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Now that Cask Ale week with all its controversies is behind us, it's time to look forward to the next event. In my case it is Wetherspoon's Beer Festival. This bi-annual event is usually most interesting, partly because of seeking out the beers either imported or brewed here by foreign brewers (using the facilities of some of our breweries) and just for the novelty value of not having the usual suspects to go at.

The list this year isn't spectacular, but it is pretty damn solid. (The gorgeous E did think it "too brown" which is a recurring theme to her.) As an aside, possibly this is because most of JDW beer is sold in the South where brown beer still has a pretty firm grip, or maybe it is a sort of seasonal reflection, or, as is more likely, the smaller producers of pale and hoppy beers, by and large, aren't big enough to supply the volume JDW require.) I just don't know. Nonetheless there is still plenty to appeal and there is a few blondies too.

So what are the highlights? Let's take the beer brewed here by foreign brewers as a given, though it has to be remarked that having Honkers Ale instead of Goose Island IPA is an opportunity missed. (Though as I'll be in Chicago in three weeks, I'm not so bothered personally.) I do like the sound of the following: Otter Mild, 3B's Oatmeal Stout, Morrell's Oxford Blue, Phoenix Black Shadow, BrewDog Trashy Blonde, Welton's Hawthorn, Atlas Wayfarer, Bearton Peach Melbear, Herold Black Chalice, Sharp's Gentle Jane, Hawkshead Lakeland Lager, Titanic Tomahawk and St Peter's Old Style Porter. As always it will be educational to see how the beers measure up to the descriptions. No doubt some of my highlights will fail to appeal and some others will pleasantly surprise.

I remarked earlier about the thrill of the chase, but this year my hard work is being taken away by the endeavours of our local JDW Area Manager and the landlord of the Regal Moon in Rochdale. A bus will take selected old soaks round all the local JDW's where the aim is to have all the festival beers available between them. It should be a good do and of course it will be reported here by yours truly and likely by that dedicated toper Tyson, who will be attending with his entourage and will no doubt be giving his own take on events.

So the list is linked above. Any views?