Wetherspoons, the UK pub chain, is often seen by some beer drinkers as a place to avoid due to the 'vertical drinking factory' nature of some of their establishments, their reliance (in some pubs) on the Greene King/Ruddles/Caledonian end of the market and the length of time it often takes to be served by what appears to be bored and disinterested staff.
I think the criticism can be justified in some Wetherspoons establishments some of their pubs are trying hard to, in terms of beer, keep things very interesting and exciting for drinkers.
One such Wetherspoons pub in Glasgow which has upped their beer game recently is Hengler's Circus on Sauchiehall Street. I was in over the weekend and was mightily impressed when I walked in and discovered that all eight handpumps had been taken over by fab Scottish Brewery Harviestoun which showcased, excellently, the full range of their beers on offer. For a full four days there was nothing but lovely, tasty Harviestoun beer served from the pub's pumps.
I'm a fan of Harviestoun beers and was delighted by the choice and quality of the beers on offer. The usual suspects of Bitter and Twisted and Schiehallion were available along with a 4.5% abv cask version of the porter Old Engine Oil, Black Watch IPA, their black lager Shenanigans, a new mild from them and their latest summer offering, Natural Blonde - a 4% light beer. All for £1.59 a pint.
The stand out beer for me was the Natural Blonde. It was a lovely light and refreshing beer made from lager and wheat malts and a generous addition of five hop varieties - Pilot, Styrian Goldings, Cascade, Glacier and Citra. As you would expect with these hops kicking around the beer, it is a golden, gorgeous and very delicious drop that delivers a solid citrus hop zing and flavour with a lovely level of clean, dry bitterness. There are crisp shards of grapefruit and lemon accompanied by light, lingering peppery notes. It is an outstanding beer. Your mission this summer should be to seek out and sup this superb beer from Harviestoun.
The tap takeover was the idea of Sandy Williamson, who has just taken over the running and selection of the beers at the pub. His intention is to do more of these mini festivals at the end of each month with the focus being on highlighting the beer range of a different Scottish microbrewery each month. It is a great idea. The Harviestoun tap takeover appeared to be a success and I wish Sandy and Hengler's Circus all the best in their endeavour to support and bring the best of a resurgent Scottish Microbrewing sector to a thirsty and appreciative Glaswegian beer crowd.
I look forward to, hopefully, seeing a pub full of people drinking and enjoying some smashing beers from the likes of Fyne Ales, Black Isle Brewery and Tempest Brewing over the next few months.
Hats off to Hengler's.