CAMPAIGN for REAL ALE
Pub & Brewery News Small Beer Ale Trail - Now On! Join CAMRA 250 Challenge The Village Festival is Back!
IN THIS ISSUE
IT’S BEER FESTIVAL TIME!
READING BEER AND CIDER FESTIVAL: 27-30 APRIL. FIND OUT MORE INSIDE! THE CAMRA MAGAZINE FOR READING AND MID BERKSHIRE ISSUE FORTY ONE • SPRING 2017 • FREE - PLEASE TAKE A COPY
Branch Diary All events start at 20.00 and are open to everybody unless specified. March Thu 16: Branch meeting. Foresters Arms, 79-81 Brunswick Street, Reading, RG1 6NY. CAMRA members only, please.
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.
Sun 19: Ale Trail Walk. From Theale station to Spring Inn, Sulhamstead then back to Theale pubs (Total 5.5 miles). More details in Small Beer section. Contact Chris Hinton: 0118 9873203 / email@example.com
Editor: Phil Gill firstname.lastname@example.org 0771 455 0293 81 Addison Road, Reading, RG1 8EG
April Thu 6: First Thursday of the Month Social. Park House, Reading University Whiteknights Campus, Reading, RG6 6UR.
Magazine published on behalf of Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA by:
Sun 9: Ale Trail entries close at midnight. Tue 11: Branch meeting. Castle Tap, 120 Castle Street, Reading, RG1 7RJ. CAMRA members only, please. Thu 27 – Sun 30: Reading Beer and Cider Festival. Christchurch Meadows, George Street, Caversham, RG4 8BY. May Thu 4: First Thursday of the Month Social. Butler, 85-91 Chatham Street, Reading, RG1 7DS. Tue 16: Branch meeting. Royal Oak, Ruscombe Lane, Ruscombe, RG10 9JN (meeting in conservatory). CAMRA members only, please. June Thu 1: First Thursday of the Month Social. Swan, Basingstoke Road, Three Mile Cross, RG7 1AT.
See www.readingcamra.org.uk for details of these events as they come available. For details of an event with no contact listed, to suggest an event or to receive e-mail updates of the branch diary, contact Rich Croton: email@example.com
Are you an enthusiastic cider or perry drinker? Read on... We are short of a Cider & Perry Co-Ordinator for Reading CAMRA. This is a core (sorry!) position within the branch and we’d love someone to step-up to take on this post. The position is as much as you want to make it. The minimum is to organise the Cider Pub of the Year competition; to keep up-to-date with what's going on with cider and perry availability in local pubs; what’s occurring with local cider producers and report back to our monthly meetings. We are a volunteer organisation; we don't get paid and we do it because we love beer, cider, pubs and all that comes with it – the social side is a blast and the sense of satisfaction of getting things done for the things we feel passionate about is enormous. So if you fancy a grapple with the apple and promoting cider and perry locally and would like more info, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Orchard House Media Ltd email@example.com For advertising enquiries contact: 01778 382718 firstname.lastname@example.org Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA www.readingcamra.org.uk Social Secretary: Rich Croton email@example.com Contact for all other branch matters: Katrina Fletcher firstname.lastname@example.org 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 The next issue of Mine’s a Pint will be published in mid June. Please feel free to submit copy or ideas by 14 May. 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 2017.
From the Editor It seems to be the season for pub refurbishments. When I was putting together the pub and brewery news for this issue it was striking how many places were either closed for refurbishment, about to close or had just reopened following works. The Three Guineas at Reading station is the most high profile example but others can be found all over our area. If your local pub has a refit, make sure and support them when they reopen.
“CAMRA itself is having a refurbishment. For the last several months the revitalisation project has been canvassing members’ opinions about the organisation and what its future direction should be.”
Committee. All members attending the weekend meeting will get the opportunity to help shape the proposals and start the process to develop the strategy to implement them. You can read more in this issue from Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s national Chairman, about why he’s looking forward to the Conference. Back on home ground, it’s coming up to the time for the Reading Beer and Cider Festival. Now in its 23rd year, the festival is established in its new home at Christchurch Meadows after last year’s successful move. More details are in this magazine so make sure that 27-30 April are in your diary! Cheers! Phil Gill - Editor email@example.com
Contents CAMRA itself is having a refurbishment. For the last several months the Revitalisation Project has been canvassing members’ opinions about the organisation and what its future direction should be. The project committee have now reported to the National Executive and this year’s annual conference in Bournemouth will be used to shape the Revitalisation proposals before final recommendations are presented at Members’ Weekend in Coventry in 2018. The National Executive has confirmed that all members will get the chance to have the final say on the Revitalisation Project proposals before they are presented at Members’ Weekend in Coventry in 2018. This year’s Conference in Bournemouth in April will be used as a consultative body to discuss and consider the proposals made by the Revitalisation Project Steering
From the Editor
Pub & Brewery News Ale Trail - Now On! Small Beer
5-13 15 16-19
Reading Beer and Cider Festival 20-21 250 Challenge
Behind the Bar
LocAle Colin Valentine
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Pub & Brewery News The Three Guineas, Reading
ARBORFIELD LocAle sales are reportedly going well at the BRAMSHILL HUNT in Bramshill Close. We understand that Binghams is a particular favourite.
BURGHFIELD COMMON The BANTAM in Omers Rise remains closed and the owner is still trying to make it into a housing development. A residential scheme last year was refused by West Berkshire Council and an appeal was dismissed by a Planning Inspector. Since then a fresh application to demolish the pub and build housing in its place has been submitted – we've objected of course, as there’s been no real change in circumstances since the previous scheme was dismissed. The application was withdrawn just before we went to print.
