Zwanze 2015 - Wild Brussels Stout
Brasserie Cantillon

Zwanze 2015 - Wild Brussels StoutZwanze 2015 - Wild Brussels Stout
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Belgian Lambic
4.15 | pDev: 8.43%
Brasserie Cantillon
Retired (no longer brewed)
Zwanze 2015 - Wild Brussels StoutZwanze 2015 - Wild Brussels Stout
Notes: 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).
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Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 146
Photo of Alieniloquium
3.62/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Redlight Redlight. Served in a wine taster. Deep brown, almost black. Reddish in the light. Faint head. Strong oak aroma. Heavy roast. Dark fruits and vinous notes. Taste is sour and a little vinegary. Heavy roast. Strong dark fruit tartness. Bitter coffee in the finish. Medium low carbonation. Medium body. Not as bad as I expected. A good expression of a sour dark beer, but that doesn’t always say a lot.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Draft at Churchkey for Zwanze 2015.

Mahogany body and clear with a sparse head of broken bubbles, rapidly fading to nil, giving a still appearance.

Aromas of funk, cherry, leather. More of an oud bruin character than that of a stout.

Smooth on the palate, with no carbonation. Cherries and Cantillon funk with a touch of musty earth. Vinous, tannic, oaky.

Overall, an interesting beer. Not my favorite Cantillon, but still tasty. Again, more of a Flanders style sour than a stout.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.76/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

750ml green glass bottle from a Lambic basket @ Cantillon. Cost was 15 euro.

2015 vintage. 7% ABV. Wild Brussels stout.

Expectations are sky-high given the brewery and style. I guess I'm hoping for sort of a superior rival to Tart of Darkness?

HEAD: ~2cm wide. Pale khaki colour. Soft-looking, with inviting creaminess and a supple consistency. Complexion is good. Retention is excellent - ~10 minutes. Leaves no lacing on the sides of the stemware as it recedes.

BODY: It's actually a very dark deep ruby-brown - not the opaque black you might expect in a beer labelled "stout." Nontransparent. Quasitranslucent. I see no yeast within.

It's a nice appearance for a Belgian wild ale (barring a better style categorization). Indeed, it looks like a hybrid between Lambic and stout. Could be more vibrant, to be fair, but I'm eager to try it. Appears perfectly carbonated.

AROMA: Faint fruit - cherry. Leather. Acetic character. Acidity. Mild sourness - maybe a 3-4/10 in terms of intensity. Reticent weak cocoa powder. Depleted redcurrant. Faint oak - though not the rich toasted white oak one might hope for. A blip of vanilla. Sherry wine. Flashes of grape.

Lambicus yeast and that clean Cantillon funkiness come through, but the more prominent acetic character and the relative absence of true stout characteristics (roasted barley, chocolate/chocolate malt, overt dark or schwarz malts) tug this towards an oud bruin more than anything else.

I find myself craving more tartness and fruit, more bacteria, and more sourness.

Still, it's a rather inviting aroma of average strength, and I like it's oud bruin bend.

Not boozy at all, and I find no off-notes.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Sherry wine and reticent oak lend this it's backgrounded unifying barrel character. Fruitwise, it's a touch raising, with suggestions of depleted grapes, cherries, and some redcurrant perhaps. It does bend into acetic character, making it redolent of fine vinegar and pie filling.

The Lambic side overpowers any stout characteristics overwhelmingly; this offers no traditional stout flavours aside from weak cocoa powder and a slightly darker malt backbone...though to be honest I'd be surprised if dark malts comprised any more than 20% of the malt bill.

Jean Van Roy's odd preoccupation with Madeira wine is evident here. It's a bit more dry and coarse than most Cantillon beers, but is still smooth, wet, and acidic enough to refresh.

I'm not getting any of the cognac barrel, really, but maybe that's a good thing...there's barely any alcohol warmth or booziness at all.

Balanced, definitely, though not in terms of Lambic versus stout. The barrel component of the flavour is much more subtle than what you'd find in barrel aged beers from probably any other country in the world.

Has a slight smackiness on the palate which accentuates the sourness of the beer (especially as it comes to temperature). Sourness is maybe a 4/10 in terms of intensity. More tartness would really elevate this beer.

Perfectly carbonated. Light to medium-bodied (again, the Lambic beats the stout), and of apt heft and weight on the palate.

This isn't quite a gestalt whole of a beer; the combination of Lambic and stout elements is a bit uneven - but it approximates a sort of oud bruin-redolent flavour profile with some nice nuanced barrel characteristics.

Flavour duration is well above average. Flavour intensity is above average, as-is depth of flavour.

