Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What about the 'Spoons fest

Before I start, I apologise for the shortage of blogs in the recent past, caused by a combination of personal and medical problems, hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly.


In the meantime, did you get to the Wetherspoons festival? Did you enjoy it ? It seems ages ago since I mentioned that they were having their usual 3 week extravaganza of 50 beers. The real task was to try to complete the whole list in the time available. I know of plenty who managed it, cyberspace was full of details of where to find the 'hard to find beers' so that if that was your ambition you knew where to look. Obviously the bigger cities had the best ranges, they have more 'Spoons to choose from after all, but here in Huddersfield we managed fairly well too. All the beers were available at some stage, it was just a case of being there at the right time or being really lucky.

Personally I managed about 75% of the beers before being struck down, and I was confident I could have picked the rest up - it was not to be. I was disappointed to miss out on the Jersey Brewery 'Liberation Ale, a new brewery to me and one that rarely moves off the island, and the Harviestoun 'Wild Hop IPA' also eluded me, one I fancied trying. What did I actually find though?

As I said before, the best beer in the festival in my opinion was Adnams 'Ghost Ship', head and shoulders above any other beer I had, a clean, crisp bitter. I sampled other beers crammed full of coffee, (TSA 'Double Espresso') - not to my taste but highly recommended by those who like that sort of thing; coriander (Mordue '1879'), another strange taste but not mine; and vanilla (Tom Woods 'Vanilla Orchid'), which I can only describe as unusual at best, revolting at worst.

Many of the beers at the festival were similar in colour and flavour, they seem to have cornered the market in the mid brown range of various strengths, and it was rare for a beer to stand out from the crowd. The wheat beers I tried, Hereford 'Aurora' and Batemans 'Wheat Dreams' were both good examples however, but the darker speciality beers disappointed, promising much but failing to deliver in my opinion.

To sum up, an interesting way to spend a couple of weeks playing hunt the beer, but although I had no complaints about the quality or range of beers, I was disappointed, personally, to find so few beers to my taste, but no doubt there were people who thought just the opposite. That's the thing about beer, it certainly divides opinion.

2 comments:

Tandleman said...

I thought it disappointing on the whole. Nothing really stood out and the foreign contributions were a let down with the notable exception of Lion Stout.

Jibber said...

I tend to agree - a generally disappointing choice. As an ex-landlord once said "all brown and beery". Looks as though we have this guy (http://www.jdwrealale.co.uk/ale-guru) to blame.

I'm slightly wary of 'specials' too. I'll avoid anything in the next few weeks that depicts reindeer, Santa or anything similar on its pump clip (especially if the pump clip comes with sound and flashing LED's!). And the same is true of JDW festivals - there were so many one-off 'specials' this year. How heart-wrenching it would be to find one you really like, in the certain knowledge that you'll never, ever be able to obtain it again. (I suspect the Adnams Ghost Ship falls into this category). I suppose JDW do it because they can - and I suppose it brings in the tickers (although can a beer be considered a proper beer if it only appears in one festival on one set of tasting notes).

Of course a one-off can become permanent. Oakham Bishop's Farewell is a classic example. Similarly Copper Dragon Golden Pippin was only ever planned as an occasional brew. And look at them now!