The CROWN ON THE BRIDGE on Bridge Street closed in mid January for a major refurbishment. The works were expected to take four weeks so the pub should be reopen by the time this magazine is published. We hope to provide an update in the next issue so, if you visit, why not drop us an e-mail and let us know what you think. Also closed for refurbishment is the GROSVENOR on Kidmore Road. It’s due to reopen in early April as the Caversham Rose. This massive pub is the only one in the area so let's hope the new looks finds favour with the locals. On reopening it will no longer be an Ember Inn, but another M&B brand: a Premium Country Pub.
KNOWL HILL As reported in the last issue, Wadworth Brewery from Devizes have taken over a pub in Knowl Hill, and it's the BIRD IN HAND on Bath Road. This former winner CONTINUED OVERLEAF
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED of our branch Pub of the Year contest has a comfortable lounge, a big garden and several letting rooms so has great potential. It always had a reputation for great food as well so we hope that will continue. The previous range of guest ales has now been replaced by the Wadworth range (6X, Swordfish, IPA and Bishop's Tipple) and a CAMRA discount is no longer offered. The new owners plan to close for four weeks for a refurbishment in March, and hope to be reopened in time for Easter. Quiz nights continue to be the last Sunday of the month (although not in March!).
READING The THREE GUINEAS at Reading station reopened at the end of January under the new ownership of Fullers. They've spent a lot of money on the place in the style of their big London station pubs and it’s a marvellous transformation. The bar area has been remodelled and the kitchen altered to provide an open display kitchen. The biggest change is the addition of a cellar bar in the previously inaccessible basement, with plush velvet seats and booths. This grade II listed building dates from the 1840s and was formerly the main station ticket office. It was retained when the station was redeveloped around it in 2015 and now forms the centrepiece of the regenerated station forecourt. Eight real ales are available, mostly from the Fullers range but with a few guests – and there's still a screen showing train times so you don't miss your ride home. The NAGS HEAD on Russell Street celebrated its 10th birthday under the current owners in February. Wild Weather, Elusive and Yeastie Boys shared the handpumps and keg taps, with Uprising supplying a special 10% anniversary beer called Teenage Wasteland. The Nags is a fantastic example of how to turn a pub around given the right conditions and enough enthusiasm – a far cry from 11 years ago when it was a Greene King pub with one ale and about as many customers.
The planning application for letting rooms at the back of the FISHERMAN'S COTTAGE on Kennetside was refused. Reading Borough Council considered that the proposal would be overdevelopment of the site and would cause substantial harm to the grade II listed pub and its setting. The pub is still very much open, though, and features on this year's Ale Trail. The beer quality and food are both getting positive comments. What was the WYNFORD ARMS on Kings Road was due to reopen around the time of publication as a New York style pizzeria called the THIRSTY BEAR. The plan was to open up the ground floor to create a bar area with an open plan pizza kitchen, with a lounge upstairs and roof terrace above. The pizza oven reportedly cost £20,000 and was imported from the United States. Talking about the building, the new manager Vince Healy said that he is “looking forward to bringing it alive once again and to being part of Reading’s vibrant restaurant and bar scene.” The old GRANBY TAVERN dominates Cemetery Junction and has been a sorry sight since being closed and boarded up in 2012. Proposals for conversion to a convenience store came to nothing after Tesco moved in a few doors away, but now the place has reopened as a massive ice cream parlour. SPRINKLES GELATO is the new name and it offers ice cream, crepes and waffles. The loss of a pub is always sad but
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED at least the building is now back in use and providing somewhere for local people to meet. We keep hearing noises about a planned microbrewery in the basement of the PURPLE TURTLE on Gun Street and look forward to sampling the products when it does come online. In the meantime there are regularly four real ales and a cider available in the bar, and an extensive live music selection.
a touch of modernisation. We’ve got some exciting improvements for the rear patio as well with lots of covered seating, a fire pit and an outside bar too.” There was also an initial idea to change the name to The Shinfield Arms but that fell by the wayside after so many customers said they wanted to keep the historic name.
The SPREAD EAGLE on Norfolk Road has a new operator. Following the granting of ACV status late last year (sale as a going concern is allowed under the ACV regulations) we're hopeful that the pub will retain and build on its community focus. The fire brigade had to attend to a fire at the closed RED LION in Southampton Street in January. It was caused by squatters who lit a fire to keep warm, but it spread and two of them had to be rescued from the building. No-one was hurt but there's no news about whether the building was badly damaged – clearly it may affect its chances of reopening.
SHINFIELD A menu change at the BELL AND BOTTLE on School Green has seen a return to more traditional pub food including vegetarian options, available Tuesday – Saturday lunchtimes and evenings. The popular roasts continue on Sundays and are served from 12 to 4 pm. This is an Ale Trail pub so now is a great opportunity to drop by and sample the four ales as well as the food. The BLACK BOY closed in early January for an extensive refurbishment. It's due to reopen a few days after publication under new operators. The Barons Pub Company run six other pubs across Surrey and this is their first venture into Berkshire. They say “The refurbishment will aim to enhance the character of the lovely old building, adding
SHURLOCK ROW The SHURLOCK INN was bought last year by Rarebreed Dining Ltd, who plan to create a group of high quality dining venues in the home counties. It was due to close early this year for some significant building work which will extend the bar area and add a private dining room in place of the temporary marquee structure. They will also replace the beer lines and add the option of a fifth handpump. The previous owners were a consortium of 17 local people who had rescued this, the last pub in the village, when it came under threat.
STRATFIELD TURGIS Out of our area but close by, the WELLINGTON ARMS HOTEL is having a refit and is expected to reopen in March. This is on the A33 south of Reading, and part of the Wellington Estate. We understand that the management team from Reading's Bel and the Dragon are to take over after the refit.
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED
The team at the FOX AND HOUNDS in Station Road are celebrating after winning in the Wadworth Best of the Best Awards. The management team of Miles Teece and Jayne Tilsley won Managed House Best Newcomer to Wadworth 2016 while Charmain Coldman picked up a silver award for Best Managed House Team Member. Other awards the pub has won in the last year include the unusual one of Dog Friendly Pub of The Year for the South East region from an organisation called dogbuddy.com. You can find the pub south of the village, about ten minutes walk from the station in the area called Sheffield Bottom.
