The 8th edition of Namur Capitale de la Bière et du Terroir Festival featured a mix of the traditional family-run brewers, bigger brands that produce lots of suds, and some craft brewers, including Atrium, Brasserie de la Sambre and BrewDog. About 40 Belgian brewers participated, along with Scottish-based BrewDog.
Around 10,000 people attended over the three days 12-14 July, with 220 beers and rocking music to keep them happy. Co-organised by Emilien Watelet and Sébastien Legrain, it’s Wallona’s largest beer festival, in a part of Belgium that does not feature a lot in the geek calendar.
This was a different sort of festival, less of a tasting affair and more of a drinker’s jaunt, mixing along with families who are used to less experimentation in their beers and tastes. There are no tasting glasses or tokens on entry to what is a magnificent location – the Citadel, a medieval fortress overlooking Namur, Wallonia’s capital, which sits at the confluence of the Meuse and Sambre rivers. Instead one buys a full beer at one of the outdoor stands run by the brewers, including a deposit on the glassware.
At one point a stag party in costumes and drinking hats took over the celebrations with line dancing. Quite funny indeed, and adding to the festivities, which The Beer Idiots fully enjoyed. It is definetly on our calendar!
The festival is one of four organised by Namur Capitale de la Bière. The others feature IPAs in April, stouts and sours in November and winter or Christmas beers in January, what Watelet says is more for geeks or “open-minded drinkers”.
He says the inspiration for the festival was to fill a need in Wallonia, which did not have a beer festival, a vast lack compared to the many such events in the Flemish part of the country.
“The real focus is to educate people,” he says. “We would like not just to put some beers in the same area and having drunk people at the end of the day. We would like to show them the variety. We would like to train them to pair beer and food. We would like to show them how to make cocktails with beers. We would like to explain to them how to recognise a beer by smelling, tasting, everything. So we would like to have all these things and not just sipping beers.”
On hand was Michael Vermeren, teacher of zythology at CEFOR in Namur, who presented a pairing of beer and food. Other events included blind tasting contests, and workshops for creating beer-based cocktails.
The Idiots especially enjoyed the live music from Gaelle Mievis, Ludwig Pinchart, and Pierre Abras, who as the Banging Souls belted out some rocking tunes, including songs from their album Rich to the Bone, which they classify as “Rock’n Roll Terroir”. Each of the 10 songs they say were composed while drinking a specific beer from one of the 10 micro-breweries featured on the album. For example, Live It Up was composed by tasting a Zinnebir.
So put the album on, Live it Up, and enjoy a beer.