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IN THIS ISSUE
Pub & Brewery News Small Beer Route 17 Pub Crawl Join CAMRA Behind the Bar… Bramshill Hunt Gala Award Evening
THE CAMRA MAGAZINE FOR READING AND MID BERKSHIRE ISSUE THIRTY SIX • WINTER 2015 • FREE - PLEASE TAKE A COPY
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A charming 14th Century Country Inn between Maidenhead and Reading. The Inn serves a host of regularly changing Real Ales.
The beautifully refurbished Restaurant overlooks the garden and the Inglenook fire provides a warm and cosy setting.
6th Dec, 17th Jan, 7th & 28th Feb, 20th March
The Inn has 22 en-suite bedrooms - standard, superior and suites. One room is adapted for the disabled. Free wifi available throughout.
Free entry. Winning team get a round of drinks.
The Bird in Hand, Bath Road, Knowl Hill, Twyford, Berks RG10 9UP
Call: 01628 826622 / 2781 Email: email@example.com Visit: www.birdinhand.co.uk
Branch Diary All events start at 20.00 and are open to everybody unless specified.
Wed 9: Branch Strategy Meeting. Castle Tap, 120 Castle Street, Reading, RG1 7RJ. CAMRA members only, please. Thu 10: Branch Christmas meal. Fisherman’s Cottage, Kennet Side, Reading, RG1 3DW. Booking required as limited space available – contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details. JANUARY
Thu 7: First Thursday of the Month Social. Royal Oak, 69 Westwood Glen, Tilehurst, RG31 5NW.
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 email@example.com 0771 455 0293 81 Addison Road, Reading, RG1 8EG Magazine published on behalf of Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA by:
Orchard House Media Ltd firstname.lastname@example.org For advertising enquiries please contact Jane Michelson: 01778 382718 email@example.com
Fri 8: 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 Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA firstname.lastname@example.org / 0118 940 2787 / 0790 434 3187. www.readingcamra.org.uk w/c 11th: Branch meeting. Date and venue TBC. Sat 23: New Members’ Trip to Binghams Brewery. Contact Brian Jones (email@example.com) for details. Sat 23: Regional Pub Crawl of London. Start 12.00 at Black Heart, Greenland Place, Camden, NW1 0AP (close to Camden Town tube). Contact Sue Thirlaway on firstname.lastname@example.org FEBRUARY
Thu 4: First Thursday of the Month Social. Venue TBC. Tue 9: Board games social. Great Expectations, 33 London Street, Reading, RG1 4PS. 19.00 for a 19.30 start with opportunities to join play as new games get under way. 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 regular e-mail updates of the branch diary, contact Quinten Taylor (Quinno): email@example.com / 07887 424232.
Stop Press: Red Lion in Theale registered as an Asset of Community Value.
Read more about ACVs on page 14
Social Secretary: Quinten Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org 07887 424232 Contact for all other branch matters: Katrina Fletcher email@example.com 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 March. Please feel free to submit copy or ideas by 7 February. 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 2016.
From the Editor Local drinkers were shocked when, late this year, the news broke that the freehold of the Nags Head had been sold. The popular pub in Russell Street, Reading had been owned by Admiral Taverns but they suddenly sold their interest in the building. Not to the tenants, who knew nothing about it until it happened, but to a private individual. Now, selling a freehold is common in the property world. It means that ownership of the land and buildings transfers, but any business on the site should be able to carry on as before. Nevertheless, given the pub’s iconic status and the lack of information about the new owner or their intentions, the sale has made a lot of people very nervous. That’s why a small team of CAMRA members rapidly mobilised to submit an application to register the Nags Head as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). If granted, that will ensure that any proposals to demolish or change the use of the building will have to go through the full planning process – hopefully making both those options much less likely. We have been told by the Abbey ward councillors that they will support the ACV application, which is great news, and any other support would also be very helpful. You can contact Reading Borough Council to support the application and explain why the pub is such a valuable and treasured part of the West Reading community. You can also submit an ACV application yourself – anyone can, provided they can find a group of 21 like-minded people. The more pubs that are protected by ACV status, the more we can help to preserve and conserve our pubs as the heart of our communities. See www.camra.org.uk/list-yourlocal for a lot more information on how to act to protect your local.
The tools are available – they may not be the best but they can help us do some good, so let's use them! Phil Gill - Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Reading Beer and Cider Festival Thursday 28 April Sunday 1 May 2016 Venue announcement coming soon -
watch this space!
Contents Branch Diary
From the Editor
Pub & Brewery News Small Beer Behind the Bar
5-13 14-15 17
Route 17 Pub Crawl
When is a Barrel not a Barrel?
Revitalisation of CAMRA
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Pub & Brewery News Pub News
ARBORFIELD Steve and Marie at the BRAMSHILL HUNT in Bramshill Close are keen to welcome CAMRA members. You can read more about their pub and the improvements they’ve made in the Behind the Bar feature in this issue. Bus 3, the Leopard, stops almost outside and links to Reading and Wokingham.
BURGHFIELD A planning application for change of use and extension of the BANTAM was refused by West Berkshire Council. The proposal for flats was turned down because the applicant “has failed to submit sufficient information in terms of an analysis of viability of the business and attempts to sell the public house at a reasonable market value” (these words come from the council's refusal notice). The applicant has appealed against the decision and the appeal is expected to be considered early next year.