The WATERSIDE (formerly the THATCHERS) in Fairwater Drive has reopened after its major refurbishment. On a visit soon after opening the beers on offer were Caledonian Deuchars IPA and Bombardier (permanent) plus one from Castle Rock. The pub is run by the Tailor Made Dining Company who also operate two other local pubs â€“ The Crown, Playhatch and The White Hart, Nettlebed. Food is a major part of the new offer and there's a bit of a South African slant to the food menu and wines. The sports TVs inside and the children's play area in the garden have gone as part of the refurbishment. Good beer quality has been reported at the CHEQUERS in Crockhamwell Road following its recent refit. St Austell Tribute is the regular beer, sometimes joined by Proper Job from the same brewery.
TIDMARSH A chimney fire at the GREYHOUND in January caused the pub to be evacuated but thankfully caused little damage and no injuries, with the pub reopening later the same day. This thatched pub dates originally from the 13th century and is grade II listed although has been extensively rebuilt, not least because of two big fires in the 2000s that almost burnt it to the ground. Fullers ales are available along with lunchtime and evening food.
TILEHURST The PRINCE OF WALES in School Road has reopened after a refurbishment and is now called the PRINCE. Real ale and food is reported to be available, plus there's a garden and sports TV.
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BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED
One of many beers brewed to celebrate the Six Nations rugby, Andwell’s offering is the return of Crouch Hold Engage. This rich, malty ale is 4.5% ABV and brewed using a blend of pale ale, brown and crystal malt, with a gentle spicy hoppiness.
Scrum Five is a 4% English style best bitter, brewed for the Six Nations. It uses five types of malted barley and wheat whilst five hops bind to provide the bitterness and aroma. It should be available for the duration of the competition.
Aardvark Ale is a new 5% ABV beer. This is an IPA that's heavily hopped with Summit, giving citrus, piney aromas. The Single Hop IPA series also continues with Cascade: an American hop that has citrus and grapefruit aromas.
5 litre (8 ¾ pint) metal mini casks are now available from the brewery. They're served bright (no sediment) which means they come ready to drink and don’t need settling. Any of the permanent or seasonal awardwinning draught ales are available.
BINGHAMS An interesting new beer is Peppercorn Porter, a smooth chocolatey 5.0% porter with a spicy warming finish. They promise that the second batch will have more black peppercorns in it! Next will be 80 Shillings which will also be 5.0% and full of malty notes. On the pale side the Hop Project continues with Wai-iti Wakatu at 4.5%. The blend of these two hops provides a peachy and zesty character to this very pale ale. Last but not least, Ricky Moysey has joined the team, moving from the Alehouse in Reading and working on the latest beers.
Two new limited edition Black and White IPAs were produced in December and may still be available. These bottle conditioned ales are aged for 18 months and served unfiltered and unpasteurised in 330ml bottles. White IPA is a golden caramel colour and 7.5% ABV while Black IPA is dark ruby in colour with refined treacle and liquorice notes, and is a little stronger at 7.8%.
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ELUSIVE BREWING 2 UP is a special beer produced by Elusive in collaboration with their neighbours Siren Craft. This year from Siren's annual brew of a barley wine called Maiden, Elusive were offered the chance to produce something from the second runnings of the mash. 800 litres of wort was forked round the corner to Elusive, who boiled it up and added some Mosaic hops. This 8.5% “baby barley wine” is unfined and vegan-friendly, and should be available in keg and bottle.
HOOK NORTON Hooky Gold is now permanently available as part of the core beer range. At 4.1% it's brewed by combining the classic British Hops of Goldings and Fuggles with their American off-shoot Willamette, which has a “sublime blend of flowers, fruit, earth and spice notes”. Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt gives a beer of great character with an aroma of citrus fruit and delicate spice and a fruity, zesty and refreshing taste. It joins the other always available ales of Hooky, Old Hooky and Hooky Mild.
LODDON After an excellent Christmas trading period and record January, spring sees the return of the American IPA In Yer Face (5.8%). Additionally, the brewery is increasing production as sales continue to grow and will be investing in new fermenting vessels to meet demand. They're also the main beer supplier and sponsor of the Oxford University Keble Ball in May, which is an exciting new venture and part of a focus in 2017 to increase the brand presence into new areas. The Loddon Beer Club also celebrates its first birthday.
REBELLION Adventurer (4.2%) is the monthly beer for March. This year's series celebrates famous Britons and the chosen adventurer is Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and was one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. He is best known for leading the Endurance expedition of 1914-16. His beer is dark and malty.
One of a series of beer mats to promote Hooky Gold CONTINUED OVERLEAF
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Barrels for ageing – one reason why Siren Craft need more space. Image © Siren Craft Brew
SIREN CRAFT A new brewhouse supplied by American Beer Equipment was due to be installed in February. This will be the first major equipment upgrade since the brewery opened and in particular should allow for two 5,000 litre brews to be put through in only about an hour longer than one such brew currently takes. In the spring it's planned that the brewery will take on an extra unit on the Hogwood Lane Industrial Estate which will provide a number of benefits. The extra space will allow room to expand the barrel-ageing process and to put in temperature-controlled storage for all of the packaged stock, which should ensure that the beer stays fresher in the summer months. The most exciting news for many people will be that the new unit will also have room for a shop and tasting room, which has been much-missed since the old one closed as a result of pressure on space. It should mean the return of Saturday opening and brewery tours but Siren Craft say “stay tuned” for news about that. Vermont Tea Party is joining the core beer range this year but under a new name – not yet known at the time of writing. This “loose leaf pale ale” is made with Earl Grey tea and lemon zest, and the new name was the subject of a competition late last year.
