Social Media Buttons

Description

WRITER, CONSULTANT AND BROADCASTER SPECIALISING IN BEER, PUBS AND CIDER. BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2009 AND 2012

What's new?

What's new?
My next beer book is fully funded but there's still time to pledge! Click here for details.
Is 'easy drinking refreshment' the same thing as lack of flavour? My latest Morning Advertiser column
My new book, The Pub: A Cultural Institution is out now.
>

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Why J D Wetherspoon's is fast becoming my favourite craft beer bar

In eight years of blogging and writing articles and columns about beer, I think everything I've written about JD Wetherspoon splits pretty evenly between "This is amazing" and "This is absolutely appalling."

Wetherspoons is a mixed bag. Remarkably, nothing about it is simply OK - that mixed bag contains both the best and worst of British pubs. But recently, the balance for me is shifting. I'm becoming a 'Spoons denizen.

Now is the time to make your jokes about being pissed by 10am and shouting randomly at strangers. Done that? Good, let's carry on.

It started in the summer, when 'Spoons started selling cans of craft beer imported from the US at the ridiculous price of £1.99 each.


Sixpoint is a good brewery, and Bengali Tiger in particular hit the spot over a long, hot summer. But 'Spoons remained a distress purchase, a bedraggled, sad pub chain without soul that just happened to sell a few good beers.

But the chink in my anti-'Spoons armour had been opened. 'Spoons was now a place I would consider going. And the more I've been, the more I've liked it. 

There was a day back in October when I needed to get out of the house with a manuscript and a red pen to try to sort out a sample chunk of a new book I'm writing. I like doing this kind of work in pubs - it focuses me and, perhaps counter-intuitively, gets rid of distractions. I went to a local craft beer pub - the kind of place I still remain overjoyed about, in theory, counting myself lucky that I live within walking distance of several such places. 

I ordered a pint of cask beer and it wasn't good. I hate these situations. It wasn't that the beer was off; it wasn't displaying any recognisable faults, it just hadn't been kept with love and care and simply wasn't pleasant. So I thought that for my next pint, I'd move on to keg. BrewDog Dead Pony Club - perfect at 3.8%, an increasingly mainstream beer that wasn't strong enough to make me lose focus on my work - £5.20 a pint. They also had Beavertown Gamma Ray IPA, one of my beers of the year, brewed just a couple of miles from where I was standing - £6.50 a pint. And I just thought, that's too much for those beers. I don't like the quality of the cask, and I'm not prepared to pay that for a keg beer, and so I left.

Stuck for where to go next, I ended up in my local Wetherspoon's, the Rochester Castle on Stoke Newington High Street. And there, I found Devil's Backbone - an American IPA from a celebrated brewer - brewed under license in the UK, admittedly - for less than three quid a pint.


And so I asked myself, why should I pay £6.50 a pint for something I can get yards away for less than £3?

The arguments in answer to this came pretty quickly. But I found myself knocking each one of them back.

Yes, but it's a one off, this isn't a 'proper' craft beer bar.
Oh no? I'll admit the range will always consist of what is becoming known as 'mainstream craft', but those are the kinds of beers I prefer to drink anyway. As well as Devil's Backbone, there's a range of bottled craft beers including BrewDog, Goose Island and Lagunitas. They'll keep me happy for a session, at half the price of the nearby craft beer bar.

But Wetherspoons outlets are so soulless. There's no atmosphere there.
Yes, Wetherspoons are often big, echoey hangars, and the lack of music gives the air an odd hue. But most craft beer bars are sparse and spartan and echoey too, and the music they play is often shit, chosen by the staff to show how hip they are rather than to create the appropriate atmosphere for the space. Some of the buildings Wetherspoons have taken over and preserved are beautiful, and there's always a nod to its history in the decorations on the walls.

Wetherspoons aren't 'proper' pubs. They're managed outlets just like a McDonald's.
So are most craft beer pubs I know, whether they're part of a small branded chain or not.

