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.
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;
On my night in Huddersfield (of which more later), I was tempted in by the bright lights of the Cherry Tree.
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).
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.
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.
*I have a trademark on that name