CAVERSHAM The RED COW in Star Road is our latest local Asset of Community Value. Reading Borough Council registered the pub in September after an application from your CAMRA branch. It means that the Grade II listed pub can't be demolished or changed into a shop or any other use without getting full
planning permission. Bearing in mind the number of pubs which have been lost in the Lower Caversham area (the Golden Key, the Star, the Miller’s Arms and even the Conservative Club) it was a great result to get an ACV granted on this building. We understand that it is still up for sale and we hope that a buyer can be found soon who is prepared to give the Red Cow a new lease of life and provide good beer and hospitality for the local population. Just after we published in the last issue that the CLIFTON ARMS had started selling real cider, came the news that the cider pump had been taken back out again.
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PLAYHATCH Nick and Hazel celebrate five years running the FLOWING SPRING on Henley Road on Saturday 12 December. There will be plenty of food and entertainment comes from the highly talented singer-guitarist Alice Reay.
READING Recent events at the CASTLE TAP on Castle Street have included an excellent “cheese and beer tasting” evening hosted by Gyle 59 Brewery. The cheese range benefits from the pub’s association with the Grumpy Goat shop in Harris Arcade, of course.
interest in horology – clocks in simple terms – was legendary but few of us knew of his involvement with one of Reading’s landmarks. The PURPLE TURTLE on Gun Street have applied for planning permission for change of use for the building next door. A café / restaurant at basement to second floor level is planned, including a basement extension for the Turtle. What makes this much more interesting is that it also includes a “replacement two storey building to rear for microbrewery”. We look forward to this venture becoming a reality and to tasting some beer from the new brewery. With regard to the beers in the Turtle – generally only two ales plus a real cider are available during the week with the range increasing to at least four plus cider at weekends. Work is progressing at the BUTLER in Chatham Street where parts of the old retail shop (the original Butler’s Wine, Beer and Spirit outlet) will be converted to new bar and seating areas. There are usually six cask ales available at this up and coming pub which is popular with rugby supporters as well as real ale drinkers and music fans.
Three Guineas, Reading station
The beer offering at the TURKS on London Road was Deuchars IPA and Shepherd Neame Spitfire when our reporter visited recently. The pub features regular live music, Sunday roasts, breakfast and special Chinese or Indian buffet evenings.
A recent mention of the station pub the THREE GUINEAS in getreading prompted the following from one of our resident historians, Laurence Hansford: “Now here is a little known fact with regard to what is actually on top of the Three Guineas: the 4 face Turret Clock. It may come as a surprise to some of you but, prior to his untimely death last Easter, the actual mechanism of the clock was kept in running order by Russ Wood as a sideline and hobby. Had he still been alive, he would have been up the ladder inside the turret this autumn to set it back an hour!”
The security screens have been removed from the doors and windows at the RED COW (Pell Street / Southampton Street) and the “For Sale” sign has gone but there was no sign of any works taking place. The future of this old Simonds / Courage pub is unknown following its presumed sale so we will keep an eye on it.
Russ was of course one of our branch pioneers whose obituary you will have seen in the Summer issue of Mine's a Pint. His
It looks like the final end for the COUNTY ARMS at the top of Watlington Street. Planning permission has been in place for
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED rather a beer desert (there's real ale at the WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN but little else in the immediate area).
The County Arms in happier times some time now and a sign has appeared saying “9 luxury apartments coming soon”. So it’s “Thank you and goodbye” to this fine old establishment. Older readers may remember the FOUR HORSESHOES on Basingstoke Road. Longclosed as a pub, its most recent incarnation was as the Eastern Pearl restaurant. Now its future is as student accommodation.
Towards the end of every month the ALLIED ARMS in St Mary’s Butts holds a “Payday beer festival” with often ten different and unusual ales on simultaneously at lower prices than usual. There’s also a long-established quiz night every second Wednesday at 8pm (£1 each entry – in aid of the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance) and mulled wine has made a return for the winter. YATES’S on Friar Street has been given a major makeover and still retains a couple of handpumps although the selection is not very adventurous – Doom Bar and London Pride being the beers available when it reopened recently. A little further down the street, real ale is no longer available at WILD LIME. This was never a big pub for cask beer.
Further down Basingstoke Road, Greene King is building a new Hungry Horse restaurant / pub. The development site also includes an Aldi supermarket and a gym. It’s rumoured that the pub may be called The George though that has not yet been confirmed by GK. Whatever the name, it should offer cask beers but they will likely be from the brewery’s standard core range. Still, it will be a new outlet in a part of town that’s-
Abbot Cook, Cemetery Junction The ABBOT COOK at Cemetery Junction plays host to a regular board games night every Wednesday evening. The Reading Boardgames group, started by Daryl Unwin and a few friends now attracts over 20 a session. Daryl recently hosted a board games night for us at CAMRA which was CONTINUED OVERLEAF
Allied Arms, St Mary’s Butts
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED great fun. There's also a monthly Tuesday session at a pub in town – the venue varies so keep an eye on the Reading Boardgames Social Facebook page. The NAGS HEAD in Russell Street have brewed a collaborative ale with Wild Weather. Called Wyld Stallyns, it’s a 4.3% unfined pale ale that was aimed (unsuccessfully!) at being the pub’s 4,000th different ale.
