I’d only intended a couple of halves in Reading on Sunday night, being as you’ll know a moderate drinker, but CAMRA Chairmen can be very persuasive. Especially after a Duchesse de Borgogne in the Nag’s Head.
So it was that I somehow found myself making a return to the Alehouse, which I guess is better than the Stella and Guinness options at my Dickens-themed cheapo hotel across the road.
If Reading is a great pub town, then the Alehouse is one of the three classic pubs that justify that status, second only to the Nag. After Sunday, I’m torn between the Greyfriar and the Purple Turtle for that third pub on the crawl, with a trip out to Seven Red Roses as a wild card, if Reading Buses ever repeat their free Sunday bus travel offer.
I remember the Alehouse as the Hobgoblin, and while the beer range may be a tiny bit different, this is still very much the towns central boozer (I’ve still to brave the Bugle).
As I always need to compare pubs to their Stockport counterparts, this sits somewhere between the Magnet and the Crown (not literally, that would be the M60). A good mix of folk, but mainly pint drinkers, and a Sunday night trade most towns can only dream of. In fact, for the first time in many months, I actually heard last orders called, which tells you when I tend to drink these days.
Without conferring, Sir Quinno and I both went for the Good Old Boy. There were, no doubt, more obscure options, but this is pretty much the bellwether pint for me.
The pint earlier that night had been NBSS 2.5, in the Alehouse it was touching a 4. Just look at that scummy head (I sometimes wonder what my mum would make of this blog).
With its warren of snugs and tiny rooms, there’s a touch of some of Hull Old Town about the Alehouse too, which is a compliment. I can take or leave the pumpclips on the wall, but the Magnet sign is the Top 100 Pub clincher.
And if Pub Curmudgeon needs any more convincing, the soundtrack was Jethro Tull and obscure Hawkwind, interspersed with what we thought was Clannad and Kiri Te Kanawa after a ten pint session (them, not us). If Quinno and me can’t place it, it probably is obscure. Though to be fair we were on the Rochefort 8 by that stage.
If that doesn’t sell Reading to you, stick to your bottles. I even found a Chinese takeaway to meet my exacting standards; PAYA on London Street (sweet and sour pork with coconut rice, 8/10).