The Retreat

Update: The Retreat changed management (with the same landlord) in August 2019. This review was done at the time of the old management.

In many ways this review began with my good friend Austin brewing some amazing beer which, for reasons that are now lost to me, became named “Dirty Diana”. I can’t remember if it was a tribute to the people’s princess, or to pop princess Michael Jackson. It’s not important – let’s say both. Continue reading “The Retreat”

The Griffin

I met a bunch of other twitterers (tweeters? twitterati?) at the Blue Collar Meat Fest in the abbey ruins a few weeks ago (hi guys), and amongst other things it was an excellent opportunity to get some feedback on my work so far.  The overwhelming feedback was that I was favouring the good pubs, and perhaps I should review some more of the worse ones. And they’re right – I do tend to go to the better pubs, not least because I hate drinking vinegary beer, or being threatened by some twat who doesn’t want me in “his” pub. However, I had a plan for how I could please the masses with a pub that is rubbish and yet safe at the same time.  So with that in mind, Grobber and I headed to the Griffin in Caversham – a pub I dislike intensely for having turned its back on beer, serving up stale slops as an accompaniment to its chain restaurant food. Or so I thought …  Continue reading “The Griffin”

The Castle Tap

I’ve lived in South Reading and North Reading, and worked in East Reading. I know them pretty well, and like to think I’ve been in the majority of the better pubs in all of them (and of course many of the not so good ones as well). But even after two decades in Reading, west along Bath Road is a bit of a mystery to me. It’s still just the road to get to Sainsbury’s as far as I know. However, the Castle Tap on Castle Street (the steep one heading out of town – you know, on the way to Sainsbury’s) keeps generating enough buzz that I had to check it out, as pub three of the epic pub crawl. Continue reading “The Castle Tap”

The Alehouse

When the secret society that is actually in charge of Reading*  was deciding who should write reviews about the town, I definitely won. Restaurant reviewers can only realistically review one restaurant a night, and event reviewers need to wait for someone to organise an event. I however, as one of the officially appointed pub reviewers, am in the lucky position of being able to sample as many places in one night as my brain and liver will allow – yay! Of course, I won’t drink just one pint in a pub and move on – I need to sample a few to be fair. That means in reality that about three pubs a night is my upper limit, a limit I pushed in the next series of reviews.
*you didn’t think it was the council, did you? Continue reading “The Alehouse”

The White Horse

You know how sometimes you find a pub, and you think “that’s not where a pub should be”. Well, the White Horse in Emmer Green is like that. In fact there are two pubs opposite each other, The White Horse and The Black Horse. No other pubs for miles around, but two directly opposite each other. Continue reading “The White Horse”

The Clifton Arms

When Big Gary said he was in the Clifton Arms to watch the football, I knew I had to double check. Last time I thought he said that it turned out that he was in the Prince Of Wales, and I simply couldn’t read. But no, this time he genuinely was there. Other than walking in by mistake and walking out again , I haven’t been to the Clifton Arms in some time, so with a little reluctance I agreed to join him. Why a little reluctance? In my mind it’s not the nicest pub in the area. But this time I was going with my reviewer’s hat on (that’s figurative – I’m not Sherlock Holmes), so in the interest of fairness all preconceptions were buried.  Continue reading “The Clifton Arms”

The Nags Head

The Nags Head has a reputation that’s hard to ignore as you set off for a review session. They have won pub of the year in Reading so many times that I’m not sure even they could tell you how many. I took a photo of their awards, thinking that I had done some sterling research, but then when I was at the bar I noticed that they have a bunch more hidden in the cider cupboard – too many to count.

Continue reading “The Nags Head”

The Prince Of Wales

Update: The Prince Of Wales has closed down, soon to be re-opened as The Last Crumb 

“Fancy coming down the pub to watch the Champs League Finale?” asked Big Gary. I fancied at least half of that activity, and figured that I could have a nice drink and a chat while the football played in the background. I was even prepared to shout the occasional “come on ref” to fit in if necessary – I’m pretty good at picking an appropriate moment to do that. And it turns out Liverpool were playing. I had a Kevin Keegan pencil case when I was at primary school (one of those long ones that could fit a full length ruler), so to be honest it was all falling in to place for me.  Continue reading “The Prince Of Wales”