SHINFIELD All change at the BELL AND BOTTLE on School Green, where the new licensees are Mark and Chrissie East. They move from the Butcher’s Arms in Tilehurst and we wish them all the best in their new venture – it’s great to know that they're staying in the area. The beer range at the Bell and Bottle should be maintained or hopefully enhanced and we hope that many of our readers will pop down and give them their support.
Good Beer Guide 2016. Whoever the new licensees are, they certainly have a good foundation to build on and we hope they will continue the good work at this traditional two-bar pub. The WATER TOWER on Park Lane is now a Greene King bar / restaurant although it will probably remain for the time being anyway as a Flaming Grill brand. The beers now come from GK with IPA being the regular brew plus one other often from the same brewery.
TWYFORD A visit to the GOLDEN CROSS on Waltham Road (near the station) revealed three real ales available, and served in good condition. Upham, Fullers and Harveys breweries were represented, and we understand that the beers available change on a regular basis.
Bell and Bottle, School Green
TILEHURST While the news of Mark and Chrissie's move is good for Shinfield, it leaves the future of the BUTCHER’S ARMS in Lower Armour Road less certain. In their time at the Butcher's they oversaw a transformation involving redecoration, an improved range of ale and a welcoming atmosphere. They gained LocAle accreditation and steered the pub towards its entry in the newly-published
Presentation of Club of the Year to Wargrave Snooker Club John Robinson recently presented the certificate for Branch Club of the Year to the WARGRAVE AND DISTRICT SNOOKER CLUB. It was received by Graham (Bar Manager), Steve (Chairman) and Mel (mentor and ex-Bar Manager). Shortly after the presentation, the Timothy Taylor CONTINUED OVERLEAF
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED Boltmaker ran out and, to celebrate the special occasion, we were treated to some Brakspear Special – which Graham had collected personally from The Bell Street Brewery in Henley. The Bell Street Brewery is a micro-brewery which sits within Brakspear's newly-redeveloped Bull pub on Bell Street. Those present all raised their glasses to ten years of the club being named the Branch Club of the Year. CAMRA members are welcome at the bar which opens Monday to Friday evenings, 7 to 11pm. John Robinson is a Wargrave local and former branch chairman – actually he is our longest serving chairman of the branch, spending 17 years in the role.
NEW BREWERY - BLACK PIG This new microbrewery has started production at Brockfield Cottage in Warfield near Bracknell with two beers initially on offer – Pig Tale Ale (4.1%) and Pig Snout Stout at 5.1% Look out for the beers in a pub near you soon or for off-sales from the brewery! Unusually, 660ml bottles are used. They hope to have two limited edition brews ready for sale just in time for Christmas / New Year drinking.
ANDWELL Plans are afoot for a new cask store, function room and brew-house cafe.
ASCOT ALES WOODLEY Local drinkers received a shock in October when they found out that Woodley Town Council intended to not renew the lease on the INN ON THE PARK, leading to the pub’s closure. The popular bar, which has been a feature of the sports centre since the late 1980s, has over the years raised lots of money for charity – on one occasion £2,550 in one 24 hour darts marathon. The closure came suddenly, without warning or consultation, and deprives local people of a comfortable and safe environment in which to socialise. The town council says that it is looking at other options for using the space, and that “the pub will not reopen.”
Winter Reserve, the 5.2% lightly spiced winter warmer is now available on draught and in bottles. For a limited time a vanilla infused version of four dark beers is also on offer – Anastasia's Exile & Imperial Stout, Penguin Porter and On The Rails. The latest Single Hop IPA at 4.6% is also available using Target hops, which are an English variety with distinct spicy, floral, sage and citrus characteristics.
BINGHAMS Vanilla Stout won a heat of the Champion Beer of Britain competition so will now go forward to next year’s finals at the Great British Beer Festival. Not to be outdone by their owner, brewer Chris Bingham’s bees have also won an award. Their Runny Honey won first place in the Wokingham and District Beekeepers’ Association Honey Show. In a blind tasting at the show in November, the honey came
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BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED out on top of around 25 entries. Chris is “well chuffed”. Unfortunately there’s not enough honey left this year to make a honey beer, but Chris hasn’t ruled it out for next year.
HOOK NORTON This Oxfordshire brewery whose beers are often seen in the Reading area has started brewing a run of single varietal hopped beers. Running through to Christmas, a new beer will be brewed each week. The first in early October used Sovereign hops, with aromas described as floral, grassy and herbal with a hint of mint flavours. Single hop beers are made with just one variety of hops, rather than the more usual practice of balancing the flavours by using several. It’s something that many breweries have been experimenting with – locally, Ascot and Binghams are prime examples. As Hook Norton say, it’s a great way to educate and enlighten the beer drinking public about the different varieties of hops that are now available, and the effects they have on both aroma and flavour. The beers are available at Hooky pubs and in the free trade.
LODDON Russet (a multi-grain brew at 4.5%) has been available in recent weeks and Hocus Pocus (rich, smooth and ruby at 4.6%) should make an appearance for the festive season.
