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CAMPAIGN for REAL ALE

Pub & Brewery News Small Beer Reading Beer Festival CAMRA Members Weekend Join CAMRA Board Games in Pubs

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IN THIS ISSUE

REAL ALE – REAL CHOICE

See page 21 for the full story THE CAMRA MAGAZINE FOR READING AND MID BERKSHIRE ISSUE THIRTY THREE • SPRING 2015 • FREE - PLEASE TAKE A COPY


Branch Diary All events start at 20.00 and are open to everybody unless specified.

MARCH

Tue 10: Branch meeting. Great Expectations, 33 London Street, Reading, RG1 4PS. CAMRA members only, please. Thu 12: Pub games social with RURAS. 18.30 start at Hop Leaf, 163 Southampton Street, Reading, RG1 2QZ. Fri 27: Southall Curry Night. Meet 19.30 onwards for drinks at the Conservative Club, High Street, Southall, UB1 3HB, then Nagina Karahi restaurant at 20.45. Contact John Robinson on john.robinson@hotmail.co.uk / 0118 940 2787 / 0790 434 3187. Sun 29: Spoons Sunday – a crawl to help use up your leftover 50p vouchers! Meet 12.00 at Hope Tap, 99-105 Friar Street, Reading, RG1 1EP. Then Monks Retreat at 13.30 and Back of Beyond at 15.00. APRIL

Thu 2: First Thursday of the Month Social. Castle Tap, 120 Castle Street, RG1 7RJ. Tue 7: Branch meeting. Fox & Hounds, 116 City Road, Tilehurst, RG31 5SB. CAMRA members only, please. ALSO: End of the Ale Trail – last chance to return your completed booklet. Thu 30 April – Sun 3 May: Reading Beer and Cider Festival. Kings Meadow, Napier Road, Reading, RG1 8BN. See article in this issue for more details. MAY

Thu 7: First Thursday of the Month Social. Eldon Arms, 19 Eldon Terrace, Reading, RG1 4DX. Sun 10: Pub walk. Meet 11.00 in Henley station car park, walk to the Flower Pot at Aston and back via the Little Angel in Remenham, then various pubs in Henley. Contact Chris Hinton on ck.hinton@virgin.net / 0118 987 3203. Tue 12: Branch meeting. Venue in Ruscombe TBC. CAMRA members only, please. JUNE

Thu 4: First Thursday of the Month Social. Venue TBC.

Contact Us Useful contact details for this magazine, CAMRA and other important things… Mine's a Pint Circulation: 3,000. Outlets: Over 70 across the region. Editor: Phil Gill editor@readingcamra.org.uk 0771 455 0293 81 Addison Road, Reading, RG1 8EG Magazine published on behalf of Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA by:

Orchard House Media Ltd daniel.speed@orchardhousemedia.co.uk For advertising enquiries please contact Jane Michelson: 01778 382718 jane@orchardhousemedia.co.uk Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA www.readingcamra.org.uk Social Secretary: Quinten Taylor social@readingcamra.org.uk 07887 424232 Contact for all other branch matters: Katrina Fletcher contact@readingcamra.org.uk 0779 401 9437

Local Trading Standards Reading Borough Council: www.reading.gov.uk 0118 937 3737 West Berkshire Council: www.westberks.gov.uk 01635 519930 Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead: www.rbwm.gov.uk 01628 683800 Wokingham Borough Council: www.wokingham.gov.uk 0118 974 6400

See www.readingcamra.org.uk for details of these events as they come available.

The next issue of Mine’s a Pint will be published in June. Please feel free to submit copy or ideas by 9 May

For details of an event with no contact listed, to suggest an event or to receive regular e-mail updates of the branch diary, contact Quinten Taylor (Quinno): social@readingcamra.org.uk / 07887 424232.

The opinions expressed in Mine’s a Pint are not necessarily those of the editor or the Campaign for Real Ale. © Campaign for Real Ale 2015.


From the Editor

Spring is here, and that means there’s only one place to go for local real ale and cider drinkers. Yes, the Reading Beer and Cider Festival is back. Held again this year at Kings Meadow between 30 April and 3 May, there’s no better event in the area. Find out more details in the feature in this issue, but expect the formula to be much the same as in previous years. That’s for 2015... for 2016 there are going to be major changes forced on us. A scheme to redevelop the lido (the open air swimming pool adjacent to the festival site) includes landscaping and car parking proposals that mean the festival site will be unusable after this year. Have you ever noticed the slope in the ground towards the far end of the festival site? That's because the main part of the land was raised up years ago to offer better protection against flooding. That’s the part of Kings Meadow that will be unavailable. So why not hold the festival further down Kings Meadow? If we had tried that in recent years, then two out of the last three festivals would have had to be cancelled because of heavy rain and waterlogged ground. Why not hold the festival at a different time of year when it’s drier? Well, apart from the fact that it's an established part of Reading’s calendar, we draw our volunteer staff from so far and wide that we have to make sure we don’t clash with any other big CAMRA events, and there aren’t

any obvious slots that we could move to. So the organising team are looking at alternative venues for 2016. There are a lot of things to consider and the future of the festival is not something that can be easily or quickly sorted. The two things that you can be sure of are these: There will be a festival in 2016. It will be very different to what we’ve all got used to. So come down to the festival this year – it’ll be your last chance to experience Reading Beer and Cider Festival as you know it! Phil Gill - Editor editor@readingcamra.org.uk

