J D Wetherspoon is a chain of large town centre pubs, all over the UK.
J D Wetherspoon was founded by Irishman Timothy Randall Martin in 1979 when he opened the first Wetherspoon pub, 'Marler's Bar', at Colney Hatch Lane, London. Many of the other early Wetherspoon pubs were also in the same part of Haringey. The J D Wetherspoon name comes from one of Martin's teachers who could not control his class. The company, based in Watford, also operates Wetherspoon Lodges and Lloyds No. 1.
Evolution of the Wetherspoon range
After many years selling just a few Westons bottles from the fridge (and even then not in all pubs), Wetherspoons greatly increased their cider range in 2005. The standard selection included Westons Old Rosie and Organic Vintage (both bag-in-a-box), Thatchers Perry bottles, Sheppy's Oakwood 'flagons', and a range of Westons bottles.
By 2007 this had moved to being an all-Westons lineup in most pubs, though sometimes you could find Sheppys Bullfinch and Goldfinch bottles (c. 5.5%). Come 2009 and a single bag-in-a-box of Marcle Hill has replaced both the Old Rosie and Organic Vintage in many places.
Wetherspoons is to be applauded for being the one national pub chain to serve a real cider in almost all its outlets. However, its commitment doesn't appear to be what it was in 2005, and it has also been responsible for popularising some truly horrible industrial cider - most infamously the sickly "Krapparberg", but also bottled industrial cider from the US during a so-called 'International Ale and Cider Festival".
See below for current and past cider ranges.
Free wifi is in theory available at all Wetherspoons, though it can be erratic and the staff don't always know about it. The wireless access point is in the interactive quiz game.
To allow yourself free WiFi: Order your drink or food from the bar and ask for a Wi-Fi voucher; this contains an access code for your computer. You will then connect to a network free for 30 minutes – order another drink and go on line for another 30 minutes.
The service is available throughout the day at all Wetherspoon pubs and Lloyds No.1 bars. Leaflets detailing the new service are available at the bar. Please note that JDW Wi-Fi is subject to availability. Excludes Northern Ireland pubs.
See here for more details.
2011 Cider Festival
In July 2011, JDW held a cider festival, and this time all of the ciders where available at the same time, rather than them just selling one or two and waiting for them to run out.
The draught ciders were:
- Sheppy's Farmhouse
- Gwynt Y DDraig Black Dragon
- Sandford Orchard's Devon Scrumpy
- Green Valley Strawby Cider
- Thatcher's Traditional
- Broadoak Perry
- Weston's Raspberry Twist
- Mr. Whitehead's Festival Special Perry
- Addlestones Cloudy
As well as bottled these bottled ciders:
For September 2010 Wetherspoons have published a new brochure under the title "ciderspoons" which promises the following ciders:
- Healey’s Cornish Rattler 6.0% ABV a sparkling, cloudy Cornish cider.
- Thatchers Green Goblin 6.0% ABV.
- Savanna Dry 5.5% ABV A South African dry fizzy cider. Traditionally supped with a lemon in the bottle and no ice!
- Thatchers Old Rascal.
- Westons Old Rosie Scrumpy.
- Westons Organic Draught Extra-Strong Cider.
- Weston's Bounds Scrumpy Cider.
- Weston's Marcle Hill Cider.
Their main real cider is Weston's Marcle Hill, which is largely indistinguishable from Westons 1st Quality. This is usually served from a bag-in-the-box in the fridge. Some drinkers find that this makes the cider too cold for their tastes. You might consider ordering two pints at once and letting the second one warm up while you drink the first!
It is fairly common Wetherspoon practice to 'advertise' the Westons by putting a pump-clip on an unused handpump, even when it is still served from a bag-in-a-box.
You may sometimes also find other Westons bag-in-a-box products (Old Rosie, Organic Vintage or Traditional Scrumpy). A few pubs, particularly in the west, also serve locally popular ciders; you might find Sheppy's in Devon, Black Rat around Bristol and Gloucester, and bottled Gwynt-y-Ddraig in South Wales. Bottles of Westons Perry (sparkling filtered 7.4%, not the more traditional Herefordshire Country Perry) and Organic are usually available.
In February 2008 some Wetherspoons staff were reporting low sales of real cider; consequently the Sheppys may no longer be available, and in the Lloyds bars (Wetherspoons' sister chain) you may not even find the Westons.
Unfortunately, their commitment to cider has seriously backtracked in 2008. Many Wetherspoons serve no draught/bag-in-a-box cider, with only a small range of bottled Westons, and some (e.g. Oxford) don't even have that. In others, the cider handpumps have been requisitioned for beer during the so-called 'International Ale and Cider Festival" which features bottled industrial cider from the US.
Their standard range in 2007 was:
- Westons Old Rosie, either in 30-litre bag-in-a-box or on draught
- Westons Organic Vintage, in bag-in-a-box or on draught as above
- Westons Organic bottles
- Westons Oak-Conditioned Bottles (extra dry, medium dry, medium sweet - red, white, blue labels)
- Westons Perry bottles (7.4%, sparkling)