The Thirsty Bear

By | 17/05/2018

It’s hard to describe where the Thirsty Bear is without referring to the past. It used to be the Wynford Arms. You know, next to where the ugly tower block with a face on it used to be. And yes, it used to be a gay bar.  Well, now it’s called the Thirsty Bear, it’s next to a building site, and everyone who is a fan of watching sport on TV while drinking beer and eating pizza is equally welcome.

The pub has a pretty good selection of beer – two types of Lagunitas (IPA and Aunt Sally) London Pride, Theakstons Tour De What and Caledonian Coast to Coast. That’s some good breweries, and a nice enough selection to warrant trying a few. Despite the interesting selection, I started with the London Pride, because that’s always a reliable test of how well a pub looks after it’s beer. Not bad tasting. Perhaps a little sweet, and a little old. Price was about £5 – a bit expensive for such an edge of town location, but on a similar level to the nearby Lyndhurst.

Next, I tried a Lagunitas IPA – quite a strong American IPA, 6.2%. It should be hard to go wrong with a beer like this, and they had indeed done a reasonable job. Plenty of flavour, with a strong aftertaste that is characteristic of Lagunitas .

So, the beer is not bad. What about the rest of the pub? There’s only one way to describe it – full on hipster. Exposed brick, bleached wood, high tables, and Edison lightbulbs attached to industrial pipes. It’s so common these days as to barely warrant a mention, other than the fact that most of the art on the walls was bear based. A bear on a bike. A bear walking. Bear with a beard. It’s full on branding, and means they can never change their name – a name that I’ve just realised is perhaps a nod to it’s previous incarnation.

The Thirsty Bear also prides itself on it’s pizzas. So much that I hesitate to call it a proper pub. The kitchen takes up one end of the room, and is one of those open kitchens so they can show off them being made,. They also do takeaway pizza, so it’s piled high with empty takeaway boxes. Unfortunately, as a result you can’t help but feel that this is as much a restaurant as a bar. However, if you’re in the market for a pizza, they aren’t bad, and on Monday nights they do all you can eat pizza for £10, and some kind of super hot chicken wings eating challenge on Tuesdays.

To generate some atmosphere, they have loud music playing (The XX when I was in), and they also have TVs with sport on all round the bar. They make a big thing of the sport and have a list of what they are showing every night, so you can plan ahead. Personally I find it a bit distracting, but if that’s your thing then they’ve nailed it. They also have adverts for other interesting events, like live music and an open mic night on Mondays. I asked at the bar, and they said that’s not actually on any more though. That’s a shame, but I guess they have decided to specialise in sport.

Beer Quality Not bad, although the London Pride could have been slightly better.
Beer Selection Some interesting beers, like the Theakstons. Good choices by whoever is making the selection.
Drink vs Food The pizza seems to be their big thing. You can go just for beer, but they definitely seem proudest of the pizza.
Music A bit loud.
Snacks A few packs of Nobbys Nuts I think.
Atmosphere They almost seem to be trying too hard to generate atmosphere. Dial it down a notch guys, and let it build naturally.
Price A little on the pricey side, especially with a Spoons literally next door.
Space Plenty of tables, even if they are mostly high benches. Apparently there’s a roof garden too.

Score: 6.6

Reading RG1 3BY, UK

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  1. Pingback: The Back of Beyond - Quaffable Reading

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