Last Wednesday saw the start of the Autumn Wetherspoons Beer festival, and after a week plenty of beers have flowed through the pumps at their many outlets, but what have I found so far to whet my appetite ?
To be perfectly honest, not many have gripped me to the extent that I would go out of my way to get another pint, but that may be more a reflection of my taste than the beers on offer.
The festival is nationwide, and therefore is catering for more than just my taste, and I have found plenty of dark beers, and plenty of southern style beers, (which I have always considered to be more malty than hoppy, and more like a traditional style beer than something more innovative), however many I have tried have just not hit the spot and I have found it hard to distinguish between them.
Many of the breweries are what I would consider 'safe' breweries. Those that are well established and have been producing beer for years, such as Batemans or Banks & Taylor for example, and the drinker knows roughly what to expect; a decently crafted beer, but nothing out of the ordinary. Even some of the newer breweries have played it safe, Thornbridge 'Brother Rabbit' is on the list, a good beer, but one that has been around before, Oakleaf 'Ten Little Acorns' is similar, chestnut coloured and subtle rather than exciting, Double Maxim 'Andersons Best Scotch' likewise, but I suppose the clue was in the name !
Nevertheless, despite some disappointments, I have found some good beers in and amongst. Adnams 'American Style IPA' is well worth a try, with its blend of 5 American hops and citrus overtones;and St Austell 'Proper Black' holds up well with other black IPA's I have come across, (you can see a theme here can't you !). Roosters 'Last Stand', Sean Franklin's swan song, is excellent and reminds me what the more recent beers from the brewery have been lacking.
There are 5 beers brewed by American craft brewers, the one's I have sampled have been OK but again nothing special, except for one, and this is the beer that I consider to be the beer of the festival so far. Stone 'San Diego Session IPA' is a classic. Brewed at Wadworth, even though you would never guess, it is crammed with American hop taste, bitter but not astringent, with plenty of interesting flavours going on. Well worth hunting out and trying, and well worth £2 for the experience.
The festival is still running, and goes on until the 23rd October, so there is plenty of time to get out there and check out the beers, and for me to catch up with the ones I am missing.