Contents From the Editor Pub & Brewery News Small Beer

4 5 - 10 12 - 15

CAMRA Members Weekend

17

21st Reading Beer Festival Preview

19

Behind the Bar

21

Board Games in Pubs

22-23

Wild Weather Weekend

24-25

West Berkshire Beer at Reading FC 40 Years of CAMRA Join CAMRA

Mine’s a Pint 4

27 28-29 30


Pub News Pub News

busier. The food has received good reviews, so why not pay a visit?

CAVERSHAM PANGBOURNE

Welcome to Tracey Bligh, the new manager of the GROSVENOR in Kidmore Road. The beer range at this large roadhouse is Fullers London Pride, Sharps Doom Bar and Brakspear Bitter, plus two guests from microbreweries. CAMRA members get 20p off a pint except on Monday, when the Cask Ale Club discounts all real ales to £2.49 for everybody. The WORKING MEN’S CLUB on Church Street has switched from Greene King and now sells beers from the local Loddon Brewery. Note that admission to the club is for members only.

Welcome to Richard Carpenter, the new general manager of the SWAN. Although still owned by Greene King this pub now has a greater choice of which ales to get in. So alongside the expected IPA, Windsor & Eton Windsor Knot is a regular choice and Richard intends to have at least one other guest ale on sale, likely including a local ale. Food is available every day from 12 until 10 (9 on Sundays) and the menu changes every six weeks. The pub is moving upmarket so look out for tablecloths and table service in the bar, although we're assured that going in solely for a drink is fine. The riverside terrace is a wonderful place for an after-work drink as the evenings get longer.

PLAYHATCH

CRAZIES HILL At the time of writing, the HORNS had closed and Brakspear Pub Co (nothing to do with the brewery) were looking for new tenants. This small village north of the A4 has no other community focal point and we hope that the pub can reopen soon.

Live jazz starts in March at the FLOWING SPRING every third Tuesday of the month. Entry is £5. Tuesdays are now actually called “Choosedays” at this Henley Road pub, as there's an unplugged night on the first Tuesday of the month, Grumpy Club on the second and now jazz on the third.

HARE HATCH

READING

The QUEEN VICTORIA just off the A4 (Blakes Lane) has reopened and is free of tie. Initially serving two Rebellion beers including IPA in good condition, we’re told there should be a third local beer if it gets

What was the Horse and Jockey on Castle Street should now be the CASTLE TAP by the time you read this, as the pub was due

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CONTINUED OVERLEAF


PUB NEWS CONTINUED

By now this will be a warm and comfy pub! to reopen after a major refurbishment around the time that we went to press. Just about every aspect of the pub has been stripped down and reinstated, with a few surprises along the way. We're really looking forward to this real ale freehouse and, with the Nags Head and Butler nearby, it makes for a great pub crawl just west of Reading town centre. The FISHERMAN’S COTTAGE on Kennetside has reopened to good reviews. This riverside pub is under new ownership by a local family and has been thoroughly refurbished. Local ales are on offer from breweries including Two Cocks, Loddon and West Berkshire, there’s food available, a decked garden at the back and occasional live music. Several people have remarked on the friendly staff, too. The THREE TUNS on Wokingham Road is expanding its cask range, taking it up to a possible six pumps. Sharps Doom Bar and Youngs Bitter are the standard beers with others to come including St Austell Tribute, Thwaites Wainwright and Hogs Back TEA. Two of the pumps may offer local guest ales. Keg additions are Dogfish Head (presumably the one brewed by Wells and Youngs) and Revisionist English Lager. A while ago this pub was thought to be under threat so the expansion is very welcome news. The 17 bus terminates right outside. On King’s Road, what was the Warwick and then for a while Aroy Thai is now the BALI

LOUNGE. Great news is that, in contrast our report in the last issue, real ale is available again. A small seating area has been created so you can go in just for a drink (Doom Bar when we visited) or of course there's an extensive Asian menu if you’re looking for something to eat as well. Our reporter noted “Very highly themed with some amazing table bases - worth a look.” Nearby on Eldon Terrace, the ELDON ARMS has reopened after a major refurbishment. Externally the place has been redecorated, while inside is unrecognisable from before, with one long bar in place of the former two room layout and a thorough makeover. It was great to see long-time former landlady Anne Mackie on hand at the official opening to pull the first ceremonial pint. Read more in our “Behind The Bar” feature in this issue. GREAT EXPECTATIONS on London Street are advertising for a brewer and are planning to install a microbrewery on site. They are also having a refit. Not a pub but on a similar theme – a home brew shop has opened up relatively recently at Cemetery Junction. Called BREW MASONS, we understand that they can brew and bottle beer for you on their premises, or you can buy the materials to do it yourself at home. A new wine bar and coffee shop has opened on Broad Street. Called ARTIGIANO, there’s no real ale but the point of interest is

Mine’s a Pint 6


PUB NEWS CONTINUED a range of almost 20 bottled beers from the UK and further afield. Food seems to dominate during the day, then the bar kicks in properly in the evenings. As Fullers continue to review their estate, buying and selling property across the area, their latest acquisition is THE THREE GUINEAS on Reading station forecourt. Expect quite a lot of money to be spent on this listed building with the potential for currently unused rooms to be opened up for public use. Fullers ales and their Gales brand now feature prominently but, with ten handpumps, there’s still room for a good number of guest ales too.

