Mark Briggs has been a real ale connoisseur for over 35 years.  A self-professed ‘beer geek’, Mark visits East Lancashire’s pubs for his weekly column. Read of Mark’s adventures in ale at his blog or follow him on Twitter @realaleupnorth

THIS week I decided to visit a Wetherspoon's pub in order to see what was on offer at their October Beer Festival – and I have to say I was a little disappointed.

The White Hart in Todmorden is ideally situated in the centre of town. It’s a short walk from both the bus and railway station.

It's a huge, historic and rambling building with lots of space to eat and drink. There are spacious, well lit, more private areas with one or two nice quirky features. The open, brick built fireplace, for example, has been converted into a bookcase – a very novel idea, one might say.

I visited in the early afternoon and found the place quite relaxing, with customers enjoying both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. However, it was the all too common, first impression of many a Wetherspoon's, with just one poor member of staff multi-tasking. You know the scene one person trying to serve and clear tables and serve meals – all at the same time!

But he was a pleasant, helpful lad, as he informed me that there were five festival beers on as well as three of their regular brews.

Have to say, five was a tad restrictive for a festival. In fact it was hard to tell the festivities were in progress. You get at least eight ales on in these establishments on a non-festive day. Although the choice was restrictive, they had a beer on from the excellent Stoke brewer, Titanic – they always go down well! And the Cappuccino at 4.5%, had the “wow” factor. A rich, roast coffee and dark chocolate flavoured delight. A nice, tight, creamy head, roasted malt aroma, with a moderate, roasted hop finish.

A superb pitch black, porter-style beer. Served up in excellent condition.

However, the problem with the pub, is that it had a lack of comfy seating. In fact it was non-existent. It was all tables and chairs everywhere – even in the more private areas.

The White Hart is certainly spacious and vast enough to accommodate some comfy, social spaces. Sadly, the traditional pub areas have long gone in this hostelry. Certainly there’s no real “local” feel, I am sad to report.

I will say you can have a quiet, relaxing pint and value meal, in some Wetherspoon's. And this Todmorden pub was one of them. It's certainly set apart from the usual vociferous “Spoons” destination.

However, if you are looking for comfy, soft seated, social areas, to enjoy a pint and a chat, I would be inclined to give this pub a swerve - unless they are prepared to dispense with a few of their tables and chairs. And replace them with some soft furnishings.