WELSH SPOONS

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No trip to Wales is complete without a Sunday morning spent watching old boyos downing pints of lager on a Sunday morning.  It’s easy to forget that this simple pleasure was denied to them before Wetherspoons crossed the Severn in the ’90s (and that’s before we get into the issue of Sunday licensing).

My correspondent on minor sports tells me that their national team won’t win the Rugby Premiership this season (come on Italy), but Wales certainly have the most Spoons in the Beer Guide per head of population (I’m guessing, but it’s almost certainly true).

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Newport has four in the centre, all of which I’ve enjoyed Dragon Eggs Benedict in over the years, though oddly none of them are in this year’s Guide. No beer review from the John Wallace Linton (above), but I did enjoy the anticipation of gentlefolk waiting for licensed hours to commence at 9.

Beers served were, of course, Strongbow, 1664 and John Smiths. Even localish beers from Brain and Glamorgan couldn’t tempt the discerning drinker (no irony intended).

I’d love to know what percentage of the sales in Spoons are real ale. Let alone craft.  You can wait a long time to see a handpump used, the giveaway being when staff have to check all the pump clips to see which one is Brains.

Nearly all the medium-sized valley and market towns, from Colwyn to Ebbw Vale, seem to have an impressive looking Spoons, as I found last year.

Swansea has its fair share too, including a couple handily placed just off the M4.  The site at Gorseinon must be one of Spoon’s smallest in what is another contender for that coveted “Gateway to Gower” status, and possibly just got in (2013 vintage) before their recent retrenchment.

The Mardy is clearly the new community hub, and quite a contrast to the rest of the High Street pub stock, which includes this brutalist classic;

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More drinkers than diners at 3pm, with a fair few pints of ale being sunk.  I had to go for the local Boss Brave, which was cool and drank its strength but was rather hard-going if I’m honest. I’m sorry I didn’t get to the Boss pub in Swansea central I’ve just been alerted to.

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As with most Spoons, there was plenty of unrepeatable banter, but the reaction to Lincoln’s win at Burnley was something else. One chap had a an  accumulator that will pay out £1 million when Sutton beat Arsenal.  Oh well.

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If you go to Gorseinon (as the song goes), pop in to Albert’s Caff for your hard boiled sweets.  Tell ’em Retired Martin sent you.

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12 thoughts on “WELSH SPOONS

  1. As a matter of interest, what is Dragon Eggs Benedict? I’ve only ever heard of normal eggs Benedict. One day I will try eggs Florentine. In fact, if I wasn’t such a twit I would have bought extra 20p spinach in my local corner shop and had it for tea one day.

    I believe the minor sport you refer to is rugby union. The code is important in differentiating the type of eggball.

    I hate all of Lincoln City, Burnley and Arsenal. Especially Lincoln City. I’m sure that given time and more exposure to them, I can grow to hate Sutton United as well.

    I will go to the sweet shop. Do readers of this website get a discount?

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    1. Readers of this website are entitled to order using phrases such as “a handful” or ” a bagful” rather than by weight. That’s a privilege.

      Dragon Eggs Benedict is made with the eggs of dragons, though unsure if they’re Welsh ones.

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  2. I too wonder about the contribution real ale makes to Spoons’ profits relative to the amount of extra work it must create. If they scrapped it, would the core customer base really be bothered?

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      1. Spoons get a huge amount of free publicity from CAMRA, though. As a chain that, compared with dining pub brands, still have a much higher proportion of wet sales, they’d lose a great deal of goodwill if they started dropping real ale. Although, from what I hear, it would make sense in some of their Scottish branches outside the major cities where there just isn’t the demand.

        Sam’s still serve real ale in most of their pubs, though, and some previously keg ones like the one in Bristol have introduced cask. However, if they dropped cask entirely they wouldn’t lose much, and I’d still pop in to the Boar’s Head and the Bird in Hand from time to time.

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      2. Both good points. I just don’t know how much the CAMRA goodwill is worth though. They can’t be making much on the pints I bought at £1.80 or less with discount, and must tip a bit awau.

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  3. I’ve been to two Spoons this week; one had four cask beers on, the other only three. Blog post coming up tomorrow with more details, it does seem to me that the longstanding Spoons commitment to cask may be wavering, maybe at regional manager level if not at the top.

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    1. Some smaller Spoons e.g. in North East always had smaller range, which these days looks no better than the Greene King or Marstons family pub. I agree on impression of lower commitment; guest beers very unconvincing seasonals or specials rather than best micros.

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