US meets UK: a JD Wetherspoon Real Ale Festival

As any real ale drinker with functioning taste buds will attest, America’s craft brewing revolution has not gone unnoticed on this side of the pond. Far from it: Her Majesty’s brewers are now heavily influenced by American ale styles. And the hop varieties that have dominated Pacific Northwest brewing in recent years, such as Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Simcoe and Summit, now feature prominently in many British cask ales…

As recent transplants from the former colonies, Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer were very excited to hear about the US meets UK Real Ale Festival running at Wetherspoon pubs from today through October 31st. The festival showcases ten of America’s most renowned brewers who flew over to collaborate at ten of the UK’s most highly regarded breweries to produce real ale versions of their innovative brews.

Of course, being recent transplants from Seattle we are biased, but we were particularly delighted to learn that among the ten American brewers is Dick Cantwell, founder of Elysian Brewing. As readers of this blog know, Elysian is very close to our hearts, being the first recipient of the Fueled by Beer Puget’s Perfect Pint award when Mr Fueled by Beer was blogging from Seattle.

Anyway, enough with the sentimental stuff, on with the topic at hand: the US meets UK festival. First off I believe it should be said that huge kudos are due to JD Wetherspoon: they remain the UK’s only large Pubco who put their money where their mouth is and truly support UK real ale and its hard working brewers across the country.

Since visiting and blogging about Reading’s four local Wetherspoon pubs, Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer have visited four more in the following cities:

Our experience with Wetherspoons continues to be excellent. At every location we have visited the real ale selection has been extensive and very good, always in very good condition, and featuring at least one LocAle, Food is from the same reliable menu offering good basic pub grub at reasonable prices. And service has been friendly and efficient. As mass market pubs with above average real ale offerings go, Wetherspoons essentially does it right. We are yet to be disappointed.

Wetherspoons put together a nice feature in their Festival News newsletter. There are pieces on the American brewers, including a photo of Dick Cantwell peering into a brew kettle, as well as detailed tasting notes of all the festival ales. The document is a pdf requiring Adobe Reader or similar but most people have that something suitable already installed so you should have no trouble reading it.

Festival News feature on US meets UK Real Ale Festival (pdf document)

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