Sixpoint cans arrive in all UK Wetherspoons’

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in American Beer | 13 Comments


“Eh? Whut is it then?” asks the old boy, stooped at the bar in a queue for his Tennent’s, on being offered a tray of small beery tasters. He picks one at random and knocks back the shot glass, grimacing like a seventeen year-old enduring their first slug of tequila. After handing the small glass back, he turns to the bar without a word, waving his battered fiver at the bar staff…

This week, everyone’s favourite high-street pub chain Wetherspoons went all-in with canned beer from the American craft brewer Sixpoint, launching three of their range in every ‘spoons in the country; all 900+ of them. In a truly colossal deal, Wetherspoons will import 355ml cans of Sixpoint Sweet Action (5.4%), The Crisp (5.2%), and Bengali Tiger (6.4%), and exclusively feature them in their pubs – alongside Brooklyn Lager, Goose Island IPA and BrewDog Punk IPA (all in bottles).

Yesterday, I headed down to one of the half-dozen Wetherspoons in Edinburgh (not counting the airport branches), and managed to speak with Sixpoint brewer Heather McReynolds, who had been flown in for a whistle-stop promotional tour. I really do mean whistle-stop, too – over the course of a single day, she was whisked between each of their pubs in town, before heading to Glasgow (today) to do the same. I asked her if she’d even seen the castle. “Hey guys, have I seen the castle?”, she asked, to a chorus of Yes’s.

At the same time as our conversation, others were taking place, in sync, in Liverpool, Birmingham, London and Cardiff – simultaneous launches in real-time. As impressive as the beers are, the astonishing component of this is the sheer logistics involved; Heather didn’t know exactly (being at the sharp end of the brewing process, rather than the organisational end), but she told me Sixpoint are shipping a container a week across the Atlantic, Captain Phillips-style,* with an entire team of people concentrating on it.

*“Quick, man the Budweiser hoses! There’s a pirate skiff to starboard!”

I’m wondering if Wetherspoons will trial the beers, and see how they do, before deciding on whether to make this a long-term arrangement. I’m pretty sure the three bottled beers in the Craft promotion will fly out; cans – as much as I love them – are a different proposition. I asked the bar manager what he thought – he said they should do well, but as his best-selling canned product is Irn Bru, he’d have to wait and see.

I think that’s definitely the take-home message – long-term success can only be evaluated down the line. Time will tell as to whether patrons of Wetherspoons will switch to canned beer – or ‘nano-kegs’, as they are being gratingly referred to. Priced at £2.49 a can in Scotland, they are also introducing stemmed glassware to match; “We’ll lose so many of these,” said the bar manager “they’ll just walk.” The beers are two for a fiver in England, or £2.89 each down there – Scottish multi-buy laws preclude this kind of thing (thanks Dean, for pointing that out).

With that, the Spoons guys politely got everyone ready, and Heather was shuttled off to the next pub – I joked with her it must be like being on a tour of North Korea, only with casino-style carpets. Wetherspoons have invested an awful lot in trying to do something different here – Sixpoint have too – and although it might take a while to build up steam, I think people will go for the cans, eventually. But as an alternative for those in the know; never as a replacement for Tennent’s…

Edit – I should say the beers were good, but my tastebuds were out due to a pint of Make it Rain, the 5% new-world hopped cask pale that Heather had brewed at Adnams – which is one of the best beers I’ve had for some time…


  1. Richard Morrice
    March 6, 2014

    I love this type of innovation. Very reminiscent of what Wetherspoons did when they set up their first pubs all those years ago.
    Richard Morrice

  2. Pat
    March 6, 2014

    I was in yesterday too and met Heather – all three beers were good and I think the Bengali Tiger for £2.49 is a particularly lovely and great value beer…

    I suppose if I’m in W/spoons I’ll always see what decent cask they have in (and the two ‘American Brewer Showcase’ ones on yesterday were both very very good) before buying a can of the Six Point (or any of the BD, Brooklyn or G Island bottled ale)…having said that I’d buy the Bengali Tiger over the 3 bottled choices…so, well done W/spoons and Six Point…

    Pat McGarvey
    (PS in a related item, the Edinburgh airport W/spoons had bottles of Jaipur when I was last there at a very fair price)

  3. Phil Harmonic
    March 6, 2014

    The beer (I’ve only had the BT) is pretty decent, especially for a ‘Spoons, but your man’s right about the decent glassware – it will (and, er, did) stroll right out the door.

