I popped into my local Wetherspoons for lunch today. I succumbed to the temptation of their international real ale festival.
A lot of serious beer drinkers have a very low opinion of Wetherspoons. My mate Jim who likes to spend his time ticking off pubs in the Good Beer Guide (and is a Surrey compleatist) flatly refuses to go in any 'Spoons, even if they are in the good book. His argument is that there's no point seeking out 'Spoons as you know what you're getting every time.
This blogger is also firmly in the no camp, which has lead to much discussion amongst internet beer nerds. Another blogger has a more open policy, taking each pub as they come, 'Spoons included.
My position falls somewhere in between, but with a definite bias towards mainly avoiding 'Spoons. As Jim said you know what you're getting each time, and it's just not going to have a good pub atmosphere. But I'm not going to go as far as saying I'll never set foot in one - I may be a beer nerd but I'm also a piss artist and I don't want to limit my drinking options.
And after meeting a friend for lunch today the exciting beer range swung it for me and 'Spoons it was. The place did have all the ambiance of a work canteen but as we were meeting for lunch that wasn't too much of a problem.
My mate Loui had a 'gourmet' burger and chips with a pint for just over six quid. As it's not uncommon to be charged three pounds a pint now this was definitely a bargain. The food was good too, which was a big improvement on last time I ate there. Best of all she decided to drink tap water so let me have the beer!
I chose Sinebrychoff Porter (6.2%), brewed by a Finnish brewer at Marstons. It was lovely with strong liquorish and coffee flavours, oily mouthfeel and a good whack of alcohol. Slipped down far too easily for lunchtime drinking though!
I was also please to see the had a few beer on from the excellent Twickenham Fine Ales, if they're on as regulars I might start getting tempted to return more regularly myself.