JD Wetherspoon is a chain of around 1,000 pubs across the UK and Ireland. They’re famous for selling some of the cheapest drinks in town, they serve big portions of cheap food, they don’t play music, and they don’t always have the best atmospheres (that’s a euphemism for saying they are a bit crap). However, they do reliably sell a lot of real ale and it’s often well kept—in fact, nearly 300 Wetherspoon pubs are in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide and twice a year they hold huge real ale festivals, inviting world brewers to collaborate on one-off beers.
Visit To Some Wetherspoon Pubs For Some Of The Best Real Ales Photo Gallery
A big draw is that many “Spoons” (as they are known locally) are in amazing old buildings, which have been converted or restored into pubs, often with many original features still intact or celebrated, plus there’s also information throughout about the buildings’ histories. There are old cinemas: The Moon Under Water in Manchester and The Coronet in North London. The Prince of Wales in Cardiff used to be a theater, while The Opera House in Tunbridge Wells is named after, well, you can guess. There are many banks: Edinburgh’s The Standing Order, Beckett’s Bank in Leeds, The Banker’s Draft in Sheffield, and The Knights Templar in London.
Look into the Wetherspoon pub in the area you’re visiting because you’re almost guaranteed to be near one and that means you’ll be close to a good range of cask ales.
And if you’re into pub carpets, then there’s a blog, which has turned into a my blog, about the best Wetherspoon pub carpets— they’re famously gaudy, varied, and old-fashioned. Check out
A small selection of the cask beer on offer at a Wetherspoon pub.
LOCAL TIP: Sparkled or Unsparkled?
There are some regional differences between north and south in the way cask ale is served. In the north of England, cask ale is often poured through a sparkler. This is a small nozzle with lots of small holes (like a shower head) that screws onto the tap. The nozzle generates extra aeration and creates a thick, smooth foam when the beer is pulled through it, so producing a richer mouthfeel. In the south the tap doesn’t have the nozzle, so the ale pours with a natural, often smaller, foam. Texturally they are different and drinkers have different opinions as to what’s better—northerners think sparklers are better, southerners want it unsparkled.
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