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BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED
The brewery’s latest collaboration with RURAS, the Reading University Real Ale Society, was Daily Grind.
The team welcomed Jamie Duffield who has joined from Binghams Brewery. Plenty more new brews are expected.
WINDSOR AND ETON / UPRISING
Hooke at 4.3% is a straw yellow coloured beer for spring. Robert Hooke was an important English architect of his time who is also well known for his detailed illustrations. This golden ale offers soft malt flavours with prominent citrus hops.
Red Rye is the cask beer special for March, with Kohinoor planned to be available in April. The brewery are having extra fermenting vessels installed to give greater capacity, which means a bit of a redesign of the rest of the equipment.
XT / ANIMAL
West Berkshire are in the middle of an expansion programme which will see brewing, packaging, a shop and cafe all on a new site. The main building is a conversion of an old dairy. If all goes to plan, in March it should be fitted out with new brewing equipment from CFT of Italy. Also in March Maharaja Pale Ale should be available in bottles and on cask. This 4.5% pale golden ale is well hopped with four English varieties including Olicana which is bred for its aroma.
New in cask for 2017 is XT-17. This will be an evolving range of single hop special beers at 4.5% ABV. The base has a red rye malty backbone, giving a very light pale red colour and the hint of tartness from the rye. Onto this base a changing run of single hop additions will be carefully blended. The first brew was the Kazbek, a spicy and lemony flavoured Czech hop.
New branding has also been launched for the craft keg range. This currently consists of Squid Ink – a Cascadian Black at 5.5%, Snake Oil – a West Coast Pale at 4.2% and XPA – a full powered IPA at 5.9%. All are available now and will be joined later in the year by canned versions. Work in progress at the new brewery. Image © West Berkshire Brewery
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The Alehouse – one of the pubs on the trail and the venue for the launch event in February
Ale Trail - Now ON! You know that spring is here when the Reading & Mid Berkshire Ale Trail is on. Running for two months until 9 April, the trail covers 24 pubs in Reading and the surrounding area. Rich Croton, one of the organisers of the trail, said: “We run the ale trail every spring, to encourage people to visit and enjoy some of their local pubs and also to publicize the forthcoming Reading Beer and Cider Festival. It's a limited edition of 700 trail booklets, so make sure you get yours soon. Then the task is simple: work your way round the participating pubs. At each, buy a real ale or real cider (or a soft drink if you're a designated driver), and ask for a sticker. There are two months to complete the trail, so plenty of time to work out which is your favourite pub.” This year we will repeat the two-tier prize format. Everyone getting a sticker from all 24 pubs is entered into a free draw and receives the main prize of either a T-shirt and a half-pint beer festival voucher OR six half-pint beer festival vouchers. The second tier prize for completing 16 pubs gets you three half-pint beer festival vouchers. The choice of which pubs to include is always a challenge. Chosen pubs are expected to serve real ale in good condition at all
times. Most, but not all, of the pubs are accessible by public transport. The current branch Pub of the Year and Cider Pub of the Year are automatically included, then the organisers try to create a mix of new pubs and established favourites as well as creating a balance of pubs geographically. Half of the 2017 trail pubs weren’t on the trail in 2016 and five have never been on the trail since its start in 2002. Pubs can’t buy their way into the trail, as CAMRA pays for the production and printing of the Ale Trail. However, CAMRA is grateful to five of our local breweries and cider makers for sponsoring prizes for the free draw that those completing the trail are automatically entered in. All this is done with the objective of promoting CAMRA’s aim of supporting the public house as a focus of community life and developing people’s appreciation of traditional beers, ciders and perries as part of our national heritage and culture. You can pick up a trail booklet for £1 from the Alehouse, Castle Tap and Nags Head in Reading, and from the Fox and Hounds in Caversham.
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Small Beer A roundup of news and information.
PUB WALKS Chris Hinton is hosting another of his popular pub walks on Sunday 19 March. This one heads west, starting and finishing in Theale and taking in Sulhamstead along the way. Three of the four pubs are on this year's Ale Trail so it's an ideal opportunity to get your stickers. Meet at Theale station at 11.00 (10.44 train from Reading). From Theale station the plan is to walk down the canal to the Spring Inn, Sulhamstead (2.5 miles), back via the canal to Sulhamstead Swing Bridge, cross the canal to the river and follow a path across the railway towards the A4 roundabout with the A340. Then walk down The Green into Theale to the Volunteer, and on to the Bull. Finishing at the Falcon, weâ€™ll then head back to the station to catch the 18.06 train.
Chris has a table for lunch booked at the Bull so please let him know if you want to eat there so that we have an idea of numbers. Contact details: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0118 987 3203. Do note that this is Reading Half Marathon day. We won't be going that far or fast, thank goodness, but the point is to check your travel arrangements to Reading Station, as some buses won't run and the town centre will be busier than normal. Looking further ahead, Chris is planning another pub walk on Sunday 7 May. The route and pubs are not yet confirmed so check back on our website www.readingcamra.org.uk for more details closer to the date.
Total mileage will be about 5.5 miles and the walk is mainly flat. It follows a mixture of tarmac, stone and firm mud tracks, some of which may be slippery after wet weather. Some of the paths may be rough or muddy, so please wear appropriate footwear.
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NEW MEMBERSHIP RATES CAMRA membership rates increase on 1st April so if you know someone who’s thinking of joining, make sure they do it quickly to beat the rise. Rates rise in line with changes to the retail price index since the last change. The most popular membership categories increase by £1, so annual full single membership paid by direct debit will be £25 from April (joint £30.50). Non-direct debit prices are £2 higher to reflect the extra admin costs involved. Concession rates go up by only 50p. Membership benefits include free or discounted admission to beer festivals, a monthly publication What's Brewing with a quarterly magazine Beer, access to social events, discounts on coach travel, holidays and other services. Most importantly it makes you part of Europe's most successful consumer organisation and with that comes the ability to join in with campaigns to promote real ale, save pubs and improve the lot of publicans, brewers and pub-goers.