OVERALL: While I'm glad I didn't wait in line for this to get a miniscule pour at some hype-driven American event, it's one hell of an interesting beer - even if it's experimental tendencies make it a bit rough around the edges. I'd happily buy another bottle at this price, but then I'll probably never have the opportunity. More interesting work from Cantillon, though perhaps not as boundary-pushing as its name might have you believe. Absolutely drinkable for its dangerous 7%, but not the world class work Cantillon more regularly puts out. I'm glad I got to try this.

The leathery acidic mouthfeel is, for me, its highlight.

Low B+ (3.76) / VERY GOOD

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Photo of amano_h
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

75cl bottle at the brewery.

A deceptive amount of tartness and funk emanate from the rather dark and obsidian-like liquid that I see before me. Notes of lemon, hay, the Cantillon funk, and subtle hints of roasted malts pinch the nose upon first whiff, trailed by an intoxicating aroma of coffee and smoke.

The taste is analgous to the nose. Acidic, funky, tartness lead the charge, followed by a roasty, woody, almost leathery finish. The stout character seems to spawn more aggressively as the beer warms up, with flavors of chocolate, and malt becoming more pronounced as more time goes by. There's also a slight medicinal after flavor that accompanies the stout.

Medium to full-bodied, as would be expected from a stout. Slightly less carbonation than what I'm used to from other Cantillon offerings, but not too far off, as this is a "Wild Stout." Dry, crisp finish, with no obvious booziness as you'd expect from a 7% ABV stout.

Not sure if this is the right parallel to draw, but kind of reminds me Trillium's Day and Night where one character is more predominant at colder temperatures and the other at warmer temperatures. I had no idea what to expect from this when I first tried it, but I'm definitely pleased with the results.

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Photo of WoostaBia
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

@Armsby Abbey- Worcester. 2015 Zwanze. Interesting beer with no recognizable stout dark roast characters, a good wild ale that did not surprise or provide a new experience, underwhelming for the Zwanze choice.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Holy Grale; reviewed from notes.

A: Black body with russet highlights; no head to speak of by the time my glass got to me, but I saw others with a thin off-white cap. No lacing. Pretty much what I expected, and unremarkable.

S: Much more remarkable, with the wild tartness and funk taking the lead over the roasted malts. Classic Cantillon aromas of lemon, mustardseed, and hay prickle pleasantly at first, with a bit of coffee, toffee, and smoke filling in behind. Very complex, and certainly different from other sour stouts I've had.

T: Follows the nose pretty much precisely (sour funk up front, roasted malts behind), but with the added dimension of a long, dry, puckering finish and a lingering aftertaste of lemon & chocolate. Quite tasty indeed.

M: Maybe a bit more full-bodied than other Cantillons, but that might also be my imagination. Moderate, spritzy carbonation. Ok, but much more like a Lambic than a stout - a viscous sour would have been interesting.

O: Enjoyable and very obviously experimental. In the middle of the pack as far as Zwanzes have been in my experience, but definitely a worthy addition to the series and a fitting climax for a spectacular day of drinking. Cheers!

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Photo of MasterSki
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at West Lakeview Liquors. Served in the accompany tulip.

A - A finger of tan foam settles to a partial cap, solid collar, and no lace. Dark brown body. Looks like a lower-ABV stout.

S - Smells like a sour stout. A mixture of roasted malts and tart cherry acidity. Dark chocolate, light oakiness, a bit of mineral and sea air to it as well; guessing that is the house terroir peeking through.

T - The taste is a bit more wild, with more funk and minerality; almost a seltzer-quality to it. Light roast, and significantly less chocolate and malt flavors here. A lightly tart and medicinal finish. More lambic than stout in my book.

M - Medium-light body, pleasant moderate carbonation. Very dry with a crisp finish. No obvious alcohol.

D - I'm not a fan of sour/wild/infected stouts, but this hits most of the right notes. Jean knows what it is all about.

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Photo of Dolphinsmarlins1
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Imbibed on tap at Armsby Abbey, in Worcester, MA. Very unique style of beer that went down smoothly like an stout, yet was accented by the bubbly, sour zest of the typical Cantillon offering. Though, the atmosphere certainly helps at all events like this. While it's not a beer I'd ever go out of my way to try (especially considering it's impossible now), it was all-around tasty brew.

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Photo of HoppyBastard1
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the Blue Monk in Buffalo.
Poured a very dark brown, almost black.
Dark fruit, funkiness and a hint of roast, a touch of booziness from the congac barrel.
Was roasty and tart at first, but tartness mellowed as the beer warmed.
A touch thin but sort of expected it to be.
Enjoyed this a lot as it warmed. Not so much when it first was poured. Needed time to warm up.