THEALE There’s a fresh planning application to convert the RED LION on Church Street into housing. In the last issue we reported the refusal of a similar application; let’s hope for the same outcome this time.

WALTHAM ST LAWRENCE The STAR on Broadmoor Road is still closed and the owner is rumoured to be looking for change of use to residential. No application appears to have been submitted so far.

WOODLEY The GOOD COMPANIONS on Loddon Bridge Road has had a makeover with new tables and chairs throughout. The pool table has gone and the emphasis is now much more on food. The number of handpumps has increased from three to five, selling national and regional brands.

Another nearby Fullers pub, the CORN STORES on Forbury Road, seems to be keeping more regular hours now and is offering a couple of beers regularly on draught. Pavlov’s Dog on St. Mary’s Butts / Hosier Street has been refurbished and had a subtle name change to THE PAVLOV’S DOG. Potential grammar issues aside, this is a real ale gain with three handpumps where previously there were none. Sharps Doom Bar, Hogs Back TEA and Caledonian Deuchars IPA were available on opening night, along with Thornbridge Jaipur on keg. Also advertised are a grab and go counter serving hot drinks, snacks and pastries in the morning, as well as free broadband and printing, plugs and USB ports, a variety of phone chargers to borrow and a loyalty card.

A UNIQUE, TRADITIONAL BAR

Serving London Pride permanently with weekly changing guest ales Bar Food Served Monday - Friday noon until 2pm

Hog Roast Specialists

Friday Fish Supp er

only

£7.50

Ring for details

Regular Jazz Nights 5th March, 16th April, 7th and 28th May

Mine’s a Pint 7

Marquee available for events Arborfield Road,Shinfield, Reading,Berkshire,RG2 9EA Tel: 0118 9884130


Mine’s a Pint 8


Brewery News ASCOT ALES

LODDON

Having secured a regular supply of Citra hops, these will be used in a recipe for Aureole Ale, the 4% golden ale that has a refreshing citrus aroma and flavour. Anastasia’s Exile Stout (5% ABV) won Gold in the Stout category of the 2014 CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain London & South East Region, and went through to the Champion Winter Beer of Britain contest. Unfortunately it didn’t win the national competition - find out the winner in the Small Beer article in this issue.

BINGHAMS Binghams have two beers in the National final of the SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) awards: Doodle Stout and Vanilla Stout. The finals are judged at BeerX which is held in Sheffield on 20-21 March. March’s special is Rattlesnake RyePA – an IPA made with Rye Malt and American hops for a tasty malt character with a citrus hop finish. April and May will see the return of Smiled, a smoked mild made with beech smoked malt. The latest Epic brew (that’s its name) in the ever popular Craft Hop series features English hops that are so new, the hop merchant hasn't even provided any guidance on the flavour. The brewers have been enjoying analysing the flavours and aromas in them! Following on from Epic will be Kazbek (a Czech hop) and Rakau which is from New Zealand.

In honour of the support the brewery has been given by the pubs, clubs, restaurants and shops of Reading over the years, Reading Best (4.0% ABV) has been launched as a permanent beer in the core range. It’s a deep golden best bitter with an interesting fruity aroma and a smooth but nutty body. By blending traditional English hops with their modern American cousins and the addition of Crystal Wheat Malt in the grist, Reading Best is a mix of old and new.

SIREN CRAFT Liquid Mistress has been awarded the SIBA South Region Craft Beer in Keg Competition 2014 and will go through to compete at the SIBA BeerX in March.

WEST BERKSHIRE 2015 is the brewery’s 20th anniversary and to mark this prestigious occasion they have delved into the archives and chosen twelve of their favourites for this year's monthly cask ale specials. March Hare (4.3% ABV) – first brewed in 2000 – marks the arrival of spring. This light amber ale has a robust bitterness with a full and rounded flavour. April's ale is Coolship (4% ABV) – a golden beer with a rounded bitterness and delicate hop finish, fisrt brewed in 2006. Traditionally a coolship was the uppermost part of the brewery CONTINUED OVERLEAF

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BREWERY NEWS - CONTINUED crossed having found out they’ve made it to the finals of the SIBA Business Awards 2015. They have entries in two categories, and the finals are at the previously mentioned SIBA BeerX in Sheffield.

used for cooling and ventilation. This ale was first brewed in 2006. Skiff (4.1% ABV) is the offering for May, and is a pale bitter with a floral hop finish. This one was first brewed back in 1996 for the then newly established Reading Beer Festival.

