Weatherspoons seem to have really been hitting it out the park of late the company started as a collection of London ale pubs and grew throughout the 90s into a collection of hanger like spaces specialising in selling you a curry bypassing the takeaway, the usual lagers cheaper than elsewhere and some of that blue stuff that I never worked out what it tasted of but was darn cheap.
And as we seem to hear pub companies complain non stop about difficult trading conditions like too much rain in winter people are staying in and it was sunny so nobody went to the pub in summer spoons seem to have quietly been changing the game plan.
There was a bit in the press last week about people will no longer be able to get a Sunday dinner in a weatherspoons pub one of the hallmarks of the brand, and on paper quite a change it certainly drew some amount of comments online.
but there have been seemingly many changes quietly happening for years most the pub’s no longer show sports and almost none have a jukebox so you end up in a pub with no noise issues you could even dare I say it have a conversation and not many chain pubs can claim that.
The gin range has grown and includes some fairly good tipples at reasonable prices and the hanger like buildings seem to be disappearing too replaced by more intimate designed spaces some like the wallaw cinema building in Blyth winning awards for lovingly restoring buildings and they now own around 50 pub hotels.
But for me personally the change closest to my heart has been the explosion or both real and craft beer at very reasonable prices. The union rooms even stocks 30 local bottled ales and has a weekly bottle tasting club.
The beer festival sees spoons build on that with 50 real ales spread to all of its pubs making it so they claim the biggest beer festival in the world.
This year the union rooms kicked off the festival by setting up extra bar space and stocking all 50 beers on opening night.
A grand building near the station is a example of weatherspoons new style pubs split into numerous rooms around its grand Hall and staircase, the library room looked exceptionally cosy and charming with the addition of 20 handpulls to the room of towering book cases and grand windows.
The organization by the staff was top notch all beers were available in 3rd pint glasses at three for the very reasonable price of a festival pint and plenty trays were available lined with paper to mark the number corresponding to the ale as listed in the tasting notes leaflet.
All on all a great night and I hope you enjoy some of these beers as much as I did but here are a few picks to look out for
BIRRIFICO ITALIANO – BIBOCK
This italain Brewer has been on my radar for some time now but unfortunately due to signing a contract with a terrible distributer there beers are seldom seen in the UK and almost never fresh, so to get around this head Brewer Agostino Arioli visited wadworth brewery to brew some for the fest with a light hoppy aroma malty backbone and a lingering honey and hazelnut flavour it seems to have lost some of the fruit notes but it’s as close as I’m getting to this italian masterpiece any time soon.
DARK STAR REVELATION
This is a beer that’s not new to me but has been taking plaudits fom craft and real Ale fans alike getting high praise on the beer o’clock show podcast and gold at 2015 great British beer festival expect big hop flavours from this one as it lives up to its Name
TITANIC PLUMB PORTER
This is another beer I had heard so much positivity towards it almost seemed certain It wouldn’t live up to the hype but it surpassed it dark and strong porter with natural plumb flavourings and a plate bitter hop create such a well rounded bitter sweet taste
SALTAIRE TRIPLE CHOCOHOLIC
A black stout with three levels of chocolate starting with chocolate malts added real Coco and chocolate essence then a slight bitterness from a fair amount of hops think nesquick powder with a bitter note but so much nicer than that sounds
A new beer brewed for the fest by local brewery exceptionally light without feeling watery but instead more floral and refreshing a good example of a straight wheat beer
So there you have it a few to look out for as beer festival season springs into life you can get some of these and many others in all weatherspoons pubs until March 27th and then after that it’s the 40th Newcastle beer and cider festival on April 6-10
North by North yeast