Yesterday saw the start of the Wetherspoons Autumn Beer Festival. An eagerly awaited collection of beers and the chance to play that exciting game of 'Spoons bingo. Let me explain.
There are 50 beers available over the 3 weeks of the festival, all numbered from 1 - 50 with 1 being the weakest and 50 the strongest. Not all the beers are available at once, coming on the bar at their pubs as others run off, so meaning that several visits to the pubs are required to collect all the beers - a cunning move. Split them into 2 cards of 25 each and set yourself targets - lines, all four corners etc etc. It adds a new dimension to beer drinking.
I managed a couple of pubs on opening day, and frankly was not that impressed. Firstly to find that several pumps had that favourite beer of 'Spoons being on the bar. 'Sorry not available' seemed to feature too much for my liking - surely to have all the pumps working on day one is not too much to ask. Secondly the choice was a little limited, despite travelling I still encountered the same beers (more or less) in both pubs. And thirdly, there are too many autumn beers - scanning the list it seems that there has been a red beer takeover. Usually not easy to find, they seem to dominate the list, along with pseudo American beers.
It is a tradition at Wetherspoons festivals that they invite well known foreign brewers to brew on English brewers plants. This time they have invited 10 American brewers to show what they can do. Those I tried were ok. Not exceptional, but worth trying. It was still obvious from the background flavours that they had been brewed over here, in a couple of cases it was even possible to guess the brewery.
Despite my initial misgivings I will still be revisiting over the days to try to get a 'full house'. Lets face it, where else can you try 50 beers at just about £1.10 a half. In fact if you select 3 beers you can get them in 1/3 pints for the price of a pint. A real bargain. Just time for a final moan then. The strongest beer at the festival is 8.5%, but that is not sold in 1/3 pints, only in halfs, because of its price. Seems a slap in the face for sensible drinking !