BRACKNELL ALE AND CIDER FESTIVAL Planning for the next beer festival at Bracknell Rugby Club is well under way. This festival isn’t a CAMRA event – it’s held to raise money for the club, and this year will be on Sunday 28 May. Previously Bracknell Ale and Wine Festival, the new name is a subtle change and reflects the expansion of the cider range. Tickets will be on sale now with big discounts for CAMRA members and the organisers say to stay tuned for announcements on the food, drink, music and everything else you’ve come to expect from the event. Follow them on Facebook or at www.bracknellalefestival.co.uk/.
HEINEKEN AND PUNCH Punch Taverns, one of the country's largest pub companies, has attracted a takeover bid from Heineken. Its bid faced competition from Alan McIntosh, a wealthy entrepreneur who was one of Punch’s founders, although Punch shareholders approved the Heineken bid. As part of the deal Heineken will immediately acquire 1,900 of the former Punch Pubs to bring its total Star Pubs & Bars estate to just under 3,000. The remaining 1,100 pubs will transfer to Patron Capital who describe themselves as “the leading opportunistic real estate managers in Europe”. CAMRA is concerned about the potential detrimental effect this could have on consumer choice and access to market by small brewers and cider makers, as Heineken has previously stated its intention to increase the percentage of its own brands in the pubs it owns. CAMRA published an open letter to the company, calling on Heineken to make assurances about their commitment to consumer choice, the Pubs Code and entering further discussions with CAMRA should the bid for Punch Taverns succeed. In response Heineken issued a reply in which it said: It intends to work with SIBA’s BeerFlex service to give tenants access to a wide range of quality beers from independent breweries. It has confirmed to former Punch tenants that they will not be forced to buy Heineken brands and have “no intention of imposing blanket conditions”. It intends to stick to the “letter and spirit” of the Pubs Code. Its intention is to improve the performance of the former Punch estate through investment. Heineken did not take the opportunity to commit to an assurance that the “vast majority of the acquired pubs” would CONTINUED OVERLEAF
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SMALL BEER - CONTINUED E Se stab cli rving lishe en d ts ove 20 na r 1 06 tio ,0 nw 00 ide
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“Punch Taverns, one of the country’s largest pub companies, has attracted a takeover bid from Heineken.” the deal. In parallel CAMRA has also made a submission to the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) to express concerns about the impact the deal could have on choice and competition in the market. CAMRA has called upon the CMA to launch an investigation into the competition consequences of Heineken being allow to acquire an additional 1,900 pubs. The acquisition remains subject to regulatory approval. If approved it is expected to take effect by the end of the first half of 2017. Late last year Punch reported its first annual profit since 2013, and said that it had reached the end of a disposal programme aimed at reducing its huge debts. That included the demerger of Spirit – whose brands include Chef and Brewer – which was later bought by Greene King.
ENTERPRISE INNS Another of the country’s biggest pub companies, Enterprise Inns, now goes under the name of “ei publican partnerships”. They own over 5,000 pubs in the UK including many in our area, and it's fair to say that they don’t have a good reputation amongst beer drinkers. A rebranding is unlikely to change that.
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Reading Beer and Cider Festival THURSDAY 27TH APRIL TO SUNDAY 30TH APRIL 2017
Last year the Reading and Mid-Berks CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival had to move to a new home at Christchurch Meadows. We liked our new place near the river and people told us that the new layout worked well. So this year we're sticking with Christchurch Meadows for our 23rd festival. It's easy to find, and easy to get to from the station. The new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Thames makes things simple and, for those of you using the mapping directions on a smartphone, the magic numbers are RG4 8DH. The format will be unchanged from last year with a huge range of Real Ale (over 550), Cider and Perry (over 200), a large selection of Foreign Bottled Beers, English white and fizzy Wines, Mead and British Country Wines. All served from the longest bar in the county (and possibly the country). There will be traditional pub games; a pub quiz on the Thursday; tombola; live music Friday and Saturday; and children's entertainments and Morris Dancers on the Sunday. Food is available at all times. There are never any guarantees about the weather of course, but should the delivery of sunshine go as
planned you can enjoy it in our massive Beer Garden. The Beer Festival is run entirely by unpaid volunteers. Itâ€™s a great deal of fun, and if you're a CAMRA member and fancy popping along to help out (and get free entry!) volunteering forms are available on the website: www.readingbeerfestival.org.uk Once again the Saturday will be split into two sessions and opening times are planned to be: Thursday 27th April 16:30 to 23:00 Friday 28th April 11:00 to 23:00 Saturday 29th April (afternoon) 11:00 to 16:30
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Saturday 29th April (evening) 18:00 to 23:00 Sunday 30th April 12:00 to 20:00
READING BEER AND CIDER FESTIVAL Tickets will be available soon (and probably are available now by the time you read this) from our website. For prices, details of the ticket packages including the new limited edition season ticket and any other information please check the website. We look forward to having a pint (or maybe two) with you all at the new venue.
BEER FESTIVAL TRADE SESSION Pubs often open and close, and Landlords move on to other venues. That makes it tricky to keep an up to date contact list for the trade session at the Reading Beer and Cider Festival.