  4. Ben
    March 6, 2014

    Very good news to me. Until now I have had to travel 20 miles to get to a pub that serves any modern or “hop-forward” beers. The cask ale in my local Wetherspoons is often poor quality so for me it’s very good to hear that I should be able to get a reliable and more interesting drink when I’m out.

  5. Mick
    March 6, 2014

    I tired all three along with a pint of Make It Rain (Adnams brewed, I think) earlier today. Felt a bit out of place with my fancy glass and ‘poseur’ beer among the pints of Guinness and Carlsberg, but I am all for this. I hope they get more American breweries involved.

  6. Mick
    March 6, 2014

    also, should be noted that the cans are ideally sized for fitting into jacket pockets, should you to buy some to take home!

  7. McNeillR
    March 8, 2014

    Some of the customers coming up for the “samples” looked like they were queuing up to take their medicine – it was a very odd sight seeing those shaking hands reaching for tiny cups of 7% IPAs and then opting for the cheapest lager a few seconds later from the bar.

    Mike – there’s an epidemic of this from Spoons up and down the country. With a bottle they obviously are opening behind the counter by default but the tins seem to slip some folk by. I’m not an expert but the container should be open before money changes hands.

    The biggest draw would be that these beers are available as part of the meal deals on during the week so, instead of having a J20 as the only options are Duechars, Abbots or Fosters on the pint front, you can get a can of these bad boys.
    Not that I make a habit of going to Spoons out of my own choice rather than necessity, but this kind of thing could make going literally easier to swallow.

  8. Mick
    March 9, 2014

    No, I asked manager if I could buy some to take home and she said it was fine as long as it was before 10pm.

  9. Pat Hanson
    March 10, 2014

    Had some Bengali Tiger in Bristol at the weekend and it was lovely. Don’t know about the stem glasses walking but they sure as hell don’t clean up very well in Spoons’ glasswashers.

  10. Stuu
    March 11, 2014

    Seems to depends on which Spoons you visit whether they do take away. I got cans to take home from both the Foot of the Walk and Alexander Graham Bell in Edinburgh.

    Niall – I’ve always been able to get any real ale as part of the meal deal – except ‘premium’ pints a couple of times. I have no idea what was premium about those exceptions!

  11. Ben
    March 11, 2014

    I went to ‘Spoons twice this weekend (it is one of very few pubs in my town that is actually bearable) and I really enjoyed both the Bengali Tiger and Sweet Action but I fear they won’t last long before they are withdrawn, especially outside the big cities.

    On both occasions (a busy Friday night and a sleepy Sunday evening) I was the only person i could see buying any of the craft beers, and even my friends who tried them said that they couldn’t get on with them. Neither the taste nor the glassware appealed to them as non-beery people. The Crisp seemed to go down ok with the lads but I don’t think it was good enough in flavour or branding to tempt them away from the usual pints or bottle of “premium” lager.

    I fear I’ll be forced to switch back to the iffy cask ales in my local Spoons soon enough, and I’ll admit that even I started asking for a straight glass with my Sixpoint tinnies after a while.

    There is still no room for the young, modern, craft-enlightened, beer drinker in the sleepy, oblivious rural towns of Englandshire.

  12. kal
    March 23, 2014

    This is nothing short of wonderful. Not even Brewdog bars have managed to get any sixpoint brews and at 2.50 a tin, it’s amazing value. I now have a nice collection of Bengali and Sweet Action in my fridge as those prices are actually cheaper than my bottle shop for good craft beer.

  13. Steven
    March 28, 2014

    Just bought the full range at Heathrow terminal 5, £4 a can in the big smoke! Bengali Tiger worth all the pain of a day in London for. Here’s hoping for a delay.

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