It's not often I have a bit of a crawl around my home town of Northampton. Normally if I'm crawling, I'll go a little further afield, but yesterday, towards the end of a week off from work and to coincide with the start of the Wetherspoons festival, I decided to have a wander.
I made The Moon On The Square my first port of call. This is in the lower echelons of Spoons pubs in my opinion, for a plethora of reasons, one of which is the normally disappointing beer range. It does of course participate in festivals so the range does improve. Today though the festival had barely trickled into action. Just Okells Doctor Okells Eastern Spice, and Titanic Last Porter Call available from the festival list. Two further pumps were decorated with the clips for Marstons Pedigree Six and Greene King Abbot Reserve but these were "coming soon"; a typical Wetherspoons tactic. Four beers were on from Langton brewery, which is often the case. Clearly there is some sort of deal going on with this Leicestershire brewery; why a Northants brewery cannot be chosen I really don't know. I tried Lock Keeper which was a new one for me. I have to say that all three beers were in excellent condition and very tasty. If only this were the case all the time.
My next pub was The Wig and Pen which is one of my semi regular haunts. The pub is owned by Fenland, and four of their beers were available along with two from Great Oakley and one from Thwaites. There was one blank pump. As I was on a ticking mission I tried the draught cider Westons Traditional Draught Scrumpy which was ok. Obviously brewed by one of the big boys as it lacked a certain character.
Onwards to The Malt Shovel now ran by one of the owners, and in my opinion already showing signs of improvement. I've been critical in the past of pumps being empty which would be acceptable in slow moving pubs, but almost everyone in the pub drinks real ale, and they can sustain a full spread. Since Mike and Roz have been front of house there have been thirteen ales on at all times, which is what we want to see. I sampled five new ones on this trip: Iceni Norfolk Winter Lightening, Tring Brock, DowBridge Fosse, Banks & Taylor Edwin Taylor's Extra Stout and Burton Bridge Top Spin. All were good but the stout was superb. A beautiful full bodied roasty dry stout.
From here I wandered back into town heading for the second Spoons pub in town. However en route is The Fish Inn which sells four real ales and has the bonus for the ticker of the pumps being visible through the window from the street. Spotting a new beer Batemans Hooker, I bagged me a half. It was disappointing which I find in pretty much all of Batemans' occasional beers. It was also the dearest ale of the day. Typical!!
Next and finally to Lloyds No 1, part of the Wetherspoons chain but supposedly concentrating more on the youth market than normal Spoons. The beer festival was in better swing here though than its sister pub. Three beers were on, all of which I'd not had before. So halves of Namyslow Plum Beer, Lees Brewers Dark and Batemans Spring Goddess were supped. The Batemans was as expected; the Lees was a mild mild and the Plum beer was as plummy as it's possible to be. I shall probably do a piece on that beer and the other two foreign ones I want from the festival when I have sampled them all, but suffice to say if you see this beer you should try it if only for the plummy novelty.
I was surprised with how many new beers I found around town. There are a fair few other decent pubs I didn't get to which are a bit further from the town centre, but it's a crawl I shall certainly do again. I think we all too often neglect what's on our doorstep, but I will try to appreciate it more in the future.