Beer and I go back a long way. Gaga, my maternal grand-father, used to offer me a light ale shandy when ever we visited. Can’t have been any stronger than about 1% and anyway, who could’ve resisted the biscuity cereal taste topped up with a ice cold R-Whites lemonade.

Take it forward a few years and you’d often find Diddy (my sister) and me piling it down the motorway trying to haul back the miles to go in the minutes we had left til our ferry, pushing the Talbot Samba to 110 mph (downhill). All to water our obsession with drink. For Diddy, it was all about the Chardonnay (more on that in the wine section). And for me? Belgian beer. Trappist, abbey, Lambic, golden ales, scotch ales, strong ales, wheat, saison, doubles, triples, bring em all on. Mass produced? I’ll still drink Hoegarden, Leffe and Grimbergen over Stella any day. Plus it gave us a chance to explore the beers of Nord-Pas de Calais: Ch’Ti, Trois Monts, Grain d’Orge – all to be drunk cold with the ubiquitous moules or steak frites available everywhere in France.

But let’s not forget what’s on our doorstep. Real Ale. I’m not a CAMRA member

A decade later and beer’s become


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