WINDSOR AND ETON

The share offer for subscription to raise up to £4m under the Enterprise Investment Scheme is going well. The offer is open until 30 April and details can be found at www.wbbrew.com/eis Brewery staff are keeping their fingers

Every Six Nations England game is being shown on the big screen, with the Rugby Bar selling beers, plus soft drinks and a few snacks. Zinzans Drop (4% ABV) is only available during the tournament and 5p is donated for every pint sold to help support youth rugby.

Pub and Brewery News Extra: Zero Degrees

Farewell Angela, Welcome Andrei – the outgoing and incoming brewers at Zerodegrees We’ve recently said goodbye to Angela Wurges and welcomed Andrei Moisa as the new brewer at Zerodegrees Reading. Angela had been with Zerodegrees from the start of the Reading operation – eight years – which was much longer than she had been in previous jobs so she clearly liked the place. In that time she oversaw a huge num-

ber of brews, with the most popular beer (and her own favourite) being the Pilsner. As local drinkers we always looked forward with anticipation to the annual Christmas Bock, the strongest beer of the range at a usual 6-7% (it varied year on year), and the latest version didn’t disappoint. Angela is returning to her native Bamberg in Germany, via visits to places as diverse as Dublin and Chicago, and will remain brewing. We wish her all the best … so long and thanks for all the beer! Andrei hails from the central part of Italy and may be bringing the influence of his native land to some of the beer choices. Italian inspired beer would certainly fit in well with the pizza restaurant attached to the microbrewery. With Italy itself undergoing something of a beer renaissance in recent years, it’s great to be able to share in something new here in Reading. Welcome Andrei, and we hope you enjoy life in Reading!

Mine’s a Pint 10


Supplying all your brewing needs throughout Reading and the surrounding area We currently have the largest stock of beer, lager, wine and spirit kits in Berkshire. Pop in and be spoilt for choice. See for yourself just how easy it is to make your own home brew and become part of a fast-growing breed of ‘master brewers’ in your own home.

Perfect for Parties, BBQ’s or watching the big game with your mates! Opening Times Monday to Friday: 11am - 6pm Saturday: 10am - 5pm Sunday: Closed

DELIV ER SERVI Y C Availa E ble

Mine’s a Pint 11


Small Beer A roundup of news and information...

A healthy total of 27 pubs have been accredited as LocAle outlets in the area for 2015, up from last year’s 22. This means that “Real ale brewed within 30 miles of Kings Meadow is ordinarily on sale at all times”. Outlets wanting promotional information should get it soon. We will be refining and adding to the list as they year goes on. So if you know of somewhere that meets the criterion above and isn’t on the list, or even the other way round, please let us know.

The 2015 accredited pubs are: Caversham: Baron Cadogan; Fox and Hounds Grazeley Green: Old Bell Hurst: Castle Knowl Hill: New Inn Pangbourne: Elephant Reading: Alehouse; Allied Arms; Bel and the Dragon; Butler; Fisherman’s Cottage; Grumpy Goat; Jolly Anglers; Nags Head; University (Park House); Zerodegrees Ruscombe: Royal Oak Sonning: Great House Streatley: Swan Hotel Swallowfield: Crown Theale: Crown Three Mile Cross: Swan Tilehurst: Butchers Arms Twyford: Golden Cross Waltham St Lawrence: Bell Wargrave: Greyhound Warren Row: Snooty Fox

THE SOCIAL SIDE Chris Hinton is organising a new kind of social event for us – a pub walk from Henley to Aston and back. To be held on Sunday 10 May, when hopefully the weather will be good and the days will be long, the idea is to get the 10.22 train from Reading (10.43 from Twyford) and meet in Henley station car park at 11.00. Walk to the Flower Pot at Aston (3 miles) along the Thames Path, stop for a drink, the back via the Little Angel at Remenham (2.5 miles). Once back in Henley there are plenty of options for more pubs and food, with a return on the 18.07 train or later if everyone's having too much fun!

The walk should be fairly gentle. As this is something we haven't done for a long time, please let Chris know in advance if you plan to attend so we can look out for you. Chris Hinton: ck.hinton@virgin.net / 0118 987 3203.

Mine’s a Pint 12


SMALL BEER

ALE TRAIL

ASSETS OF COMMUNITY VALUE

There’s still time to join in this year’s Ale Trail. Following the same format as previous years, this is an opportunity to visit a great selection of pubs across the area, enjoy some real ale or cider, and collect a set of stickers. When your booklet’s full, send it in to receive an exclusive T shirt or beer vouchers for the Reading Beer and Cider Festival.

The government has announced that any pub listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) will have its permitted development rights removed. Whereas normally a pub is allowed to change to a shop, restaurant or various other uses, or indeed be demolished completely, without needing planning permission, this step will remove these rights from any pub that the community have had listed as an ACV. Change of use or demolition could still happen but it would first need planning permission, meaning the local community will have a say where they currently do not.

