Soft focus chicken club advert in the back

Five points for the musical reference.

Despite responding positively to complaints from CAMRA members about being too cheap and ubiquitous by putting their prices up and closing more pubs than they open, arguments about Wetherspoons continue to be the source of much joy in the blogging world.  Or on CAMRA Discourse, anyway.

I haven’t done the sums, but it’s clear to me a fair number of Spoons have fallen out of the Guide this year, and not just because the oases of cask in North-West and South London have been sold.

Vote now !

Clearly Spoons are being squeezed out by new brewery taps and micros, as Paul Bailey notes here.

In part that’s because Spoons seem more important to family diners than they do to your typical CAMRA members (except when they need a meeting room).

In part that’s because beer ranges have become a lot tighter (my word)/boring (everyone else), as in east Brum recently.

And this year Cambridgeshire has just the lone Spoons (the Drapers in Peterborough), with no room for entries in towns like March, Wisbech and Whittlesey where you might have expected a Spoons to meet an unmet need.

Even reliable cask quality in St Neots isn’t going to make up for beer ranges like these;

What prompted me to re-evaluate beer quality in Spoons was the rediscovery of my CAMRA vouchers.  I blame Mrs RM, she’d clearly hidden them under my copy of 20th Century Pub.

My recent record In Timbo’s Toping Houses* has been good, with excellent pints of local beer in Wath and Worksop.

On my night in Huddersfield (of which more later), I was tempted in by the bright lights of the Cherry Tree.

Boxy Spoons

Rather like its West Riding neighbour in Halifax, this Spoons has been in and out of the Guide over the years, but Premiership football has clearly turned Huddersfield into a week round party town and this place was busy close to midnight on a Wednesday in November.

A boisterous horde of students were poring out of the Slug and the Roxy; the Cherry Tree has elements of all of human life (except children, this isn’t Bradford).

Plum Porter coming up !

This Spoons had an average focus on cask; the Elland Porter (£1.79) has been on for years, which shows some awareness of quality over trends.

I liked the board telling me they’d sold 1,956 pints last week; that’s between 20 and 30 pints an hour at peak times (only John Smiths Smooth is legally allowed to be sold before noon in Kirklees).  That’s between 20 and 30 more than I sometimes see pulled in some Spoons I go in these days.

It was tremendous, cool and gorgeous (NBSS 4), though as a meal in a glass a little hard going just before bedtime.

Now That’s What I call a head

Spoons are going out of their way to get their pubs back in the Guide, urging us to score their beer on WhatPub (2nd photo).  I’d be surprised if even 1% of punters had a clue what that means, but I applaud their effort.

I’m not saying the Cherry Tree should be in the Beer Guide; in Huddersfield there’s a Head of Steam, a True North outlet and a Sam Smiths that aren’t. But just because it isn’t in the Guide doesn’t mean it’s not an essential stop in ‘Uddersfield.

Flat shoe man weighing up his NBSS scores


*I have a trademark on that name


21 thoughts on “SQUEEZING OUT SPOONS

    1. Dodging your question, but Spoons did a great job reopening the George Hotel in Whittlesey. I’ve only ever visited for Straw Bear day, when it’s packed early with people lining their stomachs prior to the day’s drinking, but before they took it on it was sad to see an empty and neglected building in such a prime site. If nothing else, it has improved the appearance of the town centre.


  1. I have a fairly limited experience of Spoons these days mostly confined to passing through London’s airports on the way to somewhere but I have noticed the range does seem to be getting duller even in these.
    I will be passing through the hell on earth known as Stansted on Wednesday – in at 12 and back out at 8pm with a huge amount of alcohol in between as some old chums and I have our annual Christmas nosebag close to Liverpool Street Station.
    I shall attempt to ascertain the current line-up on my way back but at a guess even now I would say Adnams,Doom Bar and Thatcher’s Gold.


    1. Ugh. I wish more airports would be like the one in Edmonton, Alberta. It has a Belgian Beer Cafe (yes, it’s a chain owned by InBev but look at the beer menu!):


      My two boys live in Edmonton. I’m more than happy to get to the airport early just so I can have a few hours at this cafe (inside security) before my flight. 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good choice Martin.

        The last time we were there our plane was delayed, but our gate was literally right across from the bar. I had two Houblon Chouffe (my favourite), a Delirium Tremens, a Chimay Blue and a Duchesse de Bourgogne.

        I don’t remember much of the 90 minute flight. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Spoons are going out of their way to get their pubs back in the Guide, urging us to score their beer on WhatPub (2nd photo)”.

    it is quite ironic that ‘Spoons are doing that in the William Morris, their branch in Cowley (Oxford). Exactly the same signage on the tills as you have reproduced – “Help us to get into the Good Beer Guide 2019”.

    The Cowley branch closes down on 5 March 2018.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Let’s put it into context what you are missing – prior to being a branch of ‘Spoons, the William Morris was an underground car park at a shopping centre. And as it has never made the GBG, or even come near to doing so, it probably won’t have been on your radar.
        The current manager’s views on guest ales are interesting too – always two on, but one of which is always from Vale. But that suits the regulars, who believe that Gravitas is brewed in heaven.


    1. Pretty good actually. Gravitas is 4.8 per cent. When it is selling well, it is a good buy at £2.15 per pint. Bear in mind that is in a city in which the cheapest ale in the next cheapest pub is £2.59 per pint !

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bargain. I would have said that Brakspear Bitter at 3.4% in a South Oxon/North Berks pub was one of the wonders of the world a decade back, but will all the customers drinking Peroni/cider now, and ale split between 6 pumps, I doubt it is.


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