SHERFIELD VILLAGE Their festival brew will be “Christmas Beer” at a very healthy 6.8%. This is a rich rubycoloured ale with fruity flavours, coffee, chocolate and a hint of spices. Look out also for Green Hop IPA (4.8%), Butcher’s Brew at 4.9%, Pioneer Stout (5% and vegan friendly) and Best of Both Worlds which is a combination of British and New Zealand hops and is a very drinkable 4.1% ABV.
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SIREN CRAFT Welcome to Markus Wagner, the new Head Brewer at Siren. A UNIQUE, TRADITIONAL BAR
Serving London Pride permanently with weekly changing guest ales
Bar Food Served Monday - Friday noon until 2pm
Hog Roast Specialists Ring for details
Regular Jazz Nights 14th January, 4th and 25th February Marquee available for events Arborfield Road,Shinfield, Reading,Berkshire,RG2 9EA Tel: 0118 9884130
Hailing from Dresden, Markus started brewing around seven years ago, learning his trade at Radeberger Exportbier Brauerie. After three and a half years and newly-qualified, he headed to California and Firestone Walker. There he worked on quality control, brewhouse operation, the barrel fermentation project, barrel ageing project and sour programme. A year later and back in Europe, Markus took on a job at Heineken SUI in Switzerland to gain a different kind of experience. From there he moved to the UK in 2013, taking up a post at Camden Town Brewery where he started a new barrel ageing programme. Now installed at Siren in Finchampstead, his current favourite of their beers is Calypso, but his plans have already included a Blackberry IPA with doubtless plenty of other innovative flavours to come. Broken Dream Breakfast Stout has won two Silver awards in recent months – one being at the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival!
TWO COCKS The brewery near Enborne has been advertised for sale by Strutt and Parker for a guide price of £2.45m. The sale would include the newly-built farmhouse and 40 acres of land. The owners, Michael Butcher and Phil Palmer, said that family reasons were behind the decision to sell. The Newbury Weekly News reported that Michael said, “We are hoping someone will come in and continue what we started. The brewery is in good shape and would be ideal for someone planning for something like we
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED were seven years ago. What we have achieved here is beyond our wildest dreams. We have been really happy here.” The brewery was started in October 2011 and the beer names contain the date 1643 after the First Battle of Newbury, which took place in that year. There was a roundhead encampment for this Civil War battle on the site of the farm. A further point of interest is that the farmhouse, which was featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs in 2012, contains the largest domestic sliding door ever made in Britain. It consists of a single piece of glass and weighs over a tonne. Certainly a talking point if you have a few spare millions.
WEST BERKSHIRE The next seasonal ale will be Yule Fuel, which will be a 4.3% brew with a warm hop / malt finish and raisin, liquorice and wild berry overtones.
at such a prestigious awards ceremony and we can add yet another award to our fastexpanding collection. All their enthusiasm and hard work during the past few years have paid off as we continue our exciting brewing (ad-)venture.” The awards were held in October at Newbury Racecourse. Appropriately, the brewery has also recently become the sponsor of the successful racing stable Geoffrey Deacon Training, based close to the brewery at Hamilton Stables in Compton. Simon Lewis, the brewery's CEO, said, "Berkshire has a proud history of horse racing and training and it’s a pursuit which many real ale drinkers enjoy too. When we were offered the opportunity of getting involved with our local stables we “jumped” at the chance and were thrilled to see Frankie Dettori riding at Ascot wearing West Berkshire Brewery branded silks”.
WILD WEATHER The Christmas Party at the brewery in Silchester is on Friday 11 December. Open from 6pm, you will be able to enjoy a beer, listen to live acoustic artists and enjoy a game or two (bring your own board games, tables supplied). The brewery shop will also be open for Christmas gift-buying.
WINDSOR AND ETON
West Berkshire Brewery team The brewery is “extremely thrilled” to have won Rural Business of the Year at the West Berkshire Business Awards. The award focuses on the supply of goods to the rural community, commitment to conservation, reducing environmental impact and the commitment to promoting rural business. David Bruce, the Chairman of West Berkshire Brewery, said, “I am delighted that my brilliant team has been recognised
Look out for Canberra (4%) and Brew 882 Seattle Porter at 4.8% over the winter months. The brewery's first pub, the George in Eton, is now trading and there are plans for a large shop and visitor centre – but not till after Christmas.
XT The brewery extension at XT is nearly finished – new storage area, cold room and brewing space have been completed and the new brewery tasting room is now ready. The tasting room provides a new space for beer tastings and to buy fresh beer in mini-casks and bottled beer to drink at home.
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Small Beer A roundup of news and information...
ASSETS OF COMMUNITY VALUE The local parish council have applied to register the Horns at Crazies Hill as an Asset of Community Value. The decision from Wokingham Borough Council is due in December. The Red Cow in Caversham has been listed as an ACV, as described in the Pub News section. This helps to secure the future of the pub in a part of town that has lost most of its other drinking outlets.
The latest and possibly the most important application is of course the Nags Head. The nomination was made in early November which means that Reading Borough Council should issue a decision early in the new year. We were heartened to hear from Councillor Tony Page that the three Abbey ward councillors would be supporting the listing, and we hope that their support ensures a speedy process and the right outcome for the local community and its valued pub.