This year there are 21 pubs on the trail, to mark the 21st beer festival. Trail booklets are available from the Nags Head in Reading, the Fox and Hounds in Caversham or the Royal Oak in Tilehurst for a nominal £1 deposit (you can get it back from the membership stand at the festival if you really want) – but hurry, the trail ends on 7 April.

STUDENT BREWERS Members of RURAS, the Reading University Real Ale Society, are taking a more hands-on approach than many student drinking societies and have just brewed their second beer.

Students and staff enjoying the new brew As before, it’s a collaboration with Pete Cook of Sherfield Village Brewery. “Bitter Luck Next Time” is a 3.9% session beer, designed to be a traditional bitter - the taste is described as a malty start with an astringent hop finish. The launch was at Park House bar on the University campus (which is open to the public) and it's also been seen being enjoyed in several local pubs.

While CAMRA continues to believe that permitted development rights should be removed from all pubs, this is a very welcome step. The government has said it intends to introduce the legislation before the election, and we need to keep up the pressure to ensure that happens. Nationally over 600 pubs have been listed as ACVs and will benefit from this protection. Locally the pubs listed, all in Reading, are Eldon Arms, Foresters Arms, Retreat and and Three Tuns, and now the newest listing just before publication, the Jolly Anglers! If you want to list your local it’s relatively simple, so talk to us (contact details on page 3) or visit www.camra.org.uk/list-your-local-assets-ofcommunity-value for lots of help and guidance.

CHAMPION WINTER BEER OF BRITAIN Elland 1872 Porter has been named Champion Winter Beer of Britain for the second time in three years. The delicious dark beer was crowned champion by a panel of judges at the National

Mine’s a Pint 13

CONTINUED OVERLEAF


3 West Berkshire Ales 5 Guest Ales Real Cider, Perry and Mead Local CAMRA Pub of the Year 2014 Runner Up Local CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year 2013 & 2014 Pub quiz first Monday of the month

2 Broad Street Reading, RG1 2BH

01189 508119 the-alehouse-reading.co.uk enquiries@thealehousereading.co.uk

A Community pub in the e heart of Reading e

Mine’s a Pint 14

Follow us on twitter @AlehouseReading


SMALL BEER CONTINUED Winter Ales Festival in Derby. At 6.5%, it’s described in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide as a “creamy, full-flavoured porter with rich liquorice flavours and a hint of chocolate from the roasted malt. A soft but satisfying aftertaste of bittersweet roast and malt.” Mike Hiscock, Elland Brewery Manager, had this to say on the win: “It’s absolutely fabulous to win the Champion Winter Beer of Britain. Though we certainly weren't expecting this, it is amazing to get the hat trick and win this award for the third time. We know it is independently judged so for it to keep coming out on top is testament to the depth of flavour and complexity that we get into the beer. This really is fantastic news.” The Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition judges the best of the best in terms of classic winter warmers – from thick, rich, dark porters and stouts, to sweet and strong Barley Wines. A lucky panel of beer writers, members of the licensed trade and CAMRA members judged the competition. Elland 1872 Porter

will now go forward to compete in the overall Champion Beer of Britain competition at the Great British Beer Festival this August.

Love reading Mine’s a Pint? Does your local sometimes run out? Do you want your own copy, guaranteed every time? Then simply send us a supply of A5 sized envelopes with your name and address and a first class stamp on. However many envelopes you send, that's the number of issues you'll receive. Send your SAEs to CAMRA, 81 Addison Road, Reading, RG1 8EG and let us know which issue you want to start with, and we’ll put them in the post just after we get them from the printers. There are also a few back issues available so if you want any of those, it’s best to email editor@readingcamra.org.uk first to ask about availability.

A charming 14th Century Country Inn between Maidenhead and Reading. The Inn serves a host of regularly changing Real Ales.

Join us for our Quiz Nights Free Entry. Winning team get a free round of drinks. No charge just a bit of fun! 8pm start

8th & 29th March, 19th April, 10th and 31st May

The beautifully refurbished Restaurant overlooks the garden and the Inglenook fire provides a warm and cosy setting. The Inn has 22 en-suite bedrooms - standard, superior and suites. One room is adapted for the disabled. Free wifi available throughout.

The Bird in Hand, Bath Road, Knowl Hill, Twyford, Berks RG10 9UP

Call: 01628 826622 / 2781 Email: info@birdinhand.co.uk Visit: www.birdinhand.co.uk


Award-winning, family Cider makers since 2006 sales@tuttsclumpcider.co.uk www.tuttsclumpcider.co.uk Tel: 0118 974 4649 or 07836 296996

Mine’s a Pint 18


21st Reading Beer and Cider Festival OPENING HOURS Thursday: 4.30pm to 11pm Friday: 11am to 11pm Saturday: 11am to 4.30pm and 6pm to 11pm Sunday: 12pm to 8pm or until stock run out Please note that under 18s are not allowed into the festival without an accompanying adult and must vacate the site by 8pm. This is a requirement of our licence.