Cheers! Adapted from an original article by Dave Scott, Festival Organiser
It’s free for members of the trade and a great networking opportunity, but entry is by invitation only. And we need to know your contact details in order to send you an invitation. If you wish to join us at the 2017 Trade Session (Thursday 27 April 2017) please e-mail email@example.com with the following information: • Name of the venue • Name of the landlord, landlady or manager • Venue telephone number • Venue e-mail address
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A charming country pub. The friendly & relaxed atmosphere welcomes locals, families, walkers, dogs & cyclists alike • Cosy seating area with wood burner • Ideal for walks & to hack to, very near the Knowl Hill bridle path • Home-made food served Mon - Fri 12-3pm & 6 - 9pm, Sat - Sun 12-9pm • Sunday Roast from 12 noon to 3pm • Beer garden overlooking fields
01628 822 010 Knowl Hill Common, Berkshire, RG10 9YE
3 West Berkshire Ales 6 Guest Ales German & Belgian Beers Real Cider, Perry and Mead Local CAMRA Pub of the Year 2014 Runner Up Local CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year 2013 & 2014
2 Broad Street Reading, RG1 2BH
A Community pub in the e heart of Reading e
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Follow us on twitter @AlehouseReading
Railway, Tedd ington I’m someone who likes pubs. I’m someone who likes a challenge. I’m someone who likes lists. So for the last few years I’ve undertaken an annual pub-based challenge. From sensible beginnings (a new pub for every day in a year) to rather more adventurous (to complete every ale pub in Berkshire) to cricket-themed (a ‘Lara’), 2016 saw me take on the king of the challenges – to have drunk in at least one of each of the top 250 pub names in Britain. To make the task even more farfetched, those pubs had to be ones I’d never done before. Initially, it sounded like it should probably be fine. 250 isn’t that many compared to a year’s worth (365) a ‘Lara’ (501) or completing the county of Berkshire (around 300
of the 650 total). 21 or so pubs a month. Easy, right? I asked the friendly folks at the Pubs Galore review website (who have supported me in other challenges) to knock me up a list of the top 250 pub names in Britain, where those pubs were, and a tick-box to mark-off when I’d done them. That was duly comCONTINUED OVERLEAF
pleted (www.pubsgalore.co.uk/stats/ challenge/quinno/2016/) and, after a bit of data-cleansing (‘Arms’ and ‘Heads’ being separated out, but ‘Inn’, ‘Tavern’ etc. being grouped together and chain pub names being omitted) I was ready to start. At first, things were simple. I’d go to a conurbation I’ve never really ‘done’ before and it seemed that half the pubs were tickable, I was almost falling over them. Plus, I could afford to be fussy. Required pub looks a bit rough? Doesn’t matter, there’s a betterlooking one with the same name in the next train stop along! I easily got up to 150. Then things started to get a bit trickier.
“The most popular pub name in Britain is the Red Lion, with the Crown second and Royal Oak third.”
The Sun, Romsey
It was time for a pivot table!
the deadline of December. Step up Marc ‘Desmond’ Turner. As someone who loves my pub challenges, he pitched in and selflessly offered his chauffeuring skills to help me hit the target. During those trips it’s fair to say we sampled the whole spectrum of the Great British Public House – from posh to rough via country inns, estate boozers and historic interiors, some of which (shock!) didn’t have any ale. I re-acquainted myself with Guinness a few times on the tour. And once, even John Smiths Smooth and Stella (shudder). We also discovered that purported opening times on pub websites were not necessarily to be relied upon. And that certain CAMRA branches should have their Good Beer Guide alloction reduced...
After plenty of poring over the table, we targeted a few places which looked promising, name-wise (if not exactly tourist wise!) – Plymouth, Northampton and Staffordshire. However, quite a few of the pubs were in suburbs, small towns and villages – a lot of driving would be required in order to meet
The final pub (somehow, we managed to have just one left that required a special trip) was now on. So on a grey day towards the end of November we motored down the M4 and over to Pontlliw in South Wales to bag a Buck. Would there be media present? Would there be dancing girls? No, just a so-
You see, it began to dawn on me that I’d done my challenges the wrong way round. By doing all of Berks previously, I’d cut off all my home county pubs. And by doing ‘the Lara’, many easy-to-access pubs via public transport had also gone. And as I scanned the lists in more depth I started to realise just how highly regionalized certain pub names were. For example, there are just over 80 Bay Horses in the UK. But looking at the list, almost every single one was wellnorth of Birmingham. A major planning overhaul was required, as the scattergun approach was clearly not sustainable.
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THE 250 CHALLENGE - CONTINUED
FACTOIDS The top 20 names accounted for over 50% of the overall total pub stock of the 250. ‘Dog & Duck’, one of the archetype country pub names, occurs very little in reality – just 17 times at the start of the challenge. Equine fans will be pleased to know that the word ‘horse’ appears in 11 of the top 250 names, making it the most popular animal pub name.
our fair share of more ‘challenging’ boozers. Perhaps my favourite story came from one of these - the Foresters Arms in Melksham. There were Euro 2016 nation flags strung above the bar and we noticed that Canada was subbed in for Germany. Overhearing us clocking this, one of the locals piped up “we’re not anti-Semitic!” We tried to explain that anti-Semitism was being antiJewish rather than anti-German but I’m not sure the concept was grasped. There was also the one time I felt genuinely uneasy in a Challenge pub - being stuck in a pub for an uncomfortable 10 minutes with Angry Young Man on a Knife Edge, Yellow Mac & Tiny Shorts Man, Toothless Grinning Man and Dancing to the Jukebox Man. So if you ever find yourself near the Stag in Lake, Isle of Wight, bear that in mind…
Masons are the most popular trade, followed by Farmers, Sportsman, Butchers, Carpenters, Blacksmiths, Foresters, Brewers (of varying number), Miners, Bricklayers, Joiners, Highwaymen(!), Smugglers(!!), Poachers and Bakers.
There’s a name for every letter of the alphabet, bar X and Z. so Greene King Rockin’ Rudolf and an immense sense of satisfaction. Still, the Challenge was completed – 4 weeks ahead of schedule.
