Wetherspoons New Craft

So Wetherspoons’ new menu is underway. Starting on the 1st October; it promised more choice of, ahem, craft beer and dining options. Good to see salmon making a comeback and full marks for offering it as a breakfast option. But, as I always like to say, back to the beer. What’s on offer and how much is it are the crucial questions. Well looking at the drinks menu in front of me, I see that the two new draught choices: Brewdog This Is Lager and Devils Backbone are both just under £3 a pint. The bottle and can selection now come under a section labelled ‘Craftwork’ (yes, really) with cans at £1.99 and bottles at £2.49. New to can are Vedett, Budvar, Sagres and the hipster favourite: Lagunitas IPA. The bottle range is shored up with Adnams Crystal Rye IPA and Rogue Amber Ale.
(Oh no)
 Now a lot of attention has been focused on Devils Backbone; an American IPA brewed at Banks’s Brewery in Wolverhampton. Previously these American/British efforts have been served as guest cask ales. But, in for the long haul with this one, Wetherspoons have decided to sell this as a keg on its regular font range. This, they claim, ensures it is “crisp and fresh”. But what is it like? Well it poured pale amber with less carbonation than expected and a tiny rim of foam. Initially the cold hid its profile with a a slightly malty, fruit/raisin taste coming through. As it warmed, it became flabby, definitely not crisp, with a disappointing earthy hop aftertaste. They were aiming for an English interpretation of an American IPA but this falls at the first hurdle: drinkability.

(Oh yes)
For a contrast, I tried the Lagunitas. This was a lovely burnished gold with good carbonation and a fingerful of white foam. This is a complex IPA and on the nose I got orange peel, tangerine, and a hit of pine and citrus notes. The body is light for a 6.2% beer with only a slight malt sweetness underpinning it. The flavours prickle on the tongue; it’s not wave on wave of astringent hops but rather a melting pot. I got plenty of orange, melon, papaya, perhaps even a twist of summer berries before the juicy bitter-sweet aftertaste settles in. It’s a totally different beast from the other imported American IPA: Bengali Tiger, but equally as drinkable. At 5.2% the DB is a poor imitation; I can’t see any reason for cask fans to switch to it and it’s certainly not appealing enough for the dedicated craft beer fan.

So it’s California 1, Wolverhampton O. 


Tandleman said…
This Is Lager. was priced at £2.69 in Oldham. But they didn't have any. I enjoyed the Rye IPA though.
Bruce said…
Had many pints of DB, a very quaff able IPA.

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