TICKET PACKAGES The Reading Beer and Cider Festival is returning to King’s Meadow from Thursday 30th April to Sunday 3rd May. It’s the 21st festival and almost certainly the last one to be held at King's Meadow, so come along and savour it while you can. Once again we will have a range of over 550 real ales and 150 real ciders and perries from across the UK, including a good selection of locally produced products. An impressive selection of Foreign Beers from across Europe and Great British Wine will also be available. A pub quiz will run on Thursday with a range of great prizes to be won. On Friday and Saturday sessions a full line-up of local live music and entertainment will be provided. Festival games and the Tombola stall will be open throughout the duration of the festival, and food will be available at all times. Sunday is family day with a more relaxed environment suitable for families with younger children, and entertainment for children is provided through the “half pints” club. Although we have a more family focus on Sunday, anyone of course is welcome to attend.

Two types of ticket can be purchased for the festival. Tickets bought on the door include: entry, souvenir festival glass and programme while stocks last. Advance ticket packages also include: guaranteed priority entry and two pints worth of vouchers for real ale, cider, or for part-payment towards higher priced wines and foreign beers. To purchase advance tickets and for more information including prices, please visit www.readingbeerfestival.org.uk where full ticketing details and other festival information can be found.

VOLUNTEERING A festival this size needs hundreds of volunteers before, during and after the event to make it work. If you're a CAMRA member and are interested in helping us out this year please take a look at the festival website for more information, or alternatively e-mail: staffing@readingbeerfestival.org.uk

FOR MORE INFORMATION Website – www.readingbeerfestival.org.uk Facebook – readingbeerfest Twitter - @readingbeerfest

Mine’s a Pint 19

Phil Gill


KNOWL HILL COMMON RG10 9YE The Royal Oak at Knowl Hill, Bershire is a small Homely family village pub. The locals say “It’s the hub of our village”, ideal for walkers, cyclists and is situated by The Knowl Hill Bridel Path, so it is also great to hack out to for lunch.

3 Real Ales Opening Times: 11am to 11pm Mon to Sat, 12pm to 10.30pm Sunday

Food Served: All day Saturday and Sunday

Call 01628 822 010 for more information

info@theroyaloak-knowlhill.co.uk

Bell and

Bottle

Hosting 4 real ales Food served daily

Pensioner meal deals Thursday’s 12-2.30pm

e

Enclosed beer garden • Free function room • Traditional pub games • Live music once a month. Come along and join us at our friendly local village pub!

Beer Festival

Friday 22nd May to 25th May Bank Holiday Monday

30 cask ales Entertainment and BBQ

37 School Green , Shinfield, Reading RG2 9EE Tel 0118 988 3563 Mine’s a Pint 20


Behind the Bar Russell Mackenzie, the new landlord of the Eldon Arms in Eldon Terrace, tells us about the pub and his plans. happening every 2nd Saturday, with the odd Jazz session on a Sunday afternoon.

THE ELDON ARMS

We hail from South Africa and so have introduced a selection of traditional South African meals to the menu. Already we’ve had two “braais” (barbeques) in the small beer garden, cooking up the traditional South African favourite, Boerewors sausage. The Sunday “braais” are set to become a regular feature in summer. Russell with daughter Lauren Ales are once again flowing at the Eldon Arms. The official opening was on the 5th February, exactly two months after the traditional back street pub quietly opened its doors to the local community.

This is a real family affair with my wife Carolyn looking after the admin while my daughter Lauren and I look after the bar, cellar and kitchen. So it’s all go at the new look family-run Eldon Arms, with the pub once again ready to welcome the community. Russell MacKenzie

Having been refurbished by the owners, Wadworth Brewery, in November the traditional two bar set up has now gone – being replaced by one single bar. However the old lounge bar area has been preserved with new carpets, comfy chairs and a new wood burner going in. At the other end the old public bar area has the dart board and TV. The Eldon Arms is one of the new “Ale and Cider Houses” from Wadworth and the emphasis is definitely on the real ales with four house and two guest ales on new brass handpumps along with a selection of bottled ales available. Alongside the six real ales there we have three ciders plus a German pilsener and draught lagers. Quiz nights are back again on the first Wednesday of the month and live music is

If you’re a local landlord with big plans for your pub and want to tell us all about them, get in touch and you could feature in a future issue of Mine’s a Pint.

Mine’s a Pint 21


A View of Modern Board Through The Bottom of a

you spotted Grandad cheating at Monopoly, then you may be in for a surprise.

Boardgamers! We’re everywhere these days, but until recently “everywhere” was probably somewhere hidden away safe from public gaze: church halls, dining rooms and above Eclectic Games being the local gamers' natural habitats. Over the last couple of years, however, there’s been a movement to bring games back into their traditional home: the pub. Personally, I’ll game anywhere I can get a decent beer but Reading's leading gaming pubs at the moment include The Nags, Oakford and Abbot Cook. There has even been a successful public event at the Siren Craft brewery.

Modern designs have really taken the bored out of games. They are full of beautiful art work, tactile wooden pieces and engaging themes. While you can still fight global war or make your Nan bankrupt, my current favourites enable me to rob trains (Colt Express), race camels (Camel Up), create firework displays (Hanabi) or even brew beer (Brew Crafters). The list really is… well, not endless, obviously, but very, very long indeed.