PUB OF THE YEAR CAMRA’s Pub of the Year competition has reached its regional stage, where our winner competes against the best from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire plus a little bit of Hertfordshire. The regional winner this time is the Rising Sun at Berkhamsted in Herts, a lovely canalside pub – yet in an urban setting – with a particularly strong emphasis on real cider and perry. The overall UK winner will be announced in February, and then the process starts all over again...
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LOCALE UPDATE There are two new LocAle breweries to look out for. First up is Black Pig which comes from Warfield, just north of Bracknell. Two beers have initially been available, with more details in the Brewery News section of this magazine. Also new is Thames Side Brewery from Staines. Andrew Hayward, the Owner and Head Brewer, says
“We are proud to be returning the craft of brewing to Staines.” The press launch was held in November at the Egham United Services Club beer festival, and initially the beers have only been available fairly locally to the brewery (including Staines, Chertsey and Twickenham) but we hope the swans on the logo will spread their wings and find their way to Reading soon. LocAle accreditation of pubs is an annual process – it resets each year and we draw up a fresh list from scratch. So we're particularly keen to hear from you if you know of a local pub that always sells a local beer (brewed within 30 miles of Kings Meadow) and would be eligible for accreditation.
CAMRA GIFTS Stuck for Christmas gift ideas? Take advantage of CAMRA's amazing selection of Christmas gifts and offers to get a head start on the festive season. A CAMRA Gift Membership is a great gift for beer and cider loving friends and family. A standard Gift Membership is just £36 (which includes a copy of the Good Beer Guide 2016) and a variety of joint and concessionary packages are also available. All Gift Memberships include: • £20 worth of real ale vouchers • Monthly Newspaper - What’s Brewing Keeping you up-to-date on all things CAMRA • Quarterly Magazine - BEER - A coffee table magazine that will have you on the pulse of industry news and views from award winning writers • Free or reduced entry to over 160 beer festivals around the UK Go to shop.camra.org.uk for more details and to browse other gift ideas.
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Behind the Bar Steve and Marie, the current Landlord and Landlady have been manning the helm of The Bramshill Hunt in Arborfield for just over 4½ years.
THE BRAMSHILL HUNT When we took over the pub it had seen far better days in the distant past. However, it was then frequented by a troublesome crowd and young soldiers from the local Garrison. On taking over, we were told by the current management not to waste our time selling real ale, as nobody was interested. The offer at that time was Greene King Abbot Ale and IPA which they struggled to sell – one firkin of IPA and one pin of Abbot a week. In our opinion this was due to the poor condition of the beer served. Always one to take on a challenge, Steve set about turning the ale situation around and we now have five different ales constantly kept to very high standards. Having done this, we were soon awarded Cask Marque and Head Brewers Club accreditation. We have combined our real ale offer with that of good traditional pub food. So if you are looking for excellent cask ale and a wholesome bite to eat the Bramshill Hunt is the place for you. We have always endeavoured to be a pub selling good food, not a restaurant serving average ale. With the closure of the Arborfield Garrison, our customer base has undergone an amazing turnaround. This is also due to the Swan public house in the village becoming an Indian restaurant, and the Bull which is heavily
influenced by French cuisine, thus leaving the Bramshill Hunt as the only traditional pub in the Arborfield area. Further changes to the demographics of the area are expected soon as the old MOD buildings are levelled and 3,000+ new dwellings and infrastructure are put in their place. In addition to our vastly improved and developed beer offer, we undertook, upon taking up the reins, to complete a thorough internal refurbishment of the pub facilities. We also used the outside areas to create a large decked area, beautiful in the summer and well frequented and also a large grassed area to the rear of the pub, featuring well established garden furniture and recently a large play area, swings and slide and the addition of a Wendy house for use by the children. We have always endeavoured to be part of our local community and allow well supervised children until 8pm. Dogs are also always welcome in the outside areas and the public bar. Marie and Steve Banks The Bramshill Hunt, 27 Bramshill Close, Arborfield, Reading RG2 9PL
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Gala Award Evening It’s good to say “well done” to people who’ve done well and there were plenty of deserving people at the Gala Awards Evening in the Castle Tap last September. The event was triggered by the new awards that the branch decided to create and the realisation that there were certificates from existing awards, still to be presented. So an invitation went out to all the appropriate deserving people – including those who had already received their certificate, so that we could represent it – at a big Gala Awards Evening. The result was a throng of people from breweries, pubs and CAMRA – plus a few surprised locals who’d just dropped in for a pint. Brewery people don’t often get a chance to chat to people from other breweries and the same is true of pub people, so the air was thick with chat about the state of brewing and pubs, as well as the usual social chatter you’ll get in any bar. From top left to bottom right: Binghams Brewery - Beer of the Festival Bronze; West Berkshire Brewery - Beer of the Festival under 4.2%; Vale Brewery - Beer of the Festival Gold; Nag’s Head - Pub of the Year Runner Up; Kay Wesnes - Best Newcomer; Nags Head - Cider Pub of the Year.
