All the greatest human innovations have blossomed out of privation. Think of the clockwork radio. And, for all we know, the wheel. So I guess it should have come as no surprise that through my own personal adversity I've achieved a rather remarkable breakthrough. Faced with a city where 'hard cider' is a scarcity and the price of wine would make a Parisian cry I've been forced to come to a startling realisation: I might like beer after all. Only organic, artisanally brewed wheat beer of course, but hell, it's a start.
Of course it was the cheese that helped. Tart crumbs of chedder and square hunks of emmental that the bar laid on for free. For the world's premiere obese nation I've always found it remarkable that America is not in the habit of letting you straight line 'potato chips' with your booze. But with cheese and fatty curls of prosciutto on the bar, for once I didn't miss my Walkers.
The fulsome descriptions helped too. The Ommegang brewery were providing the yeasty thrills and their menu made their brews sound like puddings. I've always been a sucker for food porn - restaurant reviews have me salivating over my cheese and tomato sandwiches - so I let myself be persuaded that this time things might be different. This time I might actually enjoy it.
The last time I knowingly ordered a pint for myself was way back in that dive bar on the South Side of Chicago. To be honest, it wasn't so much a pint as a $4 pitcher, and lager snobs tell me that Bud light doesn't really count as beer. But these Ommegang brews were definitely neither chilled piss nor beer-flavoured lemonade. Chocolate and cherry and citrus and farmyard funk. Like any recent convert, I have an urge to evangelize about this brave new world of beer.
Besides, they gave me a free t-shirt and I'm easily bought.