PUB HIGHLIGHTS? Probably watching Wales win their opening Euro 2016 match against Slovakia in one of Britain’s finest alehouses – the Malt Shovel in Northampton. Although getting an unofficial (and rather hefty) “local’s discount” at the Two Brewers in WC2 (after the barmaid heard us discussing the Challenge) ran it close, as did the two halves of Sam Smiths mild which clocked in at an astonishingly low £1.34 at the Manor in Maltby. Of course, doing this challenge took me out of my comfort zone a few times and we did
Quinno in the Buck in Pontlliw, the final tick of the Challenge
Quinno’s favourite 250 Challenge pubs 1. Black Swan, Devizes (Wilts) 2. Boars Head, Tyla Garw (Mid Glamorgan) 3. Brewer’s Arms, South Petherton (Somerset) 4. Malt Shovel, Northampton (Northants) 5. Sportsman’s, Ivybridge (Devon)
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Great Choice of Craft, Belgian and LocAle Bottles Fresh Food and snacks served daily The Lyndies famous Sunday Roasts Both pubs available for functions The Lyndhurst: 88 Queens Road, Reading, RG1 4DG Tel: 0118 950 3888 The Retreat: 8 St Johns Street, Reading, RG1 4EH Tel: 0118 957 1593
Brian (The Retreat) Holly (The Lyndhurst) and Russell (The Eldon) behind the bar at the Retreat
Behind the Bar “The Village” Annual Ale and Music festival is back in Reading this coming Easter for the 3rd consecutive year. Coming on the back of two very successful Easter festivals the three popular reading pubs: The Lyndhurst, The Retreat and The Eldon Arms are getting together once again to celebrate Easter 2017. Joint recipients of CAMRA’s “Community Collaboration Award 2016”, the three pubs are ready to rock as only “The Village” knows how! Over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend the three Village Pubs will be hosting 21 diverse music acts from the Blues to Rock & Roll, Soul & Motown, Folk, Rock covers and more. There will be 30 unique ales available through the weekend together with a great selection of bottled craft beers and ciders. All of this will be accompanied by a good range of food and snacks available at the pubs. Preparations are well under way with some exciting music acts already confirmed. As in previous years we are committed to putting on a fantastic selection of real ales and ciders across the three pubs. Brian Moignard of The Retreat says: “There will be something for everyone across the three pubs over the whole weekend. Where else can you go in Reading and experience first rate live music and so many different ales in one area?
“We are proud to be part of ‘The Village’ Festival again this year” says Kristopher Dorward, landlord of The Lyndhurst. “The teams are all geared up for what is going to be another exciting, successful Festival. Reading has a long history of live music and real ales and it’s great to be a part of that legacy moving forward.” New to the festival this year is an “Arts & Craft Market” to be held in Eldon Square “The Village Green”. With an array of local artists and craftsmen displaying their wares and accompanied by live acoustic music, we hope to take the festival to the next level. By introducing the Market we are hoping to grow the Village festival annually into one that the whole community can be proud of and become a part of. “The Village Easter Ale & Music Festival” kicks off on Good Friday at 11am with the Village Arts & Crafts Market in Eldon Square before moving into the pubs from 3pm when the first of the bands start. It runs throughout the weekend finishing off on Monday afternoon. Ensure you put a note in your diary so you don’t miss out on this fantastic festival!
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Russell Mackenzie Landlord of the Eldon Arms
Over the past 15 years or so there has been a gradual acceptance and shift towards celebrating all that is local. It's a theme that hasn’t gone away and it's weathered the recession. Local produce has made up many a campaign by brands, retailers and businesses hoping to attract a more environmentally conscious consumer. When we buy local, we help the locality. We curb our carbon footprint, we support the environment. I came across CAMRA via the beer festivals of Reading and Cardiff, where I studied. One year in Reading I was lured past the Morris dancers and hog roast towards the CAMRA stall and, there and then, I signed up to the membership. What I loved about beer festivals was the idea of trying something different; trying something you’d never had before, trying something local, getting friendly recommendations by those in the know. When I lived in Cardiff, Tiny Rebel Brewery opened the Urban Tap House. I loved it. It had energy, was creative and was well thought out, and the team members knew their stuff. A year later, living in Bristol, I was introduced to a plethora of great bars celebrating beers of the world and local delights. Wiper and True were now commanding tap takeovers in the Beer Emporium but only a few years before had been selling their wares at the Christmas Market. My friend and fellow beer obsessive, Anders Fehon, described Michael Wiper as an ‘entrepreneurial inspiration’. When I moved back to Reading 18 months ago, I reached out to the branch and offered my support. In October I attended the AGM and put my name forward to look after LocAle. Since then I have been on a steep learning curve. I’m no expert at LocAle, but I’m keen to learn as much as I can. And I know this, if I learn as much about our local beers and ales as I know about Belgian beers and breweries, then I’m up to the task.
For forthcoming issues of Mine’s a Pint I intend to build bridges and relationships between the branch and our amazing local breweries and pubs. In an email I sent out in January, I laid out my focusses and had a tremendous response from local breweries actively wanting and willing to support, some also keen to build a relationship to understand the branch better and almost all wanting to meet up. After this, the next stage will be to engage with the branch pubs to understand the beauty and equally the challenge of LocAle.