The array of certificates made an impressive display, as did the array of recipients. The awards were for Pub of the Year plus runners-up and, for the first time, finalists, Cider Pub of the Year and runner-up, Club of the Year, the Reading Beer & Cider
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GALA AWARD EVENING Festival’s LocAle beers of the festival – category winners and gold, silver and bronze overall. Finally there were the two new special awards. Newcomer of the Year went to Kay Wesnes of the Fisherman’s Cottage in her first ever role as a publican. And the Phoenix Award was presented to our hosts, the Castle Tap, for showing how to transform a place into a lively successful pub embracing all that CAMRA members look for. The branch intends to continue to look for outstanding pubs, breweries and people deserving of recognition. When we find them, we’ll create an award to celebrate what they’ve achieved. Judging by the feedback from the first Gala Awards Evening, the size of the gathering is only going to grow in future.
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
The Bull Hotel High Street,Wargrave RG10 8DD TEL 01189 403120
A PROPER PUB with bags of character, charm, beams galore and a crackling log fire in our fabulous Inglenook fireplace. Castle Tap - Pheonix Award
FINE WINES • GREAT ALES (Cask Marque accredited)
TOP QUALITY HOME MADE FOOD
Fish, Chips and Fizz on a Friday night at £25 per couple Jayne's Sunday Roast is a firm favourite - booking highly recommended
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Route 17 Pub Crawl
Welcome to Reading and the busy Purple 17 bus route which runs 24/7 at very regular intervals between Wokingham Road in the east, though the town centre and up to Tilehurst in the west. It offers a varied selection of Real Ale pubs on the way. The best way to travel is to buy a “Busabout” ticket which allows you to hop on and off as you choose and lasts all day – you can buy them from the driver. Pick up a route map and timetable on the bus or online. Pubs shown in Capitals are at or very near a bus stop; those in lower case are just a short walk away. All pubs are open all day unless otherwise stated. Some bus stops are staggered depending on which way you are travelling and in some cases it could be easier to walk between pubs where they are just one stop apart. Please note that beer ranges and other details may be subject to change since our survey. You can keep up to date by visiting www.WhatPub.com.
We start at the Wokingham Road terminus and THE THREE TUNS which is a large roadside pub with two bars; TV; pub games; patio and up to 6 beers (though usually 3 on at any one time). They do food lunchtimes and evenings. The bus will now be displaying Tilehurst Water Tower as its destination. If you get off at St. Peter’s Road stop then it’s a short walk to Auckland Road and The Roebuck which has Greene King ales on handpump. The next stop is Palmer Park Avenue and THE COLLEGE ARMS. This is a large, student-friendly bar split into many areas and usually offers two cask ales, mainly from national brewers (Greene King / Doom
Bar), plenty of games and TV screens. Discounts on the beer for CAMRA members. Note that it does not open until the afternoon during the week. Back on the bus as far as Cemetery Junction (as featured in the Ricky Gervais film) where we come to THE ABBOT COOK. This is prominent pub which has had its troubles in previous guises, but is now a thriving bar with 5 beers on tap (Doom Bar plus 4 changing guests). Food is available, there's disabled access, two patios and draught cider is sold. You can get £1 off your pint on a Tuesday.
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ROUTE 17 PUB CRAWL - CONTINUED One stop further down - Reading College and a short walk takes you to the recently revamped Eldon Arms. This is a Wadworth’s house but usually has 2 guest beers from any part of the country. A pleasant interior and a friendly little pub with food (South African dishes may feature), a TV screen, lounge area and small patio. (Now, if you fancy a short walk you could head off behind the college and down to Kennetside where you will find The Fisherman’s Cottage (4 beers – usually local brews) good food and a riverside location. Further along is The Jolly Anglers which generally has 3 beers on tap). Our next stop on the bus is Eldon Road where we have a couple of pubs – The Retreat in St. Johns Street is an excellent little terraced pub with front and back bars, up to 6 real ales, cider and regular live music (often acoustic). It doesn’t open until 4.30pm except at weekends when it’s 12 noon. Just down from the bus stop is THE LYNDHURST. This is a single bar pub with an alehouse feel to it. Usually 4 cask ales plus a cider are available and quite often one beer will be a LocAle. There's food, a small patio and boxed games and newspapers are available. Huntley & Palmers is the next stop, although the famous biscuit factory closed some years ago. The Wynford Arms was also closed on our visit and is now available for lease. Next door is THE BACK OF BEYOND which is a aircraft-hanger of a pub and is one of 3 Wetherspoons outlets in the town. An extensive bank of handpumps can often provide a good selection of guest beers but many are simply used to doubleup on standard brands. There’s a large seating area and a very pleasant patio by the River Kennet as well as all the usual Spoons food deals. Just up the road we come across The
