Should small ‘craft’ brewers worry about the appearance of ‘craft beer’ in JD Wetherspoon pubs? Or should they welcome it?
Beyond major cities, this will be the first time many people will have had the chance to enjoy a sexily-packaged American-style IPA in a pub. Do you remember the first time you tried Goose Island IPA? We do. That eye-opening moment ought to lead at least some people to decide that’s their thing:’I’m well into the old craft beers, me.’ That would be good news for smaller brewers.
On the other hand, at £5 for two bottles or cans, this might be the moment when the rug gets pulled out from under the price structure of ‘craft beer’. ‘Spoons may not be able to compete with the Craft Beer Company or The Rake on cosmopolitan ‘vibe’ or variety, but you don’t get much for £2.50 at either of those venues.
If JDW can keep the range rotating, even if the selection is middle of the road, they might lure some beer geeks (like us) who had previously turned their noses up, and who welcome the thought of an extra tenner in their pocket at the end of the night.
It doesn’t hurt that many of the recent US-UK cask ale collaborations have been excellent — the Sixpoint/Adnams Make it Rain tasted so good on Sunday that we ended up drinking more than planned, despite the frankly dismal surroundings, and still spent less than the price of two bottles of Orval in a pub round the corner.
Disclosure: as we mentioned on Sunday, JD Wetherspoon sent us samples of their new Sixpoint American craft beer in cans: we weren’t impressed.