So what are these new-fangled games all about, huh? Well, if your last game experience was with a blue, battered, pie-free copy of Trivial Pursuit found lurking atop The Nags’ piano, or you’ve dodged the dice since

Their sheer diversity means there’s a game for every occasion. Stimulate the grey matter or stimulate social interaction, work with your friends to defeat a common enemy or just pretend they’re your friends and stab

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games a Glass... or Two them in the back. Whether you have 10 minutes, 10 hours, 2 people or 20 there’ll be a great game which suits. So where does the beer come in? Gaming in pubs is as natural as drinking and talking b@llox to your friends. It can all be traced back to the Romans who liked nothing better than a game of chequers, alea (dice games) or duodecim scripta (a backgammon-like game) while quaffing an amphora or two of ambrosia after a hard day's oppressing. You’ll find it on the list somewhere between aqueducts and public bathing.

So join me in a glass to the holy trinity of good beer, good company and good games and come along to one of the regular Reading Boardgames Socials, pub-based events or join in International TableTop Day (Saturday 11th April) when they’ll be gaming over at least 4 different public venues in Reading. And to those closet gamers reading: get out there and play! Be bold, be seen and be that person: the one with the fun games; the one who everyone wants to buy a pint for. Daryl Unwin

Pub games’ popularity rose and rose. The first statute regarding taverns, issued in 1495, chose to ignore those (un)fortunate side-effects of heavy drinking in favour of restricting “the indoor games which were distracting Tudor pubmen from archery”. Rightly so; as every darts player knows you can’t aim an arrow without a few beers. Jump forward to the 1970s and games are a staple of most pubs; crib, darts and pool leagues abound then, just as many pubs disappeared from the landscape, games largely disappeared too. Since then both the brewing and games industries have been happily transformed, both largely through innovative and creative enthusiasts doing it for love as much as for profit. The UK now boasts over 8,000 beers while over 2,500 new games were published last year. These coinciding golden ages makes this the ideal time for games to be restored to their traditional place at the pub table.

Contact Details:

ocial@gmail.com Email: TheBoardgamesS ers gam ard GBo Twitter: @RD Facebook: ps/Boardgamessocial www.facebook.com/grou .com/6XJqr Newsletter: http://eepurl Day: International TableTop / om http://tabletopday.c

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Wild Weather Weekend

So what would you want to do on a damp, cold, windy weekend at the end of January? Well this year a group of us set out to sample some of the best wild weather you can find – at the Wild Weather Ales brewery. An invitation had come from Iain Clarke & Mike Tempest to visit them in their base near Silchester – actually just across the Berkshire border in Hampshire. This was an offer we could not refuse. In fact twelve of us travelled from Reading by minibus and were joined by two other Wild Weather fans who’d travelled direct. The first impression, as we entered the Easter Park Industrial Estate, was – wow this is a big industrial estate and a pretty smart one as well – not quite like those of some breweries we’ve visited. The minibus wended its way deeper in as we keep a look-

out for beer casks – and there they were. No missing the bright pink and black Wild Weather colours. Inside Iain rapidly served us all a Stormbringer from their recently installed bar, and made us feel at home. It was quickly established that most of us had been to a few breweries and didn’t need to have the process explained or to have the different tanks pointed out. Then Mike told us a bit about the history and philosophy of Wild Weather – and explained their name was because he’s Mike Tempest. Having found that a Tempest Brewery already existed, Wild Weather seemed a good alternative. Meanwhile Iain had helped us move on to a Black Night, which has a wonderfully complex balance of malt and hops and is only 3.9% abv. The first two and the next couple

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WILD WEATHER WEEKEND of beers, all were dispensed from a key keg and Mike explained how it works. Then we moved to the “cellar” – on the same level, but where they store the casked beers. By now the chatting was going full blast with Iain and Mike answering the stream of questions. We finished back in the bar area with the stronger end of the range. Cumulo Citrus, their 6.0% Single Hopped Wheat IPA stood out for me and several others. One of our number couldn’t resist buying a growler full of their 8% double IPA, Blizzard. These 2 litre glass growlers with a swing top closure will keep beer fresh for 4 weeks – if you can wait that long. Growlers should be seen as an investment, costing £18 for the stronger beers (£13.50 refills available), while a growler of lower strength beer costs £15 (£11). Finally, Mike was asked to repeat his explanation of their use of key kegs so that some of us could put it on video record. You’ll find mine at http://youtu.be/ATeYwNJXFVM. Phil, your Mine’s a Pint editor had been checking the statistics of the afternoon - 14 people with 6 beards drinking 10 different beers from their 12 barrel plant – and one excellent way to spend a winter’s weekend.

Score your beers!

Brian Jones

Submit beer quality scores at www.whatpub.com Use the box on the top right of each page. Every score helps us learn more about a pub. Beer scores are used to decide which pubs go into the Good Beer Guide. If your favourite isn’t in there, get scoring!

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West Berkshire Beer at Reading FC “We are pleased to be working with West Berkshire Brewery on such an exciting partnership,” he said. “I was very impressed with the set-up, the enthusiasm of their employees and their plans for the future. There is undeniable synergy between Reading FC and West Berkshire Brewery.”