The staff don't know what they're doing. They're disinterested.
I beg to differ. Wetherspoons staff may be trained to be just like their counterparts in chain restaurants, but in the Roch at least, I find the service to be polite and professional, with none of the sneering attitude I sometimes (to be fair, rarely) encounter in hip bars. I'm used to having to argue with the bar staff if I have to take a pint of beer back because it's off. In Spoons, I've had the best service I've ever encountered in this situation.

The quality of the beer is shit/they buy short-dated stock.
Wrong. Most Spoons pubs have Cask Marque. Their cellar standards are excellent. And I have it on very good authority that the short-dated thing is an urban myth.

Fine, but look at the kinds of people you have to drink with. They're awful!
My local Spoons has some dodgy characters, it's true. Especially the guys who sit by the window. They're casualties of life, the people who do turn up and start drinking at breakfast time, the people who have been forced out of the pubs they used to drink in by gentrification and £6.50 a pint. Some of them are shouty. Some of them smell a little ripe. There's no getting away from that. But inside, my local Spoons is a true community pub. It's where all the local posties gather when they've finished their shifts. There are always big tables of council workers and teachers, and a smattering of students. And no hipsters. None. I'm not having a go at hipsters, but I live in a multicultural, multifaceted community, and Spoons is one of the only pubs that reflects that. Some of the negative attitude about 'Spoons drinkers is snobbery, pure and simple.

Add to this the free wifi, cheap meals (with calorific content of each dish clearly displayed - where else does that?) the bi-annual real ale and cider festivals that include unique collaborations with craft brewers from around the world flying to the UK to brew here, and you have a proposition that would be celebrated by every beer writer and craft beer geek in the country if it wasn't 'Spoons doing it.

I'm not going to defend everything about the place, and I'll accept that standards vary across the estate an I just might have a good one on my manor, but increasingly, in many areas, J D Wetherspoon is setting standards for more 'serious' bars to live up to.

I never thought I'd see the day.


*Amended at 10am - I previously said that Devil's Backbone was imported. It isn't, and JDW don't make that clear. Thanks to Boak and Bailey for the clarification. Read their take on the crafting of 'Spoons here.

47 comments:

Ron Pattinson said...

I'm a Wetherspoons fan, mostly due to having the kids in tow. The combination of kids always being allowed in and dirt cheap meals made it the logical option much of the time when I've been in the UK.

The cask beer quality does vary, but the same can be said of pubs in general. And I've had some very well-kept beer in some outlets.

I was appalled by the sneering snobbishness of this blog post:

http://totalales.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/missing-point.html

It sums up the attitude of the hipster crafterati - Wetherspoons' customers aren't worthy of good beer.

Ed said...

What's the new book about Pete?

Pete Brown said...

Ed, I have three new ideas in development. All are at different stages with different publishers at the moment and I don't want to say anything till they're confirmed, but hoping to have some exciting news very soon.

The Beer Nut said...

Had my first pint of Devil's Backbone on Tuesday and loved it. And €2.50 a pint makes it under half the price of anything of similar quality in Dublin.

The Irish outlets have been rubbish at cask beer (mainly because they won't pay local brewers what their beers cost) but the keg stuff like this and the Adnams Dry-Hopped Lager goes a long way to make up for that.

Andrew Bowden said...

I really don't get why people are so down on Wetherspoons. There are so many pub chains out there that people seem to barely bat an eye lid about. The other day I was in central London, near Piccadilly. It was lunchtime and I headed down a backstreet to find a pub for some food. I found myself with a choice of a dubious looking bar, or two Taylor Walker pubs glaring at each other.

The rest of day I passed loads of Taylor Walker pubs. And Nicholsons pubs. And even a Wetherspoon. It's hard to walk more than five minutes in central London and not find a chain pub.