Outlook - a two-level Greene King pub which does offer guest beers and GK seasonals. Food is available and outside drinking areas overlook the river. If you walk back and get on the bus again you will arrive at the Minster Street stop by the Oracle Centre. A short walk back and you will find the excellent Alehouse which is almost a Reading institution for cask beer. As well as the 3 West Berkshire brews you will find new and exciting real ales from all over the UK and beyond. No food but you can bring your own snacks; there are tiny drinking cubicles at the back and no mobiles! It's worth missing a few buses for. Our next stop – St. Marys Butts – offers a group of pubs including THE PAVLOV’S DOG – a modern, young person’s pub with up to 3 beers although availability can sometimes be a bit erratic. Opposite is the very pleasant ALLIED ARMS which has two small bars and an attractive patio / garden at the rear. No food but usually 5 or 6 beers with Loddon’s Hullaballo being a regular. Well worth a visit but not open on Sundays or Monday lunchtime. Just near the bus stop is THE HORN - 2 beers usually available and a London Irish rugby supporters’ bar. Round the corner in Castle Street is another local institution – Sweeney & Todd - a renowned pie shop (eat in or take out) with 4 beers, mainly from Wadworths and Adnams. A good place to grab a snack between buses, but it may be closed on Sundays. A little further up is one of Reading’s oldest pubs The Sun which still has much of its original atmosphere and olde-worlde charm. A couple of beers, often from the Courage / Wells range. The pool table seems a bit out of place in the front bar area but there is a pleasant patio at the rear and the pub has several offers and events advertised on its many blackboards. Still around the St Marys Butts stop, in Gun Street we have ZERODEGREES which is a
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ROUTE 17 PUB CRAWL - CONTINUED
Zerodegrees, Gun Street large modern bar with a restaurant and its own brewery producing several “continental style” ales and lagers. Pizzas are the speciality and there is a small outside area. Disabled toilet available. Almost next door is THE PURPLE TURTLE - another wellknown landmark which has been in Reading for over 25 years but not always at this site. A recent refurbishment has resulted in a classic venue bar with old music and film posters on the walls; a cellar bar and an excellent rear patio area. 2 beers on weekdays and 4 at weekends plus a cider are on sale and there are plans to open a restaurant and micro-brewery next door. Late night opening and live music may not suit everyone! The 17 bus route deviates somewhat in the town centre depending on which direction you are travelling in. Our route takes us via Minster Street and St. Mary’s Butts but coming from Tilehurst the bus goes via West Street, Friar Street and the Market Place / Kings Road. The following pubs can be visited on this section of the route. If you alight at the Cheapside stop you could walk down West Street, turn right and find The Hope Tap (Wetherspoons). From the Friar Street stop you can choose from THE BUGLE – an old, two-bar pub which sells Courage Best or on the corner The Pitcher and Piano - a venue bar offering 2 beers from the Marston’s range. Inbetween the Friar Street and Blagrave Street stops you could visit The Three Guineas at Reading Station (Fullers beers) or The Oakford Social Club (Doom Bar and possibly 2 others)
At the Blagrave Street stop we have THE BLAGRAVE ARMS. This is a smart, gay-friendly single room bar with usually 2 beers available, often from local brewers. Very popular and busy at weekends but shut on Sundays. (Between this pub and the Kings Road stop you could pop into O’Neill’s where 3 handpumps offer a reasonable choice of ales. Doom Bar is a regular but the other two can vary and often be quite interesting. Across the road is The Monk’s Retreat (Wetherspoons) - up to 12 beers including national brands.) Returning to our original journey, our next jumping-off point is Waylen Street and a brief walk to 2 real ale pubs. Just up from the bus stop in Russell Street is the superb Nags Head which has been Reading’s Pub of The Year on several occasions. It offers 12 ever-changing beers plus ciders and perries. It is popular with Reading FC fans as well as London Irish rugby supporters but everyone is welcome and you can be assured of good service and great beer. Sunday lunches, bar snacks, TV for sport, darts and an outside drinking area. Across the road from the bus stop and down Eaton Place and we find The Butler. Once a Fullers pub but now a free house offering 6 cask beers, it is about to be extended into the old Butler’s off-licence and will offer a new snug with the live music being retained in the main bar. Homecooked food is available and the Butler is popular with sports fans, especially those of the rugby persuasion. Back on the bus and you could stop off at George Street and walk up Argyle Street to The Rose & Thistle - a Greene King pub with usually 3 beers on tap. However, if you stay on board your next stop would be Brock Gardens, where you will see THE
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ROUTE 17 PUB CRAWL - CONTINUED ROYAL ALBION. This is a locals' pub with one Greene King ale, although it may not always be available. The next stop matches the pub – The POND HOUSE which has recently had a makeover and is a bit smaller in size than it was before. Sharp’s Doom Bar is the only cask beer here. This was a former Wethered’s of Marlow pub but all traces of that brewery have now vanished. The bus now heads along the Oxford Road and turns left up Norcot Road towards Tilehurst where our next stop is Church End Lane and THE TYLERS REST. This is a “Sizzling Pub” brand and offers an extensive menu which is popular with local families. Doom Bar and London Pride are the beer offerings in this large modern pub. The 17 then stops just round the corner from THE VICTORIA or directly outside when you come back into town. Once called The White House, this is a large comfortable pub which used to have two bars
The Victoria but is now open-plan with bright modern furnishings. It is a friendly place with pool table, food, TV screens and a garden area. There are usually 2 beers available – the ubiquitous Doom Bar plus one other (Wells Burning Gold when we visited).
