Grape and grain meet at festival for lovers of drink

Summary

A festival named after desire brings together wine, whisky and beer, and suggests vermouth is on track to be the Next Big Thing

On Flemish food and drink

When we’re first becoming adults, we’re advised not to mix our drinks, especially not the products of the grape and the grain. There may or may not be a scientific justification for that advice, but it’s sensible to be cautious and always aware of what you’re putting in your stomach.

The organisers of Meug are doubtless cautious people who praise moderation above all else, but they’re asking for fireworks by bringing together beer-lovers, wine-lovers and whisky-lovers in one place for one giant tasting festival.

The event seems to have been inspired back in October when the three organisations held a Lovers’ dinner in Antwerp, prepared by chef Michael Roelandts, with beer, wine and whisky pairings.

Meug (the word means lust or desire) features 14 beer stands, 10 wine merchants and 11 distillers, with more than 120 types of drink to be tasted. Highlights include a distillate of the Pannepot beer from De Struise brewers, a bit of a legend among beer lovers that fits somewhere between a strong dark ale and a stout. Essen off-license De Caigny is fielding this rarity, with a selection of barrel-aged beers and fresh IPAs.

De Dochter van de Korenaar in Baarle-Hertog specialises in barrel-aged beers, like their Noblesse Extra-Ordinaire Pure-Oak Series matured in new oak, the Peated Oak Aged Embrasse matured in Islay whisky casks, and the Renaissance aged for 18 months in casks of Puligny Montrachet.

Gin, allegedly, is old hat: the Next Big Thing will be vermouth. Whether they mean you’ll be drinking it neat is doubtful. However, it’s a versatile ingredient in all sorts of cocktails, not just the Martini, the Gibson and the Negroni. It’s bitter, and bitter is here to stay. It’s being presented by Vinovatie in a variety of shapes and colours.

30 April, Zuiderpershuis, Waalsekaai 14, Antwerp