Yet it's only Wetherspoons that seems to get the ire. Why? They mostly serve good beer, well kept (as do most Nicholsons and Taylor Walker pubs I've been in). The range is interesting. The prices are good. What's not to like?

[He says, having not been in a Spoons for a while]

Peter McKerry said...

Was the craft beer pub the JB? I've found their keg offerings to be unrealistically expensive. Perhaps a few years ago they were a bit more special but there's way more choice in terms of craft beer pubs now. I do like the pub, keg pricing aside.

I know the Rochester well, although I haven't been in years. It's way better in terms of "vibe" than the Devonshire Arms, however, which is my local 'Spoons now.

Chris said...

Hi Pete,

There are a couple of good weatherspoons in Glasgow and always worth popping in.

The only thing you don't cover in your article is the effect the massive buying power the spoons has. As they are buying, admittedly, some very good beer in massive bulk they are likely getting some massive discounts which just aren't available to smaller craft establishments. Hence the massive price disparity.

If everyone inadvertently starts chasing the cheap but limited option then smaller establishments will invariably be under threat. Bengali Tiger is lovely but I don't want to drink it all the time!

Personally there is always room for a cheap night out but I'll always prefer the usually constantly rotating craft/cask selections in "craft" bars even if it means higher prices and the occasional boring or crap beer.

Alastair Turnbull said...

I really enjoyed reading this !

I usually try to keep quiet about my growing like of Wetherspoons, I almost feel embarrassed to admit it. The service, price and choice are good in most outlets and I'm not talked down to, which can happen in some craft beer pubs.

I still prefer the old established "go to" bars, such as The Guildford Arms, Edinburgh, but they are having to work harder now to stay ahead of the affordable priced competition.

Darren said...

Don't forget the 50p off CAMRA vouchers. Use all ten on a sheet and you can almost afford a pint of something crafty down the road.

Cooking Lager said...

Congrats Pete, finally woken up to what 90% of the population figured out 10 years ago;) That Spoons are decent value for money.

Phil said...

For me it comes down to one thing: they're not pubs. At least, if we accept that 'bars' and 'pubs' are different things - bars are the ones with bare brick walls, cafe tables, wine lists, artisan food etc - then I think it's arguable that JDWs are something else again. The size, the lack of music, the family-friendliness, the food emphasis - they've taken the old 'roadhouse' model onto another level (much more successfully than Harvester, say, who arguably tried the same thing first).

If you hanker after the English Pub Experience - and we all do from time to time - then you're not going to find it in a JDW. But you will find somewhere with absolutely no exclusivity, where the service - if impersonal - is efficient and customer-focused, and the beer's almost always good, often excellent and invariably cheap.

Interesting that you mention their 'returns' policy. I've had the "nobody else has complained" treatment in several pubs & bars, sometimes with the full pantomime of holding the beer up to the light, tasting it etc; it's a right pain. Never at a Spoons - they apologise, offer an alternative and take the beer off as a matter of course.

Anonymous said...

The problem I've found with Wetherspoon staff has been that sometimes there just aren't enough of them.
In general, they're cheerful and obliging.

Alistair Reece said...

It's great to see Devils Backbone (no apostrophe) doing well over in Britain and Ireland. They are one of the best breweries in Virginia, if not the US, and do some wonderful beers. Their flagship Vienna Lager is quite simply the mutt's nuts.

Jake Perks said...

Wetherspoons in airports. Just the ticket. That is all.

Charlie Pountney said...

well done for sticking your neck on the line! I am always curious about popping into a Wetherspoons because I know the cask beer is always good quality. However the craft beer choices are usually pretty uninspiring and you can pick them up from the supermarket. Also there is the significant risk of being dragged into a conversation with a local or having to stand behind some bloke at the bar with a builders bum with his arse crack in your face. Not pleasant.