PLOUGH which is a modernised old village pub and still has its old Halls brewery plaque in the wall and is popular with horse racing fans and sports in general (TV screens). You can watch the world go by from the windows overlooking “The Triangle” and there are 2 beers on draught – Doom Bar being a regular but they do change and Old Hooky was available when we stopped here. There's a nice little patio at the back. From the Plough it is a very short walk to reach The Prince of Wales across the road where the only beer on offer was Doom Bar again. This is a large, solid boozer with pool table, darts and live music (they were advertising Amy Housewine – a tribute singer). A kids’ play area is in the garden. The last stop on route 17 is THE WATER TOWER where the service terminates and the bus turns round before heading back into town. The pub – once The Bear – is named after the very prominent Water Tower next door (a local landmark) and is part of The Flaming Grill pub group. This is another large family restaurant / pub with grills being a favourite as the name would suggest! You can eat or drink anywhere and food is available throughout the day. On the beer front it was Greene King IPA or Fuller’s London Pride although GK seasonal beers may be available in place of Pride. There is outside drinking and disabled and babychanging facilities. Here we end the Purple 17 bus route pub crawl which offers a good mix of pub styles and a pretty good range of beers along the way, although the Tilehurst pubs generally lack a decent choice with Doom Bar being very prevalent. Anyway, get yourself a Busabout ticket and map and enjoy the trip and the pubs. You may discover some you haven’t been to before and maybe some you didn’t even know existed! Cheers.
Next we reach Tilehurst Triangle and THE
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When is a Barrel not a Barrel? There are many terms thrown around in beer circles without much care as to their exact meaning. This handy jargon buster might help. The problem with the word ‘Barrel’ is that it is both a container for beer and a specific unit of measure, as explained below: A Firkin holds 9 gallons, or 72 pints A Kilderkin holds 18 gallons, or 144 pints A Barrel holds 36 gallons, or 288 pints A full firkin weighs over 50 kilos and is more than enough for one person to handle on their own. It is the most commonly seen beer container for this reason and because real ale needs to be sold within three or four days of the cask being tapped. Its relatively small size therefore means that it should be possible to sell all the beer in excellent con-
dition. For obvious reasons, it is often called a ‘Nine’ in the trade. A kilderkin is used by some pubs that have very high turnover, but will need careful handling to avoid injury. It is also known as an ‘Eighteen’ or a ‘Kil’. As far as I am aware, a barrel is no longer used to deliver beer, but it is the unit of measurement used to state a brewery’s brewing capacity. Hence, a micro-brewery described as a five barrel plant has the capacity to brew up to 5 x 36 gallons (i.e. 20 firkins, or 1440 pints) in one batch. This capacity is also known as the brewery’s brew-length. So you may see a brewery described as ‘2½ bbl’ meaning that it has a 2½ barrel brew-length, or 10 firkins.
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The Revitalisation of CAMRA CAMRA has launched a review of its strategies, structure and activities that will give members a say in how the Campaign continues to flourish in the years ahead. The Revitalisation Project recalls CAMRA’s original name, the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale, before it became the Campaign for Real Ale in 1973. The project was born out of a meeting in Sheffield in May when national and regional leaders of CAMRA got together to discuss whether CAMRA needed to change with the times and how any changes could be implemented. Chief executive Tim Page presented a proposal, based on the discussions at the Sheffield meeting, to a National Executive meeting in June, which led to a steering group being set up to determine how the project could ensure that CAMRA remained fit for purpose in a considered, detailed and highly professional manner. The group, which will work closely with a project group at CAMRA head office, contains three former national chairmen — founder member Michael Hardman (the group’s chairman), Chris Holmes and Tony Millns — along with representatives of the National Executive and Branches Committee, and a recent NE member in Christine Cryne. Michael said: “We shall approach this task with completely open minds and with no preconceived ideas about the outcome.” The project team will be carrying out intensive research before the next stage, which will involve wide consultation of CAMRA members, branches and key figures in the brewing industry and licensed trade. “CAMRA, like all organisations, has regularly reviewed its purpose and structure throughout its 44-year history and this is the latest initiative to ensure that we are delivering
what our members want and continuing to represent beer drinkers and pubgoers throughout the land.” CAMRA was founded in 1971 and had only four members for much of its first year. At that time the 150 breweries in the United Kingdom were owned by fewer than 100 companies. Six of them produced 80 per cent of the country’s beer and owned 85 per cent of the pubs that sold it. These firms, known as the Big Six, were conspiring to replace traditional draught beer in favour of processed and carbonated beer. Many of the smaller brewers were following them blindly. Michael said: “CAMRA’s activities over the decades that followed changed all that. Today, CAMRA has more than 175,000 members. There are now around 1,500 breweries producing thousands of beers. The majority of British pubs sell at least one real ale and in some cases a dozen or more. Many people think CAMRA has done its job. But has it? “We want to make sure that CAMRA’s campaigns are pitched at the right targets and based on the best tactics in the face of the unprecedented changes taking place in the industry. And we are giving all of our members an opportunity to have a say in which direction the Campaign should go.” Tom Stainer Head of Communications As CAMRA members we all have a view on what CAMRA is for and what direction the campaign should take in the future. To make sure that your voice is heard, come along to one of our branch meetings or contact the branch chairman on firstname.lastname@example.org
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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
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Winter 2015 edition of the Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA Branch magazine.