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    Tuesday, 4 November 2008

    Milton Keynes - Giving Wetherspoons A Bad Name

    I'm not a Wetherspoons refusenik by any stretch of the imagination, although I generally prefer to drink in other pubs. I have an issue with chains as a rule, preferring independently run businesses.

    I tend to frequent Spoons more regularly during their festivals, as, I guess, most of you do too. So it was with a sense of interest that I ventured in The Secklow Hundred, and the eponomously name Wetherspoons, whilst in Milton Keynes on Saturday,

    The pleasure was not all mine though, as both these establishments are definitely below par. The Secklow Hundred is a Lloyds No 1 branded pub, but from experience that shouldn't make it inferior to a regular Spoons in terms of beer range or quality. I wish that were the case here though. Just two of the festival ales were on, and the one I tried Hydes Mumbo Jumbo was bland and soulless. Maybe it's meant to be like that but I doubt it.

    I ordered a cheese baguette - described as mature cheddar with salad leaves, tomato and onion - and was presented with a baguette with barely a serving spoon full of grated, dry looking, cheese with no additions at all. In fairness it was exchanged with much apology, but the guy who served it me should have noticed it was hideously underfilled.

    Onwards then to Wetherspoons, and at least the festival appeared to have been acknowledged. Our thirds, though, of Caledonian Smokey Pete, Highgate Red Rogue and Moorhouses Premier were again substandard.

    I was shocked to read in a copy of the Milton Keynes CAMRA newsletter when I got home that this pub is a former branch pub of the year. I really do trust that it was much better once, as if not I do feel sorry for the people living in that area.

    These experiences won't stop me drinking in Spoons over the next couple of weeks during the fest, but may make me more reluctant to pop into new ones without doing a bit of research first.


    Anonymous said...

    I am not a Spoons regular, in fact I have only been in less than 20 ever.

    But I quite like their festivals.

    So on Saturday I went to the Northampton one (now in GBG) which I've never been a fan of but at least They had two banks of handpumps, mostly in use. Unfortuntely I was not too impressed by the Mikkels Vikings Return, the Firestone Walker was rather sweet but OK (no more), the Polish Plum Beer lived up to its name.

    So we moved on to the Lloyds (which I always thought as a bit upmarket compared to JDW). Not so by any means, and only one bank of handpumps. The Batemans Eastern Promise was OK (not too much evidence of lemon grass) as was the Badger Toad's Croak.

    So far not too good for either pubs or beers, but I will persevere at least with my local Spoons.

    maeib said...

    Typical! I'm in MK drinking poorly kept festival beers when the one I'm really seeking (Viking's Return) is in Northampton. Hopefully it's not been to Lloysd yet. Am probably heading there this lunchtime.

    Tyson said...

    Lloyds always have less pumps than regular Spoons. And I wouldn't say they are more upmarket-it's just that prices are higher and they play music at night.

    Anonymous said...

    Do Wetherspoons have a Festival on, apart from the bunting in ours you could never tell. Of the 8 handpumps available last night (Bonfire night) only 3 were in action with the following selection.
    1) Greene King IPA
    2) Greene King Abbot
    3) Marstons Bitter

    The other 5 were badged up with Festival beers but with the increasingly annoying 'Coming soon', well so far I have been in on Friday, Sunday and now Wednesday and only 1 of the Festival beers has gone through those pumps, a pretty shoddy Wadworth CamrAle. The previous Festival seemed to be a success across the country, this seems to be a complete failure in my eyes.

    imdownthepub (but not a McSpoons)

    Anonymous said...

    I know it's not ideal, but at least it (hopefully) is accurate information - & I think "coming soon" is a good bit better than what seemed to have been the old policy of just having the clips showing when most of the beers weren't on & possibly weren't coming on!

    My recent experience of the JDW fest included the Firestone Walker - not bad, but not the yummy hoppy US ale I was expecting & the rest have been dull at best, incl 2 separate beers so cloudy with yeast as to be undrinkable - do they play footie with the barrels in the cellar during festival time? - as this seems to happen pretty frequently.

    Other pet peeve - a beer called Bonkers Conkers with a funky micro-brew type pumpclip, from the new Westgate Brewery, Bury St Edmunds - erm, that would be Green King then? Regionals seem to have turned to this subterfuge - see also Dizzy Blonde from Robinsons, branded in a very subtle way!