It’s one of the great lambic cafes of Belgium, and it’s barely two years old. Herberg De Zwaan just opened on October 1, 2011, yet it has already made a big impression on local beer lovers and with International visitors.
I’m one of them. I first paid a visit to the cafe the day before they opened, on September 30, 2011. I was visiting Gert Christiaens at his Oud Beersel lambic blendery, and he suggested, nay, insisted, that we take some time to check out the new place. I’m glad we did. Beer lover Adri Vanderelst greeted us and gave us a quick cellar tour, and we sat down and tasted an amazing homebrewed Schaarbeekse Kriek, which we drank from old 1950’s-1960’s Geuze glasses from a now-gone brewery.
That always makes an impression.
Adri, 28, runs the place with his brother, Stijn, 31. The building dates to 1700, and has been a village pub for many years. Both brothers are serious beer enthusiasts, and it shows. “We have seven beers on draft, with a good variety. We always have at least one lambic on draft, either from a keg or bag-in-box. We stock about 125 different beers overall,” Adri remarked during my second visit, on November 10, 2013. In addition to a dozen authentic Oude Geuze brews and around ten Oud Krieks, De Zwaan has a lot of regional, Trappist, and other brews on its menu. Lupulus Blonde from Les 3 Fourquets, La Chouffe, Belgian Luppoo, and Beersel Blond were on tap during my visit.
A fine, complex, two-year-old Boon Lambic was also on draft that day, and I savored it. New friends Johan Wanne Madalijns and Wim de Kelver of De Lambikstoempers did as well. Their organization is the top lambic beer focused, Zythos-affiliated beer club in Belgium.
In fact, De Lambikstoempers has been bestowing an award to what they consider the best lambic-beer focused cafe in Belgium every year since 2010. The winner, for 2013? De Zwaan. It’s well-deserved.
The club sends anonymous inspectors to check places out over the course of the year.
You can read some of the press coverage here:
My second beer that day was a Hanssens Oude Geuze. This was no mere coincidence, as the Hanssens Lambic Blendery (Geuzestekerij) is walking distance to De Zwaan.
That’s beer karma. Big-time. The Oude Geuze hit the spot: very tart, complex, and refreshing.
De Zwaan is also very bicyclist-friendly. There is even a “We are bike-friendly” sign on the door! In order to have this, the Province of Flemish Brabant requires that an establishment has, at a minimum, a large area for cycle storage, a first aid kit, and a bicycle repair kit for emergency repairs, as well as tourist information about the region. De Zwaan also includes a charging station for electric bicycles. Groups of up to 100 can be accommodated. For 15 person or more must reserve in advance.
De Zwaan is open Wednesday to Friday from 2 pm-close and Saturday+Sunday 10 am-close. The address is Gemeentehuisstraat 1, Dworp. Tel: 02 356 97 01.