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Photo of peensteen
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at barvolo

Brownish colour with a ring of white head and no lace. Smell is funky with dark fruit and barnyard aromas, oak, light cherry/berry as well. Taste is tart with dark fruit and plum, cherry and lightly acidic, lemony, sour fruit and very dry. High carbonation, medium body and lightly syrupy. A solid dark sour, glad I had the opportunity to try it.

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Photo of M-Fox24
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Zwanze 2015 Pour @ Armsby Abbey

A: Pour is impervious dark burgundy; black fudge like chocolate. The head is off-white, and slightly less than half a finger; some retention, and a bit of lacing

S: A chocolate, sour, fruity, fudgy, tart, and acidic delight. Notes are embraced of oak, wood, funk, leather, vanilla, figs, berries…dark fruits and cherries

T: Acidic, funky, chocolatey, and a vinous take on the palate. The notes picked up from the aroma are prevalent on the palate: oak, roasted malts, nuts, berries, cherries, leather, vinegar, etc.…

M: Essentially medium all around, perhaps dipping below a tad bit in carbonation

O: I had no predispositions going into this, but walked away more than satisfied. Zwanze 2015 had a lot going on with each sip, which could have been a jumbled catastrophe; it was a complex, very well balanced, delicate treat. Jean’s integration amongst “the roasted, slightly burnt and delicate chocolate flavours” to the “dry and tart notes of a spontaneous fermentation” fared more than well

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Photo of mdfb79
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From 09/19/15 notes. Had 2 5oz. pours on tap at Zwanze Day in NYC at Fool's Gold.

Pours a dark brown color with a reddish tint, a few bubbles of reddish-white head and low carbonation evident. Some sour dark fruits, tart cherries, oak, vanilla, fruity malts, light vinegar, leather, and light chocolate/roasted malts. Medium body and low carbonation.

Overall I liked this a lot more than I thought I was going to. When I heard it was a sour stout I didn't have the highest hopes for this one, but it was really more of just a dark wild ale, like a flanders our bruin. Very happy with this one...still not my favorite of the day, but up there.

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Photo of ArkyVaughan
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Fools Gold in NYC on Zwanze Day - so glad this lasted until late in the evening. I was apprehensive since Cantillon labeled this a "stout," but was pleasantly surprised. Really nice, tart beer.

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Photo of B-Nut-GoBlue
4.6/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Zwanze Day, Iowa (Schera's, Elkader). Cheers Belgium.

Loved this beer. I've zero clue as to why I would underestimate this year's beer due to it being a stout. I knew better and should've stuck to my instincts. This was a phenomenal take on a lambic stout. I didn't LOVE the appearance at first but when back at my booth I was intrigued to see some burgundy rouge within the dark "roasty", brown hue. Smelled of sour notes, dark cherries; the sour smells not completely following through in the taste as the sour was not intense or out of sync. A great level of tart, read: not mouth puckering, and I feel I even gathered some of the roasted malt, something my non-elaborate palette didn't think it would actually find. It was a light-medium bodied masterpiece.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Blue Monk in Buffalo, NY.

This pours a dark ruby reddish brown, not super stoutish in appearance. There's a very small head and no lacing.

Smells like cherry, red wine, leather, slight chocolate, and lemon.

This definitely feels more like an tasty oud bruin than a stout. But that's ok. Getting some slight roast and chocolate, with oak and leather, with cherry and sour red wine, lemon, and a hint of vinegar. Definitely unique from the brewery.

This is fairly thin and light bodies, with a fairly tart mouthfeel- the sourness is somewhat high but not overwhelmingly so.

First Zwanze beer was a good one- really very unique. I wish the stout or the cognac came through a bit more, but what was there was delicious.

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Photo of swanfungus
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A very unique brownish rubyish color with a wonderfully complex nose of berries, grapes, funk, chocolate and oak. A little roast too. Flavor is tart but with all those elements from the aroma playing together too. Light/medium body. Slightly bitter finish.

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Photo of thampel09
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Easily one of the better zwanzes in he last years. You really get the subtle roast from the stout on the tail end which was perfectly balanced with the sourness upfront. Very well done, had a 5oz pour at monks

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Photo of Kurmaraja
4.31/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark auburn with some garnet irridescence in the light. Small foam cap that lingers. Nose of blackberry, tannic red grapes, a king of thistle / bramble wild herbal note. Perhaps some cherry / chocolate and a hint of vinegar. More oud bruin than stout like. Flavor is smooth, a bit less heady or distinct, but with that characteristic Cantillon funk lingering long in the finish. Medium body.

