maturing in a cask has given birth to a “surreal” stout.

The dry and tart notes of a spontaneous fermentation beer combine with the roasted, slightly burnt and delicate chocolate flavours sometimes found in certain stouts.

For the 28 months of maturing we used three types of casks: 50% of the casks had already contained lambic, 25% had already been used for Côtes du Rhône wine and 25% had already been used for Cognac. Beers that have matured in old Cognac casks take up the warmth of the alcohol while those from casks having contained red wine adopt winey and fruity characteristics.

This “wild” stout’s fruitiness and “cooked” side reveal rancio flavours that are characteristic of Madeira or Banyuls wines. The ideal tasting temperature to fully enjoy these fragrances and flavours is 15 °C - 18 °C (59 °F - 64 °F).

Cheers !

Jean Van Roy

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