Now I am more open minded than most when it comes to JD Wetherspoon, though well aware of their limitations and faults. I kind of regard them as a distress purchase - good in certain situations. A bit like Guinness, not something you'd actively choose, but if there is nothing better, it'll do.
Last night we decided to nip along to the Liberty Bounds for their curry night as one of the few times I have had a curry there, I've quite enjoyed it, but there is a big caveat. I've always had their "thali" - a load of little sampler dishes of various curries - and though I am well aware it is microwaved, nonetheless, not too bad. First problem; they have stopped doing the thali. I also looked at the beers on the bar - an unremitting sea of brown. This is where I really got it wrong. We should have left at that point. After all the reason for going there in the first place was gone. But, fool that I am, we didn't.
I ordered the chicken jalfrezi. Poor beyond belief. It was a three or four chilli dish. Bollocks. I've had hotter cough sweets. The free drink should have been Pedigree, but luckily there was none. I chose Exe Valley XXV, mentioned here by Paul Garrard, who found it "a complex beer that keeps you guessing". No Paul, this tasted like fermented farmyard sweepings and was by a long way the worst beer I've had this year. Undrinkable rubbish. Feeling distinctly crabby by now, I took it back where it was exchanged for the second worst beer I've had this year, Goff's Tournament. Who let that out of the brewery? Determined to salvage something from the night, I orderd a Weston's Organic Cider. It had gone off. "Would I like Thatcher's Old Rosie?" "That'll be fine." No. That was off too.
We left with me in a bad temper, having had in spades the sort of experience that others frequently complain about. The only thing missing was the chavs. There isn't going to be much let up either. I picked up the JDW magazine which lists the forthcoming guest list. Brown, brown, brown, brown and fecking brown. They even boast about their darker autumnal range. What on earth is the matter with these people? Recommended by East-West Ales it seems. What's the matter with these people?
I know. It serves me right, but if Timbo had been there, he would have got a piece of my mind.
There are three really good beers on the list: Oakham Mompesson's Gold, Thornbridge Jaipur and best of all, the delicious St Austell Proper Job. The rest are a mixed bag of hopless wonders.
E's chicken tikka massalla - I know- was considered OK.
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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