Friday saw my first real foray into the JDW Fest. Somewhat surprisingly, bloggers seem to have largely ignored this event, so I was somewhat in the dark. Thus, on my way back to Manchester, I spent a couple of hours in Glasgow, where there are three JDWs within a cockstride of Central Station. I started off with my new favourite, Camperdown Place, which alas did not meet the standards of the esteemed Barm. However I have no inbuilt anti Wetherspoon bias and very much like chatty, helpful and pleasant bar staff, a comfortable atmosphere and proximity to a station, so it is just fine by me. Pick of the bunch I tried was Oakham Taipan which, despite the absence of the promised ginger, was very fine indeed. I also enjoyed Holden's April Showers which was remarkably bitter for a Holdens beer. My least favourite here was Hydes Plum Treat which was neither remotely plummy, nor a treat. On a similar vein, Thwaites Bloomin' Smoky wasn't remotely smoky - a good thing in my view - but do you see a theme emerging here of promised ingredients not delivering?
The Counting House just across the road, had been forced to wake up from its dark Scottish beer coma and had a few different beers on. I liked Bateman's All Seasons, which tasted exactly like any other Bateman's beer you have ever tried, but is a taste I like. Less keen I was on Lancaster Kingmaker, which was sugary and unbalanced; Jennings Cocky Blonde was green, hazy and not ready for serving. It shouldn't have been on the bar, but you certainly couldn't complain about the lack of blackberry in Mauldon's Blackberry Porter,as it was hoaching with them - too much so in fact and while Brain's Milkwood was good, Wolf Blonde was a big miss for this reporter at least. Last of the Central Station trio was the Sir John Moore, where Elgood's Spring Challenge was the only beer (of three) I hadn't tried. It was rather decent too, in a splendidly old fashioned way. This pub probably fits the JDW stereotype much more than the other two, but ho hum.
As I was meeting E at Manchester Piccadilly, I had time to break my journey in Preston. The Greyfriar was literally eight deep at the bar at around six thirty, I couldn't even see what was on the forest of pumps which, like a distant mountain range, was tantalising but beyond my reach, though somehow I managed to weave my way up through a raised seating area, to a corner of the bar, dragging my luggage behind me. I could only see two handpumps from this rather poor vantage point, so halves of Green Jack Orange Wheat and Triple F Ramble Tamble were ordered, both of which were excellent, with the TripleF shading it. By this time the gap at the bar, like a time portal, had closed for good, so back to the station I went.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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