Reading – Phantom Brewery Tap (The Haunt)

I thought that this brewery tap was closed when I walked by, so was just about to meander off before I noticed some people leaving the building to get some snacks from the street food vendor parked at the front. It’s about a ten-minute walk from Reading railway station and in the rather unattractive setting of an industrial park, but it’s worth coming to visit. There’s no cask beer served here and so it isn’t listed in the Good Beer Guide, and if I can start off with a slight moan about this whole set-up of the book (which is nonetheless one that I adore), this is the sort of location that should be listed in the guide. Modernisation must come…..

The beers are listed on Untappd, but those who prefer they’re also chalked up on the board behind the bar. The service was friendly and engaging, there was a relaxed vibe to the entire industrial arrangement. Actually, it was a bit too relaxed, I could well have spent several hours here and there were some flavours of crisps that I hadn’t had before, let alone even touching on the beers. Sometimes, there’s just too much choice in the world.

A shuffleboard, arcade machines and plenty of seating, and I think there’s another hall next door as well. The vast open set-up more suits itself to groups perhaps, and that seemed to form the main audience during my Saturday afternoon visit, and youngish groups as well in the main.

The beer production area and I think this is all quite new, set-up in the last three years. Everything is clean, there’s an air of this being a well managed venue, but it’s all quite understated. Indeed, so understated I thought it was shut, and perhaps there’s a charm in that level of confidence of not needing to shout too loudly. Customers will find this bar because it’s different and quirky, they don’t need to indulge in unnecessary self aggrandisement and they don’t. Anyway, I digress.

I went for three different thirds and a pack of ham & pickle crisps, as I felt that this would complement my little selection of beers. It was also at this time that I thought I should make plans to work out how to leave Reading by train given that most services were being cancelled, a legacy of yesterday’s gales.

But train distraction aside and back to the beers. From left to right, there’s the Faked Alaska milkshake IPA, the Foamy Banana Milkshake Pale Ale and then the Just Deserts pastry stout (and I mispronounced that as Desserts before correcting myself, as they politely didn’t say anything), the latter of which is the only one of my choices which is brewed by Phantom. They were all very decent beers, but I had quite a fondness for the Foamy Banana, which the staff member had suggested smelling, drinking and then smelling again to get the full effect. This is how bananas should be consumed and I don’t care if it is a bit artificial or sugary, banana in beer is a very underused flavour and is mostly seen with Eagle Brewery’s Banana Bread Beer. It was a very memorable beer from the Play Brew Company from Middlesbrough who I’ve noted have some very intriguing options (marshmallow and peanut milk stout, or raspberry and milk sticky lolly pale ale anyone?) and also a taproom to try them in. I must go, I’ve decided.

The environment was all on-trend and they’ve done as much as they can perhaps do in what is effectively a big shed (which fortunately didn’t blow away yesterday). The bar set-up to the side and the games add extra character to the arrangement, but this is just an interesting and fun brewery tap which looks like it is quite creative in its offerings. I liked it, but for anyone who thinks that it’s shut, try the door anyway as a joyous experience might still be available inside….. I hope to come back another time, not least because I’ve got more crisps to work through.