I heard recently that one of my local(-ish!) Wetherspoons – the Moon on the Square, in Feltham – is having a London Breweries Beer Festival from Monday 16th February to Friday 20th. I've now learnt that this is actually a regional thing and that all 132 London-area 'Spoons are taking part.
Hopefully there will be a comprehensive beer and brewery list along soon, as there was for the similar festival run last year, but in the meantime here's the cask ale list sent over from the Moon:
By The Horns – Bison American Pale Ale 4.8%, Mick The Miller 4%, Diamond Geezer 4.9%
Clarence & Fredericks (Croydon) - Cascadian Black 5%, Golden Ale 3.8%
Cronx – Standard 3.8%, Kotchin 3.9%, Mad-Ass Entire 5.2%
East London – Foundation Bitter 4.2%, Cowcatcher American Pale 4.8%, Quadrant Oatmeal Stout 5.8%
Hop Stuff – Fusilier 4.3%, Renegade IPA 5.6%
Portobello – Chestnut Ale 4.5%, Ginger Bread Beer 4.4%, Apachi 7%
Truman’s – Eyrie 4.3%, Original Porter 4.5%, Runner 4%
And here's some others that will be on at the Kings Tun in Kingston:
Hackney Brewery – NZ Pale, Bitter
Southwark – Best, Gold
Sambrooks – Red, Chocolate Stout
Redemption – Pale Ale, Urban Dusk
Unlike last year though, the festival's not just going to be cask ale – there will be keg too. Windsor & Eton's has brewed Hurricane IPA (5%) specially for the festival, it'll be in all 132 pubs according to W&E's Facebook page. Here will be others too, for example the Kings Tun will also have Twickenham's dry-hopped Tusk keg IPA (4.7%) on tap.
I have to say I've been hugely impressed by the range and quality of the beer in recent Wetherspoons real ale festivals. I know some people have a problem with these pubs, and it's true that they are rarely as comfy and appealing as a cosy local, but they do a great job in providing a good range of well-kept cask ales and now a variety of interesting bottle and keg beers too, all at sensible prices.
I know too that there are various rumours spread about how they keep the prices down – all of which are false, as far as I can discover. Brewers have told me for instance that yes, Wetherspoons expects big discounts, but no more so than any other pub company. It also gave staff an above-inflation pay rise last year.
What's your take on it – do you drink in 'Spoons, and if not, why not?
PS. Through chatting with Andy, the head brewer at Southwark Brewery, I've realised what's going on here. The festival runs throughout February, but different areas of London focus on it in different weeks. So in south-west London the main week is from the 16th, but it'll be different in other areas. Check with your local...