This is a post that was destined to never happen. Clearly not very destined to not happen, because it’s happening. But still, slightly destined not to happen. It was actually one of the first pubs I visited on duty as a reviewer, back when the blog started in March 2018. At the time Big Gary offered to help out and write it up for me. That didn’t happen. In October, Mr. Affable and I went along, but they announced that they were closing early as soon as they saw him and we couldn’t get in. I’d all but given up, but when Siren Craft announced that they were doing a tap takeover at the Greyfriar, I knew it was time for attempt number three, this time with Grobber (who being between jobs can generally be relied on for a good night out).
The Greyfriar is next to the train station – an ideal stopping point for anyone walking home. You’d naturally expect it to be full of commuters, but in reality there are very few. It’s mainly a mix of locals, office workers and dogs*, with a broad age mix. When I was there it was close to Christmas, so it also had a few office parties (at least I assume that’s why there were people dressed as elves, and one as a turkey). In fact there were so many people there for the tap takeover that it was standing room only. And it was loud – music was there in the background, but inaudible over the hubbub.
* Yes, I mean canine companions. Big ones too. It doesn’t seem like the sort of pub that people should have brought their dogs to – too crowded. But several people did anyway.
The beer selection in the Greyfriar is generally pretty good – they like to find a variety of craft beers, as well as the obligatory trendy lagers. This night the tap takeover meant that everything was Siren Craft. There was also some free pizza, and a few giveaways of Siren Craft goodies – both of which I missed.
Siren Craft do a full range of beer styles, and I counted at least 13 of them on offer that night. Rather than stick with my favourites, I tried a few different beers. It was a mistake! Brut Romance was too dry for me. If only they’d put some clue in the name. Then Liquid Mistress – OK, but a bit dark. Then a Spin Botany, which was way too sour. At that point I was regretting my adventurousness and went back to my old favourites, YuLu and Under Current. Good news – they tasted great. Grobber went for a Broken Dream and the Liquid Mistress, which he got on better with. But is a brewery takeover a fair judgement of the quality of the beer? Probably not. I went back to my March notes, and apparently I had a nice Binghams Space Hoppy, an OK Hogs Back HBB and an excellent Under Current, so that’s actually fairly consistently positive too. You can see what they have on at any time at http://www.thegreyfriarreading.co.uk/BeerMenu.php.
Also available to drink is a large gin selection. However, it’s published in a menu under the title “Ginformation”, so I’d give it a miss for using such an awful pun.
Going back to my March notes is a real mystery, and a reminder to write things up faster. I have a quote from Big Gary: “the warped bar always gets me”, and a note that the toilets were a typophiles’s dream, having the words written on it in lots of different fonts. To add to the quirkiness, there are beer badges all over the walls and ceiling. I can’t imagine any of those facts influencing anyone’s desire to go to The Greyfriar, but you at least have the full info now.
The snacks in The Greyfriar are very good too – Piper’s crisps and Snaffling Pig pork scratchings. Both top of their game snacks – a good sign that they value quality. There’s panini at lunch time for the office crowd too. There are also a bunch of special events to entice you in – Prosecco for £12.50 a bottle on Fridays and a quiz every other Monday for example. They put the effort in (which many pubs don’t), and judging by how busy they are, I think it pays off.
|Beer Quality||Pretty good. A few misses, but not many.|
|Beer Selection||A wide variety of good beer in general|
|Drink vs Food||Other than at lunch time, it’s all about the beer|
|Music||A bit of background music|
|Snacks||Top quality crisps and pork scratchings|
|Atmosphere||Generally busy, lively happy people|
|Price||Over £5 a pint for the good stuff.|
The Greyfriar is worth a journey – it’s not just if you happen to be walking home from the station. Keep an eye on their social media for special events too.