Those of you who know me, will know I am a big geek, and proud of it. Generally I geek out at work and at home, but recently I discovered that Reading has a Geek Night once a month when you can meet fellow geeks and hear talks about a huge variety of things, like Gut Flora and Gamification. You don’t need to be a geek to attend, but if that’s not your cup of tea there are actually a huge number of meetups in Reading, for all sorts of different things. Want to build a hydroelectric power supply? Check. Want to discuss philosophy? Check. Want to make maps of Reading – there’s one for that too. If you look hard enough there’s probably even a group for people who are on Twitter somewhere too. But all of these groups need a free place to meet. And that’s where some of Reading’s under used pub spaces come in to play.
This particular Geek Night was in fact the Christmas party, and took over the whole upstairs at The Walkabout. The Walkabout is on Friar Street, down a little alley between Yates and a bookies. As I got there, there was a man walking down the street singing a song with the rather simple lyrics of “Oy Oy, Oy Oy” over and over. It was 7pm.
Inside the Outback is massive – one of the largest bars in Reading. It’s spread over 2 floors, with the downstairs having a bunch of booths, and a ton of TV screens for sport. The upstairs at the walkabout has bleacher style seating in front of a cinema sized projector screen, again for watching sport. The bleachers slide back to make space for events, but even then there are still other TVs around the room with sport on. Basically, if you want to go to a bar to watch sport, you are sorted.
There’s a massive long bar downstairs, and a smaller bar upstairs. When I was there, it was easy enough to get served, although I can imagine it’s a bit of a scrum during big matches. But while it might be easy to get served, the choice of what to be served was woeful. Fosters, Carling, Birra Moretti, Guinness, and Strongbow with various fruit flavours. There were a couple of bottles of Coopers Pale Ale in the fridge, and lots more different lagers. It’s very lager based. It’s also, unsurprisingly very stereotypically mock Australian. If you want bitter or IPA, you are out of luck.
Judging the place on its beer is fair in one sense – it’s what most people there are drinking. If lager is too much for you though, there’s also a large selection of cocktails (Australian themed of course). You can buy Billy Cans full of vodka, peach schnapps and fruit. Or a small surf board with a paired selection of shots and edible insects. Or a wide selection of things with Red Bull. They’ve basically brought a summer holiday to a warehouse sized bar in Reading.
The atmosphere is exactly what you’d expect for a sports bar on Friar Street. It’s full of enthusiastic people having a laugh (well, half full – the other half are outside in the massive smoking area). Go there to shout at the TV. Go there to get drunk with friends. Go there to pull. But unless you are upstairs with the Geek Night, don’t go there for a quiet chat.
And of course when I left, there was a woman walking along Friar Street singing “Wahey, Wahey”.
|Beer Quality||Nothing too bad.|
|Beer Selection||Lager, lager, lager|
|Drink vs Food||There’s wings and burgers available if you are hungry. Or steak topped with vegemite.|
|Music||A bit of background music|
|Snacks||You could have those edible insects|
|Atmosphere||Lively, but not fighty.|
|Price||Good – £3 for a bottle of beer. Surprisingly good value for inside the IDR|
|Space||Loads – it’s a massive shed of a pub. But it also gets full.|
If you want to go to a bar and watch sport, Walkabout has a lively atmosphere and reasonably priced drinks. If you want to go out and have some great beer, keep walking. Quite a long way.