If you admit that you don't drink coffee, then everyone's advice is to "work up gradually". When I first tried to drink coffee, I found myself being fed mugs of sickly sweet milky mochas which were utterly revolting. It took me some years to work out that I do in fact like coffee - just not with sugar and definitely not with milk. After all, Marie Antoinette used to swear by milky coffee for her complexion, and just look where it got her. Coffee must be black and strong and flavoursome in my opinion.
It's the same with beer. "Oh, not a beer drinker, eh? Try this really weak light ale with lots of hops and a floral flavour!" I don't like citrussy flowery beer. I like rich thick creamy beers with dark roasted malts and a velvety chocolate taste on the tongue. I suspect a lot of non-beer drinkers are the same, but don't realise it.
Credit should go to the Canterbury Beer Festival who have had a "Pink Girlie Bar" in previous years, which contains lots of porters and stouts for the non-standard beer drinker. I really can't be bothered to complain about the potential sexism in this approach - the majority of Real Ale drinkers are men; not many women will try Real Ale (especially with the pump badges some of them use!) unless encouraged; The "Pink Girlie Bar" does seem to have been successful in encouraging a whole new demographic to try real ale; most of the beers I want to try are located on the PGB each year; and finally, the PGB was responsible for one of the best overheard conversations of the festival:
"Sharon, didja try that raspberry wheat beer?" "Yeah 'Chelle, but I din't think it tasted much like raspberry Bacardi Breezer at all!"
In fact, my only complaint with the PGB is that it results in queues for the ladies' loos, which is normally unheard of at beer festivals!
But I digress. Normally, I look forward to winter, season of Stouts and mellow Porters. Sadly, this year there were very few dark beers available in my local pubs, which was quite a disappointment. Fortunately, it is now the month of May, and I can hope for a higher-than-average number of Milds around. Milds aren't as flavourful as porters or stouts, but they do have the advantage of being a much more sensible strength.