Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Next One Up


Now that Cask Ale week with all its controversies is behind us, it's time to look forward to the next event. In my case it is Wetherspoon's Beer Festival. This bi-annual event is usually most interesting, partly because of seeking out the beers either imported or brewed here by foreign brewers (using the facilities of some of our breweries) and just for the novelty value of not having the usual suspects to go at.

The list this year isn't spectacular, but it is pretty damn solid. (The gorgeous E did think it "too brown" which is a recurring theme to her.) As an aside, possibly this is because most of JDW beer is sold in the South where brown beer still has a pretty firm grip, or maybe it is a sort of seasonal reflection, or, as is more likely, the smaller producers of pale and hoppy beers, by and large, aren't big enough to supply the volume JDW require.) I just don't know. Nonetheless there is still plenty to appeal and there is a few blondies too.

So what are the highlights? Let's take the beer brewed here by foreign brewers as a given, though it has to be remarked that having Honkers Ale instead of Goose Island IPA is an opportunity missed. (Though as I'll be in Chicago in three weeks, I'm not so bothered personally.) I do like the sound of the following: Otter Mild, 3B's Oatmeal Stout, Morrell's Oxford Blue, Phoenix Black Shadow, BrewDog Trashy Blonde, Welton's Hawthorn, Atlas Wayfarer, Bearton Peach Melbear, Herold Black Chalice, Sharp's Gentle Jane, Hawkshead Lakeland Lager, Titanic Tomahawk and St Peter's Old Style Porter. As always it will be educational to see how the beers measure up to the descriptions. No doubt some of my highlights will fail to appeal and some others will pleasantly surprise.

I remarked earlier about the thrill of the chase, but this year my hard work is being taken away by the endeavours of our local JDW Area Manager and the landlord of the Regal Moon in Rochdale. A bus will take selected old soaks round all the local JDW's where the aim is to have all the festival beers available between them. It should be a good do and of course it will be reported here by yours truly and likely by that dedicated toper Tyson, who will be attending with his entourage and will no doubt be giving his own take on events.

So the list is linked above. Any views?

13 comments:

Cooking Lager said...

Start on them at 9am, fella !

Tandleman said...

Funnily enough when I read your bit about JDW I was and wasn't surprised. My 9 am experiences of JDW have seen as many if not more diners than topers.

Mark, Real-Ale-Reviews.com said...

Honkers Ale is magnificent and much harder to find than IPA so I'm happy, though it seems I'm on my own about that.

Chunk said...

Love the 'Spoons festivals. I've done a similar crawl round London before, the beauty being that you don't spend very much at all ... 'Spoons is so cheap!

Tandleman said...

Interesting point Chunk. £1.69 in Rochdale. Don't know about elsewhere.

Chunk said...

Wow, that is cheap. More expensive in London. Around the £2.20 to £2.50 mark I guess.

I do also like the way they sell you three third measures for the price of a pint.

Barm said...

Cheapest beer festival going ... it's in the same town, so no £10 on train fares etc, and your average beer festival venue isn't much more atmospheric than a Spoons, is it?

Mark said...

I'm impressed with the line up of beers for this year and looking forward to trying quite a few. Goose Island IPA would be fantastic but the Honkers is made from British hop varieties so I see why they chose it.

That's a great idea to arrange to get all the beers put on across a few pubs at the same time. It saves walking into Spoons everyday with fingers crossed (which is what I do - but then I live 4 minutes walk from a Spoons and pass it every day, so it's not too bad).

My Spoons can be a bit poor on the quality of their ale and the turnover isn't good, so I'm hoping the beers don't suffer because of that. Either way, I'll be checking out what's on everyday for the next three weeks.

Cooking Lager said...

Even cheaper with your £20 of free tokens eh fellas? Well run community locals? Pah!

Tandleman said...

Cheap pong. Right up your street I'd have supposed.

Tyson said...

Some decent ones on your list-Lakeland, Brewdog, Phoenix which are tried and tested. But are you really looking forward to Morrell's Oxford Blue? Apart from being strangely named after a long dead brewery, it's brewed by Banks. Yes, the hop combination sounds good, BUT it's described as a "dark amber, Best Bitter". I suspect the hops will not be apparent. But we shall see...

Tandleman said...

It was the hop combo that appealed.

Paul Bailey said...

It will be interesting to see how Shep's version of Fremlins Bitter turns out. It's a bit ironic really when you consider Fremlins used to brew just across the road from Shep's. At least the brewing water (sorry, liquor), should be the same.

I went round the old Fremlins (formerly George Beer & Rigden) Brewery back in the 80's. Even back then it was rather antiquated compared to Sheps - lots of open fermenters, compared to the closed conicals across the road.

Unfortunately Fremlins used hop extract, rather than whole hops or hop pellets. I also believe they used the ubiquitous Whitbread "B" strain of yeast to ferment their beers. Even so, on a good day Fremlins Bitter was hard to beat, for a beer of its strength, so will look forward to trying it in Spoons.