Reading – The Alehouse

The centre of Reading was returning to normal after the winds of yesterday had rearranged the litter quite comprehensively around the streets of the town. The wind had nearly entirely dissipated, back to the more usual pouring rain that I’m used to in this country. As a lunchtime trip beckoned, I opted for the generally well reviewed Alehouse, but it was a little difficult to know what to expect as their web-site is down and they haven’t been engaging with their social media accounts for some time. I accept there’s more to life than social media (such as crisps), but it is useful to know a little about a venue in advance.

The bar was quite busy and so I didn’t get any photos of the arrangements there, but it had quite a unique charm with pump clips positively raining down from the ceiling. It was all friendly enough, another customer made conversation with me, so my little tick box of a welcoming vibe was on offer here. The pub is listed in the Good Beer Guide, which is what drew me there in the first place, and there were five or so different real ales available. The choices weren’t immediately obvious to me, but the member of bar staff was happy to engage and find me a suitable dark beer.

As the front bar was full I decided to go and investigate the back rooms and these are full of charm, with several nooks and crannies.

Now that’s quirky, I like it. Some interesting books on the shelf and some effort with the decoration on the ceiling in here as well. Absolutely no phone signal, but plenty of charm. The toilets at the back of the pub feel quite old-school and they require some slight manoeuvring around some beer barrels, but that all adds to the character.

I went for half a pint of the Black Crow from Longdog Brewery which is a microbrewery located a short distance away in Basingstoke. This was well-kept and what I would call a session dark beer (I think that’s a thing, although others might disagree), even if it is 4.5%, although it lacked the richness and decadence that I’d ideally like.

As a pub though, this is the sort of quirky and interesting venue that the Good Beer Guide is really very reliable at pointing me towards. A comfortable and authentically welcoming pub, although this is another location that I imagine is quite hard to find a table at even slightly busy times. I very much liked my little booth arrangement at the rear of the pub and I was undisturbed during my lunchtime visit, ploughing through another book on my phone. I don’t know much about Belgian beers, but there were several of these available, and indeed I’d say there was a suitably broad range of drinks for most customers. All told, I’d recommend this place, but bring a book as this is the sort of pub that just lends itself to reading and conversation.