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"Go forth and multiply" is often accepted as the most promptly-followed religious counsel. Close second might come the advice bishop Gambrinus gave his flock on a muddy island in what was not at the time Belgium: don't drink the water, brew with it.

Being teetotal in Belgium would be as dispiriting as being a vegetarian: neither idea has caught the public imagination. On some other hand, being a vegetarian here could be as much of a pleasure as a challenge. Eating out might be difficult – and by out I only mean away from home: I remember the excellent meals at the Orval retreat house, where even the vegetables were liable to arrive garnished with tiny strips of bacon – but eating in would be wonderful. The markets are piled with first-quality fruit and vegetables in indescribable quantity and variety. But I digress.

Beer is a subject which has exercised more productive pens than mine, so why should Iseek to redo the work of more qualified authors? a culpable waste of good drinking-time ...

You could say I'd served a long and savourable apprenticeship before landing up in Belgium: good Danish lagers, Christmas beers and the vanished skibsøl, draft Guinness at St James' Gate, English bitters without number thanks to the invaluable campaigning work of CAMRA and in the informed company of Sheffield City Morris, oddities like Adelscott in France.

And now here we are in Belgium, surrounded by everything from geuze to Trappiste – be aware if you visit that breweries with more commercial acumen than conscience have produced unworthy imitations of both these styles – and guided by two simple mottoes: moderation in all things and support local industries.

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