This has raised my curiousity to check one out, but i'd still prefer to spend a bit more and order a half pint of something interesting

Charlie Pountney said...

well done for sticking your neck on the line! I am always curious about popping into a Wetherspoons because I know the cask beer is always good quality. However the craft beer choices are usually pretty uninspiring and you can pick them up from the supermarket. Also there is the significant risk of being dragged into a conversation with a local or having to stand behind some bloke at the bar with a builders bum with his arse crack in your face. Not pleasant.

This has raised my curiousity to check one out, but i'd still prefer to spend a bit more and order a half pint of something interesting

Curmudgeon said...

Spoons have their faults, but a big plus point is that they still have that inclusive, welcoming-to-all-comers atmosphere that so many other pubs have lost in their pursuit of a targeted demographic.

Glenn Johnson said...

Wetherspoons in my area have definitely upped their game recently. Not always the case though and on Tuesday I had to drink a Devil's Backbone in the Royal Oak, Dorchester, because the cask selection was awful. Having had an excellent APA in Brewhouse & Kitchen earlier in the evening the DB didn't even come close to it. As you say though Sixpoint cans are excellent and I recently had the excellent Lagunitas IPA in bottle too. Good choices all round.

James Cridland said...

A few things worth knowing: the "comes with a drink" options in the menu now includes all real ale. Which makes it quite a bargain.

Drunk by 10am isn't a joke; my local (Southgate) is actually a good place to go and work in the morning: free WiFi, plug sockets if you know where to look, a breakfast menu that is just as cheap as anywhere else, and a coffee cup that is unlimited top up (which you do yourself, rather than have to annoy the man behind the bar). But yes, you do this to the accompaniment of a few folk who are already onto their second pint; but there is a man at my proper local (50% more for a pint than Spoons) who essentially lives there too, and it is just that Spoons open earlier.

The range of beers is rather better than anywhere else (my local has one ale on tap, normally Ubu Purity), and this one is large but not overly so (it used to be what we'd probably call a Sainsburys Local).

And for children, it really isn't bad at all: colouring pencils and a special menu makes them feel happy too.

Reuben Gray said...

Hah, Can't believe I am finding out that Devils Backbone is available in Ireland via TBN posting on Pete's blog.
I'll try and get some Al! You have been banging on about it for years.

I have yet to step foot inside an Irish Wetherspoons but I have never been disappointed by one in the UK.

Scott Coyne said...

Great observation and well said.

Being a resident of these isles for 3 odd years now I'd heard the rumours of Wetherspoons' pubs but, being the belligerent I am, preferred to find out for myself (and was also thrust into one due to the isolation eg The Granite City @ Aberdeen airport). Always a great range and so far every real ale has been drinkable (which is a massive compliment).

I like beer and as you've quite rightly pointed out, so do JDW.

Jamie said...

I often go for a breakfast beer in Spoons at Leeds Station before mashing in and it's a great place to meet other brewers before a collaboration brew. Howvever it is true that they have buying power which they offer the spoils to the general public. In the meantime, the craft beer bars that are leading the way are undermined by the pricing. Simple solution, good forward looking craft beer bars will no longer be buying from Lagunitas etc. It's just business and the general public will reap the rewards. Meanwhile cash hungry sales reps will be hitting the targets but the brands will dissapear in a year or so and be damaged goods. Will Spoons be stocking them? No, they will also have moved on. Just like Tesco's but with draft beer...

Adrian Tierney-Jones said...

Totally agree, as someone who has used the Tanners (as is used to be called) since the late 1980s — great place to work, half decent coffee, and you have great wifi. Having had a couple of Bengali Tigers this afternoon I cannot demur in Exeter — it’s all about choice. There are ripe types in all sorts of pubs.

Anonymous said...

