Wednesday 22 April 2009

Succumbing to 'Spoons

I popped into my local Wetherspoons for lunch today. I succumbed to the temptation of their international real ale festival.

A lot of serious beer drinkers have a very low opinion of Wetherspoons. My mate Jim who likes to spend his time ticking off pubs in the Good Beer Guide (and is a Surrey compleatist) flatly refuses to go in any 'Spoons, even if they are in the good book. His argument is that there's no point seeking out 'Spoons as you know what you're getting every time.

This blogger
is also firmly in the no camp, which has lead to much discussion amongst internet beer nerds. Another blogger has a more open policy, taking each pub as they come, 'Spoons included.

My position falls somewhere in between, but with a definite bias towards mainly avoiding 'Spoons. As Jim said you know what you're getting each time, and it's just not going to have a good pub atmosphere. But I'm not going to go as far as saying I'll never set foot in one - I may be a beer nerd but I'm also a piss artist and I don't want to limit my drinking options.

And after meeting a friend for lunch today the exciting beer range swung it for me and 'Spoons it was. The place did have all the ambiance of a work canteen but as we were meeting for lunch that wasn't too much of a problem.

My mate Loui had a 'gourmet' burger and chips with a pint for just over six quid. As it's not uncommon to be charged three pounds a pint now this was definitely a bargain. The food was good too, which was a big improvement on last time I ate there. Best of all she decided to drink tap water so let me have the beer!

I chose Sinebrychoff Porter (6.2%), brewed by a Finnish brewer at Marstons. It was lovely with strong liquorish and coffee flavours, oily mouthfeel and a good whack of alcohol. Slipped down far too easily for lunchtime drinking though!

I was also please to see the had a few beer on from the excellent Twickenham Fine Ales, if they're on as regulars I might start getting tempted to return more regularly myself.


  1. I love and hate Spoons at the same time. They stink and they suck but they serve lots of beer! At uni my mates and I used to go on Wetherspoons days, staring in Staines we went along (stopping everywhere we could on the way) into Waterloo and then all around London - we managed 11 in one fine cheap day :) We also used to tick off all the spoons we'd been to. Sad but we were poor students!

    Now I like them for those memories and for the handpumps. I dislike them for the other people in there. Their beer festival is a cool thing though, so much beer on showcase. I still haven't been along to it this year...

  2. "I dislike them for the other people in there." Without further explanation, that seems a pretty odd comment. Are you condemning all people who drink in JDW out of hand or implying that somehow you are now better than them? Too much comment on JDW pubs seems based on simple snobbery.

    They don't routinely stink, not even the awful one at Piccadilly in Manchester today which tried to tell me two cloudy halves were meant to be that way. (It has a higher scrote content than most pubs, but it doesn't stink.)

    Anyway, I'm off to try the Goodmans Field in E1 in a minute. It'll be full of city types I'd guess. Stinky b*stards.

  3. I've been in few which don't stink! And by the 'other people in there' I mean the types who get there at opening time and stay all day, the loud chavs swearing and shouting, the malaise of bad taste. Yeah it's simple snobbery but I know what I'm getting when I go there and I don't avoid them (unless it's after 7 on a Friday or Saturday night when it really isn't worth it).

  4. It's not the people in the Wetherspoons that put me off, it's that I don't like drinking in a huge barn with no atmosphere.

  5. Huh! Give us specifics please, not lazy generalities.

  6. I think he communicated well enough Talismann.
    What part of "I don't like drinking in a huge barn with no atmosphere" don't you understand?
    For Christ sake, stop being the CAMRA know-it-all and policeman. People are tired of this shit.

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  8. Try and keep it civil please - this is a family beer blog

  9. As to the specifics of why I'm not keen on 'Spoons, my local one used to be a branch of Woolies and though it has some screens up it's mostly open plan. It doesn't feel like you're in a public house, as I said it feels like you're in a work canteen.

    I feel the same about beer festivals - the closest one to me is in a sports hall and just feels a bit grim until you've had a couple. The one I'm going to on Sat is in an old maltings and has a much better atmosphere.