At Noon on the 10th February, the Ale Trail kicked off at The Fox and Hounds, Caversham. I’d been looking forward to this for a while now, as the Ale Trail really is one of my favourite activities of the year.
The Fox and Hound, Caversham
I have to the Fox and Hounds a number of times, including as part of previous trails. They have recently(or at least in the last couple of years) done it up a little, and now serve pizza. My wife and I went in just before Christmas on a Wednesday evening when the place was empty, except for the staff who were shouting at each other. Thankfully, our experience this time was a little more friendly, and needless to say it was much busier. The event was branded as a Siren Craft Brew Vs Wild Weather Ales. There were 8 pumps on, so naturally I thought there would be ample choice. On closer inspection, there was only one ale that was below 5% – slightly disapointing! Nonetheless, I did have a decent pint of Liquid Mistress (Siren), and my wife had a half of Suspended in Simcoe (also Siren) all for a reasonable price. Given the number of people in the pub, it was mighty cold, so I would recommend taking a nice woolly jumper with you (or you could just keep your coat on as I did).
In summary, a better experience than my previous visit, and I’m sure it’s lovely and warm in the Summer!
Number of Ales: 8
Choice of Ales: fair
Beer quality: 4/5
Overall experience: Would probably go back, but perhaps not in the winter
The Prince Of Wales, Caversham
Onwards to the next pub, just up the road. This was a new one for me – the Prince of Wales, Caversham. I’ll be totally honest, from the outside, it looked like a pub I wouldn’t normally go into. We had a sticker to collect though, so in we went. The first thing we noticed was the open fire and the football on the TV. We were given a friendly welcome by who I assume was the Land Lady. I was pleased to see they had one of my favourites – Brakspear Bitter. This shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise, given it was a Brakspear pub. I resisted to go for the familiar and instead had a pint of Dirty Tackle (Wychwood), and nice it was too. I was glad of the open fire having been sat in the Fox and Hounds for an hour previously.
All in all, a decent put that that I shall certainly return to in the near future.
Number of Ales: 3
Choice of Ales: fair
Beer quality: 4/5
Overall experience: Would certainly go back.
The Biscuit Tin
I had noticed this cafe/bar before on my way to the Greyfriars, but it is somewhat hidden from the main concourse of Reading Station. In all honesty, I had never been in because it advertises coffee and craft beer – too hipster for me. My first impression upon entering was that this was a tidy little establishment that perhaps I should not have overlooked. There were two hand pumps, both with a West Berkshire Brewery ale on. One of them was Good Old Boy, which I have had many a time, usually when I go to watch Reading FC (don’t worry, I don’t support them and only go when there is a free season ticket). As one of my objectives on the trail is to try beers I haven’t has before, I went for a pint of Mr Swift’s. It turned out to be a very refreshing pint at that. I must say, it was a shame there wasn’t more choice, though having said that, if there were only to be a choice of two, at least they were West Berks.
As a member of the Ale Trail facebook group, I have seen that some people encountered problems, in the form of early closure on a Saturday evening. I’d be lying of I said that the Biscuit Tin has (what I would call) normal opening hours.
Altogether, a better pint than I might have expected, with friendly service – I may well be back, as long as it is open.
Number of Ales: 2
Choice of Ales: Disapointing
Beer quality 4/5
Overall experience: Surprisingly alright