The Grumpy Goat

By | 01/05/2023

When Grumpy Goat moved from their shop in the Harris Arcade to Smelly Alley, one of the things they promised was to open a bar too. The shop in the arcade had been their home for 7 years, but it was barely large enough for 3 customers at a time, so when they moved in 2020, it was a fantastic opportunity to do new things. Of course, that was in the middle of the pandemic though, so opening a bar at the same time as moving wasn’t a good business move, and they waited until the end of 2022 to expand from a beer and bottle shop into a bar too. Since then it’s been hugely popular, but does it live up to the hype?

I went along with friend of the blog, Mr. Affable, to a meet the brewer night at Grumpy Goat, with Alex from Two Flints Brewery. Naturally we had to try all of the Two Flints beers which were on: Keller, a pilsner, Swoop, a pale ale, and Big Frank, an 8% DIPA.

All the beers were superb, and very typical of the selection at Grumpy Goat, which aims to cover all the bases with a rotating selection of lagers, Pale Ales IPAs, sours, ciders and stouts. The default serving size is 2/3, which is perhaps a reflection of the sorts of beer they get in – more unusual, higher quality, and as a result more expensive than many other bars get in. The typical price range is £4 to £6 per 2/3. You can get cans or bottles from the shop downstairs to drink too for a modest £1.50 corkage fee, so the selection of what you can drink is vast. And if beer is not your thing, there is a good selection of wines, including local ones from Stanlake Park and from Freedom of the Press. There are a few local spirits to try too.

The drinks selection might be extensive, but the space is pretty compact. I think the bar is taller than it is wide, and there is only space for 5 tables and a writing bureau, which looks awesome but might be more of a pain to sit at. I suspect that you could fit about 40 people in the bar if fully occupied, but it’d be snug at that many. The place is decorated very trendily. Painted floorboards, funky artwork and scrabble tiles everywhere.

The owners, Anne-Marie and Charlie, also put on a number of events to make the bar fun – for example Beer Club on the last Sunday of the month, board games nights with neighbours Eclectic games, and dog walks on Sundays, 10% off food and hot drinks on return to warm you up, and more coming soon. And speaking of food, this is also a cheese shop, so they sell cheese boards to go with your beer, and charcuterie boards. Toasties are available at lunchtime too. They are hugely supportive of vegans, so have a vegan cheese board and can easily find you a vegan beer to drink too.

It’s a great bar to visit to try high-quality beers. Mr. Affable and I had a great evening chatting with other customers and the staff – everyone made us feel very welcome. A real gem for more modern beer in the town centre.

Beer Quality Excellent
Beer Selection 8 taps (no hand pumps) and almost unlimited cans to choose from
Drink vs Food Not a restaurant. Definitely a bar first
Music Quiet music, loud conversation
Snacks Pipers crisps as well as cheese
Atmosphere Very friendly
Price £4 – £6 for 2/3 pint
Space It’s very compact

Score: 7.2

7 Union St, Reading RG1 1EU, UK

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