David Bruce of West Berks Brewery with Sir John Madejski In the last issue we reported that real ale was available at London Irish games at the Madejski Stadium. Now football fans no longer need to feel left out, as Reading FC have announced a partnership with West Berkshire Brewery. Fans can now enjoy a local ale on a match day. The multi-award winning classic bitter Good Old Boy (4.0% ABV) is now available outside the East Stand and in hospitality.

David Bruce, Chairman of the brewery, said: “It was great to meet Sir John to mark the exciting occasion of the West Berkshire Brewery teaming up with Reading Football Club. We are looking forward to a long and enjoyable relationship between our two local ventures.” A spokesman for STAR (the club supporters trust), Roger Titford, said: “We know there was an enthusiastic response to the trial sales of Good Old Boy at the end of last season and STAR is very pleased to see the club responding to the demand and setting up this partnership It’s a great reason to get to the stadium early!”

Join the Ale Trail!

Reading Co-Chairman Sir John Madejski recently visited the brewery to meet with staff and take a guided tour of the premises.

There's still time to join this year’s Ale Trail. Visit 21 pubs, collect stickers and win prizes! Trail booklets available from the Nags Head in Reading, the Fox and Hounds in Caversham and the Royal Oak in Tilehurst. Hurry - trail ends on 7 April.

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Birthday cake by Melissa Berry

40 Years of CAMRA in East Berkshire 40 years ago – on 11 December 1974 to be accurate – the East Berkshire branch of CAMRA was formed. A West Berkshire branch had already been formed in June of that year. The inaugural meeting of the East Berkshire branch was at the Hope & Anchor in Wokingham, a traditional Brakspear’s town pub, something it remains to this day. The branch, which covered all of the central and eastern part of the county, evolved into Reading and Mid-Berkshire branch, with the Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead branch forming in 1975, and Berkshire South East branch in 2003. On 11 December, Reading branch members enjoyed a pub crawl round the town to commemorate this important date, and on Saturday 13 December, members of the three branches celebrated the formation of that first branch with a presentation at the Hope & Anchor, a few pints in Wokingham followed by a bigger party at the Nag’s Head in Reading.

I was very pleased to make the presentation to Hattie Gutzman, the landlady at the Hope & Anchor to commemorate that very first meeting, and to say a few words to contrast then and now. In December 1974 Britain was recovering from the 3 day week and the shock of the oil crisis. Bachman Turner Overdrive were storming up the charts with “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”, and over 80% of our pubs were owned by the “Big Six” brewers – Bass, Allied Breweries, Courage, Scottish & Newcastle, Watney’s and Whitbread. Keg beer was the mainstay of these, with such delights as Double Diamond, Younger’s Tartan and Watney’s Red widely available. CAMRA was a young organisation with only a few thousand members, but was starting to have an impact. The 1974 Good Beer Guide was a thin volume, with a relatively small brewery section. CAMRA’s concern was not just in the number of pubs

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EAST BERKSHIRE CAMRA HITS 40! selling real ale, but brewery closures, which restricted choice and often resulted in local brews disappearing. Courage still brewed real ale in Reading, although the beer could be hard to find. Wethered’s (part of the Whitbread group) in Marlow, just over the county boundary in Buckinghamshire, brewed a good selection of real ales, and Brakspear’s and Morland’s were established independent brewers in the Thames Valley, owning a number of fine pubs. Drinkers would flock to beer festivals and free houses to drink exotic rare beers like Greene King Abbot, Marston’s Pedigree or Wadworths 6X. The average beer had a strength of around 3.7% ABV, mild was in terminal decline, and stouts and porters non-existent apart from Guinness (although this was bottle-conditioned then, and known as the beer drinkers friend, as it was available in every pub). Contrast that with today with nearly 1,300 breweries, with more opening every month! CAMRA has nearly 170,000 members. Many would say CAMRA has won the war on saving real ale, but although there is truth in that, we cannot take our eyes off the ball. The global brewers, losing market

share on their bland, tasteless, fizzy lagers, are just waiting for a chink in our armour to fight back and foist their cheap and nasty beers on us again. The fight now, however, has to concentrate on saving our pubs. The great British pub is under threat, and without it where will we find that fantastic choice of real ale, both in terms of breweries and styles? CAMRA’s leaders in 1974 may well have said “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” and they would have been right. Many things that we now take for granted – a wider range of beers, most pubs selling real ale, more interesting beer styles - were the result of hard work and campaigning by successive generations of CAMRA activists. We now have real clout with politicians and public servants. Some would say we have become part of the establishment, but I know that is not true. Anyone who has been to meetings of Regional Directors, and the National Executive will know we are still a feisty, campaigning organisation with a clear agenda on behalf of the (beer) drinkers and pub goers of this country. Here’s to the next 40!

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Nick Boley


Mine's A Pint issue 33  

The Spring 2015 issue of the Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA Branch magazine.

Mine's A Pint issue 33  

The Spring 2015 issue of the Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA Branch magazine.

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