Reading – Nag’s Head

This Good Beer Guide listed pub looks fairly ordinary from the outside, but I was moderately surprised on entering to note that it was nearly full on a Friday afternoon. It’s clearly a destination pub that serves a community beyond its immediate surroundings, with one of the best web-site arrangements that I’ve seen, giving every bit of information I can think any customer would need before a visit. I was also once again pleased to note that the beer options were listed on Untappd, which saved me some time on arrival.

The bar, with an impressive selection of bar snacks just out of shot to the right. It’s certainly quite a colourful arrangement. The service was polite and friendly, it felt like an welcoming and inviting atmosphere. It’s not the largest of pubs either, but they make use of the space well, which I imagine is essential given they must be at capacity for a fair chunk of the week judging by the number of customers on a Friday afternoon. They’ve also made space for darts as well in one corner and there are numerous board games dotted around the place.

The keg list is sitting by a table a little out of the way, but I decided to then sit at that table so it became very accessible to me. More as an observation than a complaint, but there’s not a great range of beer styles here, with a fair chunk of duplication. There are no dark beers and they only had one dark beer on cask, which was a decent one, but which I’ve had numerous times before. The beer choices were of course much wider than most pubs, but I couldn’t see a beer that I thought would be standout, although I checked the list when writing this and they’ve rolled out four beers (including darker options) overnight and those choices look really very intriguing and include Siren’s Dark & Perilous Nights. I nearly went back today just to have that, but I have a limited time left in Reading.

There’s a snacks menu and they sell sausage rolls, which is something that in an ideal world every single pub would sell. They seem to acquire them from a local butcher I understand, so I imagine that the quality is high. I had already eaten so didn’t partake, although as usual I was quite tempted.

I went for two halves, the Snow Cafe from Polly’s Brewing and the Silver Strand from Siren, both very acceptable beers and the prices were moderate. The atmosphere was comfortable (and the beers were nicely comforting) and I only slightly lost track of time reading a book on my phone.

The pub is well reviewed online, with the only real negative being a worrying one since it’s about the sausage rolls:

“Don’t order the sausage roll, it’s just a joke. The size was like 10cm sausage roll. If you are starving it’s not the better place to eat. The most important…£4.. they actually went to coop, got the left over of the day and sold it to me.. absolutely ridiculous! When I mentioned this to one of the waitress, she laughed and said ahah oOK, and left.. service is also a big joke”

I suspect that might be something of an exaggeration, although they did upset an American who had sat there for twenty minutes without buying a drink. Some reviews note how good the pies are in the pub as well, although they seem to have stopped selling them.

Anyway, a perfectly decent pub, and although it was quite hard to see what they sold when standing at the bar, I’ll forgive that as it’s all clearly listed on Untappd. The choices veer across ciders, real ales and keg beers, although I’d definitely have preferred rather more dark beer options in an ideal world (although, to be fair, that ideal world appears to have arrived today), but at least there were numerous other interesting selections to opt for. This is another pub which is on-trend, but solely because it has a modern and well curated choice of beers, not because it’s trying to be formulaic or pretend to be something that it’s not.