Well done for sticking up for JDW. Having drunk in what was once London's biggest boozer, the Rochester Castle, when it still had a wonderful island-bar with radial partitions I agree that it is a good example of all that JDW get right. Instead of sneering many publicans could learn a lot from the business 'offer' from JDW. Their employment contracts may not be what any of us would like but I find staff all over the country to be polite efficient and often a lot more knowledgable than the resting actors with lumbersexual beards who stand idly in many of the chichi craft ale houses springing up. Calories against food -hoices, smoking areas years before anyone, smoking ban before legislation, vaping not allowed all make for a civil environment that can attract anyone. Yes many scorn it just as they scorn Lidl and Aldi without setting foot in any of them and yes it does have it aromatic characters who, through loneliness and the need to interact with another human, talk too much but it is hard for me to describe another establishment that offers such equality and value for money.

Matthew Curtis said...

Ron - It's a shame you're still appalled by a piece I wrote several months ago enough to reference it here. I feel like I've come a long way in those few months, I've visited several Wetherspoon pubs in several UK cities since then and I've had some good experiences. Not anything that inspired me to write about it but I've developed a deep love for Sixpoint's Pilsner.

What I have discovered and admitted to myself though is that I *am* a snob but I'm ok with that. Only the other night I was sat in my favourite bar Mother Kelly's in Bethnal Green, East London enjoying De Struise Pannepeut at £3.50 a third after a couple of glasses of the exceptional Pressure Drop Pale Fire. I was peckish so I ordered some smoked anchovies and some sliced sourdough bread. I sat at the bar and chatted away with the staff and my friends, the music was great, I was immensely happy and could barely bring myself to leave when the time came. If preferring to spend my time and money in places such as these makes me a snob, I'm cool with that.

What I'm not particularly cool with is being marginalised with terms such as 'hipster crafterati' in a way that, in this context feels quite derogatory. It's unnecessary and you conveying this opinion here, which you are perfectly entitled to of course, is no better than me expressing my opinions on my blog. I still don't really enjoy drinking in Wetherspoon pubs but that's no big deal, there's choice out there for everyone and that's brilliant.

What I am grateful for is having a beer writer I respect immensely post a link to my blog on the blog of another beer writer I respect immensely - Even in this light it kinda feels like an honour, so thanks.

Pete - £6.50 for a pint of Gamma Ray is daylight robbery and that pub, which I'm assuming is the Jolly Butchers, should be named and shamed, especially when pubs down the road from it sell the same beer for a pound or one pound fifty less and will be paying the same price per keg.

David Martin said...

Good speech.
Addition of Lagunitas was a bit of a coup but the really smart thing about JDW for me is that despite its size it continues to do things that smaller companies would more likely do. It avoids the dull trap of sameness that so many big brands wander into, and its range policy leaves most others standing - not least on food where it has really tried to up its game.

Anonymous said...

The Spoons in Norwich are really grim places. I'll take one of our many awesome pubs every time over saving a quid on my beer.

Andrew said...

I was in the night that JDW opened their first Irish pub in Blackrock. The cask was absolutely incredible (Broadsword and Ghost Ship). I said it was the best cask I'd had in Ireland and reminded me of the great beer I used to get when in college in Bolton. Fast forward 2 months and the cask is now as bad, if not worse than other offerings here in Dublin.

Turns out that JDW had sent one of their cask wizards over for the opening, and he'd since gone back to the UK.

Anonymous said...

In the Wenlock & Essex (on Essex Road, London), Gamma Ray is £6 a can.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

Seconded the post about JDW in airports.
I've used LHR The Queen's Terminal and Gatwick in recent weeks and the quality and variety in their bars is second to none.
The ignorance about JDW is rather like that of UKIP - a preconception based on what other people say about them rather than real experience of them.
You'll come around eventually Pete old cock.
Wahaay !

Curmudgeon said...

In reply to Phil, I think it's not so much the sheer scale of Spoons that make them unpubby, but the fact that they're deliberately not laid out like pubs. The layout is more like a restaurant or works canteen, aimed at groups of diners and intended to minimise dwell time and not let people feel too much at ease. Probably my favourite Spoons is the Gateway in Didsbury, which was a conversion of an existing pub and still feels much like one.

