An exciting couple of days to finish off Berks, Bucks and Oxon sections of the GBG (take that, BRAPA), and confirm that Reading really is a classic pub town. My definition probably isn’t yours; all I need is a minimum of three great pubs, a cheap hotel, and a decent Chinese takeaway. So add Reading to a list that includes Nuneaton, Leighton Buzzard, Leek, and at least one in Cheshire that’s slipped my mind.
I met Sir Quinno, local CAMRA Chair and fellow #PubMan for a quick pint in a non-GBG pub that will remain unnamed, for now. Not because the Good Old Boy was average, or the sofas were an acquired taste, but because of the special guest who arrived just as I was describing my culinary plans.
As Roland scuttled behind the sofa, I was suddenly grateful Mrs RM hadn’t accompanied me on this trip.
Personally, if pubs can have cats, snakes and budgies, what wrong with this little fella ? You could even have a symbol for them in the Good Beer Guide. You could have one to signify a pub that allows children to run around unsupervised,too.
As I say, I’m not ratting on this pleasant little pub, that’s not the English way. Sir Quinno advised the barman on rodent traps on the way out, he’s all heart.
We headed for the Nag’s Head, a little predictable but as I wrote here, it’s Reading’s classic. And on Sunday night it was better than ever.
I still find the beer range a bit daunting, but like Stockport’s Magnet the beer quality and range of customers more than compensate. I had a dark one from Orkney (poss) that was a definite NBSS 4. Details became slightly sketch as we moved onto the Belgian selection, but I do remember an intense discussion on the merits of Bass in Portishead.
On the table behind us, two regulars were beyond “tipsy” and engaged in matters more domestic; the Nag retains all the feel of a locals’, rather than a “CAMRA” pub.
I’d already ticked off the new Reading Guide entry, as always fearful of an early Sunday close that would have meant another trip out.
“What time are you open till ?”
“3 today, early closing Sunday” – 10 minutes time !!
“3 am, that is”
I was tempted to tip up at the Purple Turtle at 2.45am, but I’m old. That said, most of the punters in there at 4pm were older than me, enjoying a soundtrack of ’90s metal at exactly the right volume. It had more in common with Bolton’s Alma than, say, Aberdeen’s Krakatoa, an unpretentious music venue with an unpretentious beer range, BrewDog bottles aside.
Once again, Reading CAMRA have picked a place for the GBG on beer quality though. The Turtle drops down to two pumps on Sundays, protecting the quality of my first Wadworth Bishop’s Tipple in years (NBSS 3.5). Shame about the mug.