Grumpy Goat Beer Shop
In this branch we are fortunate to have some fantastic pubs who stock a variety of locally produced beer and ale. We also have an independent beer shop in the Grumpy Goat, and the recently revived Lewis & James in Caversham now stocks a wide selection of Loddon Brewery bottles. New breweries are appearing all the time, and with a greater online presence they are better able to reach a bigger audience. As the LocAle officer for this branch I genuinely hope I'm able to be a bridge, support and cheerleader of all things LocAle. Our focus and engagement with LocAle products is a two way relationship. As drinkers we get to try unique and local drinks that we can be proud of, and the breweries get to employ passionate people who love this product as much as we do. Not long after moving to Reading, I was told to check out the Bluegrass Smokehouse by the Oracle because they sold this lovely little bottled beer named the ‘Liquid Mistress.’ Lo and behold (and of course, many of you will already know this) that bottled gem was by none other than our LocAle brewery, Siren Craft. Word of
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FROM OUR LOCALE OFFICER mouth, even in a digital age, to a beer explorer, will still go a long way. I leave you with some definitions of LocAle and a list of our local breweries. So how does CAMRA define LocAle? Here is our definition: The idea of the scheme is very simple: pubs are eligible to sign up if they permanently serve at least one beer from at least one local brewery. We define a local brewery as one that is within 30 miles of Town Hall Square in Reading. The actual beer and brewery can change; it does not have to be the same beer all the time, which enables a pub to rotate a local beer, should they so wish. 1. Accreditation is issued for one calendar year. It does not automatically roll-over to subsequent years but may be renewed if appropriate. 2. Accreditation is at the discretion of the branch. 3. The method of dispense is not material to accreditation. Hence beer served from a cask, keycask, keykeg, bottle or by any other method is acceptable as long as it conforms to CAMRA’s definition of real ale. 4. Beer quality is not material to accreditation. Nevertheless, as accreditation is discretionary, the branch may elect to not accredit a venue with poor beer quality if to do so would harm CAMRA’s image. 5 A venue is not disqualified from accreditation if real ale is temporarily unavailable for any of the following reasons: A missed or wrong delivery. Unexpectedly high levels of trade leading to beers running out with no replacements available. A cask being changed. Breakdown of equipment.
Zoe Andrews (pictured at last year's Reading Beer and Cider Festival)
List of our local breweries within the 30 mile radius of the Town Hall: Adkin - Wantage, Oxfordshire Andwell - Andwell, Hampshire Ascot Ales - Camberley, Surrey Aylesbury - Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire Barn Owl - Gozzard's Ford, Oxfordshire Bellinger’s - Grove, Oxfordshire Bell Street- Henley, Oxfordshire Betteridge’s - Hurstbourne Tarrant, Hamps Binghams - Ruscombe, Berkshire Black Pig - Warfield, Berkshire Bond Brews - Wokingham, Berkshire Butts - Great Shefford, Berkshire Chiltern - Terrick, Buckinghamshire Decent - Addlestone, Surrey Dickens - Reading, Berkshire Elusive - Finchampstead, Berkshire Farnham - Farnham, Surrey Flowerpots - Cheriton, Hampshire Frensham - Frensham, Surrey Hogs Back - Tongham, Surrey Hoptimists - Wormley, Surrey Hop Art - Farnham, Surrey Indigenous - Chaddleworth, Berkshire Itchen Valley - Alresford, Hampshire LAM - Sandford-on-Thames, Oxfordshire Little London - Tadley, Hampshire Loddon - Dunsden Green, Oxfordshire Longdog - Basingstoke, Hampshire Loose Cannon - Abingdon, Oxfordshire Malt The Brewery - Prestwood, Bucks Marshall’s Beers - Hermitage, Berkshire Mash - East Stratton, Hampshire Moogbrew - Taplow, Berkshire Old Bog - Headington, Oxfordshire Ramsbury - Marlborough, Wiltshire Rebellion - Marlow, Buckinghamshire Ridgeway - South Stoke, Oxfordshire Sherfield Village - Sherfield on Loddon, Hamps Shotover - Horspath, Oxfordshire Siren Craft - Finchampstead, Berkshire Tillingbourne - Shere, Hampshire Thame - Thame, Oxfordshire Thames Side - Staines, Surrey Tring - Tring, Hertfordshire Triple fff - Four Marks, Hampshire Twickenham - Twickenham, London Two Cocks - Enborne, Berkshire Uprising - Windsor, Berkshire Vale - Brill, Buckinghamshire West Berkshire - Yattendon, Berkshire White Horse - Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire Wild Weather - Silchester, Berkshire Windsor and Eton - Windsor, Berkshire XT - Thame, Oxfordshire Zero Degrees - Reading, Berkshire
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Colin Valentine Why I’m looking forward to Bournemouth 2017 This April, I will be joining CAMRA members from across the UK in the seaside resort of Bournemouth for CAMRA’s Members’ Weekend, which includes our National AGM and Conference. I have been attending the CAMRA Members’ Weekend for almost 30 years, well before I was active nationally, never mind National Chairman. Those of you who were in Norwich in 2013 may remember that I still have my glass from my first AGM weekend, as they were then called, in Norwich in 1990. Even prior to becoming Chairman, I always made an effort to travel to whichever corner of the country the weekend was held and have only missed one since then - and was even organiser in Edinburgh in 1998. It has always been, and still is, an opportunity to meet with old friends, make new acquaintances and socialise with other CAMRA members from across the country. Most importantly, the Members’ Weekend is a fantastic opportunity for any member across the organisation – whether you have just joined, been a member for 20+ years, active or inactive – to shape the future direction and purpose of CAMRA.
Following 50 consultation meetings across the UK and three national surveys, we have now seen the proposals that were put forward by the Revitalisation Project Steering Committee on CAMRA’s future. Whether you agree or disagree with the proposals, took part in the consultation events or stayed at home, the Members’ Weekend will be the opportunity to discuss them inside and out ahead of a decision next year. Over the weekend, members will be able to consider the Revitalisation Project and proposals on the future of CAMRA in a series of discussion groups. It will be your chance to have a say on the Revitalisation Project’s findings and represent your views in the debate. A final decision on the proposals will then be taken at the Members’ Weekend in 2018. I am proud to chair an organisation that is a true democracy – where every member has the opportunity to feed into our policies, direction and future. I never forget that without our huge membership base and dedicated volunteers; there simply would not be a CAMRA. I hope you will consider joining us in Bournemouth this year. The closing date for advance registration is Friday 17 March 2017 but you can also register in person on the day. For more information simply visit camraagm.org.uk.
As Chairman, I now have the great responsibility of making sure that the AGM and Conference part of the Members’ Weekend is run successfully and open to every single one of our 185,000 members. This year, that responsibility is even greater than ever before.
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The Spring issue of Reading CAMRA branch magazine