Bradshaw said...

"Only the other night I was sat in my favourite bar Mother Kelly's in Bethnal Green, East London enjoying De Struise Pannepeut at £3.50 a third after a couple of glasses of the exceptional Pressure Drop Pale Fire. I was peckish so I ordered some smoked anchovies and some sliced sourdough bread."

Pretentious, moi?

Robert Knops said...

As a brewer I have a lot of respect for Wetherspoons. I see a lot of cellars when we deliver beer and I can say that JDW have some of the best kept and managed cellars in the business. In addition to that I've always found their manner to be very pleasant and I'm treated as well as if I was a customer.

oldgeezer said...

As a beer writer you should have said the Rochester Castle has decent Craft beer.Wetherspoons have about 900 pubs and the Tally Ho Finchley which I had the misfortune to be In last week had no Craft beer on draught but some cans in the fridge.Surely your experience in one pub should not colour your judgement on a chain of which you have no experience.They imo are a good asset but they vary from pub to pub. cheers

Jeffrey Bell said...

Pete - I'm with you on this bro. Don't disagree with a word of your article.

Anonymous said...

Good article - ultimately Wetherspoon's sell what people want - there is no ideology about craft, cask, keg etc.

Plus the customers who want to spend a bit more on beer, will probably buy the more expensive food.

I personally feel they lack atmosphere and attract customers I don't really want to socialise with - the 10am pint crew. But hey ho whatever you want.

I don't agree with the cask quality comments - it's not good for some reason in my experience - it's not off, it just doesn't test particularly good.

Out of interest my spoons has now got Flying Dog, Meantime, 5am saint and a Belgian beer on sale in bottles. It's heavily a real ale pub, so I'm not sure why they are trialing it there, but anyone else seen this?

Anonymous said...

My main reason for not going to JDW pubs anymore is that the ones around here are all hopelessly under-staffed. After walking out for the umpteenth time because I was fed up trying to get served, I vowed never to go back. I only went back again once to try the Sixpoint beers.

I now have another reason not to patronise their bars - about 80% of their staff are on zero-hour contracts, a practise I am very much against.

Andrew Bowden said...

Anonymous - whilst you may be against zero hour contraects, many employees are happy with them. It all depends on the scheme. There is a world of difference between schemes. Sports Direct's is appalling, but Wetherspoons staff get sick leave, maternity pay, paid holidays, and know two weeks in advance what shifts they will be working. Of the scheme is good and the staff are happy, is there a problem?

My council uses non exclusive zero hour contracts to provide fill in staff for school canteens etc. Filled by people who don't want a regular job but are happy just doing random shifts. Will you boycott all schools pointlessly as well?

Andrew Bowden said...

Anonymous - whilst you may be against zero hour contraects, many employees are happy with them. It all depends on the scheme. There is a world of difference between schemes. Sports Direct's is appalling, but Wetherspoons staff get sick leave, maternity pay, paid holidays, and know two weeks in advance what shifts they will be working. Of the scheme is good and the staff are happy, is there a problem?

My council uses non exclusive zero hour contracts to provide fill in staff for school canteens etc. Filled by people who don't want a regular job but are happy just doing random shifts. Will you boycott all schools pointlessly as well?

Ed Davies said...

I love them personally, depending on why I'm out though. Wifi, decent coffee and decent food throughout the day, and a great place to start a night out when catching up with friends who all drink different things. Affordable, clean and big enough that you don't have to 'socialise' with the 10am crowd if you don't want to.

James said...

