I’m sitting in the garden, enjoying the late May sun, and thinking back over the pubs I’ve visited in the past few weeks. Of all of them, the Fisherman’s Cottage is the one that would draw me away from the garden to sit by the river on a nice sunny evening.
I’ve had an on-off relationship with the Fisherman’s Cottage for many years. For one, it’s not in the nicest part of town. For anyone who thinks I am a snob, I once had some kids try to throw steel bolts me as a cycled along the cyclepath past the Fisherman’s Cottage. And I’m sure everyone who has walked along there has seen the drug lookouts in the alleyways. But the drug lookouts are gone now, the council has installed cameras to keep them away, and the kids seem to prefer staying at home playing Fortnite to trying to maim passing cyclists. The other problem with the Fisherman’s Cottage in the past has been a lack of decent beer. But since the current owners took over a few years ago, that’s changed too.
In fact, the beer selection was very interesting, with a couple of limited edition Sirencraft beers on – Wild Geest and Kisetsu. Wild Geest (£5.70 for a half) is a strong IPA (7.2%) brewed in collaboration with Wiper & True. Quite bitter, but a lot of flavour. Kisetsu (£6.80 a pint) is a collaboration with Tonkotsu, and contains, amongst other things, Oolong tea. It definitely had an oriental taste.
Other beers that were on were Chaos Theory, London’s Outback by Hogs Back (£4.20 a pint). Less positive were three unfined vegan beers on tap by a Gloucester – Dockside Dark, Session Pale Ale, and West Cost Red. One of my drinking partners tried the West Coast Red and said he almost sent it back because of how cloudy it was, and he didn’t feel that the “natural” taste was particularly worth it. Also of note was a rhubarb cider. No, I didn’t try it.
It was a warm sunny evening, and the tables out the front by the river were totally full. Everyone else had clearly had the same idea about it being the right place to spend the evening. In the back garden there are bunch of little sheds with Christmas lights in them too, so you can sit outside in rain or shine.
The Fisherman’s Cottage is also renowned for it’s food. The I Love Paella team took over the kitchen a few years ago after a number of temporary homes around Reading, and really turned the pub round. Obviously pub are for beer. But if you are going there save some room for the Chicken Paella.
The atmosphere was very lively and friendly – lots of people out to enjoy the evening. The barman was super friendly and had lots of advice on what beers to try. Loud britpop playing, but not so loud that you couldn’t talk. It probably had to be quite loud because of the number of people in the pub.
|Beer Quality||Very good quality beer. Presumably the unfined beer was meant to be like that.|
|Beer Selection||Great to see the unusual Soundwave beers, and a few other interesting ones too.|
|Drink vs Food||It’s a pub. But it also does food better than most restaurants in Reading.|
|Music||Britpop, loud enough to be heard over the buzz.|
|Snacks||I didn’t notice – too busy enjoying the paella.|
|Atmosphere||Very buzzy. Everyone having a good time|
|Price||Perfectly reasonable, as long as you steer clear of the high percentage specials.|
|Space||It was almost full on a Tuesday night, but with tables out the front, back and inside, you can generally find a space.|
The Fisherman’s Cottage is exactly the sort of pub Reading needs more of. It’s on the river, it has great beer, friendly staff, friendly customers, and brilliant food. And it’s not even expensive. No wonder it’s full.