The comparisons to Black & Wild feel on point to me - tuned to a more European sensibility.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

5oz sample at Brouwer's. I was number 90. Review from very, very brief notes.

Pours very dark ruby, with a small head that literally lasts for hours. Medium carbonation. No lacing. Smell is mild, tart and roasty.

Taste is tart, some blackberry, and a strong bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth, soft, a little oily. Overall, good beer -- but not mind blowing.

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Photo of gonzo000
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

thin stout with sour notes - grape to my nose , cherries to those around me . Extreamly smooth and enjoyable. There are sour notes, but nothing over powering or so sour that it could not be enjoyed.

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Photo of MissSmisje
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On draft in a taster tulip at Fool's Gold after all of the Zwanze Day craziness had subsided. (Side note - how is there any of this left at 10pm?!)
S: smooth balsamic vinegar, cherry, chocolate
T: same as the nose, very complex. Tart, but smooth .
F: medium body, perceived lightness from the tartness, but still a medium feel.
O: complex, well balanced, delicious.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

5oz pour served at Schera's in Elkader, Iowa for Zwanze 2015. Cheers!

The beer poured a medium-darker black body, half finger offwhite head, fair retention. Not a lot of lacing, but it does retain a small collar. Smells of mild chocolate, a bit of tart cherry, a fair bit of balsamic vinegary acidity, mild brewery funk, oak, must. It's quite acidic smelling, which is a bit of a surprise. The funk doesn't come across as much as it does in the other brews. The chocolate is a nice twist; there isn't much roast though. Flavour is fairly similar; a bit less of the chocolate comes across with more of the oak and acidity shining through. A little bit of chocolate, even a touch of dark fruit, a little cherry, oak, mild brewery funk. Balsamic vinegar on the finish. It reminds me in some ways of a lighter Black & Wild in the sense that the flavour and aroma have a fair bit of complexity, but in that it's not quite so overpowering and intense. It's much more balanced as a whole. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, good depth of flavor, nice carbonation, easy to sip on. It gets more interesting as it warms, too. Overall, another nice Zwanze beer and a welcome twist on the typical lambic paradigm.

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Photo of mynie
4.58/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

6 oz pour into a custom made glass at Novare Res in Portland, ME. My first Zwanze.

Pours... brownish. Not really stouty, but then again it's hard to tell when we're only talking about six ounces. The head is decent and it does not dissipate.

Smells sharp and crisp. Even after a couple of other Cantillions, the complexities are still perceptible and the funk is still pleasant. The stoutness is heavily advertised but I am absolutely not picking it up. Even with, say, New Glarus' fantastic Olde English porter, you could still discern burnt barley nodes among the wild tartness. This is all tart. It's a very good an unique tart, though. Strongly acidic yet also vinous, like if a wine had somehow turned to vinegar without losing its flavor profile--that's hard to envision, I realize, but this beer is hard to describe.

Tastes like it smells only deeper and more rounded. Sharp cherry wine up front, moving into a middle that's a little boozy, a tiny bit stouty, and pleasantly balsamic. Finishes like a very smooth, barrel aged flemmish red only without any hints of alcohol.

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Photo of jrenihan
4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Nose is fairly restrained. Bread, a bit of a funky scent. Taste is bigger: pleasantly sour, dark fruit, a very slight roast flavour. Blackberry and dark grape are the strongest flavours for me, with a tart finish. Nice body, carbonated but not heavily. A bit astringent. Good stuff- but it doesn't take the place of the regular Cantillon beers.

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Photo of beerhan
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

6oz Draft at Blue Monk

A-Poured into the blue monk zwanze goblet. Dark ruby/brown pour with almost no head, just a thin white lacing.

S-Smells very acetic up front, almost like I am back in the lab sniffing chemicals however there is a strong woodiness that shines through. There is a little plum almost in the nose or other dark fruit but quite subtle.

T-There is a lot of wet wood up front that dominates the flavor. It is not overly sour but not really sweet either. The cognac did not shine through at all in either of our glasses but a little fruit, perhaps sweet dark cherries, came through at the end and a hint of vanilla probably from the barrel.

M-The carbonation was perfect on this beer and it was not overly sour either.

O-Never have I thought I would say this but this is the best thing I have had from Cantillon. Classic Gueuze has always been my favorite but this is just phenomenal. It is like a oude bruin done Cantillon style. The only thing I would have liked is more cognac notes to it.

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Zwanze 2015 - Wild Brussels Stout from Brasserie Cantillon
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 146 ratings