The Fox and Hounds

After a warm sunny Friday, what better way to spend the evening than with a few pints with a friend, so when Mr. Affable messaged to see who was free I was on my way to the Fox & Hounds like a shot. It appears that half of Caversham had the same idea too, because the car park turned beer garden was heaving.

The beer selection at the Fox and Hounds was as excellent as ever. At the risk of becoming a listicle, on draft they had Tribus Lupilus by Ilkley, Cwtch Red Ale by Tiny Rebel, Mallinsons Cintra XL,Good old boy, Gun Brewery Scaramanga Extra Pale (a 3.9% session ale), Sound Wave by Siren Craft, and Stay Puft marshmallow porter, also by Tiny Rebel.

I started with the Scaramanga, as it was a bit warm to be diving straight in to stronger beers. It had a nice light but hoppy taste, ideal for a warm day. Interestingly it was advertised as suitable for vegans. I’ve got nothing against vegans at all, but I did have some pork scratchings with it too. Sorry vegans. Mr. Affable had a Tribus Lupulus – another nice hoppy ale. It’s a bit of a trend at the F&H – if you like hoppy beer, there will always be several to choose from.

As I said earlier, the outside beer garden was heaving, despite the sound of the occasional boy racers bombing up and down the road next to it. We shared our table with  couple of old guys. That’s one of the nice things about the F&H – it has a real mix of punters. One of the old guys sat there looking very proper in his tweed jacket. And proceeded to put us to shame by downing his pint in about 15 minutes. Unfortunately Mr. Affable knows just about everyone in the pub from one place or another, so it’s difficult to have a conversation for very long without him having to say Hi to someone. Still, that gives me the opportunity to steal more of the pork scratchings.

Second round was Sound Wave for me, and Cintra XL for Mr. A. Fortunately, due to him not knowing his left from his right, I got the Cintra XL and he got the Sound Wave. I didn’t pick the Cintra for myself, because it claims to have overtones of mango, which I hate. But when I tasted it, it was fantastic. I’d definitely have a few more of those in future. Mr. A did offer to swap to them round when he realised his mistake. At the time I felt I politely declined, although looking back on it, I might have been a bit more forceful in my insistence than I should have been. Especially given that he had bought the drinks and wasn’t getting the pint he chose. Top tip – if it ever happens to you, pretend there’s a fly in your beer and stick your fingers in to fish it out. That’ll ensure there are no requests to swap back – polite or otherwise.

By this time, even the covered outside beer garden was starting to fill up. Kevin the landlord was working the bar, and looked like he’d very much like to be out in the sun instead. As the evening got colder, I’m sure that opinion reversed, with the slightly effective patio heaters compensating for the chill – it was April after all. Meanwhile inside, the reggae DJs were getting going with some summer hits. These guys are even older than Mr. Affable, but they know their stuff, and it went well with the fading sunshine.

Anyway, on to the unexpected triumph of the night – Stay Puft Porter. Somehow it managed to taste of Camden Market. A taste like a mix of 100 joss sticks. It’s actually a marshmallow taste, but that’s not my initial impression – it brought images of Afghan scarves and Peruvian hooded tops. It took me back to when I was a student – although there’s no way you’d have found such an interesting pint in those days. It was all copperhead cider for 80p in the student bar, with a chaser of whatever random spirit they had bought too much of (quadruple Pernod and black anyone?). Enough reminiscing – try the Stay Puft Porter.

Beer Quality Excellent. Never had a bad pint in there – and I’ve had a few.
Beer Selection Excellent ever changing range of beer from a number of different breweries. Generally about 8 pumps running, plus some interesting things on tap.
Drink vs Food The pizza is nice, and I am told the Sunday lunch is great. However, it’s a beer pub first and foremost
Music Varies. Depends who’s working the bar. Rarely bad though. If a DJ is on, it’s loud.
Snacks Pork Scratchings, Jalapeno Pretzel Pieces, and Nobby’s Nuts. Warning – can run out of them.
Atmosphere Generally lively and welcoming
Price About £4 a pint.
Space Not enough. There’s only about 8 tables inside, so get there early.

Score: 7.9

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