We have mucho respect for JDW who have been championing real ale and small Brewers for the past 35 years and certainly long before, Crafterati or pulled pork bap w/slaw, had any meaning. Many pubs however cannot compete with JDW in terms of price and therefore must have a different take, independent pubs must strive to bring the very best beers from around the world to their customers and sometimes the bloody stuff is not cheap. Matthew knew what he was drinking in De Struisse Pannepeut which is a beautiful beer and was therefore happy to pay £3.50 for a third of a pint. We are lucky we now have such a varied choice available to us as never before and we certainly try to embrace it.
I was disappointed to read however Matt that you 'assumed' it was the Jolly Butchers who served the excellent Gamma ray at £6.50 (which is frankly rather pricey!) and therefore should be 'named and shamed'. If you read Pete's piece again it states the cask beer he had, 'hadn't been kept with love and care'. I can assure you there is no shortage of love in this room for our Brewers beer and therefore the clue it wasn't here, was in the piece.

James - The Jolly Butchers

Anonymous said...

Andrew Bowden - I refer you back to my first and main reason for not going to the JDW pubs around here.
Also, not being a school child or the parent of a school child, your point about boycotting all schools is moot.

The Beer Wrangler said...

I work in the drinks trade and one of the knock on effects of Wetherspoons is the slow and sad demise for many, of the local social club bars (British Legion, RAFA Bars, JS Clubs, Labour & Conservative Clubs) These used to be a mainstay of many a community, having inexpensive drinks, basic but good value food and a great place for like minded souls to meet. JDW, because they are so competitive, have become a cheap alternative but don't have the friendly social aspect where you could come in on your own and bump into and sit down with someone. This is not the fault of JDW, but just a consequence of their keen pricing (particularly with food) and ubiquitousness.

Phil said...

Probably my favourite Spoons is the Gateway in Didsbury, which was a conversion of an existing pub and still feels much like one.

My favourite Spoons is the Waterhouse in the centre of Manchester, for exactly the same reason. Can't get on with the Gateway - it's a multi-roomer, but the spaces are still a bit vast (see also the Moon Under Water on Deansgate).

Anonymous said...

Ah, JDW.

Now, I have no real problem with Wetherspoons, there a are a few points to be made.

Firstly on price.

The low prices charged at JDW are not benign acts of a benevolent benefactor, or evidence of canny buying based on economies of scale, they are a deliberate and intentional act by large businesses to eliminate competition from the market, in these cases both the local independent (hipster or not) bar and the small commercial brewer.
It's the same model that Supermarkets and their suppliers have used to virtually eliminate the Butchers, Bakers and Fishmongers from most towns, and small holders from the countryside. It's the same model that Starbucks et al use to crush dissenting local caf├ęs.

If you are happy with that, then fine, but it's the depression of wages for the employees and the transfer of wealth away from small businesses into the hands of big business that I'm even less keen on.

Why would any talented brewer start producing beer in an environment where you can't make money unless you either have capacity to contract brew for an overseas brewer at a price JDW are willing to pay, or depress ingredient and labour costs enough to do the same?

Secondly on quality, not all JDW pubs are created equal! we used to drink in one in East Ham on football days, for years it was run by a guy passionate about beers, and served a good pint, but then he left and was replaced by someone who may have been many things, and Wetherspoons clearly thought well enough on, but served me not only a poor pint, but absolutely the worst beer I've ever been served (the beer itself was a good beer, it's care by the pub, not so much.) and that's including the cask beer we were served near Bath that the Landlord boasted had been on the bar for three weeks......

Depends what you want out of life really, and the Law of unintentional consequence.

juan27 said...

I think its important not to forget that in many smaller towns and cities the 'Spoons will be the ONLY place selling anything remotely crafty. Having paid £5 for a 33cl can of Fourpure IPA in Bermondsey I also applaud Devils Backbone - which I paid £2.49/pint last Friday in Basingstoke.

The beer collective Andy said...

I agree Pete, their range is getting better and better and its cheap.

I really like the devils backbone APA.... I wasn't too sure on their own cans they were doing though.

Its funny that once wetherspoons start stocking a good beer beer snobs turn on the brand